peter wolf

Peter Wolf studied classical piano at Vienna’s Conservatory of Music. At the age of 16, he won the "European Jazz Festival" as a solo pianist. Wolf was awarded twice with the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, a German award, for his work with Andre Heller and Erika Pluhar.

Coming to America in his early twenties, Wolf worked with local musicians such as Neal Starkey (bassist) and Bill Hatcher (guitarist) in Atlanta, Georgia and with Steve Sample Jr (drummer, son of Steve Sample, Sr and Ray Reach (keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist) in Birmingham, Alabama. 

After his time in the southeastern United States, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he played keyboards for Frank Zappa in the late 1970s. After his work with Zappa, he then went on to the band Group 87 with Patrick O'Hearn, Terry Bozzio, Peter Maunu, and Mark Isham.

From 1980 to 1985, Peter Wolf was one of the top ranking studio keyboardists. He also became very succesful as a music producer and songwriter.

To date (june 2011), Peter Wolf has recorded 5 solo albums. He also recorded some albums with his different bands: Gipsy Love, Wolf & Wolf, and Vienna.






peter wolf: a change in my life
    (1969, lp, austria, wm 20006)

peterwolf_achangeinmylife.jpg (85438 bytes)

  gipsy love: gipsy love
    (1972, lp, usa, basf) - feat. peter wolf

  gipsy love: here we come
    (1972, lp, usa, pan 87 053 it) - feat. peter wolf

gipsylove_herewecome.jpg (106894 bytes)

  andré heller: basta
    (1978, lp, ger, mandragora intercord int 460 110) - feat. peter wolf, terry bozzio, patrick o'hearn, ed mann

heller_basta.jpg (11773 bytes)

26 frank zappa: sheik yerbouti
   (1979, 2lp, usa, zappa records)

28 frank zappa: joe's garage act I
   (1979, lp, usa, zappa records)

29 frank zappa: joe's garage acts II & III
   (1979, 2lp, usa, zappa records)

  1980 nielson/pearson band- nielsen pearson  
  1980 group 87- group 87  
  andré heller: verwunschen
    (1980, lp, ger, mandragora intercord int 160 152) - feat. vinnie colaiuta, peter wolf

andre_heller_verwunschen.jpg (11093 bytes)


peter wolf: tutti
    (1980, lp, austria, warner)

peterwolf_tutti.jpg (17894 bytes)

30 frank zappa: tinseltown rebellion
   (1981, 2lp, usa, barking pumpkin)

31 frank zappa: shut up'n play yer guitar
   (1981, lp, usa, barking pumpkin)

32 frank zappa: shut up 'n play yer guitar some more
   (1981, lp, usa, barking pumpkin)

33 frank zappa: return of the son of shut up 'n play yer guitar
   (1981, lp, usa, barking pumpkin)

  frank zappa: shut up 'n play yer guitar - box set
    (1981, 3lp, eur, cbs)


wolf & wolf: cultureshocked
    (1982, lp, germany, polydor 2372 128)

wolf_wolf_cultureshocked.jpg (79773 bytes)

  1983 call, alex- alex call  
  1983 smith, rex- camouflage  


frank zappa: baby snakes
   (1983, lp pict.disc, usa, barking pumpkin)

  andré heller: stimmenhören
    (1983, lp, ger, his master's voice 1c 066-46748) - feat. peter wolf

andre_heller_stimmenhoren.jpg (48370 bytes)

  1983 messina, jim- one more mile  
  1984 slick, grace- software (synthesizer, bass, keyboards, programming)  
  1984 jefferson starship- nuclear furniture (keyboards, producer)  


wolf & wolf: wolf & wolf
    (1984, lp, usa, morocco records 6046cl)

wolf_wolf_lp.jpg (79748 bytes)

