Gail Zappa died “peacefully at her home … surrounded by her children,” the Zappa family said in a statement.
The cause of death reportedly was lung cancer. Frank Zappa died in 1993.
Several months ago, Gail Zappa turned over day-to-day management of the Zappa Family Trust to her son Ahmet.
Her other children with Frank Zappa are Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva. (Dweezil fronts the acclaimed tribute act Zappa Plays Zappa.)
“Married to Frank Zappa at age 22, Gail was a doe-eyed, barefooted trailblazer, giving equal value to her domestic and professional responsibilities as matriarch of the family and overseer of all Zappa enterprises,” the family’s statement said.
“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.”
Gail Zappa met Frank when she was a secretary at the Whisky-a-Go-Go club on Sunset Strip. They remained married until the musician’s death.
Gail Zappa oversaw the release and rerelease of dozens of Frank Zappa albums, sometimes clashing with fans over the musical selections and production techniques.
The latest Zappa release was “Dance Me This,” the final album he worked on before his death in 1993. That release was part of a new global licensing deal cut with Universal Music Enterprise over the summer.
“Gail will forever be identified as a key figure in the creative renaissance that is Laurel Canyon,” referring to the rural L.A. neighborhood that was long home to the Zappa family.
“Her searing intelligence, unforgettable smile, wild thicket of hair and trailing black velvets leave a blur in her wake.”