Dale Bozzio is an icon of the 1980s. Her band Missing Persons burst on the scene with their debut Spring Session M then began to implode. Dale has just released her autobiography, Life is So Strange – Missing Persons, Frank Zappa, Prince & Beyond, and if you think you know her story, trust me, you don’t. Dale recently took some time to talk about her wild career and much more.
Please press the PLAY icon below to listen to the MisplacedStraws.com Conversation with Dale Bozzio –
On why now was the right time to tell her story – Well, that’s an interesting question. Actually. I don’t know. I just I think a lot of it was the Covid, the time off, the this, the that all these things that we’re going on. Then I just had been writing with Keith Valcourt and then we got real serious and then Covid his and I said, “Oh, well, let’s really get serious and get this done”, because I was going to put it aside and forget about it for a while because everybody got sick. So then I went, “No, no, no, let’s get this done. This might be the right thing to do”. Who knows? I might get sick and die myself. So I’ll try to get it done. wanted to tell it my way, tell the truth, and now’s the time, as good a time as any time.
On if she had second thoughts about being so open in the book – I’m thinking about it now, you just reminded me. I’m thinking about it. I think I’m all good. I think I’m good. I told everybody I love them. Things happened in life. You can’t stop it. It’s happening now. So things happen and they all happened differently, the relationships I’ve had with different people were because of music, some were fun, some were friends, some were lovers and some were both.
On what drew her to Frank Zappa and meeting him as a teen – The tone, the tone of his music is what drew me. There are tones in there that are not normal they just have weird tones, but soothing. I find that I seek music through my ear. I can’t read or write music I never really taught myself or really got into it off like the rest of the geniuses that I’ve worked with. So what I was able to do is pick up from what they taught me and how to lock into particular things a timing and how to write a song and miraculous things I learned just being a little girl from Medford and then running into all these geniuses, Frank Zappa Terry Bozzio Patrick O’Hearn, Chuck Wild, Warren Cuccurullo, my greatest friends and they taught me more than I think they know. I don’t think they knew that I would overload and take it all away. I’m not quitting. I’m not quitting music. So I’m not quitting anything until I die and that’s that. Enjoy yourself not going to get rid of me that easy.
On her time with Playboy – Actually, Playboy for me was a teaching tool. It seems that the people have to go through to get to the other side, really you test our the strength and all our senses are tested. I really think that people need to take things into control and make up their own minds and their decisions and quit letting everyone tell you what to do. Maybe then they wouldn’t be all these approaches and approaching situations (at) Playboy. (Hugh) Heffner was a person. He was the man of the times. He did it his way, let’s face facts. All these big powerful men or women, they do it their way. That’s how they get noticed. They’re not taking orders from someone else. It’s their playground. Good luck to them. Lucky. Lucky lucky. So then they die and we talk about them. I’m a little bit of a comedian. So don’t mind me. You got to make light of life. I tell you everything I do is a struggle. It is difficult. Life is a bitch, but guess what? When you get your little accomplishment or you make the spaghetti in your eating as you go was delicious, right? You did it for a reason, you do it for something or for somebody and then that’s all we do every day in life. We keep going, keep going. So we go for the good. I know there are bad people in the world because they’re hurting, crunched, and deformed and life is tough for them. That’s it. If there was a bucket of money on the corner, no one would complain.