  1985 heart- heart (synthesizer, piano, keyboards)  
  1985 rolie, gregg- gregg rolie (arranger, keyboards)  
  1985 starship- knee deep in the hoopla (arranger, keyboards, producer, electronics)  
  1986 inner space- inner space (producer)  
  1986 wang chung- mosaic (arranger, drums, keyboards, choir, chorus, producer, synclavier)   
  1986 top gun- top gun (producer)  
  1987 innerspace- innerspace (producer)  


vienna: guess what
    (1987, cd, usa, warner bros) = peter wolf  /  feat. patrick o'hearn
vienna_guesswhat.jpg (15303 bytes)


frank zappa: guitar
   (1988, 2cd, usa, ryko)

  1988 frank zappa- you can't do that on stage anymore (sampler)  
  1988 loggins, kenny- back to avalon (bass, piano, arranger, drums, keyboards, multi instruments, producer)  
  1988 scaggs, boz- other roads  
51 frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.1
   (1988, 2cd, usa, ryko)

  1988 goldsmith, jerry- rambo 3 [scotti brothers] (producer)  
  1989 townshend, pete- iron man: a musical (producer)  
  1990 kershaw, nik- works (synthesizer, keyboards, clavier, producer)  
  1990 santana- spirits dancing in the flesh (arranger, producer)  
  1990 young, paul- other voices (keyboards, producer)  
  1990 navy seals- navy seals (producer)  
  1991 escape club- liars & sex (arranger, producer)  


frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.4
   (1991, 2cd, usa, ryko)  
  frank zappa: anyway the wind blows - disc 1
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70541)

fooeeerecordsr270541_1_c.jpg (131698 bytes)

  frank zappa: anyway the wind blows - disc 2
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70541)

fooeeerecordsr270541_2_c.jpg (133317 bytes)

  frank zappa: saarbrucken 1978
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70543)
  frank zappa: at the circus
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 71020)

fooeeerecordsr271020_c.jpg (127542 bytes)

  1991 duncan, bryan- anonymous confessions of a lunatic  
  1991 starship- starship's greatest hits: ten years (producer)  
59 frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.6
   (1992, 2cd, usa, ryko)
  1992 go west- indian summer (arranger, drums, keyboards, programming, producer, horn arrangements, drum programming)  
  1993 duncan, bryan- mercy (keyboards, track arrangement)  
  1993 starship- best of starship (producer)  
  1993 go west- aces and kings: the best of go west (producer)  
  1993 pointer sisters- only sisters can do that (piano, arranger, multi instruments, producer)  
  1994 martinez, rosco- aqui estoy (bass, arranger, keyboards, producer)  
  1994 the neverending story 3- (original soundtrack score)  
  1995 tagg, larry- with a skeleton crew (keyboards, engineer)  


frank zappa: frank zappa plays the music of frank zappa
   (1996, cd, usa, barking pumpkin)

  1996 '80s hits back- '80s hits back (arranger, producer)  
  1996 abc monday night football (producer)  
  1996 greatest rock hits of the 80's (producer)  
  jeff richman: last arrival
    (1996, cd, ??, ??)  - feat. peter wolf

jeff_richman_lastarrival.jpg (30738 bytes)

  1997 die furchtlosen vier- (original soundtrack score)  


frank zappa: have i offended someone?
   (1997, cd, usa, ryko)


peter wolf: progression
    (1999, cd, ger, groove works) - feat. vinnie colaiuta

peter_wolf_progression.jpg (25818 bytes)

       gary o- gary o (synthesizer, keyboards)  
       youngblood- youngblood [ost] (producer)  


peter wolf: the other side
    (2003, cd, austria, universal) - feat. vinnie colaiuta

peterwolf_theotherside.jpg (11423 bytes)


frank zappa: halloween
    (2003, dvda, usa, dts entertainment 69286-01101-9-9)


peter wolf: sense-ation
    (2004, cd, eu, universal)

peter_wold_sense_ation.jpg (25370 bytes)


frank zappa: quaudiophiliac
    (2004, dvda, usa, dts entertainment 69286-01125-9-9)


