Dweezil Zappa is following in his younger brother’s footsteps with a public post about their ongoing feud over the Zappa Family Trust. In a statement posted on his blog, Dweezil called out his brother, Ahmet, for sharing the family business in an open letter two weeks ago. Dweezil also explained that his previous article for the New York Times was necessary so he could continue performing his tribute show for their late father, Frank Zappa, which he ran under the name Zappa Plays Zappa for 10 years until he was told he had to change the show’s name.
“You’ve personally designed your open letter to share the family business publicly,” Dweezil wrote. “On the contrary, The New York Times article was necessary for so I could continue running my own business publicly.”
Dweezil responded to his brother’s open letter point-by-point, first slamming Ahmet’s claim that he has not been able to reach him and saying he could have phoned, texted, e-mailed, faxed or used “a carrier pigeon or a note slipped under my front door for that matter.”
Dweezil also shot down his brother’s claims about the seemingly low $1 fee that all Zappa kids must pay if they want to perform their father’s music, explaining it’s not the bargain deal that it sounds like. Dweezil pointed out that he’s the only Zappa kid who is even capable of performing their father’s music at a professional level, and he said no one else in else in the family would even have a use for the Zappa Plays Zappa name.
“No one else in our family has been performing this music for the past decade,” Dweezil wrote. “No one else in the family has achieved knowledge of this depth about playing our father’s music. No one else in the family has any ability to play any instrument on a professional level. No one else in the family has the ability to read charts or perform with the level of expertise required to perform this music commensurate with the standards our father set.”
Dweezil laughed off Ahmet’s claims about the fees and merchandising deals laid out to him by the Zappa Family Trust.
“A non-negotiable demand that I am solely responsible for all touring and rehearsing expenses, yet receive zero 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,” Dweezil wrote. “If this proposition wasn’t so laughable, I’d consider it an insult.”
Dweezil reiterated that, per the Zappa Family Trust, he had to change the name of his tribute show from Zappa Play Zappa to Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa or he “risked copyright infringement damages of $150,000 each time he played a song without proper permission.”
Dweezil also criticized his late mother, Gail Zappa, for unfairly setting up the equity for her four children in the Zappa family Trust.
“Moon and I have a 20% share each of the ZFT and you and Diva have 30% each,” Dweezil wrote to his brother. “This was deliberately created to be unequal by our mother. Since the ZFT is saddled with multi-million dollar debt and the trust is illiquid (according to you) there’s no chance any money will be coming to me or Moon anytime soon… You demanded that the ZFT would take 100% of the tour merch revenue and in a little twist have suggested that after the trust pays off its debts then I would receive my 20% share of what is leftover, a mere fraction of what I am owed per the contract. But that’s ok because you and Diva would get your 30% percent share directly from all of my hard work, so you’re good.”
Dweezil’s sister, Moon Zappa, has stayed mostly quiet regarding this round of her brothers’ feud, but she has sided with Dweezil in the past in regards to Alex Winters’ upcoming Frank Zappa documentary. Moon previously tweeted that she does not condone the project and that the family “is not united” on the subject.
Moon Zappa also tweeted, “My two baby siblings were left in charge of ZFT. They choose not to consult with me or Dweezil or include us in decision-making.”
While Frank Zappa’s kids used to be close, things took a bitter turn after Frank’s widow, Gail, died last year and Ahmet became head of the Zappa family Trust. Earlier this month, Ahmet posted an open letter to Dweezil on Facebook to try to get him to respond to their ongoing issues, claiming he has been trying to reach him for months and saying he is not treated any differently than any of their siblings who are allowed to perform their father Frank’s music for the bargain basement price of $1 per year for licensing.
Ahmet’s post was in response to Dweezil’s New York Times interview in which he revealed that he was no longer allowed to tour under the title “Zappa Plays Zappa,” the name he had been using for his tribute show for more than a decade.
Even amid all of the family drama, Dweezil Zappa has no plans of stepping down from performing his father’s music, even if Zappa Plays Zappa has turned into a bitter Zappa versus Zappa war.
“I will continue to play our father’s music publicly,” Dweezil wrote. “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.”
Take a look at the video below to see Dweezil Zappa playing his Zappa Plays Zappa show.
[Photo by Fran Flynn/Getty Images]