World at a Glance: Frank Zappa in Vilnius

Frank Zappa in Vilnius

Welcome to World at a Glance, yet another infrequent series here on Sophie’s World. These are intended to be short posts, with a photo that is either curious or evocative, that gave me pause; pause to think, laugh, cry, wonder… Let’s begin with curious.

Frank Zappa in Vilnius

What is Frank Zappa doing in Vilnius? What is the connection? The unconventional singer died in 1993, just a few years after the break-up of the Soviet Union and Lithuanian independence. Had he managed to visit this tiny country towards the end of his life? Was his family from Lithuania?

Turns out Frank Zappa had no association at all with this little Baltic country – apart from an enthusiastic fan. And a desire to replace Soviet icons with, well, something else.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania, like other countries in the region, couldn’t be rid of Soviet symbols quick enough. Down they went, statues of Lenin, Stalin, Karl Marx and others, leaving heaps of empty pedestals. But what to replace Lenin with? Something to mark the end of communism, obviously.

Enter Saulius Paukstys, a civil servant, photographer and founder of the Frank Zappa Fan Club. Amazingly, he managed to convince city authorities to erect a statue of the dead singer in the centre of Vilnius. In 1995, the statue was unveiled to the tune of a Zappa hit parade by brass band.

I love stumbling over curious little quirks like this. You?

Have a look at Travel Photo Thursday for more quirky shots.

37 Responses to “World at a Glance: Frank Zappa in Vilnius”

  1. Annelise 20 March 2013 1954 #

    Wow! I haven’t known that there is a Zappa sculpture in Lithuania, we also have on in my hometown. Ma father has been such a huge fan of Led Zeppelin, and so do I:)
    Annelise recently posted..Es war wirklich lange… aber ich bin da!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2013 1025 #

      A statue of Robert Plant, perhaps… :)

  2. Lisa 21 March 2013 0205 #

    I never would have guessed that there was a Frank Zappa statue anywhere in the world let alone in Vilnius – definitely a great quirky fact!
    Lisa recently posted..Photo Memories from the Grand Canyon

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2013 1026 #

      Very quirky :)

  3. Leigh 21 March 2013 0424 #

    Love the story. I came across a Charlie Chaplin statue in a little town on the west coast of Ireland – turned out he used to visit (maybe he had some fans there too) – and often enough that they erected a statue.
    Leigh recently posted..Exceeding Expectations: Hostal Finca La Violeta in Susacon

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2013 1026 #

      I’d like to see that Chaplin statue.

  4. budget jan 21 March 2013 0534 #

    I love the randomness of it all and wonder what other out of place statues there are in ex Soviet Block countries. The mind boggles.
    budget jan recently posted..Resuming our Mekong River Trip from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou Caves

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2013 1027 #

      Would be fun to explore that, wouldn’t it…

  5. Muza-chan 21 March 2013 0919 #

    Beautiful statue :)
    Muza-chan recently posted..Omamori, Japanese good luck charms

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1649 #

      quite a good likeness

  6. InsideJourneys 21 March 2013 1305 #

    Love unusual and unexpected things like these — they make traveling so much fun.
    It also makes me appreciate the power of an idea and how one person can create change in the world. Pretty darn cool!
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Moving Day, Westmoreland Jamaica

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 March 2013 2051 #

      Well said, Marcia.

  7. Jackie Smith 21 March 2013 1414 #

    If you ever get to Seattle, head to Fremont. You’ll have a month’s worth of these types of curiosities to post. . .this is a great series. You’ve given me an idea!
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Springtime in Washington’s Wine Country

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1650 #

      Cool. Seattle it is then :)

  8. Andrea 21 March 2013 1508 #

    Looooove Zappa – John and I are HUGE fans. I love stumbling on things like this too, especially when it’s an artist I really like.
    Andrea recently posted..Rambling Through Bath

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1650 #

      Zappa was quite a character, wasn’t he…

  9. jenny@atasteoftravel 21 March 2013 1610 #

    I think it’s great that the council agreed to build the statue…what fun!
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..Jordan: The Ottoman Town of Salt

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1651 #

      Mr. Paukstys must be a persuasive type, I think.

  10. That’s hilarious. I read the title of your post and was thinking “What in the world?”
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..Kangaroo Island’s Koala Walk

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1655 #

      Pretty much what I thought when I saw it…

  11. This struck me as very funny! I guess weirder things could happen. :)
    Tonya {The Traveling Praters} recently posted..Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World {Book Review & Giveaway}

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1656 #

      I guess :)

  12. Nancie 22 March 2013 0441 #

    How fun, and unexpected!! Quirkiness at its best.
    Nancie recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday — March 21, 2013 — The Best Pad Thai in Chiang Mai

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1656 #

      Isn’t it?

  13. Cathy Sweeney 22 March 2013 0604 #

    Now I want to have a statue dedicated to Saulius Paukstys. Good for him! Love this little slice of Lithuania you’ve shown us.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1657 #

      Certainly unexpected…

  14. Mette - Italian Notes 22 March 2013 1249 #

    Well, who’d have thought you could meet the father of ‘Titties and beer’ in Vilnius. “The world is a wonderfully weird place”.
    Mette – Italian Notes recently posted..Visit Bologna: a chubby and anarchistic intellectual

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1658 #

      Tom Robbins is spot on there :)

  15. Turtle 23 March 2013 0613 #

    Hilarious! What a random statue to have. I appreciate the idea of replacing all the communist symbology but you would have thought there were a few more famous musicians they could have chosen if they wanted a statue like this. Still, it’s got all of us talking, and maybe that was the point!
    Turtle recently posted..The ultimate jungle temple experience

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 23 March 2013 1659 #

      Interesting what a man with mission can achieve.

  16. Ayngelina 26 March 2013 0406 #

    I love discovering little things like this! Nice find.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Making friends in Porvoo

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 March 2013 2100 #

      So do I :)

  17. Turkey's For Life 26 March 2013 0754 #

    Our guidebook had mentioned this so we went off in search of Frank, expecting a huge statue. We walked past him three times. :) Isn’t Vilnius just a fab city. Wish we could have stayed longer.
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Taking It All In At Our First Fethiyespor Match – It’s All About Crowd Control

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 March 2013 2101 #

      Surprisingly diverse city, Vilnius – and lots to do.

  18. Jenny 17 June 2013 1618 #

    This is awesome! In my first apartment we had a poster of Zappa sitting on the toilet, flipping off the camera. What a great mix of musical talent and biting humor. I

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 August 2013 0149 #

      He certainly was an unusual artist who I’m sure would have provided even more food for thought had he lived.


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