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Former Mission Bay High School student Frank Zappa was an astute judge of musical potential, as his many talent-packed bands over the years attest.

But Zappa, who was only 52 when he died of cancer in 1993, also had a keen ear for musical talent beyond his constantly changing band lineups. Among the artists whose careers he played an instrumental role in launching were Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper and Tim Buckley, all of whom Zappa signed up to record for his pioneering indie record label.

To this day, one of my favorite Zappa discoveries is The Persuasions, whose sound and style is still as distinctive when he signed them in 1970. The current edition of the five-man vocal group performs tonight at downtown’s all-ages Anthology.

One of the longest-lived a cappella acts in pop-music history, The Persuasions are direct descendants of the classic doo-wop groups that rose to prominence in the mid-1950s, including among them The Coasters, The Orioles, The Penguins and The Five Satins.

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