Dweezil Zappa Issues Statement Regarding Frank Zappa Family Trust Battle
Nearly two weeks after Ahmet Zappa penned an open letter to his brother Dweezil regarding the latter's use of music by their late father, Frank Zappa, Dweezil has issued a statement.
Ahmet wrote an open letter to his brother after Dweezil said he was forced to change the name of his tribute show to his dad, Zappa Plays Zappa. Ahmet disputed several points of Dweezil's complaints, which were reported in a New York Times interview in late April. Now Dweezil is taking another shot.
“In keeping with the standards of transparency and intellectual honesty that our father established with his fans and the public, I am willing to respond to your letter to clarify things,” he writes in a statement directed at his sibling. “You've personally designed your open letter to share the family business publicly. On the contrary, The New York Times article was necessary for me to continue running my own business publicly.
“A non-negotiable demand that I am solely responsible for all touring and rehearsing expenses, yet receive 0 percent of the tour merchandise, and no retroactive payments of merch money that I'm owed since 2006, in exchange for paying $1 for the license to use the name Zappa Plays Zappa is not a deal. If this proposition wasn't so laughable, I'd consider it an insult."
Dweezil said he had to change the title of his popular Zappa Plays Zappa show to Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa, in accordance with the Zappa Family Trust, which owns the trademarked name. Dweezil said he "risked copyright infringement damages of $150,000 each time he played a song without proper permission.” The trust changed hands to two of the Zappas' four children following the death of Frank’s widow Gail last year. She had overseen her late husband’s music since he passed in 1993.
Ahmet's open letter to Dweezil claimed that the new fees weren't directed specifically at his brother. “It’s all four of us [Zappa children]. If I want to perform Frank’s music, I’ll pay $1. So will [sisters] Diva and Moon. That’s just the deal, and I think it’s a pretty reasonable solution. One dollar, man. ... I have never asked you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the ZPZ name. You’ve only been told that you can’t keep using the name without agreeing to a fee of $1 per year, which you’re fully aware of, but never mentioned in your interviews.”
As Dweezil's latest statement reveals more details of the Zappa family's business agreement, and one that will likely be met with another response, he seems determined to keep performing. "I will continue to play our father’s music publicly," he concludes, "not because it’s a lucrative business, especially when substantial monies are withheld from me and expenses continue to rise, but because it is a labor of love for me."
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