The Zappa Holo-Tour Controversies: Exclusive

The news that a hologram of Frank Zappa would be going on tour put a dispute between the legendary musician’s offspring at center stage once more.

Zappa Hologram Tour
– Zappa Hologram Tour

The initial announcement of the holo-tour from the Zappa Family Trust and Eyellusion included language from ZFT co-trustee Ahmet Zappa that said Zappa-collaborators like Steve Vai, Adrian Belew, and Denny Walley, as well as many others, had committed to participating in the project. He went on to muse on how nice it would be if his sister Moon and his brother Dweezil would sign on.

“How radical would it be to have Moon singing ‘Valley Girl’ onstage with Frank? Or to see Dweezil side-by-side with our father playing dueling guitar solos?” Ahmet said in the release. “That would be my greatest wish and I look forward to bringing this special celebration of Frank’s legacy to a town near you.”

Dweezil is still very much locked in a legal battle with Ahmet and their sister Diva Zappa. His initial reaction on social media suggested he had not been consulted prior to the announcement and his agent later issued a statement to Pollstar stating Dweezil had “no interest in performing or participating in any way with an artificial version of his dad.”

Ahmet’s reps then told Pollstar he was sincere in his original quote, implying that he hoped his brother would reconsider.

Several artists named in the press release have since written on social media that they will not be playing with the hologram.

Adrian Belew wrote on social media: “I will not be playing Zappa music in the foreseeable future in any situation. This whole thing is far too caustic and divisive.”

Denny Walley said in a post that has since been deleted: “I feel Frank Zappa’s presence every time I pick up my guitar. I see him with both eyes closed. I stood on stage with flesh & blood Frank Zappa. No hollow gram for me. I’m good.”

Steve Vai confirmed his participation in the tour through social media, writing: “When I was invited to contribute to 3-4 shows of a potential Zappa hologram tour I thought… this could be odd, but another part of me felt this could also be pretty special too. To be on the stage playing his music again for the fans with some of his alumni, (many dear friends of mine) and to have his ghostly image residing over the proceedings was interesting and alluring enough for me to commit to helping kick off the tour.”

Ahmet gave Pollstar a statement regarding the withdrawals of participation.

“I respect that Denny and Adrian had a change of heart since we last spoke, but my hope is that once they see the artistry of the technology, how it honors my father and provides an incredible Zappa experience, they’ll change their minds – they’re the best and the door is always open for them to come back.”

He went on to say that more collaborators will be announced soon. Dates for the tour have not yet been shared.

As the hologram tour putting Frank’s music and family back into the public consciousness, Dweezil posted a lengthy statement on his website Sept. 25 explaining his side of the legal battle with his siblings. The post contains excerpts from cease-and-desist letters from the ZFT to

Dweezil and provides the latter’s account of why he changed the name of his act from “Zappa Plays Zappa” to “Dweezil Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa” and again to “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@% He Wants: The Cease And Desist Tour.”

The post on Dweezil’s website also claims that the ZFT is claiming ownership over his own name, something Diva and Ahmet have disputed with a tweet and re-tweet of legal documents filed with the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office. In the documents the trustees lawyers’ say ZFT has always maintained that Dweezil has ownership over his own name and that he took an excerpt of a legal document out of context to misrepresent the ZFT’s position.

Dweezil’s recent post also opens a call for his supporters to join his “Dweezil Zappa & The Others Of Intention” PledgeMusic campaign to help pay for his legal expenses. He said he expects the trial to begin soon, but that it should take approximately seven months.

Dweezil has dates lined up in the U.K. and Europe next month. He has grossed $762,906 in the U.S. in the last 12 months, averaging $22,438 per show.