frank zappa: trance-fusion
    (2006, cd, usa, zappa records)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraa birthday bundle
    (2006, itunes, -) - feat. frank, moon, dweezil, ahmet & diva zappa

  vinnie colaiuta, jimmy haslip, peter wolf, ernie watts: the royal dan (a tribute to the genius of steely dan)
    (2006, cd, usa,
tone center tc40472)

theroyaldan.jpg (27758 bytes)


frank zappa: one shot deal
    (2008, cd, usa, zappa records)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraaa birthday bundle 21 dec 2008
    (2008, itunes, -) - feat. frank, dweezil, ahmet & diva zappa

aaafnraaa2008.jpg (24142 bytes)


doubleyousee: playing in tongues
    (2009, cd, usa, zappa records) - feat. terry bozzio, dale bozzio, al malkin & peter wolf, incl. 'wreckelection' (frank zappa)

warrencuccurullo_playingintongues.jpg (26920 bytes)


frank zappa: hammersmith odeon
    (2010, 3cd, usa, vaulternative records 20101)

fz_vr20101.jpg (24690 bytes)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraaaa birthday bundle 21 dec 2010
    (2010, itunes, -) - feat. frank, dweezil, ahmet zappa

aaafnraaaa_2010.jpg (22223 bytes)

  frank zappa: aaafnraa - 21 december 2012
    (2012, itunes, --, --)
aaafnraa2012.jpg (32945 bytes)
  frank zappa: poughkeepsie
    (2018, cd, uk, smokin' smcd963) = 1978/09/21 poughkeepsie concert
  frank zappa: berlin 1978
    (2018, 2cd, uk, leftfieldmedia lfm2cd575) = 1978/02/15 berlin concert


Peter Wolf  -  Keyboard Magazine, 1980


Q:Could we get a bit of background on how you got involved with music in the beginning?

PW:I am Austrian, and my father was a pianist, so I started playing piano when I was four. When I was six I started at the Conservatory. When I was 16 I cut it all out. I did not touch a piece of classical music after that, because you can't do everything. I don't believe you can be a really good classical player and a really good modern player. It just doesn't happen. Either you're a really good classical player or a really good modern player or you're somewhere in between, not really nailing anything. A classical player can't just turn around and whip into a jazz club and wail because his head will be in a different space entirely.

Q:How did you start playing rock-oriented stuff?

PW:I met this guy named Carl Ratzer; at that time he had long hair and was a rock and roller, which for Vienna was really weird. He blew my mind. He meant every note that he played. I could play so much more than he could but I didn't mean half of what he meant. So we formed a band called Gypsy Love. We had the group for four years and made a couple of albums. After that, Carl got more jazz-oriented and left for the States, and I started a new band called the Objective Truth Orchestra. We were pretty successful -- we opened for people like John McLaughlin and Shakti, and the George Duke/Billy Cobham band. We had the jazz influences, but not like the English bands like Yes or Soft Machine -- always with an American space. But it got to the point where there was no competition and I wanted to be where all the heavy guys are, so I came over to America. For a year before I joined Frank's group I was working in the South, in places like Atlanta and Birmingham in a jazz band, playing bebop.

Q:That was on acoustic piano?

PW:Yeah, and Rhodes. I was also using a Minimoog then. It was advanced bebop, using bebop heads and old material, but really playing. It was happening. I learned a lot from this. If you play seven hours a day in front of people, it is magnificent. I wish I could do that now. It's like looking in the mirror and finding out what your face is like; the longer you look, the more you find out. The more you play for people, the more you find out what works and what doesn't.

Q:How did you come to join Frank's band?

