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Zappa family feud intensifies over proposed ‘hologram tour’

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“It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice - there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.” – Frank Zappa, as written in “The Real Frank Zappa Book.”

The Zappa Family Trust – established in 2002 by Gail Zappa, widow of legendary rock, jazz and orchestral composer, Frank Zappa - last week announced a partnership with Eyellusion, an organization billed as “live music’s premier hologram production company.”

The concept behind the partnership is to create digital hologram images of Frank Zappa, synchronized with his music, and then send the package out on the road, allegedly with some of the musicians who originally recorded and performed the music with Frank.

Ahmet Zappa, executor of the family trust and younger son of Frank and Gail, announced in a press release that he is “thrilled that Frank Zappa will finally be going out on tour, playing his most well-known music, as well as some rare and unheard material.”

The Zappa family has been divided on a number of issues in recent years, including elder son Dweezil’s use of the name “Zappa Plays Zappa,” a series of ongoing shows where the musician pays tribute to his father’s music. Dweezil insists that the Zappa Family Trust is trying to prevent him from performing under his own name.

In response, Dweezil altered the name of his show to “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever The [email protected]%K He Wants” as part of the “Cease and Desist Tour.”

Of the proposed Zappa hologram tour, Dweezil has stated that he is “not interested in participating in anything with an artificial version of my father on stage.”

Referring to the concept as “fake Frank,” Dweezil continued. “Let’s be realistic. It’s not actually Frank Zappa that will be on the stage.

“Many holographic projects have been attempted and failed,” he wrote on his website. “For example, Whitney Houston’s family sidelined a holographic version of her because they weren’t convinced that the quality was good enough. With all due respect, there must be a disturbing combination of emotions people feel when seeing something of poor quality, especially when it’s a three-dimensional representation of their own deceased loved one.”

Adding insult to injury, Dweezil says that he first heard about the proposed Frank Zappa hologram tour through social media and has not heard directly from the family trust about the tour or the trust’s use of his name in promoting the concept in its press release.

“How radical would it be to see Moon (Zappa – Dweezil and Ahmet’s sister) singing ‘Valley Girl’ onstage with Frank?” the Zappa Family Trust press release asked. “Or to see Dweezil side by side with our father playing dueling guitar solos?”

Digitally created holograms of deceased stars are not a new concept. The 2012 Coachella Festival presented a computer-generated image of late rapper Tupac Shakur to an audience who appeared largely unsettled at the sight.

Last year, The Notorious B.I.G. appeared in hologram form at two Bad Boy reunion shows with a real-life Diddy. And in 2014, Michael Jackson’s image startled viewers and attendees of the Billboard Music Awards when it appeared to moonwalk across the stage, accompanied by a live, five-piece band and 16 dancers.

“Regarding my Dad,” Dweezil wrote at www.DweezilZappa.com, “his fans have been outspoken that they do not favor the idea. It would be very difficult to make the leap to say that my Dad would favor the idea himself, given his propensity for exalting music as the very highest art form, and live music in general as being the most exhilarating experience in which to display the art.”

In other Frank Zappa news, six historic late October 1977 concerts - performed by Zappa and his band at New York City’s 3,000 seat Palladium - are due to be released for the first time in their entirety on Oct. 20 via Zappa Records/UMe.

Completely remixed from the vault masters, “Halloween ‘77” will contain 158 tracks in 24-bit WAV audio and will be delivered as a candy bar-shaped USB drive. A 3-CD version containing the October 31show (with select tracks from Oct. 30, 1977) will also be available.  

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