Gail Zappa

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Gail Zappa
Born Adelaide Gail Sloatman
(1945-01-01)January 1, 1945
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Died October 7, 2015(2015-10-07) (aged 70)
Los Angeles, California, US
Cause of death Lung cancer
Occupation Trustee of Zappa Family Trust (2002–2015)
Spouse(s) Frank Zappa (m. 1967; d. 1993)

Adelaide Gail Zappa (née Sloatman; January 1, 1945 – October 7, 2015) was the wife of musician and composer Frank Zappa and the trustee of the Zappa Family Trust. They met in Los Angeles in 1966 and married while she was pregnant with their first child, Moon, later followed by Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.

In 2002, Gail founded the Zappa Family Trust, a holder for the title and copyright to Frank's musical and artistic products, as well as his commercial image. In 2015, the Trust was given to her son Ahmet shortly before she died of lung cancer.

Early life[edit]

Gail Sloatman was born in Philadelphia,[1] the daughter of a US Navy nuclear weapons researcher, John Klein Sloatman Jr., and grew up in Hollywood where her childhood friends included Jim Morrison. She lived with her family in London, where her father was posted in 1959, and attended Marymount International School. She also modeled for photographer Terence Donovan.[2]

She worked at the Office of Naval Research and Development, and then moved to New York, where she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the mid-1960s. After returning to Los Angeles, she met Kim Fowley, and recorded with him as "Bunny and Bear".[3][4] She made a very brief appearance with musician boyfriend Bobby Jameson in the documentary film Mondo Hollywood, filmed in 1966.[5] She met Vito Paulekas and Carl Franzoni, the leaders of what became known as the "freak scene" in Los Angeles, and by her own account became something of a groupie.[6]

Marriage and children[edit]

She met her future husband Frank Zappa in 1966 when she was working as a secretary at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. They married in a civil ceremony in New York on September 21, 1967, late in her pregnancy with Moon Zappa, born a week later. The marriage also produced children Dweezil Zappa, Ahmet Zappa and Diva Zappa. Gail Zappa was also an aunt to model and actress Lala Sloatman.[3][2]

In Frank Zappa's work[edit]

Gail can be seen behind Frank Zappa on the sleeve of his album Absolutely Free (1967) and on the album cover of his We're Only In It For The Money (1968). Frank Zappa also named Barking Pumpkin Records after his wife's smoker's cough when she tried to quit the habit. [7] During his life, Gail Zappa acted as her husband's business secretary, and supervised both the labels and his mail order business.[2]

Zappa Family Trust[edit]

At the time of his death in 1993, Frank urged Gail to withdraw from the music business, but never clarified what was to be done with his publishing catalog. In 2002, Gail founded the Zappa Family Trust,[1] intended to oversee the release of his recordings, including multiple previously unavailable works. The trust holds title and copyright to Frank Zappa's musical and artistic products, as well as his commercial image.[8][9] In July 2015, Ahmet Zappa took over operation of the trust.[1]

Described as "a strong-willed and savvy business woman", Gail Zappa "frequently squared off against the music industry’s major players...". She sent a note ending "Fuck you" to Steve Jobs over the setting up of iTunes.[2] She criticized tribute bands playing Zappa's music, saying: "It is absolutely identity theft because from my point of view, Frank Zappa’s audience deserves to hear the music--if it’s for the first time, especially—presented in a way that is in the best possible light of what the composer intended."[2]


In 2008, the Zappa Family Trust sued the organizers of the Zappanale Festival, held outside Bad Doberan, Germany, demanding they change the name of the festival, remove their promotional posters (which contained an allegedly trademarked moustache similar to Frank Zappa's) and remove the statue of him that has stood in the city center since 2002. In January 2009, the court found in Zappanale's favor after their defense argued that as the Zappa Family Trust only sells products on the Internet and accepts only U.S. dollars they had not effectively exercised their trademarks in Germany for more than five years. The court also ruled that the use of the moustache was sufficiently different in Zappanale's merchandise so as not to cause confusion between the two.[10]


Gail Zappa died in Los Angeles on October 7, 2015. Rolling Stone and TMZ reported that she died following "a long battle with lung cancer".[3] She was 70.