Frank Vincent Zappa was born on 21 December 1940, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. His parents were second-generation Sicilian Greeks, the family had arabian and french origins too. His father played strolling crooner guitar. At the age of 12 Frank, who had relocated to California with his family, became interested in drums, learning orchestral percussion at summer school in Monterey. In high school he had some more harmony training because he was an unruly senior, and was given permission to take some harmony classes to occupy his mind with. In fact, he found the training very boring. The first time he had any of his music performed was at Mount St. Mary's College in 1962 - an all oddball, textured weirdo stuff, that didn't sound at all like music is supposed to sound; still, the thing was actually taped and broadcast by KPFK.
Zappa played drums in a local R&B band called The Ramblers, and after moving to Lancaster formed the racially-integrated Blackouts. Early exposure to a record of Ionisation by avant garde classical composer Edgard Varèse instilled an interest in advanced rhythmic experimentation that never left him. The electric guitar also became a fascination, and he began collecting R&B records that featured guitar solos: Howlin' Wolf with Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters, Johnny Guitar Watson and Clarence Gatemouth Brown were special favourites. A school friend, Don Vliet (later to become Captain Beefheart), shared his interest.