[UPDATED] Dweezil Zappa Takes Aim At Zappa Family Trust With Tour Merchandise
Jun 28, 2016 • 1:30 pm PDT
The shirt featured below as well as other merch is now available for purchase via Dweezil’s online store.
Guitarist Dweezil Zappa is about to start a tour with the band formerly known as Zappa Plays Zappa and the accompanying merch is something to behold. Dweezil is engaged in a legal battle with his siblings that run Frank Zappa’s estate, the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT), and as such has changed the name of his tribute act a few times. For now the group is simply known as “Dweezil Zappa.”
Dweezil is calling the upcoming tour the “Cease & Desist Tour” in response a letter he received from the ZFT threatening his usage of the band’s previous name “Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa.” The guitarist has shared a few pieces of merch that will be sold and one t-shirt features a mockup of a cease and desist legal letter:
Questions, questions, questions… flooding into the mind of the concerned young person today! People are asking me, “Why this is all ZFT stuff happening?” The shortest answer is this:
There is a contract dispute that began in 2006 when the Zappa Plays Zappa tour started. My mother reneged on our tour merchandise contract, keeping 100% of the tour merch revenue for herself from 2006-2015. She failed to resolve this injustice in her lifetime. Ahmet and Diva Zappa have the ability to resolve the injustice as trustees of the ZFT. Instead of trying to make things better they have made things worse by demanding to continue to take 100% of the tour merch revenue from me and if not I am not agreeable then I am not allowed to continue touring, according to them. I can continue to tour but not as Zappa Plays Zappa. I changed my name to a perfectly legal new name Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa. Since then they have sent me misguided threats of prosecution and another CEASE and DESIST letter so and it has become quite an unfortunate situation. The odd part is I offered them a very fair opportunity to sell ZFT merch on my tour to which I would split 50/50 and they rejected it. I guess they would rather have 100% of nothing than 50% of something. Anyway that ship has sailed…
I can offer you some insight in to the questions I have myself by sharing the conclusion of my lawyer’s response to the most recent Cease and Desist letter I received from the ZFT.
Putting all of the legal issues aside, none of the positions you have taken make sense from a business prospective. Dweezil is an acclaimed musician in his own right. To your own detriment, you have now stopped him from using his father’s name as a fair and accurate description of the music he intends to play. Dweezil has diligently and faithfully maintained a presence of his father’s legendary music within the worldwide public eye for a decade without any cease and desist letters from Gail Zappa. No one benefited greater from Dweezil’s efforts than Gail Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust, yet your client threatened litigation as soon as he became a trustee.
Dweezil has done more than anyone in the family, including Frank’s widow, to promote Frank Zappa as a musician/composer, as a brand and a cultural and musical icon. He has done so with humility and the utmost integrity. Your client has continuously tried to stop him, all the while ignoring the many musicians and bands across the globe who actually infringe on Frank Zappa’s name and likeness. What are you and your client really trying to achieve?
My final thoughts:
When there is an injustice what do you often see people do? They rally together, make signs and shout in the streets so that people can hear about the injustice they are suffering.
Since the efforts to deal with this ZFT matter privately have been met with threats I have been put into the position to have to share the story publicly and stand up for myself by figuratively walking the picket line with a sign that says ZFT Don’t Tread On Me!
The last thing I want is for any of this drama to overshadow my Father’s music. His commitment to excellence and his integrity have always been a guiding light for me.
I understand there may be some public confusion about all of this. Multiple name changes etc. I also understand that this drama may be a turn off to people.
The tour begins on Friday night at Taos Mesa Brewing in El Prado, New Mexico.