Ahmet Zappa’s new show shines light on music collections

Rick's Reviews

Stephen Braitman and Ahmet Zappa host the AXS TV series “Rock My Memorabilia.” (Photo courtesy of AXS TV)

Ahmet Zappa had no plans to ever host a TV show again. He changed his tune when the opportunity to be part of the new AXS TV series “Rock My Collection” came along. That makes sense as music always has been a part of his life starting with being the son of music legend Frank Zappa. Zappa is the rare host who can literally say being part of a music-oriented show is in his DNA.

Zappa and appraiser Stephen M.H. Braitman chat each week – starting at 5 p.m. PT Aug. 15 – with an eclectic array of passionate collectors and the incredible music items they cherish. The items could be as obvious as a rare pressing of a record or as bizarre as the leftovers of a medical procedure.

 “It just felt like a good fit,” Zappa says. “I know a thing or two about memorabilia. And it has been a dream come true to connect with people I worked with many, many years ago.

“All the collectors that came on are charming and authentic and super passionate about their collections. I can relate to that. It is always compelling to me to hear people who have an interesting story to tell.”

The items range from the weird to the priceless. Highlights include: a copy of Yoko Ono’s book, Grapefruit, signed by Ono and John Lennon on the day he died; an Italian roadmap signed by guitar great Jimi Hendrix; a zombie suit from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video; and Brian Wilson’s 1983 driver’s license.

Sarah Weidman, Head of Original Programming, Development and Multi-Platform Content for AXS TV, praises Zappa and Braitman for the passion and knowledge they bring to the project.

Braitman is an accredited senior appraiser affiliated with the American Society of Appraisers, who specializes in music archives and memorabilia and has worked directly with many notable artists and estates. Zappa appreciates the memorabilia for its history and connection to the collector while Braitman puts it all in financial terms.

“It’s a real privilege to be able to get up close and personal with these items, many of whom have played important roles in the legacies of some of music’s biggest names,” Braitman says. “It’s also great to share in the passion and excitement of these fellow music enthusiasts, and help give them a more complete picture of the items they possess. There are so many iconic pieces to show and stories to tell.”

Part of the show has Zappa talking with professional musicians about their lives and music. The segment ends with the artist autographing an item that will be sold in an auction through the show.

There was no problem finding artists willing to be part of the show.

“We were really just asking people to talk about what they are passionate about,” Zappa says.

Proceeds from the celebrity items will go to the National Independent Venues Foundation, a group benefiting small music venues and personnel who have been impacted by COVID. Viewers may bid on select items at AXS.TV/RockMyCollection with new auctions going live following each premiere episode.

The everyday collectors are also given the chance to have their appraised items in the auction. That money will be for the collector.

Professional musicians participating on “Rock My Collection “ include shock rock pioneer Alice Cooper, Heart founder Nancy Wilson, 4 Non Blondes founder Linda Perry, alt-rock hero Gavin Rossdale, metal guitarist and Korn co-founder James “Munkey” Shaffer and rock renaissance man Todd Rundgren.

Segments with the collectors and musicians had to be done via Zoom because of the pandemic. It ended up being a good thing as the collectors get to show off their items in their homes that are often floor-to-ceiling with music collectibles.

There is also a field trip destination element that includes tours of the Grammy Museum, Rockaway Records and an exclusive look inside the Zappa Estate. It has fallen to Zappa to be in charge of his father’s estate.

If Zappa was to be the featured artist on an episode, he could talk about more than just his passion for music. Over the years he has been a collector of toy ray guns, vintage ColecoVision  video game cartridges and laser disks.

“Joe Ramone and I used to go to this place in the Valley called Dave’s Laser Disks. We go to every Tuesday to by the new sci-fi or horror releases and then have lunch where we would talk about our movie collections,” Zappa says.

As for his most cherished rock memorabilia, it is a salt shaker. There’s nothing particularly unique about the item other than he remembers it being on the family table when he was younger. It now sits on a shelf and Zappa smiles when he looks at it.

Even Zappa has an interesting story to tell when it comes to rock memorabilia.

AXS TV is a leading music, entertainment, and lifestyle television network and digital media company. Its programming is a mix of concerts and music performances, celebrity interviews, documentaries, wrestling, MMA, special events and pop culture series.

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