Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, musician, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa established himself as a prolific and highly distinctive composer, electric guitar player and band leader. He worked in almost every musical genre and wrote music for rock bands, jazz ensembles, synthesizers and symphony orchestra, as well as musique concrète works constructed from pre-recorded, synthesized or sampled sources. In addition to his music recordings, he created feature-length and short films, music videos, and album covers.
Although he only occasionally achieved major commercial success, he maintained a highly productive career that encompassed composing, recording, touring, producing and merchandising his own and others' music. Zappa self-produced almost every one of the more than sixty albums he released with the Mothers of Invention or as a solo artist. He received multiple Grammy nominations and won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1988 for the album Jazz from Hell. Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In 2005, his 1968 album with the Mothers of Invention, We're Only in It for the Money, was inducted into the United States National Recording Preservation Board's National Recording Registry. The same year, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #71 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2007, his birthtown Baltimore declared August 9 official "Frank Zappa Day" in his honor.
Politically, Zappa was a self-proclaimed "practical conservative", an avowed supporter of capitalism and independent business. He was also a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion. Zappa was a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship, and his work embodied his skeptical view of established political processes and structures. Although many assumed that he, like many musicians, used drugs, Zappa strongly opposed recreational drug use.
Zappa was married to Kathryn "Kay" Sherman (1960–1964; no children), and then in 1967 to Adelaide Gail Sloatman, with whom he remained until his death in December 1993 of prostate cancer. They had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen. Gail Zappa handles the businesses of her late husband under the company name the Zappa Family Trust.