Steve Vai Recalls Frank Zappa Stopping A Live Show To Praise Him For Nailing The Song
Speaking to Guitar World, a three-time Grammy Award winner musician Steve Vai opened up his thoughts on working with the late composer and bandleader Frank Zappa.
Frank Zappa is considered one of the most experimental musicians of history. During his 30-year-long career, he composed many tracks from different genres like jazz fusion, pop, and rock. He recorded 62 studio albums until his death, and 57 posthumous albums were released by Zappa Family Trust after he passed away.
Since Zappa chose not to collaborate with many musicians trough his career, Steve Vai is exceptional just like Captain Beefheart. In 1979, Vai transcribed Zappa’s complex songs and sent them to the late star. Since Steve managed to draw the attention of Frank, he toured with him from 1980 to 1983.
In the interview he recently joined, Steve was asked whether there is a moment on stage that will stay with him forever during his time touring with Zappa. Steve recalled the day they were playing ‘Montana‘ in a live show, and Frank stopped the performance to congratulate him after he nailed the song.
Zappa stated that:
“There are so many. The first show of the tour I did with Frank in 1980, he’d never really had somebody playing these types of melodies on the guitar. He had given me the melody to this song, Montana, and now you get guys like Mike Keneally and Dweezil [Zappa] and that’s a piece of cake.
It’s not a problem for these guys, but back then nobody was doing that stuff. And I’ve seen Frank in a bad mood. If he heard one mistake, one tiny little mistake, something he didn’t like, he threw the whole song out. And if it’s the same person who made the mistake more than two times in a row, they were thrown out of the band.
Well, we play Montana and there’s that interlude in the middle and I just nailed it, you know? I just freakin’ nailed it. And he stopped the show, walks up to me in front of the audience and he says to the mic, ‘Not bad, sport.’ And then we kick in again. Now, I’ve seen him stop the band for other reasons that weren’t as friendly as that, trust me. So that was a surprise.”
You can watch one of Frank & Steve’s finest performances below.