Frank Zappa’s Clio Award

Animator, Ed Seeman – who would later film the Mothers of Invention’s famed 1967 shows at the Garrick Theater in New York City (and quite a bit more over the course of 13 months) – initially joined forces with Frank Zappa when he formally contracted the bandleader and composer to provide the modernist soundtrack for a 30-second Luden’s Cough Drops television ad:

Frank Zappa’s 1967 Luden’s Cough Drops commercial

Ed Seeman tells the world via his website

“”I first met Frank when he was playing a steady gig at the Garrick Theater in Greenwich Village.  I hired him to score a 30-second animated TV commercial I was animating and producing for Luden’s Cough Drops.  He requested $2,000 plus a studio for a day with a wide variety of instruments, plus a guy to do cough sounds.

The Spot was called “The Big Squeeze.”   It won a Clio for “Best Use of Sound” in 1967 and is mentioned in the [1996 posthumous] release Frank Zappa The Lost Episodes (track #19)”

Says Frank Zappa in the liner notes to The Lost Episodes:

“This is the actual track for a Luden’s Cough Drop commercial that won a Clio Award in 1967 for Best Music for a Commercial.  A freak in an ad agency who was an animator, Ed Seeman, who came to the Garrick shows, did the pictures and recruited me to do the music.  I went along with it.  The commercial shows a squiggly white thing that’s supposed to be the cough wriggling around.  A box of Luden’s appears on the left side of the screen, like a monolith, and squashes it.”

Den Simms, Eric Buxton & Rob Samler would interview Frank Zappa in the September, 1990 edition of Society Pages for “They’re Doing The Interview of the Century (pt. 3)“:

FZ: I did one commercial in ’67 for Luden’s Cough Drops, and that got an award. It got a CLIO for the best music in a commercial in ’67. […]

EB: Do you have the CLIO?

FZ: No.

EB: Was it presented to you?

FZ: No, I found out about it after the fact. I mean, they don’t invite me to CLIO ceremonies, but the advertising agency that did it, y’know, they told me that it got a CLIO.

Mona Zappa

Public television’s The History Detectives would also incorporate this advert into its episode “Frank Zappa’s Lost Collage” about a long-time art collector who found an early 1960s modernist collage with an intriguing “FZ” signature that may or may not have been created by Frank Zappa.

Ed Seeman (who is on Facebook) adds this coda to the story:

“Just want to mention that chronologically I hired him to score my Ludens Commercial first, then after we worked together on that I went to the Garrick Theater and filmed some stuff that was put together for a three minute film he used for a convention about underground merchandising which is why he tore up the FREAK OUT album on camera.  I also recollect he also used it at a Hagstrom guitar event.  After that filming and editing together experience that he enjoyed we then decided to continue working together and putting together footage that he would eventually use for a film idea he had called UNCLE MEAT which he later released with a lot of other footage.

After separating the next year and after i had amassed 14 hours of footage and had traveled to London and Amsterdam with the group and I saw it was never going to come to an end I finally had to sue him and we settled with him paying me (GRYPHON PRODUCTIONS) $25,000 for the footage.  He used many pieces of our footage in subsequent releases but I regret that the world hasn’t seen this footage that hopefully is still stored in his vault.

I managed to create a 40 minute film before releasing the footage to him which he liked and gave me permission to show at film festivals

After many years of trying to get Gail [Zappa] to release my version I finally decided to sell it on my own.  Although ZFT’s attorney stopped me from selling T-Shirts on Zazzle, I still sell them on my Ebay store as well as the DVD.

My rationale which I wrote to their attorney is that if they can copyright the music I hired and paid for then I can sell this version of my footage.”

Mayf Nutter Doesn’t Care

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.”

Mayf Nutter 45Nutter 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.