PW:The reason that I stayed in the South was that I ran out of money; I wanted to come to L.A. right away. The Weather Report guys are old friends of mine and I know George Duke and [bassist] Alphonso Johnson, so I figured that when I came out here I could get in touch with them and they could turn me on to some gigs or something, which was totally wrong because nobody has time to do that here, but I had to figure that out for myself. So I came to town and I just got lucky. The singer that was in the band with Carl Ratzer, Lalomie Washburn, was doing an album and she said, "Why don't you do this thing with me?" So I did the album. She was renting from Audrey Lewis, an old friend of hers who also knew Zappa. She must have played him some tapes and he must have liked them. So one day I was trying out synthesizers at the Guitar Center in Hollywood when Audrey walks in the door and says, "You must be Peter Wolf" And I said, "Yeah." I gave her my phone number, and the next day at nine in the morning I got a call from Frank. "This is Frank Zappa; I'm looking for a keyboard player. Do you want to audition?" So I said, "Yeah, sure." And I came down, I auditioned, and I was in the band.

Q:What does an audition with Frank consist of?

PW:He first played me some tapes from the Zappa in New York album and checked out my reactions, I guess. Then he whipped some music in front of me to sight-read and I stumbled through it. First of all, I am not an excellent sight-reader, and then of course Frank's stuff is unbelievable to sight-read. That's part of his trip, I guess; he gets pleasure to a certain extent to give a player something he can't pull off. You have to practice that stuff, you can't just do it. Then he said, "Play me something." I took a piano solo. Patrick O'Hearn was there and he whipped out his acoustic bass and we started playing, just acoustic piano and acoustic bass. Finally, Frank said, "Well, what do you think, Pat, you want to play with this guy?" And Pat said, "Yeah." So Frank turned around and said, "You're hired." That was it.

Q:How much of Frank's music had you heard before?

PW:I was not one of those guys that come in there and know every note off of every album, not at all. Now Arthur Barrow, the bass player, when he got into the band, he could play everything. He just walked in and knew all the old parts, all the old bass lines. He was actually correcting Frank in some places. There were a couple of things of his that I really dug. I loved the Hot Rats album [dist. by Warner Bros.l, and I liked the King Kong album with [violinist] Jean-Luc Ponty [currently available as part of Cantaloupe Island, Blue Note]. And I have two or three albums from the George Duke period which I really liked. That old band with George and Ruth [Underwood, percussionist] and Chester [Thompson] was hot. I saw them three times and they were always fantastic. After that, I saw Frank's band when Eddie Jobson was with him, and I really didn't care for it. It was all on Frank. Now he has the aura and the magic to be there alone onstage, but you don't go just to see Frank Zappa. A lot of the impression that you get from a concert concerns the band. So if the band is really happening, they can whip off his music and it will be fantastic. If the band is not really happening, then he does not try to do all his music, because he knows that the band can't whip it off. So he will go for a change in the identity of his music, sacrificing some of the weird, difficult parts and just going for the rock and roll side, which is not the totality of Frank Zappa. Part of him is rock and roll and part of him is all this other weird stuff that you want to hear when you go there. You want to be amazed, dazzled by him, and that band couldn't pull it off. So I think it is very important that Frank have the right band to do his stuff When Tommy and Ed [Mann, percussionist] and I got into the band, we could cover a lot more ground than the Eddie Jobson band. And I think Frank enjoyed it.

Q:Were there any particular weak points in the band when you were with Frank?

PW:The one thing that was not very strong in our band was the vocal part. [Guitarist] Adrian Belew and [drummer] Terry Bozzio could sing some, but that was it. Tommy could sing some backup, but there was not one guy in the band who was a monster lead singer like Nappy [Brock] was. After one year, Frank got [guitarists] Ike Willis and Denny Walley in the band. They are both really strong singers, so immediately the concentration was back on vocals again. We really enjoyed that a lot. There was not so much soloing going on as in the band with Adrian and Terry, but with the vocals it got into a different dimension again.

Q:On Sheik Yerbouti, Frank took live material and then augmented it with overdubs. Did both you and Tommy work on the overdubs with him?

PW:Tommy and I both played on the live tracks on Sheik Yerbouti, but Tommy came back immediately after the tour, while I stayed in Europe, doing some stuff of my own. So the overdubs, the horn-like patches and all, were pretty much all Tommy Mars. But after the next tour was over Frank called me in Europe, and I pretty much did everything on Joe's Garage.

