Mick, who has completed his BA Modern History at the age of 67, first approached Zappa’s widow about writing a book about the musician ten years ago. Zappa Gear was finally published during his final year at Essex.
“Zappa was a great musical innovator who experimented with most of the revolutionary new music technology that was developed from the 1960s to the 1980s,” explained Mick.
“I realised that as well as being of interest to guitarists and fans of Zappa’s music, there were stories to tell about the people and small companies who invented and developed the equipment.”
The complications of dealing with the estate of a deceased musician posed the greatest challenge for Mick and it took a while for his achievement to sink in when the book was finally in print: “I had received a bunch of complimentary copies but it was not until my brother sent me a photo of the book on display in a shop in Los Angeles that I finally believed it was a reality,” he said.
Mick worked as an IT consultant before enrolling at Essex but has always enjoyed modern British social and political history: “I always regretted following a technical education at school and dropping history,” he said.
His Essex experience hasn’t disappointed: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the last three years, particularly being part of such a multicultural and international community. As well as being taught by an inspiring historians, I found the enthusiasm and intelligence of my fellow students contagious.”
Mick particularly enjoyed the flexibility of an Essex degree: “I was able to tailor my course to include subjects of interest to me, including economics, politics and literature. I have learnt an immense amount and as I’d hoped, my writing and analytical skills have greatly improved.”
Mick is planning to stay at Essex to complete a Masters and is developing ideas for further history and historical fiction books.
Picture courtesy of Gaz De Vere