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Granddaddies of Grooming: Frank Zappa

Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the “Zappa.”

What we have here are two distinct types of facial hair—a slightly longer “imperial” up top and a slightly wider “soul patch” down below. Put them together and you’ve got one of the most memorable mustaches in rock history.

As you might expect, there’s a rebellious origin story. “I had a mustache when I was 11,” Zappa told Simpsons creator Matt Groening in a 1992 interview. “Then in high school I added a ‘Genghis’ [below his bottom lip].”

Displeased by Zappa’s appearance, the principal offered him two options: write a 2,000-word essay about proper grooming or be suspended for two weeks. “So I took a two-week vacation. I showed up back in school with a list of all my R&B records by artist and label, and a list of all the ones that I thought I was going to buy for the next three or four months, and that was my 2,000-word essay. I laughed at them.”

See the Zappa over the years...

The Zappa is also the world’s only mustache under copyright, after Frank’s widow sued a German fan club for using a mustache logo for their Zappanale festival.

Of course, we imagine Johnny Otis would have a few things to say about that.