Q:What kind of a musical education has it been to work with Zappa?

PW:Working with Frank makes you aware of a lot of things; I've learned more with him than I have at any schools or during any other gig. First off, playing with Frank, you have the opportunity to play for a lot of people, which is a totally different ball game than playing in a club. When you're playing some fast lines for five hundred people, the guy in the last row will hear every note. If you play the same fast line in a hall or a hockey rink with really bad acoustics, the guys out there don't hear the line. For them, it's a big blur. So you have to keep in mind the ears of the guy who sits out there as you play. If you take a solo, you learn to concentrate your message much more than if you play in a club. Plus, Frank's music is pretty much spread out over everything. You play '50s rock and roll and you play total jazz and you play Schoenberg or Webern-oriented stuff, and to pull that off in one concert is what Frank loves to do. You say, "It will never work," when you get in the band, but it works. That's amazing. Frank is a really good bandleader; that's why it sounds so good. He's a bit distanced from it. He can walk in and listen to the music and hear it right without being involved in it.

Q:How did Frank delegate the keyboard parts out between you and Tommy?

PW:When you get in the band, he sees your talent; he knows what he can do with it and how far he can extend your abilities to make the music sound good. So he would assign the parts according to our talents. There are certain areas that I can cover better than Tommy, and there are certain areas that Tommy can cover better than I can. We never had problems with that. Plus we had our two different keyboard setups, one on the right side of the stage, one on the left.

Q:Could you go over what instruments you played?

PW:My setup now is the Yamaha electric grand and the Rhodes 88 suitcase model electric piano. Then I play an EML Electrocomp synthesizer with a poly box hooked up that gives you instant chords; you can do some amazing things with that. Then I play a Clavinet and an Oberheim EightVoice, a dual-manual one which is a custom ax.

Q:How do you like the Oberheim?

PW:The only problem you have with the Oberheim is that not every function is programmable; it's the big advantage of the Prophet to have all those functions programmable. But the Prophet also has the disadvantage that every voice you play sounds the same. The Oberheim is a true polyphonic synthesizer; every voice you play can sound different. If you have a horn section with five trumpet players, each of them will sound a tiny bit different.

Q:So you try to program the poly so that each horn voice is slightly different?

PW:That's exactly right. That's what the Oberheim does for me and the Prophet doesn't. The Prophet is really fast; it's a fantastic ax as far as speed goes, but I'm not dazzled by the polyphonic sound of it. I talked to Tom Oberheim about it and he is going to modify my ax. His chief engineer, Jim Cooper, is figuring out a way of inserting into each module another print plate; and making every function programmable. You just press one button and you have totally different programs, waveforms, resonance, everything. Then it will have the same features as the Prophet, only that every voice can sound totally different. And that's what I want to hear.

from the studio sound archives






random notes

     From: unknown
Peter Wolf maintains a hectic schedule of production on Los Angeles.
Recent clients include the Pointer Sisters, Chicago, and Indecent Exposure.  He is also working on his debut solo album, tentatively scheduled for release in July 94 on the Angel label. (source: Keyboard Magazine, April 1994).

     asmet sez:
peter wolf released an album together with Ina Wolf (who incidentally appears on Partick O'Hearn's El Dorado) under guise of a band called Wolf & Wolf circa 1984

     From: Patrick Neve
There are two Peter Wolfs.  Some of the following discography entries are most probably incorrectly attributed, and represent the other Peter Wolf.  Any submissions in this area will be duly noted.

     From: GRusso
Peter Blankfield is the guy from the J. Geils Band!  The one that played with Zappa was Austrian and I think Wolf is his real name.

Subject: premiere of peter wolf's first symphony
If you want to know what the former Zappa band member Peter Wolf is doing these days take a look at

     From: Andre Lewis
i got peter his tryout with zappa because i knew his sister
pete if u read this i could use a return favour
this made u

-- andre lewis



1979 baby snakes

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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