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Freak out! Buy Frank Zappa's house for $9 million

Frank Zappa sits in his home recording studio circa 1989 or 1990. Photo courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

The late legendary musician Frank Zappa was known as an innovative composer and champion of the strange. This was a man who played a bicycle as an instrument and named one of his sons after his wife's oddly shaped toe.

But despite his fame, Zappa and his family were protective of their privacy, often referring to the Hollywood Hills home he and his late wife Gail bought in 1968 as "the Laurel Canyon home" to mislead people who might want to drop by for a visit.

Now, fans finally have a chance to see inside -- and buy -- the Zappa home.

It's up for sale on eBay for $9 million in connection with a documentary film project directed by Alex Winter, probably best known for his role as Bill in the 1989 film "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." He has also directed two documentaries: "Downloaded" and "Deep Web."

Winter and his team are raising funds to preserve Zappa's personal videos, audio recordings, art and other memorabilia that have been stored for years in "The Vault" -- a massive underground storage area beneath the Zappa home -- and to film the first comprehensive documentary on Zappa's life and work authorized by the Zappa family.

A Kickstarter campaign to fund the "Who the F*@% is Frank Zappa?" film and preserve the contents of The Vault runs through April 8, the same day the eBay listing closes.

The $9 million price tag on the nine-bedroom, six-bathroom home will cover the market value of the house (real estate websites estimate it's worth anywhere between about $3.3 million and $6.9 million) and fully fund the documentary and preservation efforts. The buyer will receive all of the rewards offered by the Kickstarter campaign -- including never-released audio recordings and Zappa family memorabilia -- and will be credited as an executive producer on the film.

"It's so unique and eccentric and wonderful, and my hope is someone buys it who loves Zappa and wouldn't raze it to build something else," Winter said. "That's why we've offered the diehard fans an opportunity to get the house before it goes on the open market."

Although "house" may not be the right word for the compartmental abode.

"It's almost like a hamlet," Winter said.

While the home is fairly unassuming on the outside, the Zappas built a lot of additions over the years, including two guest houses, catwalks and an outdoor spiral staircase. The main home is divided into two sections: One with living areas like the kitchen, library, studio and Frank's office, and another tower with bedrooms.

"There isn't a corner that isn't wild other than the street-facing façade," Winter said. "They were very respectful of the neighborhood."

It also has a pool, rooftop tennis court and additional outdoor space.

Inside, the kitchen is the heart of the home, Winter said.

"It's this giant open, airy space filled with books and photographs," he said. "These are not people who just ordered take out. There was lots of activity in that space."

On Winter's visits to the home, the kitchen was always buzzing with activity.

"There were people in there cooking, people moving around, and Gail ran the family business from the giant kitchen table."

The room's skylights contributed to the light, airy feeling of the space, he said.

Zappa's office, which doubled as his art studio, has remained largely untouched since this death in 1993. The home also has a studio where he had recorded since the 1980s, a bonus for any aspiring musician who might consider buying the home.

"Zappa was very exacting about quality, and the acoustics and bones of that space -- even if you pull the gear out -- are top-of-the-line," Winter said. "It's the kind of thing you'd find in a professional (recording) space."

Winter noted that the recording gear, along with the other furnishings and art in the home, will go with the family. Some pieces may also be donated to museums.

"We want to allow fans to potentially discuss with the family the ability to turn house into landmark and keep some stuff there," he said.

As it stands now, the home is filled with art.

"Everything is very Zappa," Winter said. "There's not a corner of the house that doesn't have some really wild art in it."

He described it as warm and inviting, the kind of environment that was definitely fostered by artists and creative people.

"You're dealing with a family that put creative expression first," he said.

So what does the Zappa family compound look like? Click ahead to find out.

The documentary

Filmmaker Alex Winter stands in front of the Zappa family home in the Hollywood Hills. Photo courtesy of

Winter said he has been a Frank Zappa fan for years but was never a "full bore acolyte" of the artist.

He approached Gail Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust with a proposal for the film -- one that would show Frank as a musician and a man and explore his best and worst sides -- and they agreed to give him access to the materials in The Vault and participate in interviews for the film.

The Kickstarter campaign hit its first goal of $500,000 on March 19. Ultimately, Winter is trying to raise $3 million to fund the film and preserve the entire Vault.

"We really are using the lion's share (of the money) on the preservation project to save as much as we can," he said.

If he doesn't raise the full $3 million by then end of the Kickstarter campaign, Winter said he will pursue other funding options.

The office

Courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

Zappa's office has remained largely untouched since his death from prostate cancer in 1993.

The office

Photo courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

Zappa's office includes a large sitting area and looks more like an artist's studio, Winter said.

The sitting room

Photo courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

A sitting room in the Zappas' Hollywood Hills home features a decorative chandelier and a wall of windows.

The library

Photo courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

A whimsical chandelier and paintings on the floor and ceiling decorate the Zappas' library.

The hallway

Photo courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

Skylights light a hallway leading to the Zappas' dining room.

The “Utility Muffin Research Kitchen”

Photo courtesy of the Zappa Family Trust

Zappa and other artists recorded music in the home's studio (also known as the "Utility Muffin Research Kitchen") from 1980 onward. The recording equipment is not included with the home.

The pool

Photo courtesy of

Winter sits on the diving board of the Zappa family's swimming pool.

The Vault

Photo courtesy of

The Vault, located beneath the house, stores thousands of hours of unreleased video and audio recordings, art and personal documents.

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