Frank Zappa and Leon Redbone

When I worked in a record store 23 years ago, there was an older guy who loved to talk about the 60s and 70s with me. Since I had an affinity for that era of music, I was always happy to listen. He was a big fan of acts like King Crimson and Captain Beefheart but there’s one thing he mentioned that has stuck with me long after his name has been forgotten.

He once claimed that there had been rumors dating back to the 70s that Leon Redbone was actually Frank Zappa in disguise. If you look at both men from that era, it’s easy to see where the rumor started. Similar facial structure and facial hair and we never see Redbone without a hat and dark glasses – much like a disguise.

Of course, Redbone was a few years younger than Zappa and lived quite a bit longer so that rumor is easily dispelled nowadays but the other day I was watching the movie Elf and Leon Redbone provides the voice of the snowman. In the movie, he warns Buddy not to eat the yellow snow which is, of course, a very famous Zappa song.

This had to be a nod to the age old rumors, right? I’ve never seen much written about it, probably because it’s so easily disproven, but I’ve seen/heard enough to think this was a little inside joke. What do you think?