Censorship and Frank Zappa

My post the other week about doing a Frank Zappa talk as part of the forthcoming Frank Zappa music festival in Bangor has just taken an unexpected and very disappointing twist. The festival organisers have been told by the Zappa Family Trust, that if I or the Muffin Men partake in the festival – they will not be given permission to play his music! So – I have been told that I can’t do my talk – and I presume the Muffin Men have been informed they can’t perform! On top of a similar situation I had with the 200 Motels at the Southbank last year (where I was asked to write the programme notes for the concert) – it appears that I too, for whatever reason, am being told that I cannot discuss issues relating essentially to freedom of speech. The great irony in this is that the paper that I presume is causing the problem – is actually a tribute to a man who I consider to be one of the greatest composers of living times. Although some people have viewed it as ‘anti’ Zappa Family Trust – in actual fact it is exactly the opposite. Either way – it is a shame that anyone/body has the power to impact the creative decisions of venues and festival organisers. I for one, am pleased that my research has moved on to other areas.

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
This entry was posted in Frank Zappa, Musicology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Censorship and Frank Zappa

  1. Tal Wilkins says:

    I don’t think anyone has that power. You can talk all you want. And anyone can play Franks music, as long as they pay the royalties. Gail has no right to do this but does it all the time. She tries to disrupt all kinds of Zappa oriented activities and sometimes has succeeds becaus some people are intimidated.
    It’s really sad that she is such a bitter person trying to stop people celebrating and prooting Franks musical genius.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    gail continues to be the devil. imagine if Priscilla Presley acted like this.


  3. As I understand it, under both US and UK law, you have the right to use excerpts of music for educational purposes. An academic conference is one of the few occasions when that would literally be true. You may also wish to check carefully if a rights holder (under US law, which is what applies in this case because of the Berne Convention) actually can prevent the music they hold rights to being performed – rather than simply demanding payment for it. Certainly Bruce Springsteen couldn’t stop the Republicans from using ‘Born in the USA’.

    There’s also, of course, the possibility that the festival organisers or college administration are rolling over because they’re ignorant or cowardly and habitually concede to powerful interests ahead of the interests of their students and clients. I doubt they’d like it if word of that got around. Please, keep us posted.

    Good luck.


  4. Paul Carr says:

    Thanks for the comments. Just to be clear – I don’t blame Bangor for any of this. I totally understand their position.


  5. Fair play to you for your tolerance.

    Of course, if you were feeling particularly combative you could use a non-university venue in Bangor and do the talk anyway. Neither Bangor Uni nor the event organisers would then be liable for your actions. It’s a niche subject, but I think under circumstances like that you’d get a great audience…

    Hwyl am y tro.


  6. Tell Gail and her Sheisters to Go Pound Sand. There is NOTHING she can do to you or anyone else. She has NO LEGAL STANDING with this issue. This strategy only works when ignorant or cowardly musicians cave in to her threats. Her greed is beyond the pale. Go for it and tell Gail to jump off a cliff.


  7. zapguz says:

    Je suis Zappa and I talk and play his music everywhere whenever i want.


  8. Vince says:

    I’d love to know what Frank would have said about such heavy-handed oppressiveness.


  9. The widow Zappa makes me sick!!!


  10. Guy Cuypers says:

    remember or read the Leather story of 1977, Frank asked everybody to have their tape recorder ready, one saturday eve they brought the total album on a radiostation, all against the Warner Bros deal, Arf , that’s how Frank handled such situation, he wouldn’t only use words for


  11. Anonymous says:

    To me, it just doesn’t hold water. The folks who made countless fortunes on such ‘hot’ items through the 70’s and 80’s just couldn’t seem to sate themselves. Now they think of every gimmick possible to re-release, re-package and remix everything under the sun just to keep their kids fat and spoiled. I may sound a bit ranty, but, if they want to inundate our world with excess material, we should be able to ‘find it laying around’ like so much trash and re-play, re-chop or regurgitate to our heart’s content. I mean, how many times do I have to buy ‘The White Album’ before I can claim it as my own? As far as I’m concerned: I OWN THE WORLD AND EVERYBODY IN IT! And to top it all off, now they want to render our collections useless by creating pre-made collections on-line, ie: Netflix. There is no such thing as originality. Anybody that claims so is trying to claim your mind.


  12. ED SEEMAN says:

    I hired Frank to score my LUDEN’S COUGH DROP COMMERCIAL. It was a work for hire situation where i paid him $2,000 and paid for the studio and the instruments and contributed my animation direction to the scoring completion.
    Gail and the Zappa Family Trust just had the audacity to COPYRIGHT “THE BIG SQUEEZE” (The name of my commercial”)which won a Clio award for BEST USE OF SOUND for my TV Commercial. They have since used music I paid for which Zappa himself acknowledges on page 19 of “FRANK ZAPPA, THE LOST EPISODES” where he gives me credit for hiring him. I posed this to ZFT’s attorney and got no response. But they didn’t think twice about stopping ZAZZLE from selling my T-Shirts with images I shot of Zappa as his personal Fimmaker for two years in 1967& 8. Any lawyers interested in fighting back get in touch with me.
    Ed Seeman

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Paul Carr says:

    Great info on the website Ed – I always thought the advert was an amazing piece of commercial art!


  14. Matt Koegler says:

    Don’t sweat it, Gail can’t do squat. She’s been threatening bands for years and has not filed one lawsuit because it would be a waste of time and money, she knows she couldn’t win. That’s why she now sends the cease and desist orders to club owners and organizers, she’s hoping they’ll cancel the shows just to avoid any hassels.


  15. Duke of Prunes says:

    I am so sorry to read only now of your difficulties. In the future, you might find common cause with and advice and support from Arf-Society of Germany, organizers of an annual Frank Zappa festival, http://www.arf-society.de. Frank Zappa’s widow, whom I shall not deign to name, has harassed their work for the past 26 years, with no success. “The present-day composer refuses to die!”


  16. Henrik Flohr says:

    The Arf-society in Germany have been hosting Zappanale for 26 years and have been fighting Gail legally for just as long. Contact them at zappanale.de or arf-society.de they now their stuff.


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