Dweezil Zappa, son of legendary musician Frank Zappa, has announced he is being forced to change the name of his tribute band, Zappa Plays Zappa, in which the younger Zappa recreates the music of his late father. The name change comes in the wake of stipulations outlined by the Zappa Family Trust, the control of which passed from Gail Zappa to two out of the four Zappa children upon her death last year.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Dweezil says that the trust, whose current heads are Ahmet and Diva Zappa, informed him that he does not have the right to play under the band’s current name, and he faces monetary charges each time he played those songs under that name. The new name of the band will be Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa. As Dweezil says, “It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but this is being done under duress.”
“My last name is Zappa; my father was Frank Zappa,” Dweezil tells the Times. “But I am not allowed to use the name on its own. I’m not allowed to use a picture of him. I’m not allowed to use my own connection with him without some sort of deal to be struck.”
Tensions between the siblings have been high since Gail’s passing over issues concerning the Frank Zappa catalogue and vault like Zappa Plays Zappa and the recent Kickstarter campaign linked to a Zappa documentary. For his part, Ahmet denies the feud. “I am not standing in the way of Dweezil playing the music,” he says. “He would just have to be in accordance with the family trust.”
“There is obvious deceit in my brother’s response,” Dweezil says after hearing that his brother brushed off his complaints by saying “Maybe he’s grieving. For all of us it’s been superemotional.” Dweezil adds, “His actions speak louder than words.”
Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa will continue to play Frank Zappa’s songs but will not feature his image or any of the trust’s memorabilia on their tours. “I just hope people will understand,” Dweezil says, “that the only thing I’m changing is the name.”