Gail Zappa—wife of Frank Zappa and guardian of his creative life—died October 7 at age 70.
A statement from the Zappa Family Trust says she died at home, surrounded by her children. The cause of death was not stated, though she reportedly had battled with lung cancer.
Born Adelaide Gail Sloatman, she married Frank Zappa in 1967, and together they had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.
The statement notes, “Gail enthusiastically executed her role as guardian of her husband’s creative life and, with his passing, strove to ensure his legacy as one of the leading American composers and musicians of the 20th century. In this and all business endeavors, Gail passionately advocated to establish clear definitions of intellectual property and copyright laws on behalf of not just her husband, but all artists.”
In the years since Frank’s death in 1993, Gail issued 38 albums of his previously unreleased music. Dance Me This, released earlier this year, was Zappa’s 100th and final album.
In addition, Gail oversaw the completion of Roxy: The Movie, which will be released October 30. Filmed over three nights in December 1973 at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, the project had been shelved for years due to the expense and time required to edit the footage.
Prior to meeting Zappa, Gail recorded an album with future Runaways manager Kim Fowley under the name Bunny and Bear (she was Bear). She met Zappa while working as a secretary at the legendary Sunset Strip club Whisky a Go Go.
“Gail will forever be identified as a key figure in the creative renaissance that is Laurel Canyon,” notes the statement. “But more than any singular accomplishment, she defined herself in her personal relationships, happiest when surrounded by loved ones and artists, often one in the same. The memories she leaves behind are indeed her own art form. Her searing intelligence, unforgettable smile, wild thicket of hair and trailing black velvets leave a blur in her wake.”