On Frank Zappa’s influence – Frank…was a matchmaker to me. He matched up all the musicians with the parts and the music and his different records. His records were like a movie for him, every one. He picked the people, and all of what was happening. He was so creative and so incredibly astute to know who was who and what was what. He knew that I belonged with Terry (Bozzio), he knew it. Je knew it. I don’t know how he knew it and then he looked at us one day, me, Terry, and Warren, and Terry and Warren were in Frank Zappa’s band, and I was making a record with Frank, Joe’s Garage. After all that he looked at us one day and said, “Just put a band together. The three of you can call yourself Cute Persons”. We were laughing, thinking it was a joke. He was serious. He said, “Here is Ken Scott’s address. I want to drive over there right now. Tell him that you want him to produce your record”. He just finished doing David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Ken Scott happened to live down the street and Frank had never met him. He said, “Here is his address. I know he’ll be at the pool getting a tan because he likes to sit in the sun”. Frank was like a detective. So I said, “Frank, you want us to go there right now?” It was in the middle of the afternoon like 2:00 on a sunny day. He said, “Yeah, Go over there, he’ll be at his pool. You tell him to come over here Saturday”. It was like Thursday or Friday. He said tell, “Tell him to come in here tomorrow morning. I want you to make a record, you, Terry, and Warren. Use my brand new Kurzweil, my studio is brand new. You get the bugs out for me, I give you a record, it’s a square deal. I said, “Frank, your brand new studio?” He said, “Get Ken, I trust Ken. I’m going to New York. You make a record. I’ll be back in four days”. Me, Terry, and Warren looked at each other like, “Oh right, sure buddy, impossible”. I said, “Frank, seriously Frank?” He said he handed me this little piece of paper with this address on it. I opened it in my hand and said, “Terry, we really have to go over there right now. Frank is serious”. Terry looked at me, he said, “Warren, come on, let’s go”. I said, “Okay by Frank, see ya”, and we walked out. We were his little trolls. I did anything Frank said. I was honored. I would do anything for Frank, that’s it. I’m sorry to say, if he told me to eat poison because we all had to die, I would have. I would have done anything he said. I still would. I know in my heart he had the greatest and most flourishing intentions for me, why? I don’t know why. He liked me, I made him laugh. I made him laugh I believe more than anyone else and that was the ticket. Sometimes that’s all it takes, a little girl will look at you, a little smile, a little guy looks at you, smiling, comes over to say, “Hey. Wow. I wanted to tell you how cute you are, but you probably tell me to go to hell”. Wouldn’t you laugh? Any little funny thing. It makes everything all right. Then when you laugh, big and hard and you cry tears because it’s so funny, you really want to go back there, it’s like a drug. So that went on for years, that’s it. That’s all we had. I wanted the world to know that I never slept with Frank Zappa. We did not have sex, absolutely not. He kissed me on the forehead. He cracked my back occasionally and that was it. Frank and I were altruistically friends and he was my best friend, not really my friend, he was my mentor and I, I genuflect to Frank.
On the development of Missing Persons and their sound – We just sounded like we are, that’s the thing. Warren has this incredible tone that he seeks on his guitar and Terry was seeking a note in every drum he played so. There was just some kind of magic between, I have to say it, the three of us were. I don’t understand it myself really. It was just so unique and I love them. I love them. They taught me so much about the music business and life, and friendship, and it’s sad that we’re not together now at least as friends. We don’t even talk to each other.
On why the three members don’t speak now – I don’t know, that’s really incredulous what you just said and it’s actually sad. It’s sad that people would even think that. “Why not? What’s the matter with you, three? You’re only supposed to be making music. You’re not making babies, get back in the studio and make some tunes for the people who loved you and Frank Zappa who gave you your birth?” Yeah, I believe you. I’m right with you, but I don’t know. I don’t know how they think. I don’t know why they think, but they think that I ran out on them. I believe. That’s the only thing I can come up with it. They think I left them, so I think ultimately they’re disheartened with me.
