Frank Vincent Zappa was born in the city of Baltimore, Maryland on December 21, 1941. He came from Greek, Arab, Sicilian and French decent, inheriting the Greek and Arab from his Father, and the Sicilian and French from his Mother (Zappa 15). Frank’s childhood home was in the town of Edgewood, Maryland in the Army housing facility (16) where his Dad worked as a meteorologist at the Edgewood Arsenal (19). Because Frank kept getting sick in Maryland, his parents decided to move down to Florida (22). Frank’s Mother got homesick so they moved back to Maryland. This time they moved into the city of Baltimore, but no one in the family particularly enjoyed it there so they packed up and headed west for California (23).
It was in California where Frank developed his interest in explosives, as he already had learned how to make gunpowder at the age of six (24). While Frank was reloading a used firework tube between his legs with some of his “secret formula” (which consisted mainly of filed Ping-Pong ball dust and single-shot caps), he accidentally pressed down too hard on the single shot caps, and they ignited, nearly rendering him unable to have children, as well as making a small crater in the floor and blowing the doors open (26).
Frank did not learn from this, however. It would not be until he and some friends managed to fill some paper cups with solid rocket fuel and stink bomb powder, and started fires all throughout the school on open house night that would make him stop. This ingenious act got him expelled, and brought an end to Frank’s “scientific career” (27).
Aside from exploding things, Frank also had an interest in music, when at the age of twelve he began to get interested in the drums. In 1956 he was playing the drums for a rhythm-and-blues band called the Ramblers, but he was eventually fired because the other members of the band complained that he “played the cymbals too much” (29-30)
Another musical interest of his was Edgard Varese, a man who, according to Frank, looked like a mad scientist. His music contained sirens, snare drums, bass drums, and even a lion’s roar. Frank absolutely loved it (31-32). Aside from Varese, Frank also liked Stravinsky, for he had bought The Rite of Spring performed by “The World-Wide Symphony Orchestra,” and he loved that almost as much as he loved Varese.