Ahmet Zappa wants to set the record straight about the family feud surrounding the legacy of his late father, Frank Zappa. Ahmet took to Facebook to post an open letter to his brother, Dweezil, to clear up some misconceptions over the long-running Zappa Plays Zappa tour and other family matters.
Ahmet Zappa claims that Dweezil has refused to talk to him privately or without lawyers present, despite the fact that he has been trying to contact him for months. But after Dweezil’s recent comments to the New York Times, Ahmet has clearly had enough.
“I’ve been reaching out to you for months,” Ahmet wrote to Dweezil. “I even tried to set up a family meeting so we could discuss all of our family issues, but you repeatedly said you couldn’t fit it into your schedule, and that you weren’t available to attend without your lawyers present. Instead, you’ve given this incomplete, misleading story to the NYT and the media, and invited the whole world to take sides about our family business. Now, we’re becoming ‘that family’ – the spoiled brats arguing in public about who deserves what.”
In the open letter, Ahmet Zappa called out his older brother for several things he has said in the press, including the fact that Dweezil claims he is no longer to play tribute shows under the name “Zappa Plays Zappa” and that the Zappa Family Trust, which is now headed by Ahmet, was threatening him with fees up to $150,000 per song if he didn’t stop.
Ahmet Zappa wrote that his brother is not treated any differently than any of their siblings and that any of them can perform Frank’s music for the low price of $1 per year for licensing.
“I have never asked you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the ZPZ name,” Ahmet wrote. “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… It’s all four of us (Zappa children). If I want to perform Frank’s music, I’ll pay $1. So will Diva and Moon. That’s just the deal, and I think it’s a pretty reasonable solution. One dollar, man.”
Ahmet added that he has been flooded with social media haters who are under the impression that he is stopping Dweezil from performing and that he’s lining his pockets with cash from the Zappa Family Trust. Ahmet revealed that it takes a lot of money to run the Trust and that all of the Zappa kids — including Dweezil — receive payments when the Trust shows a profit. Ahmet also offered to share the real facts and legal documents, something he thinks his older brother wouldn’t want.
“If you want to share private facts and legal documents, we can do that too, because honestly, we both know what’ll happen: it will give everyone a complete picture of what’s happening. Not the distorted one that’s out there now, which makes it look like this is about business crushing art, or me being a greedy a******e who wants to take away your rights.”
Ahmet added that he just wants to “get past this” and that he hopes his brother will continue to perform the shows in honor of their father Frank, who died in 1993.
“You do an amazing job playing our father’s music with total integrity,” Ahmet wrote. “Your tours help keep Frank’s name alive, just like the work [Zappa’s late widow] Gail and I have done through the ZFT.”
Last month, the New York Times reported that Dweezil Zappa said he was no longer allowed to tour under the name “Zappa Plays Zappa.” Dweezil had been using the name for his tribute shows to his late gather’s music for more than a decade, but said he was forced to change the name to “Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa.” The Times reported that the change was due to a rift between Dweezil and the Ahmet-led Zappa Family Trust, which had been overseen by their mother, Gail, until her death last year.
Take a look at the video below to see Ahmet Zappa performing with his brother and John Tesh.
[Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images]