On the difference between Frank Zappa and Prince – I think they were both looking for something different in me, for sure. I was a tool for Frank, his music. When we made Joe’s Garage he’d say, “Okay, laugh”, and I’d hysterically laugh like a crow, and then he’d say, “Okay, stop laughing”, and I stopped laughing. He’d say, “Okay now, you know how to do that. So let’s make this record”, and he told me everything. He said, “Do it like this”, and I do it because he couldn’t do what I could do, but he could show me, teach me to get things and reached down in my soul and bring things out that I can even know that existed. It. I didn’t know I could sing. The day. I met him he said, “Oh, you’re going to be a singer”, and I said, “Oh no, Frank. I came to Hollywood to be a movie star, I don’t know how to sing”. He said, “You’ll know how to sing when I’m done with you and you’ll be a household word”. That’s what he said. I was pretty much laughing. I was 21 years old and I was laughing. Now. I’m going to be 67 on March 2nd and I’m not laughing so much about that, but I appreciate the time that I’ve had on this earth. I appreciate all the time that my friends gave me, all the effort. You know what it takes. You know what it takes to get through the day. You know what it takes to give somebody your time and teach them something. Frank was a teacher at heart. He’s a genius teacher and a smooth operator. Let me tell you what a smooth operator he was. There was no way you could get passed in school without learning something. You meet him for a day, he was a college all the time. For him to pick me, teach me is mind-blowing. Absolutely. I can only say for one thing. I am very lucky. I’m lucky. I’m so lucky. I’m so lucky that all of my downtime in old times, times that this thing can go wrong or not happen, or you’re sad from loss of people that love you or people die, people leave you, people tell you you’re terrible and useless and then you run out of money and you have nowhere to go. You’d say “What? Wait a minute. I am an accomplished person. I really know how to do things. Don’t stall. Try it again, turned the car on. Turn it over one more time. I bet it’ll start.” That’s how I played myself. I played myself like an antique old Ferrari. She doesn’t want to stop, sometimes she’s going 160 miles a fucking hour.
So now, Prince, on the other hand, I had a romantic time with him. I had a romance with him. It was a different altar, this is the altar of passion and and “can I really prove to you that I love you in an isolated, only your way. Now, who is Prince? Frank was Mr. ulterior, all motive. The whole world is mine. I’m a genius. I can teach you anything you want to know. I just happen to like you. Okay. So Frank didn’t expect me to suck his dick, excuse me, you can cut that out. But but but Prince the other hand, was a different kind of person. It was very romantic and kind, and loving and sweet, but not really Romeo. The guy was not Romeo. Whatever secrets he has in the rest of the world. That’s all good. I’ll keep them too, but I saw him come and go with a lot of women. They came and went and just like me off. He did have already that they say did but I couldn’t, there are some high priestess rock and roll stars that you just can’t live with. That’s how it is. They’re just, they’re unlivable in the real state of affairs. I know, I’m one of them, I can’t keep a man. It’s not going to happen. So I live with that, but I know it. I accepted, I embrace it and I love myself for that. That independence really, it keeps me rolling. I must say, no one could tell me how to do things, what to do, how to do it. No. A rock star can’t have that. You can’t tell a rock star what to do. It’s not going to happen. I know that’s how it is. The rest of the world can figure it out for themselves because they write and read play music that comes from their soul and so does everything else. All decisions lay beneath their music and that’s it. That’s how it goes. When I saw that, Frank proved that to me. Everything was music, his whole presentation, we lived in ate and drank and slept music. When he wanted to go to sleep, he slept in a room that was completely soundproof, temperatured and only for him. He showed it to us when he got built. He showed Terry and I. He was so proud of it because music was always playing in his head. I know it, I’m the same way. Musicians are like that, there’s always a tune in your head. You’re never alone. It’s never quiet. So you’ve got really get some peace and peace of mind somewhere. You have to get it even if you grab it within your little 3 ft circumference. I learned something of this mountain climber climbing the Swiss Alps and he says, “Well, I got a strap around my back, one around my neck, around my feet and my wrist, and I’m holding onto this mountain for dear life. If i let go within three feet of this circumference, I know I’m dead. When I got off the mountain, that’s how I live”. I thought, “Whoa, that’s heavy”. Within the 3. Ft of your circumference, you live your life. So when we go outside we think, “Oh, everything is free and clear”, or when we’re swimming and everything is free and clear, or we’re shopping, or we’re driving a car. Well, let me tell you how close you are to an accident, a problem, a mishap. It’s so right there. The instance is the blink-of-an-eye or less that’s how fast things happen. I know because there are three things I want to say about this book, and one Prince, one was Frank, Zappa, and beyond is I fell 40 ft out of a window at a Holiday Inn. I landed on my head and there’s no doubt about it. This was not in the movies. This is a real situation for me, and I lived through it. I lived out of it and I mixed it up and I made a cake. I frosted it and I put a motherfucking cherry on top. Yes, I did. And yes, you have to, and yes, all my listeners and my friends and my people that listen to me, they know that. They know go the extra mile. Go take that step. Yes, go forward. Yes, tempt the hands of fate. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I know, they know I don’t do that. I’ll try anything once. But some things, I’m not afraid to admit, I’m not going on a roller coaster. I don’t go on airplanes. I avoid elevators. I avoid the things that I think can cause me trouble because I think that it can find you when you’re sleeping, trouble. I know, because I fell out that window in the blink of an eye, and my whole world changed. My whole world changed and I had to fix it up and change it around and get back together and pull my life 100% back. I was a beautiful little girl and after I fell out that window, I didn’t look like that anymore. I didn’t wasn’t that girl anymore. I was broken into a million pieces broken so bad and so hurt, and emotionally. So many ways to pull myself out of a paper bag, and come back out and put a crown on my head and tell you I’m the one, that took a lot of courage. It takes a lot of courage sometimes every day, just to leave the house. You get a little bit introverted when you think things are going to go wrong, but you have to dust it off, you dust it off and God says, “She’s not dead. She’s sleeping. Just dust her off. Just dust her off”.
