Icon Photographer Robert Davidson

Robert Davidson

In the late summer of 1967, 19-year-old Robert Davidson was tasked with photographing Frank Zappa at the Royal Garden Hotel in London to promote an upcoming Mothers of Invention performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Scouting around for a suitable location, Robert happened upon Zappa on the toilet and asked if he could take his picture.

The photos from this impromptu “sitting”—subsequently known as the “Zappa Krappa” session—gained cult status, and pirated reproductions appeared on posters and t-shirts for decades. Zappa’s management wanted a piece of the action and forced Robert to surrender the negatives—but ultimately neither Davidson nor Zappa ever received any royalties.

The negatives were rediscovered during the liquidation of Zappa’s manager’s estate in 2010, and Robert was offered the opportunity to liberate his images after being separated from them for almost 50 years. The lead photo is now included in the permanent collection of London’s National Portrait Gallery, and these iconic shots are being offered as fine-art prints for the very first time.

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