When Rock Legend Widows Litigate

In November, the plaintiffs demanded that the organizers of the Zappanale be forced to pay a €250,000 penalty or be sent to jail for two years should the festival or the related “Arf-Society” refuse to comply.

Gail Zappa

Cut to the present:

The two sides now have some six weeks to come up with an out-of-court settlement. And the Zappa Family Trust may be willing to compromise. ZFT lawyers now say that the Zappanale can use the Zappa name if they brand the festival as “Zappa music and more.

Zappa music — and more! Them lawyers sure know how to win a case. Our credit card spending at work, ladies and gentlemen.

I’ll just let Der Spiegel do the talking.

To loosely quote Woody Allen though, if I may: “If you need me, I’ll be in the back having an anger attack.”

31 Responses to “When Rock Legend Widows Litigate”

  1. Clark Gwent says:

    She wants people sent to prison for practically nothing. Frank would be turning in his gravy.

  2. dwiva says:

    oh my gawd…freak me out…like that’s my mom! very scary…kind of like that day she stalked me and those three biker guys at the mall – please make it stop!

  3. Bob Again says:

    …just another worn out groupie looking for a chance to cash in.

  4. bertanya says:

    spiegel – ‘three-day format with 17 bands playing for Zappa fans who come from around Europe to attend — and pay €80 ($125) ‘ – what’s the problem again…..

  5. Hoopla says:

    It’s as if they really don’t want people to find Frank’s music.

    Gail, he’s dead, you already have plenty of money, what harm could it do? All it could do is please Zappa fans, and potentially introduce his music to people who have never been exposed to it before.

    It’s such a sad and pathetic state of affairs.

  6. urbangraffito says:

    Sick and crazy. Couldn’t have said it better. I was dreaming I was watching Frank play “Mammy Nuns” last night when Gail suddenly appeared and threatened legal action if this dream didn’t stop “this instant”. Bummer, man. Then I woke up.

  7. Kevin Hoover says:

    What bothers me about all this is that it doesn’t seem smart.

    Gail could get things done much more effectively by pulling – leading – rather than pushing.

    It may be too late. But if she had fostered a benevolent, inclusive culture in the Zappa community the fans would have done anything for her.

    The Grateful Dead encouraged their fans, even allowing taping at shows etc. They certainly never attempted to kill off tribute bands and homage events. And it only helped them financially.

    Instead it’s a big bunch of wasted energy on anger and confrontation and yuck.

    What a missed opportunity. Imagine what might have been.

  8. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    What bothers me about all this is that it doesn’t seem smart.

    Gail could get things done much more effectively by pulling – leading – rather than pushing.

    It may be too late. But if she had fostered a benevolent, inclusive culture in the Zappa community the fans would have done anything for her.

    The Grateful Dead encouraged their fans, even allowing taping at shows etc. They certainly never attempted to kill off tribute bands and homage events. And it only helped them financially.

    Instead it’s a big bunch of wasted energy on anger and confrontation and yuck.

    What a missed opportunity. Imagine what might have been.

    You’re right, Kevin. Not smart, at all. From the get go, Gail (and the ZFT) has acted in an extremely bellicose and belligerent manner towards the worldwide Zappa community (i.e. Tribute bands, websites, weblogs, festivals, et al) instead of treating them as the fantastic and marvelous resource they are for disseminating Frank Zappa’s music (and at absolutely no cost to herself, for that matter) to new generations of fans.

    Is it too late? Perhaps. When you are as insular and isolated as Gail appears to be (listening only to lawyers, direct family), your choices become just as narrow (which is fine if all you care about is how much money can be made; rather than the musician’s ultimate legacy).

    One gesture. That’s all it will really take. One single act of humility, and the worldwide Zappa community would forgive all, forget all that has occurred since 1993. Is Gail capable of such a gesture?

    Or will FZ’s legacy continue to spiral down with Gail (and the ZFT) on one side, and the worldwide Zappa community on the other?

    One gesture. Is it possible?

    Just imagine.

  9. Paul Sempschi says:

    Would one gesture be enough for the fans to forgive the royal fucking they received? Joe’s Domage? Litigation? What about the alumni and the nonsense they were put through?

    I’m skeptical whether they can forgive her or that the fan base will ever recover from the Hell this and the next generation are going to put the fans through- but, considering the Hell she’s actively put the sued, the threatened and the alumni through, I have no right to be bitter.