On what’s next for Dale Bozzio – Don’t worry, the world’s going to open up and everything seems to be all right because see we just have to get used to some things. We’re kind of set in our ways the way we get and we are used to certain things and certain days, well, it might rain and so because it doesn’t, you know, really go your way, you have to go the way to get your way. Sometimes you have to risk your life to save your life. It’s very, very unfortunate to get to that level. But if you do have unflinching determination I guarantee you, you won’t fall so hard. You won’t fall very bad. It won’t be so bad. So for me of all these things I’ve accomplished, all records like made. I made a record called Dreaming on Cleopatra, which is really fantastic. The song is called “Dreaming” and the record is called Dreaming. It’s vinyl and I’m a big fan of vinyl, and my son buys and collects rare records and he’s a very important person in my life, Shane and my son Troy. My son Troy I have the same birthday, March 2, my sons are very important to me. The world will only go around if you love your children, your friends, and your people, you shoot them, and they’ll be dead and you’ll be alone and oh, well, there’ll be nothing left. I’m kind of on the love and peace genre, this year and I say that everything’s going to get together. I’m going to get together. I’m going to make a new record, the soundtrack to my movie. I’m going to make a movie. I’m going to make sure everyone can listen to the book if they can’t get hold of it, maybe I could start reading it to them. I want everyone to have courage, courage will get you where you want to go. That’s it. I know my listeners and my fans and want to know what I think on how to make it through. And that’s what I think, you got to buckle up. Maybe you can’t have brownies today. It’s okay. It’s all right. It’s okay, you know what they taste like. You’ve been there. You have to do all these things you have to do if you don’t, it’s okay. I think after today and it’s so important to look after the day. The day gets you everything you want. Do you know every day, every single day for just about, I think, I don’t know, almost eight months, I wrote that book with my friend. And guess what? I got it done. I did it. It’s in print. I talked so many times, “Oh, I guess I better quit this. Oh, no, we can’t do this”. But I did. I knew in the back of my mind, I put the pin, my little push pin right there, and I said, book movie, album, walk in the sun. I have pins for all kinds of things. I love chocolate chip cookies. That’s it. Life is just what you can conjure up from what you’ve given, from what you have, you got to do something with it. And so you do what you like and then that’s all you do. You’re not working, you’re doing what you like. You find a way. I think, when you give yourself up to something or something else in the world and you say, “Okay, I’m yours”, as all people believe in God and they say, “I’m Yours work with me. Make me that beautiful person you want me to be”. People praying to God and praying for the good of everything and everybody else. They’re not the bad people. They’re going to lift up the bad thinking thoughts people. Because when can’t find the right way it’s because you’re unhappy. Something’s not right. We’ve got prisons full of those people. I’m hoping for all the different people that think about all these things. They could start the cure a little bit at a time. Freedom is necessary. I wish you freedom and courage and I know you give it to us all by listening to all these musicians talk rhetoric.