Dweezil Zappa Guitar Masterclass
Dweezil sits in a chair with his guitar and practice amp. People taking the class are encouraged to bring their guitars, but they don’t play through amps. Entry to Masterclass does not include ticket to 8 PM concert.
Dweezil Zappa was born on September 5, 1969 in Los Angeles the son of Frank and Gail Zappa.
It was inevitable that from the moment of his birth his life would be filled wall-to wall with music (his father having listed his religion as “musician” on Dweezil’s birth certificate). Dweezil’s early years were spent largely away from the spotlight—something of a rarity for the child of a celebrity, but perfect for cultivating a close relationship with his family.
Having watched his father perform concerts from the side of the stage since he was in diapers it was no surprise that he began to show an interest in music early on. At 6 years old he received his first guitar, a Fender Music Master from his dad.
Having primarily heard the music his father was working on or listening to at home while growing up, Dweezil soon found himself exposed to some new sounds on the radio. Besides his father’s music he began listening to the Beatles, Queen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. Like many aspiring guitarists of his generation, Dweezil’s ear was caught in a stranglehold by the trailblazing guitar styles of Edward Van Halen and Randy Rhoads.
He listened to their records for hours on end trying to figure out a way to translate what he was hearing in his head to his fingers at the other end of the guitar. Along the way, he had opportunities to ask his dad for some help. “I remember asking Frank to help me figure out the song ‘Revelation/Mother Earth’ from Blizzard Of Oz. I really didn’t know anything about chords and in that song Randy Rhoads was using classical music elements that were really new to rock guitar at the time. Frank helped me learn the finger picking intro.”
To gain more fundamental knowledge of technique and scales Dweezil was fortunate to have some assistance from one of the musicians in his father’s band at that time, Steve Vai. Dweezil became remarkably proficient in a very short amount of time due to his intense practicing sessions.
“Steve made a notebook, which I still have, of scales and exercises and I practiced the stuff from that book at least 5 hours a day.” In 1982, at the age of 12 he made his first onstage appearance with his father’s band at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. “That was a great experience. I was so excited to have been asked to play but I was incredibly nervous. Since I could only really play lead in the key of A, Frank devised a hand signal for the band to modulate the song ‘Stevie’s Spanking’ down to A from it’s original key of B. After I finished my solo he gave the cue for the band to modulate back up. It was so cool how he had so much control over the music, it almost seemed like a magic trick to me. It made a big impression on me and has stuck with me my whole life.”
In 1984, Dweezil contributed guitar solos to both “Stevie’s Spanking” and “Sharleena” on Frank’s album Them Or Us.
In 1986, Dweezil made his debut in Hollywood as an actor with his role in the classic 80s film Pretty In Pink. 1987 saw Dweezil raise his profile further with another film role alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mick Fleetwood in The Running Man.
1988 saw Dweezil sign a deal with Chrysalis Records, releasing his second album My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama. The title track and video, a cover of the Frank Zappa single, found it’s way into the MTV rotation.
2000 saw Dweezil issue his first solo album since 1991’s Confessions… with the release of Automatic. By this time, Dweezil’s musicianship had come full-circle as he showed off his guitar virtuosity with eclectic all guitar orchestrations of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Hawaii 5-0.”
Dweezil continues to tour and the current band lineup is Dweezil’s favorite so far. “This is the best version of the band. We are able to tackle any vocal scenario as well as the hardest instrumental passages.”