Det. Sgt. Jim Willis

It may very well be that, more than anyone, Det. Sgt. Jim Willis created Frank Zappa. Via Kill Ugly Radio:


Ontario Daily Report
1964, Ted Harp

2 A-Go-Go To Jail
Cucamonga — Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio here Friday and arrested a self-styled movie producer and his buxom red-haired companion. Booked on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture pornographic materials and suspicion of sex perversion, both felonies, at county jail were: Frank Vincent Zappa, 24, and Lorraine Belcher, 19, both of the studio address, 8040 N. Archibald Ave.

Rent Movie
The surprise raid came after an undercover officer, following a tip from the Ontario Police Department, entered the rambling, three-room studio on the pretext of wanting to rent a stag movie. Sgt. Jim Willis, vice investigator of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, said the raid suspect, Zappa, offered to do even better — he would film the movie for $300, according to Willis. When Zappa became convinced the detective was “allright”, he played a tape recording for him. The recording was for sale and it featured, according to police, Zappa and Miss Belcher in a somewhat “blue” dialogue.

More Enter
Shortly after the sneak sound preview, the suspect’s hope for a sale were shattered when two more sheriff’s detectives and one from the Ontario Police Department entered and placed the couple under arrest. Zappa, who recently was the subject of news story on his hopes to produce a low-budget fantasy film and thus bring a share of Hollywood’s glamour to Cucamonga, blamed financial woes for his latest venture. Inside his studio when the raid came was recording and sound equipment valued at $22,000, according to Zappa.

Musical Instruments
Also, a piano, trap drums, vibraphones and several electric guitars were stored among the Daliian litter of the main studio. On the walls, Zappa had hung such varied memorabilia as divorce papers, a picture of himself on the Steve Allen television show, a threat from the Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke his driver’s license, several song publisher’s rejection letters and works of “pop” art. Among Zappa’s completed musical scores were such titles as “Memories Of El Monte” and “Streets Of Fontana”. The latter, written before several utility companies had forsaken the budding composer, opens:

Sweeping Streets
As I was out sweeping the streets of Fontana,
As I was out sweeping Fontana one day,
I spied in the gutter a moldy banana
And with the peeling I started to play …”

Assisting Sgt. Willis in the raid were sheriff’s vice investigators Jim Mayfield and Phillip Ponders, and Ontario Detective Stan McCloskey. Arraignment for Zappa and Miss Belcher next week will bring them close to home. Cucamonga Justice Court is right across the street from the studio.

When asked for assistance in this case, the A.C.L.U. replied, “We can’t take it, it’s not big enough for us.”


From the Miles biography:

Frank was a different person when he came out. He no longer believed anything the authorities told him. As far as he was concerned the American education system had failed him; it was a lie from start to finish, the reality was America was a corrupt, grubby little fascist state. He was determined never to be duped again. Tank C [His jail area] traumatized him for life and in many ways he spent the rest of his career shoving his pornographic tape down America’s throat, time and time again. He was determined to show Americans what their country was really like.

So. Three cheers to the narc who put Mr. Zappa on his path. Thanks, Friday!

2 thoughts on “Det. Sgt. Jim Willis

  1. One of the criticisms of the guy who wrote that anti Zappa piece linked in the War on Zappadan post, was Zappa’s continued use of “porn” and “smut” as themes. I was going to write a post explaining why, but you already wrote it, so now I don’t have to!.

    Yeah, Zappa came from a time and place where people were getting arrested for things we would now consider to be very tame. There’s a famous mural from the sunset strip protesting the fact that Lenny Bruce was busted for talking!

    And in the 80’s, when all that PMRC nonsense reared its ugly head, there’s Frank to remind you about Freedom of Speech.

  2. Well, besides: “Ram it, ram it, ram it, ram it up the poop chute” is pretty fucking funny.

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