'Inn' Tales: The List
Interviewer: "...Speaking of weird, one of the great rock and roll myths of all-time involves a gross-out contest which allegedly took place onstage between you and Captain Beefheart. Could you please clarify that once and for all?"
Zappa: "Yeah, I've heard that myth in many different guises. It's supposed to be me versus the Fugs, me versus somebody in the audience – but always I end up eating shit on the stage. You know, the first time I heard this rumor, I was in a club in England called the Speakeasy, which used to be a music business hangout in the 60s. I'm sitting there and this guy from the Flock – remember the Flock? – comes over to me and goes, "Hey, Frank. Man, it's really great to meet ya. Hey, I heard about the gross-out contest and that's really fantastic the way you ate that shit!" I said, "Man, I never ate any shit onstage!!" And he goes, "You didn't? Aww." And then he walked away – fuckin' broken-hearted, you know. I mean, people want to believe this. I'll tell you, the closest I ever came to eating shit was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, North Carolina".
- - Extract from Zappa, by Dan Forte, for Musician, No.19, August 1979
FZ's lyrics touch on them, his comments of them are often critical. Rock musicians' tales of myth and truth become inexorably linked and are born in them. in the world of the road tour America's Holiday Inns and similar hotels can become a way of life. Here are some more 'Inn' Tales that can be used as jumping off points to discover the music and life of Frank Zappa. The list can be expanded as considered suitable, with a link to source...
...You two chicks sound real far out and groovy
Ever been to a Holiday Inn?
Magic Fingers in the bed (Picture it!)
Wall-mounted TV screens
Coffee-Host plugged into the bathroom wall
Formica's really keen!...
Look Out Pretty Mama I'm On The Road Again New roadies Jim and Coy said they were tired too. But the night before they managed to make it from their room to the Holiday Inn bar where they got loaded by themselves and listened to the music of "The Infernos."
"Every Holiday Inn is alike and most halls are alike," Paul said. "You're always movin' so fast that you really don't see much of the town. I can't remember where we came in from."
[FZ, talking of a guy named John, who was the brother of a girl that he went to high school with in Lancaster] ...
Frank Zappa: "Gullah is that black dialect, that Negro dialect that is repeated most constantly. It comes from this language called Gullah. They have different words for different things, and different pronunciations and 'swimp' is 'shrimp'. They call 'em 'swimp'. His language was very Gullah, and so, I was introduced into the concept of 'swimp'. The other thing that guy was famous for was he liked to fuck Holiday Inn maids with hairy legs"...
What's A Mother To Do? Curtis scans his maps and pulls out for Ithaca.
That same afternoon, after checking into (where else?) another Holiday Inn, Frank sits in his Ithaca motel room putting the finishing touches on a piece called "Greggery Peccary."
Howard: This is neat!
Jeff: Spending a night in the motel
Howard: This is about the neatest Holiday Inn I've seen in days. The rooms are in Foon's name, hey? Look at that, wild coyotes!
FZ: Ha ha ha ha!
When you are travelling, are you able to check out the different places you go? A lot of people say they just check into a Holiday Inn here and a Holiday Inn there.
"Well, you do but it all depends on how alert you are. You can check into a Holiday Inn and do nothing but sleep; I go there and make use of it. I've noticed that Holiday Inns have physically deteriorated over the last 15 years. We don't stay in 'em anymore; we try to avoid 'em as much as possible. The history of rock 'n' roll is almost like the history of the deterioration of the cheap workmanship in the original construction of the Holiday Inns. Every year, you can go back to the same hotel and watch things fall apart. It's like being a part of history till it gets to the point it's so disgusting that you don't wanna stay there anymore. We switched over to Howard Johnson's in some places".
You could almost put out your own travel brochure.
"Yeah, and include where to eat, too".
Frank Zappa: The room service routine is something that we used to do in 'Pygmy Twylyte'.
Den Simms: Does it just stem from adventures that you had while on the road, concerning room service?
Frank Zappa: Yeah, the whole idea of Do-Do room service is something that Napoleon came up with, and I don't know where that stems from.
Gail Zappa: Dogs, probably.
Frank Zappa: That's probably what it was, yeah. Oh, I could tell ya another story that ... I don't know whether that's where that actually came from, but it shoulda been. (laughter) Perellis had another girlfriend, that he met in Ohio, who had a cockapoo.
Den Simms: It's one of those dogs that you can't tell which end is the front, right?
Frank Zappa: Yeah. Well, I believe we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the girl, the cockapoo, and Perellis were in a Holiday Inn, and, uh, it was discovered that the cockapoo had worms, and this was Sunday. So, in an emergency effort, he wanted to do something about the dog's worms, and called a veterinarian. I don't know how he managed to do all this, but the net result was, they recommended that they give the dog a Fleet enema ... in the bathtub.
The Mudshark Interview [Concerning events at the Edgewater Inn]
Martin Tickman: "Well, Rock 'n' Roll bands, and other guests as well, often catch shark and squid and octopus and usually we... it lands up either in the bath tub or dribbled on the floor on the way to the bath tub. But it's not reserved to, uh, to any Rock 'n' Roll bands, I mean, other guests do it too".
FZ: "Mm-mmh, but how frequently do you find squids and sharks and octopuses in the bath tubs of the rooms here at the hotel?"
Martin Tickman: "After almost any good weekend of pretty heavy occupancy, say, like over half the house filled".