    So sure Gail, just sell the entire catalogue to the nearest credible music label (may I recommend Warner Brothers?) and relinquish all publishing/royalty rights to Public Domain and all will be forgiven.

  10. Kevin Hoover says:

    I agree that it would take more than a gesture. A full-blown paradigm shift.

    In my newspaper work I deal with people who have staked out positions and attitudes, and who have formed factions and alliances. These become fixed over time (You’ll love it! It’s a way of life!) and essentially immutable, even after they become irrelevant.

    It’s rare to nonexistent that anyone would reverse course to the extent necessary as in this case.

    I’d like to acknowledge that Gail’s core concerns are not entirely bereft of merit. it’s just that the tactics have been, in my view, counterproductive, not to mention a major, major buzzkill.

  11. the holy grail says:

    I’VE GOT A GESTURE FOR ALL YOU WHINING PIMPLE HEADS!

  12. Sharleena says:

    does it involve a finger??!

  13. Plooker says:

    A friendly little one?

  14. Potatohead Peccary says:

    she needs to get laid and smoke a joint.

  15. the holy grail says:

    A quote from Plooker:

    A friendly little one?

    NO, ‘T AIN’T LITTLE AND ‘T AIN’T FRIENDLY NEITHER!

  16. Kevin Hoover says:

    I figure the odds be fifty-fifty, he might just have something to say.

    Maybe less.

  17. moggio's moldy Oreos says:

    Yeah, I agree with the others above: a simple gesture is not going to cut it to repair the damage she has wrought on the world. But, the love for FZ is still there, and we can still all go on – without her and without her website and without her ‘random recordings from the floor of the vault releases’, since the fans apparantly have access to more SBDs of shows than the ZFT does, if the trade and download boards are any indication. ;-)

    I don’t think her madness will ever be cured, to be honest. Her behavior is one of someone who is dead certain that they are right and the rest of the planet is wrong.

    But, I don’t care, anymore, really. I can get SBDs for free, I can buy the official crap releases used, and I can go see Project/Object, so it is actually better now than it was post-’93-99 when I didn’t have the internet and I only knew one other person who even owned a FZ record, let alone knew much about him!!

  18. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    I agree that it would take more than a gesture. A full-blown paradigm shift.

    In my newspaper work I deal with people who have staked out positions and attitudes, and who have formed factions and alliances. These become fixed over time (You’ll love it! It’s a way of life!) and essentially immutable, even after they become irrelevant.

    It’s rare to nonexistent that anyone would reverse course to the extent necessary as in this case.

    I’d like to acknowledge that Gail’s core concerns are not entirely bereft of merit. it’s just that the tactics have been, in my view, counterproductive, not to mention a major, major buzzkill.

    Well, if current consensus is correct, it’ll take more that just a simple humbling gesture by GZ and the ZFT to mend what is a major rift. Still, every movement begins with a simple gesture…(like releasing Roxy)

  19. Kevin Hoover says:

    Here’s some goddamn heresy for you:

    Gail is a nice person who is trying to be responsible to both her family and her fiduciary responsibility who has made a cascading chain of mistakes and is now kind of boxed in.

    She, and we, need Frank here to set us all straight. But that won’t happen, so we’re on our own.

    Again I say that we need to comport ourselves as though we were sitting at a table with Frank and his penetrating eyeballs that filled the room. Gail too.

  20. Paul Sempschi says:

    Big Poodle’s watching you…

    Gail has not only proved a liability toward her “fiduciary responsibility” but her moral/family obligations toward the Zappa estate are highly suspect (didnt Frank tell her to get out of the bizniz?) and her only claims toward the estate are legal and not moral, spiritual, artistic or yelm.

    If she had any respect for the composer’s intent, he’d have respected his wishes not to meddle with his work, image or legal/commercial affairs. So yeah, Mr. Hoover, I agree, we should ALL be acting as though Frank’s “penetrating eyeballs” were glaring at us.

  21. Kevin Hoover says:

    Really? Do you really consider Gail Zappa so desolate of insight into her husband’s intent? How can you really know what she feels and thinks? You can’t. You only know what she does.

    I have a different take. I think she has been trying to enact his will, but went off course. Remember that skeezy lawyers are whispering sweet billable nothings into her ear every week.

    Sorry to be so Northern California touchy-feely (actually I’m not sorry), but if you expect Gail to indulge the fans, then maybe we should consider cutting this woman some compassion. Yes, it’s hard, given the entirely needless anguish that has been visited on innumerable well-meaning fans and musicians.

