The night that cable-TV's Arts & Entertainment
channel aired a
re-broadcast of Biography
, an hour-long show on the late
Frank Zappa, last January 1995, I was busy and video taping this documentary slipped my mind. But a friend of mine flipped on his VCR in
time. What he captured (gasp!) is one of the most bizarre bits
of Hendrixia ever seen.
My friend had read the Jerry Schatzberg interview in UniVibes
#15 (p. 5) about the photo session for Zappa's We 're Only In It
For The Money
album. Jimi is pictured in the crowd of people
assembled "Sgt. Pepper" style for the LP sleeve cover (a parody of the Beatles then hit album).
"Instead of flowers and wonderful dreams," said photographer Schatzberg,
"Frank wanted garbage and old food and what you see around
on the floor."
"I went to the Village, man, I found out the streets weren't paved
with gold, there aren't no gold streets in New York, there's just
a whole lot of old banana peels layin' around, that's all." - Jimi
The Schatzberg shoot was done in New York's Village on July 18, 1967. Jimi
arrived at the photo session wearing what appears to be his
pink Monterey boa, which Eric Burdon recalls seeing Hendrix
receive from a girl backstage at Monterey. The Zappa/Mothers
LP We 're Only In It For The Money
, including a small photo
of Jimi on the cover, came out the following spring while the
JHE toured America.
But during the A&E Biography
segment about that album,
suddenly film scenes appear of the Schatzberg photo shoot!
On screen in the A&E
bio, an image of Zappa's halo of beard and hair hovers briefly like a floating Shroud Of Turin. The Mothers Of Invention sing
(first released in 1970 on the Zappa LP Weasels
Ripped My Flesh
) and after the line "Oh no, I don't believe it"
Jimi and Frank are seen posing together, filmed in 8mm living
color! The camera pans the assembly gathered for the album
shoot. Frank wears his blue "mother" dress with his hair tied up
in pigtails. During the fleeting seconds of the film he leans over
and says something to Hendrix, who is standing behind Zappa's left shoulder.
Wearing yellow trousers and the pink
boa, Jimi turns and chats something back at Frank.
The entire scene flashes by in ten seconds with a Zapruder-like
eeriness. An untrained eye would never have known what to
look for. My friend slowed down the video scenes and dubbed
a copy at 1/10th speed so we can see Jimi and Frank converse
The day after I saw this clip I faxed a memo to Are You
Experienced? Ltd. (the Hendrix production company where I worked) in Los Angeles to try and get a telephone number for Zappa's family. As it so happened, when my fax
arrived, Zappa's brother-in-law, Jay Sloatman, was sitting there in the office
waiting to speak to Alan Douglas about setting up a new
Hendrix internet website. But since the Zappa family has no
knowledge about the origins of the Schatzberg photo session
8mm footage, we need to contact knowledgeable Zappa fans in the
near future to see if more footage exists from
this remarkable Zappa/Hendrix movie shoot.
- James Sedgwick]