norman gunston

Norman Gunston (real name Gary McDonald) is a famous Australian TV host.

He did an interview with Frank Zappa in 1976, after which Zappa invited him to participate in a Mothers concert. His contribution can be found on Zappa's "FZ:OZ" album.

The tv-show interview has been released on DVD by Australian television.



frank zappa: fz:oz
    (2002, 2cd, usa, vaulternative records)



random notes

From Ogden Freen
February 2005

Just got a legit copy of FZ:OZ. I was totally blown out to find the legendary (in Oz, anyway) Norman Gunston appears on it. I'd seen Gunston's interview with FZ before (very funny - once again Gunston is a legend), and I'd heard that as a result Zappa had asked him to play with the Mothers at their next concert, but I never expected to actually hear that performance. Norman (the Little Aussie Bleeder - named after the constant appearance of shaving wounds on his face) sticks in my mind as the guy who went to a Guns n' Roses press conference and asked Slash if he was so named because of a prostate condition. The guy was a total class act. Just wondering though, since they don't mention in the liner notes that Norman Gunston is, in fact, a character played by the great comedic actor Gary McDonald, is McDonald getting any royalties from the sale of FZ:OZ? He bloody well better be…

Ogden Freen

From Mike
February 2005

Hi Jim,
A number of Norman Gunston tapes and DVD's (check region and coding and tape format etc etc) should be available from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, who aired the Norman Gunston show -, I think the series is called the Gunston Tapes.

In many ways Norman Gunston (actor Gary MacDonald) was way ahead of his time, interviewing people and taking the piss, in much the same way as Ali G does now, only 30 years ago earlier and with a little more subtly disguised spite. I recall watching the interview with Frank. Norman asked some question about the abilities of the band members, and I think Frank's reply was something like: "Oh, they're all equally mediocre" This led to a quick jam on a basic 12 bar theme, Norman playing harmonica. He is actually a quite reasonably player and it all sounds OK until Norman forgets the blues scale and starts playing a traditional Australian tune with doesn't fit at all, and draws a bemused glare from Frank who, of all people, should have appreciated the joke. hehehe. Gunston did some classic interviews with other rock stars including Jagger and Keith Moon to name a few. His interviews very often ended with him being assaulted by the stars or their minders. Keith Moon threw a drink on him I seem to remember. He appeared in an old shiny suit and bow tie that would have been out of date in the early sixties with shaving cuts all over his face. A lot of the show was live and extremely high risk television. Very talented, funny, surprising subtle and way way way ahead of his time, that's Norman Gunston aka actor Gary MacDonald.


From Clyde
February 2005

Try here Frank Zappa - 1976-01-__, The Norman Gunston TV show, Australia.torrent Frank Zappa on the Norman Gunston TV show (January, 1976, ABC, Australia) 4 min, MPEG Lineage: Satellite TV/VHS/Primitive USB Capture Card/MPEG1 transfer and comment by wazoo in this interview Gunston & FZ have a blues jam, (or jelly as Gunston assumes Americans might refer to it as) with FZ on Guitar & Gunston on harmonica. Gunston closes his harmonica vamp with the theme from the ABC news (ABC here like BBC or PBS). I think I also saw it on www. but they seem to be off line at the moment.


From Greig White
February 2005 

The full FZ/Gunston interview is available on a DVD in Australia called "The Gunston Tapes," which I can highly recommend if you found the radio program funny. BTW when they jam at the end of the interview, the tune that Norman Gunston (actually the actor Garry McDonald) plays is the theme tune to the Australian ABC TV News. You can buy it here: I do not own it (rented it years ago on VHS) But I suspect that there may be people hereabouts with the requisite wherewithal to make an mpeg out of it (not that I condone that sort of copyright infringement). He also appears on FZ:OZ Cheers,

 Greig White



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