- Title: LITHUANIA/FILE: STATUE OF ROCK STAR FRANK ZAPPA UNVEILED
- Date: 16th December 1995
- Summary: STATUE BEING UNVEILED, CROWD LAUGHS AS COVER IS CAUGHT ON HEAD OF THE STATUE FIREWORKS BEING SET OFF NEXT TO STATUE BOGDANAS WATCHING AS STATUE IS UNVEILED
- Embargoed: 31st December 1995 12:00
- Location: VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
- Country: EUROPE Lithuania
- Topics: Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVAAMU2HNGBSNWBNBJZ5ZFH9MGZ9
- Story Text: Hundreds of fans gathered in the Lithuanian capital on Saturday (December 16) for the unveiling ceremony of a bust of American rock star Frank Zappa.
The zany rock star had a big cult following in eastern Europe and he is still very popular in Lithuania.
Zappa had planned to visit Vilnius and was in correspondence with Saulius Paukstys, the head of the Vilnius Frank Zappa Fan Club. But he never made it to Lithuania because he died in 1994 from prostate cancer.
It was Paukstys' idea to erect a memorial to Zappa. He organised fund-raising events and concerts to pay for the bust.
Another driving force behind getting the bust in place was Vilnius gallery director Saulius Pilinkus. He countered criticism in the Russian press that erecting a memorial to a foreign rock star was a case of Lithuania selling out to the West.
"This is more than just a bust of Zappa the famous rock musician," he said. "It is a memorial to the idea of freedom, the idea of creative freedom. It's a memorial for the baby-boomers who Frank Zappa influenced." Statues of Soviet figures such as Vladimir Lenin and Felix Dzerzhinsky were relegated to a special park after Lithuania gain independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. A statue of brutal dictator Josef Stalin lies covered in snow on the ground.
The 80cm high bust was cast in bronze by respected Vilnius sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas who made his name casting images of Soviet leaders and Communist heroes.
But for Bagdanas, making a sculpture of the western musician was not so a big change from his previous subjects.
"Frank Zappa was a revolutionary in the sense that he fought for freedom through art," he said in his studio. "People have varying opinions of him. Some say he was a hooligan. Others say he was a talented person, practically a genius." Zappa fans came from as far afield as Britain to attend the opening ceremony. Cheema Deepinder, a 34-year-old British citizen, said he's been a Zappa fan since 1978 and has all his records. He read about the memorial in a national newspaper and thought it would be a good way of showing solidarity with other Zappa fans.
"I'm very touched and moved that the small community over here have taken Frank Zappa as some sort of cultural hero," he said.
Joe Black, representative of Zappa's record label Rykodisc, said he was honoured to be part of the ceremony.
"I think it's a great achievement in the face of adversity," he said. "I'm really honoured that the Frank Zappa Fan Club has invited us along. It's fantastic, a great turnout. It's a great achievment." At the opening ceremony the crowd chortled when the veil snagged on Zappa's wild hair. It was soon released, the band played on and fireworks were let off.
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