Dead Girls Of London

Album: Another Cheap Aroma (1979)

Songfacts®:

  • For once, the bark of a Frank Zappa song is worse than its bite, because this is not a tale of necrophilia like "I Want My Baby Back," and it isn't even an ode to a serial murderer at large like the Phil Lynott-penned "Killer On The Loose."

    Zappa married his second wife, Gail, in 1967; they had four children - all of whom they gave bizarre names - and remained together until his premature death from prostate cancer in December 1993, just short of his 54th birthday. Though he may have been a family man, Zappa was also a rock star, and lived the rock star lifestyle. According to his biographer Barry Miles in Frank Zappa, the song was inspired by the frigid reception he experienced while trying to pick up girls at the London nightclub Tramp after recording sessions, the only place he could find that served meals after 2 a.m.

    Tramp was opened in Central London in 1969; it is a private club with an exclusive clientele; its membership list reads like a Who's Who of showbiz, including Elton John, Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones from the music side. A club of this nature is obviously a magnet for attractive young girls, many on the lookout for their big break in music, film or fashion.

    Although he was a big name, going back to Frank Zappa's hotel room was not regarded as a good career move. Whatever personal failings he have may had, no one could honestly claim that vanity was one of them, but this curt, and apparently serial rejection, obviously wounded his ego. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Zappa wrote "Dead Girls Of London" with the electric violinist L. Shankar; Zappa wrote the lyrics, and both men composed the music. Zappa got Van Morrison to record the lead vocal for the song, which was quite a coup, but a contractual landmine. Morrison was signed to Warner Bros., as was Zappa, but around this time Zappa was getting fed up with the label and formed his own Zappa Records. Understandably, Warner Bros. wouldn't let him use Morrison's vocal, so Zappa replaced it with his own vocal singing in unison with Ike Willis, and released the song on L. Shankar's album Touch Me There in 1979, the first release by another artist on Zappa Records.

    The Van Morrison version surfaced on bootlegs and was officially released in 2011 on The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAAAM Birthday Bundle.

Comments: 3

  • Ben from Basingstoke, UkRead Pauline Butcher for more insight in to Zappa and his relationships. Pauline was his p.a. for several years after he met her in......London!
  • Tom from Huddersfield, United KingdomHe died in December 1993...Just short of his 53rd birthday (not 54th)... A TV interviewer asked "Did you want to be a rock star" he replied "I'm NOT a Rock Star, that's the wrong word for me" Interviewer replies "No, but did you WANT to to be? FZ replies "Being a rock star is nothing to aspire to, I shave this face every day, there's no way, Herman & the Hermits, that's a rock star"... UK TV interview late 80's
  • Ozric from Racine, Winever knew van morrison recorded with frank.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Amy Lee of EvanescenceSongwriter Interviews

The Evanescence frontwoman on the songs that have shifted meaning and her foray into kids' music.

PrinceFact or Fiction

Prince is shrouded in mystery, making him an excellent candidate for Fact or Fiction. Is he really a Scientologist? Does he own an exotic animal?

Evolution Of The Prince SymbolSong Writing

The evolution of the symbol that was Prince's name from 1993-2000.

Kristian Bush of SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.

Weird Al YankovicFact or Fiction

Did Al play on a Beach Boys record? Did he have beef with George Lucas and Coolio? See if you can spot weird but true stories.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.