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Frank Zappa Dies of Cancer

By Paul Feldman
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES

Rock musician Frank Zappa, who rode to fame in the late 1960's as leader of the eccentric Mothers of Invention, died Saturday evening at his Los Angeles home from the complications of prostate cancer he had been battling for years. He was 52.

A family friend, Jim Nagle, said he was buried in a private ceremony in Los Angeles.

The prolific guitarist was one of rock's premier iconoclasts. In an era of increasing commercialism, he never tired of composing, strumming, singing and philosophizing to the beat of a wildly different drummer.

Zappa's music was a frothy stew of 50's doo-wop, rhythm `n' blues, experimental jazz and avant-garde classical strains -- heaped high with perverse, often scatological, lyrics.

"People think of me as some kind of deranged comedian," Zappa once said in a magazine interview.

Yet his anarchic demeanor, and occasionally juvenile antics, were counterbalanced by a increasingly strong sense of social commitment.

Zappa may have joked in his songs about raising dental floss in Montana and about the dangers of eating yellow snow. But by the mid-1980s, his long, stringy hair and floppy mustache had been manicured and he emerged as a leading voice for registering young people to vote.

In all, Zappa released more than 40 albums with the Mothers, symphony orchestras, jazz artists and as a soloist.