Just a few minutes into the 1970 country music documentary, The Nashville Sound, there is a quick succession of “man-in-the-street” interviews with various passersby that include – most unexpectedly – Straight Records recording artist, Mayf Nutter, who states his current professional affiliation (artist signed to Frank Zappa’s label) in jarring contrast to his previous position (singer/producer for The New Christy Minstrels):
“My name is Mayf Nutter – I was the leader of The New Christy Minstrels for awhile. I’m just getting back into my country thing and recording now for one of Frank Zappa’s labels: Straight Records. And you know Frank, he does the underground music and everything. I’m happy to be back into country – it’s a beautiful thing.”
Just prior to signing with Zappa, Mayf released one single on MGM – “Daddy Loves You, Boy (It’s Hard to Tell Little Children)” b/w “Sing Me Something Sensible” (1968), both songs penned by Nutter. His first 45 on Straight – “Are My Thoughts With You?” by Mickey Newbury – would be produced in 1969 by Jerry Yester, while his second single (1970’s “Everybody’s Talkin'”) would be produced by Bakersfield veteran, Fuzzy Owens.
Mayf Nutter would record a couple(ish) singles each with Starday and Capitol before issuing novelty country song “I Don’t Care” in 1972 (U.S.) and 1973 (U.K.):
At first I couldn’t understand why a “Bizarre Production” (i.e., Zappa-affiliated) – as it says on the label – would be released on GNP Crescendo instead of Straight (or even Bizarre). But then Billboard‘s January 13, 1973 edition explained how this came to be:
LOS ANGELES—Gene Norman, founder-president of GNP-Crescendo records here is making a strong try to establish a country music image … Norman has just released his first record from the Portland label, owned by Gene Breeden. It is Rose Maddox’s “Mr. Jackson” and will be followed by other Portland product. GNP has also acquired 12 sides by Mayf Nutter, whose first on that label is “I Don’t Care.”
Nutter would later enjoy an acting career that includes television (recurring role on The Waltons as jukebox vocalist, Bobby Bigelow), as well as film.
Frank Zappa — Producer, Occasional Sideman
For a couple years in the mid 1960s, Frank Zappa’s name would appear as producer (or arranger) on the credits for a handful of interesting 45 releases:
Bobby Jameson "Find My Roogalator" b/w "Lowdown Funky Blues 1966
Burt Ward "Boy Wonder I Love You" b/w "Orange Colored Sky" 1966
Eric Burdon & the Animals "The Other Side of This Life" 1967
Barry Goldberg "Ronnie Siegel from Ave. L" (Zappa as musician) 1967
The Knack (60s group) "Softly, Softly" (Zappa as musician) 1967
Zappa’s production work for other artists would appear to have largely dropped off by 1968, although 1976 would see Zappa produce, surprisingly enough. Grand Funk Railroad’s Good Singin’, Good Playin’ LP.