UPDATE: Adrian Belew has said that he will not be participating in any hologram tours. “I will not be playing Zappa music in the foreseeable future in any situation,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “This whole thing is far too caustic and divisive.” In another, he said that he did give Ahmet permission to use his his name in the announcement but that he was simply looking at the performances as a possibility. He clarified this stance in a third post: “If you ask a girl to marry you and she says, ‘I will consider it,’ she did not say yes. In fact, she only said she will think about it.”
Nearly 25 years after his death, Frank Zappa will return to the stage as a hologram for a series of concerts with his former sidemen. The first concerts – produced by Eyellusion, which previously created a touring Ronnie James Dio hologram – will take place in late 2017 with more to be announced next year. The main event, the date for which has yet to be announced, will be a full-on staging of Zappa’s three-act rock opera Joe’s Garage – about a young guitarist seduced by rock stardom, groupies and all the vices that come with it – with the hologram performing Zappa’s role of the Central Scrutinizer.
Ahmet Zappa, one of Frank’s sons and a co-trustee of the Zappa Family Trust, said in a statement that former members of his father’s pioneering underground-rock band the Mothers of Invention, including multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood, guitarist Denny Walley and woodwind player Napoleon Murphy Brock, were on board, as well as a slew of Zappa’s “stunt guitarists” – Steve Vai, Mike Keneally and Warren Cuccurullu – bassists Scott Thunes and Arthur Barrow and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.
“I’m thrilled that Frank Zappa will finally be going back out on tour playing his most well-known music as well as some rare and unheard material,” Ahmet said. “We can’t wait to bring his creative work back to the stage with the musicians he loved to play with … who are committed to being part of this epic endeavor. When I spoke with them, they were excited at the prospect of performing alongside Frank once again and can’t wait to give fans an unforgettable experience.”
He also opined that he’d like to see hologram collaborations with some of his siblings, who have been bitterly feuding with him. “Also, how radical would it be to have Moon singing ‘Valley Girl’ onstage with Frank?” he said. “Or to see Dweezil side by side with our father playing dueling guitar solos? That would be my greatest wish and I look forward to bringing this special celebration of Frank’s legacy to a town near you.”
Last year, Dweezil revealed that he had to license his own last name in order to perform in a long-running show he devised in tribute to his father called Zappa Plays Zappa and could not sell related merchandise. He also claimed he received a cease-and-desist from the Zappa Family Trust and subsequently rebranded his tour as 50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants – The Cease and Desist Tour. Ahmet told Rolling Stone Dweezil’s claims that the estate was attempting to stop him were “1 million percent false.”
In addition to working on the hologram, Ahmet is joining Eyellusion to lead global business development. “There is a ton of untapped potential in this industry and I look forward to working with the team to build on the company’s reputation as the premier holographic experience company, creating new original content and guiding the company into new markets, including family entertainment,” he said.
For now though, his concentration – as well as that of his sister, co-trustee Diva – is on the Zappa hologram. “Frank was an innovator and his art transcended so many different mediums,” Diva said. “He left behind such an extensive body of work and we want to celebrate his music with really creative and unique live hologram productions that will introduce his music to a new generation of fans and let so many that enjoyed his music when he was alive experience it again. We have had this idea for many years and after meeting with the team at Eyellusion, we knew that they were the right partner to make it a reality.”