Frank Zappa’s Halloween shows in New York were already legendary – a rock and roll bacchanalia of jaw-dropping musicianship, costume-clad revelry, spontaneous theatrical hijinks and of course a heavy dose of Zappa’s signature virtuosic guitar workouts. Eagerly anticipated every year, fans never knew exactly what was in store but knew it would be of epic proportions and one-of-a-kind experience that only Zappa and his skilled group of musicians could provide. When Zappa returned to The Palladium in NYC in 1981 for a five-show four-night run from October 29 to November 1, the nearly-annual tradition was even more anticipated than usual as the 1980 concerts were cut short due to Zappa falling ill. Curiously there was no fall tour the previous year and thus no Halloween shows.
Perhaps because of this, Zappa arrived at the 3,000 capacity Palladium raring to play, armed with a cracking new band, a just-released double album and a film crew in tow. In addition to recording all shows with a professional mobile rig and filming the Halloween night festivities for future releases, the midnight concert was to be the first live simulcast in cable history, broadcasting via satellite over the radio and on a recently launched music channel called MTV. The early 8 pm show was captured on video by Zappa’s crew and the footage of the two shows ended up being utilized for a number of different video projects over the years, most notably the home video releases, The Dub Room Special (1983) and The Torture Never Stops (1982). While...
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