Frank Zappa’s estate is the latest to be acquired by Universal Music Group

The estate of American musician Frank Zappa is Universal Music Group’s (UMG) latest acquisition, comprising the singer-songwriter’s recordings, song catalog and film archive.

Experimental musician Zappa had a successful career spanning almost four decades until his death from prostate cancer in 1993 at the age of 52.

The new agreement between UMG, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), Universal Music Publishing Group and The Zappa Trust will see the company build on its work with Zappa Trust with the consent of Zappa’s four children, Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.

Frank Zappa’s son, Dweezil Zappa (Myung Jung Kim/PA)

The acquisition includes his extensive recordings, the release of a catalog of iconic songs, film archives and the complete contents of The Vault – the storage facility that houses the work of the late Zappa – as well as the name and likeness by Frank Zappa.

Of the deal, The Zappa Trust said: “10 years ago, Gail Zappa [Zappa’s widow] partnered with UMe to bring Frank Zappa’s music into the digital age and help grow Frank Zappa’s business worldwide, setting in motion a successful partnership that has resulted in exponential growth.

“Together, over the past decade, we’ve made Frank’s vast catalog of music available for streaming and download, reissued many of his crucial albums on vinyl, created a host of exciting archival releases and massive box sets, including a series celebrating FZ’s legendary Halloween concerts, and were nominated for a Grammy for the orchestral album 200 Motels (The Suites).

“UMG has more than proven its passion for Frank’s art and the entire Zappa family – Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva – are thrilled to pass the baton to the new forever stewards for all things Frank Zappa. The old and new fans will get more of what they want – more Frank Zappa music for years to come.

UMe President and CEO Bruce Resnikoff added, “It has been a privilege to work with the Zappa family to bring Frank Zappa’s music to the world, grow his audience and protect his legacy at course of the last decade. Zappa was a pioneering and visionary artist who created incredible work and we are incredibly proud that Gail, and now her children, have entrusted her important legacy to us.

In 2012, Zappa Records and the Zappa Trust – led by Gail Zappa – made the musician’s entire recorded catalog available digitally for the first time through a partnership with UMe.

Music – Mothers of Invention – Heathrow Airport
Frank Zappa with his group Mothers of Invention (PA)

Soon after, the Zappa Trust struck a deal with UMe for a worldwide licensing and distribution deal which saw the release of 60 of Zappa’s recordings.

In 2015, they partnered on a long-term worldwide licensing agreement for Zappa’s entire registered catalog.

Zappa released over 60 albums in his lifetime, both as a solo artist and with his bands, The Mothers of Invention and The Mothers.

Following his death in 1993, there were also 60 other posthumous releases beginning with 1994’s Civilization Phaze III and spanning from Zappa’s last album completed before his death, Dance Me This, released in 2015 as his 100th album.

In addition to his musical accomplishments, Zappa was also an artists’ rights activist, anti-censorship advocate, and former cultural ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

Universal Music Group recently acquired the back catalogs of a number of artists, including Neil Diamond, rock band Aerosmith and Sting, who sold his songwriting catalog to Universal in February.

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