Nigey Lennon

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Nigey Lennon, featured on the back cover of Being Frank, 1995.

Nigey Lennon (July 1, 1954 - 14 November 2016 [1]) was an American guitarist and writer. She was acquainted with Frank Zappa between 1969-1975, which she chronicled in her book "Being Frank - My Time With Frank Zappa" (1995).


Nigey Lennon was born in 1954. She had a personal and professional relationship with Frank Zappa between 1969 and 1975. She was 15 when she wrote him a letter, complete with some home recordings of songs he had written. To her surprise he invited her to his studio at Bizarre Records, where they had a chat in the presence of her boyfriend. He told her he liked some of her songs, but had no intention to record them.

Two years later, in 1971, Nigey was 17 and met Zappa backstage after a concert in L.A. She performed as a guitarist in the Mothers for a while, including on stage, and became his mistress during this era. In her book she claimed she sang backing vocals during the recording of Dirty Love, but Zappa apparently felt they sounded "too white", whereupon they were re-recorded by Tina Turner and The Ikettes. She also met Captain Beefheart, who made a drawing for her. For a long while Lennon hoped that Zappa would produce an album by her, but this never came to fruition. He grew paranoid that she was actually planning to write all kinds of stuff about him, intended to publish in a music magazine. By 1975 their friendship soured and they lost contact again. At that point Lennon already had a relation with producer Lionel Rolfe, with whom she was married between 1975 and 1998. [2]

Lennon wrote the books Mark Twain in California (Chronicle Books, 1982), Alfred Jarry: The Man with the Axe (illustrated by Bill Griffith, Panjandrum Books, 1984), Bread and Hyacinths: The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles (with Paul Greenstein and Lionel Rolfe, California Classics Books, 1992) and The Sagebrush Bohemian: Mark Twain in California (Paragon House, 1990)

After Zappa's death in 1993 Lennon contributed to the article Zappa, City paper, 94-1 (1994). She later wrote a book about her relationshop with Zappa, "Being Frank - My Time With Frank Zappa" (1995), which was updated in 2003.

Nigey Lennon recorded Reinventing the Wheel (2000), on which Patrice Zappa performs too. The album cover is the drawing Captain Beefheart made for her. In 2006 she, Ed Palermo, Candy Zappa and John Tabacco presented Zappa Sings Zappa, a two-hour show where she performed Zappa compositions on stage. Lennon and Tabacco also covered The Idiot Bastard Son on Andrew Greenaway's album "20 Extraordinary Renditions" (2007). Three years later she contributed a track to the tribute album 21 Burnt Weeny Sandwiches (2010), released on Cordelia Records.

In 2016 Lennon passed away from cancer.


Despite Lennon's detailed stories and claims in her book "Being Frank" few of Zappa's former band members recall her performing on stage. There are no known recordings or her playing. Though she definitely had contact with Zappa during the 1970s, as several photos prove. Patrice Zappa, Zappa's sister, also showed photos of her in the presence of Zappa's mother. [3] According to Charles Ulrich, Ray Collins remembers her being around. Howard Kaylan and Don Preston made a similar claim, though both remember her more as a friend of Zappa than an actual musician. In David Walley's Exclusive Interview David Walley praised Being Frank as an interesting and "according to me, quite accurate" book.


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