Gail was born Adelaide Gail Sloatman and married the famed experimental rock musician at age 22 in 1967.
The couple had four children together, Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva, as Gail dedicated her time to her family and profession, running all Zappa enterprises and acting as guardian to her husband’s legacy after his death in 1993. As such, she advocated for clear definitions of intellectual property and copyright laws for all artists, while seeking to protect her husband’s legacy as one of America’s greatest composers and musicians.
According to a statement from the Zappa Family Trust issued Wednesday, Gail passed away surrounded by her children. It describes her as “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.”
The statement also reads, “While she conducted intricate legal negotiations with corporations as grand dame of the Zappa Family Trust, she never failed to impart the sense of humor that was part and parcel of her indomitable and formidable personality.”
Gail and Frank met following a tour in support of his groundbreaking 1966 debut album Freak Out! He’s been reported saying he fell in love within “a couple of minutes.” She moved into his Laurel Canyon house — a haven for Los Angeles musicians at the time — and the next year they were married. Like her husband, Gail is regarded as a key figure of Los Angeles’ richly creative Laurel Canyon scene.
“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,” the statement reads. “Her searing intelligence, unforgettable smile, wild thicket of hair and trailing black velvets leave a blur in her wake.”
Former rock and roll groupie, author and magazine writer Pamela Des Barres wrote on her Facebook page following the news, “Gail was my lifelong friend, mentor, champion, hero and soulmate. Love to the Zappa family.”