For Those Of You Who Might Not Know
In 2020, to celebrate 20 years of bringing you Zappa and related news via my Idiot Bastard website, I wrote an essay a month providing answers to some of those questions no one ever asks me. Yes, I gave 12 FUQs (Frequently Unasked Questions)! Most of these – slightly updated and modified, together with a few other articles (including one about Frank’s brief stint as a beat poet), can now be found in my e-book, Zappa FUQs.
now here’s another brand new one for 2022.
On the planned (but unreleased) 9-LP iteration of The History And Collected Improvisations Of The Mothers Of Invention was a track titled Shirley-Ann. This was recorded at one of the two shows the Mothers performed at the Fillmore East on 22 February 1969. It featured the then twenty year old Shirley Ann, who had recorded a number of records for Philips in Sweden.
Shirley Ann was born Ann-Marie Elisabeth Sanderwall on 19 March 1948 in Gothenburg. Her first big single was a cover of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ backed with her rendition of Phil Ochs’ There But For Fortune (1965). Under the wing of writer/arranger Sandy Alexander, she went on to release Om Och Men (1966), The Art Of Love and Yes! I’ve Got, which became Sweden’s entry in the inaugural World Popular Song Festival – aka The Yamaha Music Festival – in 1970[i]. (Essex girl Kathy Kirby went on to record the song the following year, putting it on the b-side of her smash/flop single, So Here I Go.)
In an interview in 1971, FZ held forth, “I wonder where that chick is? One night we improvised an opera. She used to sing in Sweden. I’d like to find about six more like Shirley Ann. She was standing backstage talking with Jimmy Carl Black who tried to get in her pants one time when we were in Sweden and she wasn’t going for it. So he was hustling her and when he wasn’t meeting with too much success back there he decided he would finally introduce her to the rest of the members of the group. So he said, ‘This is Shirley Ann, and she sings.’ So I said, ‘Sing.’ So she sang a couple of bars and I said, ‘Would you go on stage with us?’ We had to really con her into coming out there. She said, ‘What’ll I sing?’ I said, ‘Whatever you want.’ So she started off singing, ‘I am made of fire and air, come and touch me...my father was the wind.’ She was making up this weird stuff. So Lowell George started singing duets with her, while Motorhead was snorking.”
In his book, For Mother’s Sake: The Memoirs and Recollections of Jimmy Carl Black 1938-2008, JCB confirms FZ’s understanding of his situation with Shirley Ann[ii]: “I had met her on the 1968 tour of Europe. Phew, what a beauty! A classic Scandinavian six-foot tall blonde, an absolutely gorgeous woman but she wouldn’t let me in her pants – although I could eat her all night if I wanted to! She got up on the stage and sang with us and she was a good singer. She was doing all these kind of operatic things that consisted of noises and nonsense. She went back to the hotel with me again after the [Fillmore] show and still wouldn’t fuck me. I guess it just wasn’t meant to happen.”
According to Billboard, Shirley Ann later settled down in Hollywood and abandoned her singing career.
Thanks as ever to Deepinder for the heads-up.
© March 2022 The Idiot Bastard
Photo of Shirley Ann on stage with the Mothers at the Fillmore East by Danny Cornyetz.
[i] Shirley Ann failed to make it to the Grand Final of the 1st festival, held at the Budokan in Tokyo. Equally unsuccessful was the fledgling ABBA (billed simply as Björn & Benny, with their wives uncredited as backing vocalists) whose Santa Rosa failed to make an impression in 1972. More successful acts in the 'Oriental Eurovision' have been Bonnie Tyler (Grand Prix Winner, 1979), Bucks Fizz (Best Song Award, 1981), Céline Dion (Outstanding Song Award, 1982) and Stacy Lattisaw (Grand Prix Winner, 1986). The contest ended in 1989.
[ii] For the record, Jimmy Carl Black refers to her as both 'Marianne' and 'Maryanne' in his memoir.