From Barry Miles’ Zappa: A Biography:
[Zappa’s] parents had no interest in music and there was no radio or television in the house, so the only music Zappa heard as a child came from outside: movie soundtracks, background music to soap operas, the big band music that was still popular in the early fifties, which he heard at friends’ houses. Zappa: ‘I think the first music I liked was Arab music and I don’t know where I ever ran into it, but I heard it someplace and that got me off right away.’
Then came the big breakthrough. Around the time of his thirteenth birthday, Frank was riding in the Henry J with his parents when ‘Gee’ by the Crows came on the radio, followed by the Velvets singing ‘I’. ‘It sounded fabulous,’ said Zappa. ‘My parents insisted it be dismissed from the radio, and I knew I was on to something…’
I think it sounds like the musical aesthetic he chased for the rest of his life.
The Velvets, “I” (embedding disabled)
In the summer of 1954 the Zappas acquired a Decca record player from the Smokey Rogers Music Store in El Cajon. It had a speaker on the bottom, raised on little triangular legs, and the pick-up arm needed a quarter balanced on it to ensure accurate tracking. Zappa remember it as a ‘really ugly piece of audio gear.’ The record player came with some free 78s, including a copy of ‘The Little Shoemaker’ by the Gaylords, which had entered the Top 10 in July 1954. Rosie liked to play it while she did the ironing.
I have to admit. It is catchy.
Just for shits and giggles: Francis, Rose Marie, and Frank Zappa pose for Life Magazine.