Pauline Butcher Bird has penned Freak Out: My Life with Frank Zappa - a book about her time living with the rock musician

My Life with Frank Zappa hits the shelves and radio waves

 por Tom Smurthwaite -

 Pauline Butcher Bird with Frank Zappa

6 mai. / 2014 - “I want people to know it’s not a story about drugs and rock ’n’ roll. It’s a coming of age story about a young girl finding her identity.”

These are the words of Cobham resident Pauline Butcher Bird about a book she has written detailing her friendship with the iconic American rock musician Frank Zappa.

The events in the late 1960s that led to a young, unspoiled English girl going to live in Hollywood, Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa has now been adapted into a Radio 4 play by Matthew Broughton.

Mrs Butcher Bird told Get Surrey: “Frank encouraged me to write a book but I was never able to do it.

“It was not until I was advised by a radio producer a few years ago ‘to write something that no one else could write’ that it started to come about.”

Meeting an avant garde performer in London and moving over to live with him in Hollywood is very far from an everyday tale.

The unlikely friendship started when Pauline Bird was working in London in 1967.

“Frank was over here promoting his Mothers of Invention tour, and as part of my job I was asked to type out the lyrics to his second album, Absolutely Free,” she recalled. “I couldn’t understand what he had written so I made up my own words, which he thought were hilarious.”

At the time she was disappointed at missing out on a university place, although Zappa told her 'education messes people up’.

It was after meeting him a few more times that he made an interesting proposal.

She said: “Frank told me he was writing a book and that I should come out to Hollywood to live in his house as an assistant.”

The residence in question was the Log Cabin.

Pauline Butcher Bird from Cobham

“Famous rocks stars of the day used to come in and out as they pleased, although I never knew who they were," she said. “One time I met a young man and asked ‘So, what do you do?’ He said that he was Eric Clapton and played the guitar.”

During this period, from 1968 to 1972, she kept in constant correspondence with her family, sending numerous letters back home to her parents. It was while revisiting these incredible accounts that the book started to take shape.

“It was the letters that really stirred the memories,” she added.

Although facing the usual time pressures of everyday life, the turning point was moving to Asia with her husband Peter, with whom she has a son.

“Out in Singapore I had more free time and was able to finally put the book together.

“It took two years in all, with nine months just to type out all the letters,” she said.

Completing the project in 2011, she then set about trying to find a publisher, writing around 60 letters to potential parties.

There was immediate interest, which subsequently led to the radio adaption.

“I gave permission for the play, but I’m annoyed as I was never consulted during the adaptation,” she said.

There is an understandable apprehension about hearing it on the radio, although Mrs Butcher Bird is taking it all in her stride.

“I may be surprised, I may be upset,” she said.

Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa is published by Plexus Publishing Ltd.

The play adaption Frank Zappa and Me is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2.30pm on Tuesday (May 6).


Cobham woman's memoir of life with rock legend Frank Zappa comes to BBC Radio Four
By Leatherhead Advertiser | Posted: May 02, 2014

A RADIO adaptation of a book written by a Cobham woman about her life with an American rock legend during the late 60s and early 70s will be broadcast next week.

Frank Zappa And Me, a dramatised version of Freak Out! My Life With Frank Zappa by Pauline Butcher Bird, hits the airwaves on Tuesday at 2.15pm on BBC Radio Four.

The Fairfield Park resident said: "The play takes place from 1967 to 1972 when I was a straight English girl suddenly immersed in the centre of a rock 'n' roll maelstrom in Laurel Canyon, Hollywood."

She added: "This is my first book and it is very unusual for a first book to be adapted into a radio play so I feel chuffed about that."

Matthew Broughton's 45-minute adaptation of her memoir, which stars Ronan Summers and Lucy Briggs-Owen, begins when Pauline meets the unconventional avant-garde musician on a trip to promote the Mothers of Invention's first concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

After asking her to type the lyrics of his second album, Absolutely Free, the young Pauline finds herself unable to understand the strange words.

After making up her own, much to Zappa's amusement, the two unlikely minds find a rapport that takes Pauline to Los Angeles to live and work in Zappa's house amid an entourage of musicians, freaks and other rock stars.

The story follows Pauline's relationship with Frank from a shaky seduction scene to Pauline's shock as a gunman threatens to shoot him.

The book was based on the letters she wrote to her parents, who lovingly kept them in a shoebox for 40 years.


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