David Logeman got the better of over 50 other candidates to become the drummer in Frank Zappa’s band, following Vinnie Colaiuta’s sudden departure in early 1980. David can be heard on Tinsel Town Rebellion (1981), You Are What You Is (1981), You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 1 (1988), You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 4 (1991) and now Zappa 80: Mudd Club/Munich (2023).
He left Frank to pursue TV and film soundtrack work, including for Country Jamboree (1981), Dreams (1986) and Back To The Future Part II (1989). While working on the daytime soap opera General Hospital, he met musicians from the Beach Boys and the surf duo Jan & Dean. In 1988, he started touring with the latter and was a part of Mike Love’s California Beach Band in the 90s. David told me that Love then “started to put me in Beach Boys shows. Mike was not happy with their drummer. I ultimately did not officially replace the previous guy, but I did many Beach Boys dates with Mike, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks. It was a dream come true to work with the Beach Boys.”
For the last 20 plus years, David has toured as leader of the Surf City Allstars – “the only ‘tribute’ band on the planet where each and every member toured in the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean.”
Like Vinnie, he is a devout Christian and wrote the book God’s Free Gifts: (as promised), which was published in 2017.
He talked about his audition for Frank in Episode #58 of The Official Frank Zappa Podcast. I thought I’d ask him a little more.
In a number of interviews, you have stated that you were already a fan of Frank’s music, citing Over-Nite Sensation as a particular favourite. Which other albums of Frank’s were you familiar with before you auditioned for him?
Oh cool – and you got to play You Didn’t Try To Call Me and I Ain’t Got No Heart on the tour!
After you passed the audition, you were very quickly on the road playing with ‘old hands’ Ike Willis, Ray White, Arthur Barrow and Tommy Mars. Describe that experience for me.
Because all these guys were road warriors with Frank, they helped me adjust to expectations and life on the road. I had never been on a big tour like that, so every one of these guys were very helpful. All of them were very friendly and we got along great. Our personalities blended very well. That made these long weeks on the road a lot of fun. I was in shock every night we performed just how good all these guys were. I think we pushed each other to new highs of excellence. I hope listeners will hear all of that on these new recordings being released.
Do you recall being joined on stage by L. Shankar and Craig “Twister” Steward?
I do not remember being on stage with either of these gents.
On the ZappaCast, you mentioned Aynsley Dunbar and Terry Bozzio being in the audience at one show – did you meet them after? Did they give you any advice?
As soon as I went backstage after the Berkeley concert, the crew and band told me that Aynsley and Terry were there hanging out. I did not meet Terry, but Aynsley did come up to me and say, “That was a great show!” He did not elaborate or give me any advice. I wish I could have talked to Aynsley longer, but others came up and added their own reactions to the show.
Given your faith, did you have any concerns about the lyrics to any of Frank’s songs on religion?
Even though I am a believer in Jesus, I also believe in free will. Frank’s lyrics were his own personal view point and I did not concern myself with playing any of his songs about religion. I felt like just because I was in the band did not mean I endorsed Frank’s religious, political, or social views. However, I did agree with Frank’s lyrics about religious hypocrisy and some religious leaders’ obsession with money. Frank knew I was a Christian, but he never belittled me or hassled me about my faith at any time. I really respected him for that. I always felt that maybe God placed me in that band for a reason. Probably for many reasons.
The 1980 World Tour was pretty intense, and then you went straight into the studio to record You Are What You Is. What are your memories of entering the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen?
It was a large beautiful studio built to state of the art specs. The UMRK had natural chambers built in it for different echo and reverb effects. It had a 9½' Bösendorfer concert piano, a large drum booth enclosure, a big mixing console, and plenty of room for as many instruments as we needed to record. I think Missing Persons did some initial recording at the studio, but You Are What You Is was the first full album recorded there.
Were you around when original Mothers Jimmy Carl Black and Motorhead performed their cameos on You Are What You Is?
I missed Motorhead’s performance, but I was there for Jimmy Carl Black. What a thrill to meet the Mothers’ original drummer. We had a great conversation and Jimmy told me a lot about the early days with the Mothers of Invention. What a trip!
Did you record anything in the studio with Frank that remains unreleased, to your knowledge?
I think everything I recorded at the studio has been released. There are tons of live recordings that I am on that may be released in the future.
Yes, I hope so. But when I interviewed Steve Vai in 1997, he said he thought he'd heard a tape of Frank’s love song for Gail, Solitude, performed by “the David Logeman band.”
I do not remember ever recording or playing that song.
Okay. Do you have any specific recollections of recording Drafted Again – did you see Mark Pinske, Ahmet and Moon record their vocals?
I remember Frank telling me why he wrote the song and the political implications supporting his lyrics. He asked me if I could do military style cadence drumming, which of course I can. I played in tons of marching bands in my youth. I did not see Mark, Ahmet, or Moon recording their vocals. I wish I had. Pretty entertaining.
You remained in touch with Frank after that time?
Yes. We remained friends. I would go up to watch him record in the studio often. We also talked on the phone. My future wife talked me into going to his house months before his death. That was the last time I saw Frank or spoke to him. I am glad I got that opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me and what fun it was to play in the band. May God rest his soul.
What about his family – any engagement after Frank’s passing?
No. I was so busy trying to earn a living as a drummer that I never circled back to the Zappa family.
Okay. And what about the other band members from that tour – any further contact since 1980?
I talked to Tommy and Ike on the phone maybe once or twice. Arthur and I met one time because we were invited to play a Zappa festival in Italy, but the finances never materialised. I saw Ray recently. Ray is in the official Zappa tribute band with lots of ex-Zappa musicians. I sat in with them a few months ago at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood.[i] There is a video of me sitting in on the tune, Pick Me I’m Clean. I hope that gets put up on YouTube. Fans will get a kick out of it. It was so great to see Ray and play together with him again. I had not seen Ray or played that song in 42 years!
Interview conducted on Monday 27th February 2023.
[i] David performed with The Zappa Band at the early show on 29th October 2022.