Frank Zappa's widow who kept rocker's legacy dies at 70

Gail Zappa poses during a photocall for the movie "Summer 82: When Zappa came to Sicily", directed by Salvo Cuccia, during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice, in this file picture taken Aug 30, 2013.
Gail Zappa poses during a photocall for the movie "Summer 82: When Zappa came to Sicily", directed by Salvo Cuccia, during the 70th Venice Film Festival in Venice, in this file picture taken Aug 30, 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES, (AFP) - The widow of experimental rocker Frank Zappa, who devoted herself to a prolific flow of posthumous releases of his music, has died at 70, months after what she said was his final album.

Zappa's official website posted a statement - set to his absurdist "Sofa" song with a picture of a young Gail Zappa posing in a petite robe with a rake - that said she died on Wednesday.

It did not specify the cause of death and said no further information would be released.

Gail Zappa, the daughter of a nuclear weapons scientist who went on to study fashion, married Zappa when she was 22 and soon managed her husband's music business and raised their four children.

After Zappa died in 1993 of prostate cancer, his wife went into his archives and released an average of an album each year either from Zappa or his band, the Mothers of Invention.

His 100th album, "Dance Me This," came out in June and his estate said it would be his last of new material.

The estate's statement said that Gail Zappa, while running a business, "never failed to impart the sense of humor that was part and parcel of her indomitable and formidable personality."

"Gail, self-described as a pagan absurdist, was motivated by love in all aspects of her life, kept her authenticity intact, unbowed and, simply put, was one bad-ass in the music business and political world."

Shortly before her death, she passed on control of the Zappa Family Trust to their son Ahmet and reached a deal with the Universal music conglomerate that will work on future reissues and other Zappa output.

Initially part of the vibrant folk rock movement around Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles, Frank Zappa became renowned for his wide-ranging output and experimentation.

Often described as hard rock, Zappa played not only guitar but bass and drums as he weaved together compositions with the improvisational style of jazz and lyricism inspired by Dadaist art.

Frank Zappa was at once an emblem of the California counterculture and its scourge, mocking hippies and disapproving of drug use. His fans included the Czech Republic's first post-communist leader Vaclav Havel, who made him an unofficial cultural ambassador.

Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, which awarded Frank Zappa two Grammys, mourned Gail as a "creative, independent-minded woman."