Universal Music Group Thursday announced its acquisition of Frank Zappa’s recordings, publishing rights, films, likeness and the contents of a storage facility that houses the late avant-garde composer’s complete archives.
The estate spans the four-decade career of the boundary-pushing Los Angeles-based musician, composer, guitarist, iconoclast and activist who released more than 50 albums of original material. In 1986, Zappa testified before a Senate committee considering a bill to ban the sale of “obscene” records and tapes to minors.
The agreement between UMG and the Zappa family trust — consisting of the musician’s children Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva Zappa — expands on a previous partnership with UMG involving the Zappa catalog. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“It has been a privilege to work with the Zappa family to release Frank Zappa’s music around the world, grow his audience and protect his legacy for the past decade,” Bruce Resnikoff, president/CEO at Universal Music Enterprises, said in a statement.
“Zappa was a pioneering, visionary artist who created an incredible body of work and we are incredibly proud that (his late wife) Gail, and now his children, have entrusted us with his important legacy,” he said.
“We will continue to develop innovative ways to celebrate his vast and influential catalog for both longtime fans and those just discovering his genius. As a prolific artist well ahead of his time, Frank Zappa was constantly creating and recording and he left behind a treasure trove of extraordinary still-unreleased music and video in his vault that will help us usher in the next era of Frank Zappa fans.”
Zappa, who died in 1993 of prostate cancer at age 52, was an often outspoken champion of artist’s rights and a one-time cultural ambassador to Czechoslovakia. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and awarded the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1997.
First as leader of the often satirical rock band The Mothers of Invention in the 1960s and as a solo artist, Zappa’s career touched on jazz-rock fusion, envelope-pushing electronic music, concept albums, film and accompanying soundtracks, and modern classical compositions.
The Zappa family trust said that during the previous decade, the partnership with UMG has made Zappa’s vast catalog of music available for streaming and download. The company has also reissued many of the musician’s albums on vinyl and helped create various archival releases and box sets.
“UMG have more than proven their passion for Frank’s art and so the entire Zappa family … is thrilled to pass the baton to the new forever stewards for all things Frank Zappa,” according to the family. “Old and new fans will get more of what they want — more Frank Zappa music for years to come.”