Zappa and Hendrix: Unseen Portraits 1967-2017

14 Jul 2017 – 15 Jul 2017

Whitebank Fine Art - Mayfair

England, United Kingdom


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Whitebank Fine Art is delighted to present its first photographic exhibition, featuring unseen original portraits of two giants of music, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix.


Photographers Robert Davidson and Mike Berkofsky have spent the better part of half a century searching for their lost negatives. It is therefore a privilege to be exhibiting these original photographs exactly y years from when they were rst captured. 

In the summer of 1967, nineteen year old Robert Davidson was commissioned to shoot Frank Zappa in his London hotel room to promote an upcoming concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Zappa let him in upon arrival and proceeded to use the toilet, Robert seized the opportunity and immediately asked through the ajar door if he could take his picture on the throne - Zappa obliged.

is set of images, commonly known as the ‘Zappa Krappa’ pictures almost immediately gained cult status, a sentiment echoed by Zappa himself in 1983, when stating, “I’m probably more famous for sitting on the toilet than for anything else.”

Earlier this year the image appeared in the V & A’s de nitive exhibition on the 1960’s ‘You Say You Want a Revolution.’ e prolifera- tion of this unconventional image, with poster reproductions reaching into the millions, has propelled this intimate portrait of Zappa into the fabric of pop culture

ree months a er the shoot, Zappa’s management, incorrectly thinking Davidson to be bene ting exclusively from the increasingly popular images, sent representatives to his studio where he was forced to part with his original negatives. However, these measures proved futile due to the vast amount of pirate reproductions that had already taken place, and ultimately neither Davidson nor Zappa received any royalties from the image.

Moving forward to 2010, Davidson learnt that his negatives were about to be sold online by a Los Angeles memorabilia compa-
ny, Rockaway Records, who had purchased them from the estate of Herb Cohen, Zappa’s manager. Davidson contacted Rockaway Records to relate his story, and in turn they kindly agreed to repatriate the 10 surviving negatives for a token sum. Rockaway’s Mark Steckler stated, “We are just glad that Robert Davidson could get them back.”

e story behind Mike Berkofsky’s Hendrix image is less spontaneous but equally fortuitous. Twenty two year old Berkofsky was com- missioned by the in uential 60’s magazine ‘Rave’ to shoot Hendrix. One of only a handful of photographers to capture him for a sitting portrait, and using a high quality Hasselblad medium format camera.

32 st. George Street, Mayfair, London Friday 14 July - Saturday 15 July 2017 Preview evening: ursday 13 July

Upon completion, the processed rolls of lm from the shoot were handed over to the magazine and never returned, seemingly lost. Fortunately before processing, Berkofsky visited the laboratory and requested a clip test to check the lm exposures and kept posses- sion of the test clipping. is clipping is the only surviving record from the shoot, but was misplaced and thought lost until recovered by Berkofsky in 2014 from a Los Angeles storage facility. Unfortunately the storage had been severely a ected by the cataclysmic 1994 Northridge earthquake, causing moisture damage, which in turn led to fungus infestation. Determined to restore the negative, over a period of time was carefully washed, each wash revealing layers of bright colour, imbuing the image with a new psychedelic vibrance.

ese photographs are some of Davidson and Berkofsky’s most important work from the 1960’s, at a time when they were working in the same studio.

is exhibition is the culmination of decades of separation from their lost works, and a nal chapter in these unusual narratives 

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