Jul 1, 2022 2 min read

Frank Zappa family sells estate to Universal

Frank Zappa family sells estate to Universal

Universal Music has signed an agreement with the children of Frank Zappa – Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva, collectively The Zappa Trust – to acquire the late musician’s estate. The deal covers Zappa’s recordings and publishing catalogue, name and likeness rights, film archive and all of his unreleased material. Which, I think the science will prove, is quite a lot.

“Ten years ago, [Zappa’s late wife] Gail Zappa partnered with [Universal Music Enterprises] to bring Frank Zappa’s music into the digital era and help expand the Frank Zappa business around the world, setting in motion a fruitful partnership that has resulted in exponential growth”, reads a statement from the Zappa Trust.

“Together over the last decade”, it adds, “we made Frank’s vast catalogue of music available for streaming and download, reissued many of his pivotal albums on vinyl, created a slew of exciting archival releases and expansive box sets, including a series celebrating FZ’s legendary Halloween concerts, and were nominated for a Grammy for the ‘200 Motels (The Suites)’ orchestral album”.

“UMG have more than proven their passion for Frank’s art and so the entire Zappa family – Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva – is THRILLED to pass the baton to the new forever stewards for all things Frank Zappa”, it goes on. “Old and new fans will get more of what they want – more Frank Zappa music for years to come”.

Noting that Zappa’s first ever album with The Mothers Of Invention – 1966’s ‘Freak Out!’ – was released by Verve Records, which is now part of the Universal Music Group, the statement concludes: “So this is a very full circle moment more than five decades later and we know that his music and legacy will be in the best possible hands for generations to come”.

On the major’s side, Universal Music Enterprises CEO Bruce Resnikoff says: “It has been a privilege to work with the Zappa family to release Frank Zappa’s music around the world, grow his audience, and protect his legacy for the past decade. Zappa was a pioneering, visionary artist who created an incredible body of work and we are incredibly proud that Gail, and now his children, have entrusted us with his important legacy”.

“We will continue to develop innovative ways to celebrate his vast and influential catalogue for both longtime fans and those just discovering his genius”, he goes on. “As a prolific artist well ahead of his time, Frank Zappa was constantly creating and recording and he left behind a treasure trove of extraordinary still-unreleased music and video in his vault that will help us usher in the next era of Frank Zappa fans”.

Gail Zappa formed the Zappa Family Trust in 2002 to manage her late husband’s music and brand nine years after his death in 1993. After her death in 2015, their son Ahmet Zappa was appointed as the new head of the organisation – a move not welcomed by his siblings Dweezil and Moon.

In-fighting amongst Zappa’s children has continued over the subsequent years, particularly over Dweezil’s use of the Zappa name for his Zappa Plays Zappa live shows. There was also disharmony over a Frank Zappa hologram tour.

However, it seems the four siblings have now come to an agreement regarding the big plan to just get shot of all their dad’s stuff. This would be somewhat in-keeping with their late father’s wishes, who urged Gail Zappa to get out of the music business entirely prior to his death.

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