Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experimentation, musical virtuosity and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse musicians of his generation.As a self-taught composer and performer, Zappa had diverse musical influences that led him to create music that was sometimes difficult to categorize. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century classical modernism, African-American rhythm and blues, and doo-wop music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands, later switching to electric guitar. His debut studio album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out! (1966), combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. He continued this eclectic and experimental approach whether the fundamental format was rock, jazz, or classical.