    My band used to play Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy, Can’t Afford No shoes and other FZ tunes. We probably would have gotten a lovely C&D letter by now.

    I know how this goes. Call me an apologist for the evil rotten machine or whatever. 3… 2… 1.. go!

    Just imagine that you were the executor of the Zappa estate, with the staggering responsibility of shepherding this legacy through the Internet era. You would have done everything perfectly right, and be 100 percent fully beloved by the fans… right?

  22. Paul Sempschi says:

    No, you’re not an apologist, just an optomist (IMHO).

    Sorry if I came off as presumptious about my “insights” into her mind, though I’d never want to, the lyric:

    “dont you never try and look behind my eyes
    you dont want to know what they have seen…”

    comes to mind. When I say she has no spiritual/moral ground to represent Zappa, I am referring to the hypocrisy of triumphing the composers intent by disregarding his wishes for her. On top of which (witch), she not only disregarded his wishes re:her and his music but she does so with an arrogant incompetence that has caused the fan base so much frustration and woe.

    But it’s like the various interpretations of Prez. Bush, is he mean spirited, a puppet, an incompetent or just a well-meaning lunatic with various delusions… perhaps Gail knows what she’s doing, perhaps she doesnt, the result remains the same.

  23. Kevin Hoover says:

    So true, and so sad.

    What’s the way out?

    I think I’ll just listen to Mark’s show in 50 minutes and not worry about this stuff any more, for now.

  24. Paul Sempschi says:

    Well if the ZFT ever becomes a corporation (goes public), then we could buy her out Or use strong-arm tactics to wrench the corporation from her, the same kind they used against Howard Hughes’ airplane company.

    A little far-fetched? A little extreme?

    Anyway that we could sue her for the vault- or at least recovery of court fees???

  25. Kevin Erickson-Velez says:

    “I have a personal relationship with my fans where I don’t mess around.”
    – Frank Zappa on David Letterman, 10/31/83

    Given that things like this were said by the man who created the music, it really is sad to see how things have transpired.

  26. Kevin Erickson-Velez says:

    Oops. My bad. Got the date wrong. That was a different Letterman interview. This one’s unknown (it’s where he was discussing the LSO Vol I album).

  27. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Kevin Erickson-Velez:

    “I have a personal relationship with my fans where I don’t mess around.”
    - Frank Zappa on David Letterman, 10/31/83

    Given that things like this were said by the man who created the music, it really is sad to see how things have transpired.

    In the final analysis, it’s not what Gail says that is of any real importance, it’s her actions that speak volumes. Still, no matter what she has done, or will do, will it ever really come between FZ and his fans in any substantial way? I think not. If it did, then you never were that big of a fan of the composer’s music in the first place.

  28. the holy grail says:

    make a fart noise here

  29. pabbagecatch says:

    “In the final analysis, it’s not what Gail says that is of any real importance, it’s her actions…”

    Thanks, Mr. Final Analysis.
    Gosh, I guess all the questions about
    Gail’s behavior have been wrapped up
    in a little box with a ribbon on it thanks to you.

    How would I ever construct my own opinion if it weren’t for
    YOUR final analysis?

    Thanks.

  30. artrip says:

    berlin, baltimore, cleveland, montreal, illinois, kansas, florida, johnny velvet, funcanelli, king kong or the pope, maybe someone sues back.

  31. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from pabbagecatch:

    “In the final analysis, it’s not what Gail says that is of any real importance, it’s her actions…”

    Thanks, Mr. Final Analysis.
    Gosh, I guess all the questions about
    Gail’s behavior have been wrapped up
    in a little box with a ribbon on it thanks to you.

    How would I ever construct my own opinion if it weren’t for
    YOUR final analysis?

    Thanks.

    You might begin (constructing your own opinion) by including my entire statement, instead of just a convenient part thereof. Then discussing the point brought up in the first place.

    Re: Gail’s behavior. Yawn. It’s the equivalent of watching hair grow. After so much BS does anyone really care what she says or does anymore? That horse is dead. Somebody please shoot it and put the topic out of its misery once and for all.

    When the Zappa family begins composing music of the late Frank’s calibre (instead of what passes for it on Gene Simmon’s Asshole), then that would be a topic worthy of discussion, don’t you think, pabbagecatch?

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