Willie The Pimp

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)



Foggy G, "The Songs That Were Played," We're Only In It For The Touring

1970 (Hot Rats Band): Unfortunately, my tape of the 3/7 show does not contain this song; thus, Charles Ulrich will describe this for you-> "My copy of 3/7/70 has "Willie The Pimp" after "Chunga's Revenge". There is no edit between the songs. FZ introduces the song as "Willie The Pimp", regrets that Beefheart isn't there to sing it, and recites some of the lyrics. Sugar Cane Harris plays violin on it. There's a guitar solo, an organ solo, a bass solo, then an edit to the ending. The whole thing is about twelve minutes long (plus whatever has been edited out, of course)." David Lynch adds: "I have a tape of the March 7 show that DOES include Willie the Pimp. It's an instrumental run-through of the tune, comparable in quality to the rest of the recordings of this band, that lasts 11 and a half minutes- after the opening theme, Frank lets loose with a 2 1/2 minute solo, followed by a 2 minute 21 second violin solo, followed by a three minute keyboard solo, followed by a bass solo that lasts for 1 minute 21 seconds before there's a splice to the closing theme. The "Willie the Pimp" vamp is heard prominently throughout the performance."

1970 (Jun-Dec): Another one of the W-tunes that I have not yet heard. Only performed once, in what appears to be only the second performance of the tune. Anybody out there got any info on this? [Jon Naurin sez..."I have the tape, but I'm not able to provide much information—due to an utterly annoying cut, just the very end of the song is there. From what I can hear, it sounds very much like the Fillmore East version."]

1971: Essentially performed as on "Fillmore East—June 1971"- as an instrumental jam arising out of "Latex Solar Beef"- with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. While I find the original version to be an almost perfect Frank Zappa creation, this version ranks up there as another of Frank's true classics. The manner in which it creeps out of "Latex Solar Beef", slowly inching its way into the spotlight before appearing in its full sleazy glory- is one of the greatest segues of all time. Plus, without the vocals, the tune adopts an even more lurid feeling, and manages to convey the essence of Mr. Pimp better than any lyrics could ever do.

1972: I was really looking forward to hearing this band's performance of this song- apparently only performed on 10/31 early- as I figured the arrangement would be somewhat different, and that this band would give it a sleazy and sultry feel that they accomplished so well on other tunes. Sadly, upon first hearing the song, I was greatly disappointed. The intro and main theme of the song- performed as an instrumental- were rather lifeless, and even managed to make the '84 version sound down and dirty. I was very disappointed, and was about to give up on the song, when the structured part ended, and we were off into solo land. While the vamp itself is not that inspired, the guitar solo is worthy of being heard, while the two horn solos are simply great. Not that dirty- not as vicious as they could be- but just all around, solid performances. Good enough to redeem the miserable beginning, and chalk this one up as a keeper in my book. Interestingly enough, during the solo section, Frank announces the segue into the next song, which is "Montana". A hint of things to come 12 years later, when once again the composed section of the tune would suck.

1973: Apparently only performed once this time round, "Willie" pops up on 5/9 in a ferocious instrumental version, heavy on the guitar and finely accented by some melodic horn riffing. Frank leads the way through the opening theme, heavily chording a short run-through of the verse section, before calming down and making way for a fine Ponty solo. Frank's rhythm work is excellent throughout, but it is when he steps up and starts to solo that the he and the song really take off. Frank runs through a variety of flavors in his lengthy solo, managing to keep a healthy head of steam going for the duration of his journey. Unlike the boring wank-fest "Willies" of the Spring '77 tour, this instrumental rocker does not disappoint.

1974: A rare treat, played the way it should have always been played (hear that, '84 band). Wicked guitar intro, wicked lyrics, wicked guitar solo- a not a trace of reggae anywhere in site. Only played once- on 7/7.

1975: Whip it out Frank! No holds barred. Tear into the riff, let CB do his part, give Denny a chance to sliiide, and then just wail away. An encore at every show, and a guaranteed way to send people home smiling.

1975-76: Only performed once on this tour, on the opening date. Thankfully, Frank does not allow Brock to murder this number vocally, so instead, we simply get an instrumental, guitar-solo vehicle.

1976-77: Dare I say that this version sucks? Yes, I dare, because it does. It starts off promising enough, with Frank tearing into the theme with one of his nastiest sounding tones. But then the vocals start, and we realize that this is not the blasphemous "Willie the Pimp" of the early '70's, but the dreaded "Willie the Pimp Mach II"- the version found on YCDTOSA Volume IV. You know the one, with the redone lyrics, which manage to make this song sound cute. Okay, maybe the solo will redeem things. But no, where's the solo? Just Frank and band randomly jamming for several minutes- no real solo, just a lot of swiftly played chords. Now we are back to the vocals, and no, they do not sound any better the second time round. Finally, we get the real Frank Zappa guitar solo, with a more sinister sounding tone, and hopefully it is well worth the wait. But no, sadly it is not. Yes, its a quite lengthy solo, but it is truly boring. Amazingly enough, this version makes the '84 version sound brilliant. Not an easy feat.

1984: Essentially played as on YCDTOSA Volume IV, which is virtually unforgiveable. What possessed Frank to redo THIS tune THIS way? Come on, Frank, this was the original guitar MONSTER- and look what you've turned it into. And what, is that electronic clapping sounds I hear in the background? And that solo- one-tenth the length of the original? And with that horrible segue into "Montana" every single time? The '84 band may never be forgiven for this one.

1988: Essentially performed as on YCDTOSA Volume IV (why, Frank, why?), allowing for obvious differences in instrumentation, and with the standard deviation coming in Frank's solo. In what may be an overt attempt to apologize for the disco desecration of this number, Frank inserts a full blown performance of the "Flight of the Valkyrie" and a half-baked performance of "Purple Haze" into the 5/26 performance of this number. This little medley occurs immediately into the solo section, and is followed by a rickety segue out of "Purple Haze" into a better than average Frank '88 "Willie the Pimp" solo, which, of course, includes that awful segue into "Montana". (All apologies to the Mighty Miss S for my critique of this tune) [Pat Buzby writes in: "Regarding the Furth Purple Haze, I don't think the solo could be considered a Willie solo—the vamp is totally different. (You may have heard or read FZ's story about having to "bail out" of the botched Purple Haze, with the result that the segue into Montana is even worse than usual.)"]


Conceptual Continuity


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