Frank Zappa came here and I didn’t know who he was. He looked like he couldn’t buy a coffee; he looked like a fucking hobo. A group of people took him out for lunch and I tagged along. Afterwards, Frank stood up and said as he’d just flown in from New York he wanted to go back to the hotel before the evening so I offered to give him a lift back. We were driving along and he turned to me and said that I didn’t know who he was.
“Course I do, you’re Frank Zappa.” I said. “Who’s Frank Zappa?”
“You’re Frank Zappa.”
“Who’s Frank Zappa?”
“I just fucking told you, you’re Frank Zappa.” It could have gone on forever.
He thought it was refreshing to meet someone who wasn’t on the take from him. We were sitting in the bar once we’d got back to the hotel and he asked me whether the fact he’d just spent $3m impressed me. As I was just working on this place it really didn’t.
Frank said he had a proposition for me, ran to Room 1 and came back with a leather briefcase. He pulled out this Russian document and all I could understand were the numbers $2.7m, which was for a property he’d just bought not far from the Kremlin. He said with the other $300k he’d bought a vodka factory and thought we should make a Pikes Peach Vodka; he had people making the brews and we could make it world-famous. Then he asked me if we could open up Pikes boutique-style hotels around the world – if he found a property he’d fly me over to set it up and I’d make 15% off the top.
A while later Frank rang me up saying he’d found the perfect place for the first Pikes Hotel franchise. It was Havana, Cuba – Ernest Hemingway’s old house. He said he’d told Fidel that I was a nice man and “not to worry about Gorbachev” as he was on side too. I told him I’d be straight over; he really wanted to get on with it.
Then he fucking died on me.