Ahmet Zappa Pens Open Letter to Brother Dweezil in Frank Zappa Family Dispute
Dweezil said last week that he had been forced to change his long-running tribute band's name from Zappa Plays Zappa to "Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa" by the Ahmet-led Zappa Family Trust, and that the trust was threatening to levy steep fees – as much as $150,000 per song, Dweezil said – if he didn't acquiesce to their legal threat.
In an open letter on Facebook, Ahmet disputes Dweezil's financial claims, though he doesn't reveal the original fee – other than to say it was "reasonable." Once the dispute heated up, Ahmet says, they resolved to a compromise that amounted to a mere pittance: Just $1 per year for licensing.
"I wanted to find a way to get us past this," Ahmet says, adding that the updated fee is not directed solely at Dweezil. "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."
He adds that the fee was only put in place to satisfy the trust's legal requirements. "I have never asked you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the ZPZ name," says Ahmet, who handles day-to-day operations at the Frank Zappa Trust. "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."
In the meantime, Ahmet says angry Frank Zappa fans have flooded his social media accounts, labeling the younger brother as “some greedy dude who’s just in this for the money.” He admits, “if I read that article without knowing the rest of the facts, I’d think I was a greedy asshole too.”
Ahmet adds that he counts himself among those who hope Dweezil will return to the road, keeping a part of their dad's musical legacy in front of adoring fans everywhere.
“You’re a f---ing guitar god and in my opinion one of the best guitar players in the world," Ahmet tells Dweezil in the open letter. "You do an amazing job playing our father’s music with total integrity. Your tours help keep Frank’s name alive, just like the work [Zappa's late widow] Gail and I have done through the ZFT.”
The Top 100 Rock Albums of the '60s