I Shot Frank Zappa – My Life In Photography – Robert Davidson

Title: I Shot Frank Zappa

Subtitle: My Life In Photography

Author: Robert Davidson

ISBN: Amazon Hardback : 978-1899750-53-5

ISBN: EPUB/Kindle : 978-1899750-59-7

Amazon Hardback Publication Date: October 2022 

Amazon Kindle Digital Edition Publication Date:  July 2022

EPUB Digital Edition Publication Date: July 2022

Paperback Price: £18.99

Kindle Price: £4.99

No. Pages: 262

No. Illustrations: 45 Black and White Photographs

Size: 23.4 cm x 15.6 cm


BGA Autobiography: general
AVH Individual composers and musicians, specific bands and groups
AJB Individual photographersAVGP Rock and Pop music

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I Shot Frank Zappa – About the Book

Born in Dundee in 1942, Robert Davidson took what he calls “early retirement” at age 17 and left school for Paris. While there, he met and was heavily influenced by legendary 60s Time / Life photographer Emil Cadoo. Robert returned to London two years later and began portrait and fashion photography, taking the first test shots of Lesley Hornby (soon to become known to the world as Twiggy).

In 1965, Robert became friends with Tony Secunda, the infamous Svengali and manager of The Moody Blues, Procol Harum and The Move. Appointed Secunda’s official photographer, Robert worked with The Action, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Arthur Brown, amongst others.

He was responsible for many memorable images, including The Move’s “Psychedelicamania” riot at the Roundhouse in 1966 (who can forget the images of Carl Wayne wielding an axe) and the Flowers in the Rain court case during which Prime Minister Harold Wilson sued Secunda and the band (and Davidson himself was arrested). Probably the most famous photo Robert took during this period was the iconic image of Frank Zappa on a toilet in the Royal Garden Hotel in London.

This is his story.

Many years in gestation, the story was written after a series of interviews with co-author/ghost, John Elliott. John who was broadcasting regularly on Soundart Radio, initially invited Robert to join him for a programme dedicated to the music of Frank Zappa. They soon realised however, that they needed more than one interview to do justice to the whole of Robert’s life. A life whose trajectory was dramatically altered after his meeting with Frank Zappa. A weekly get together resulted in over thirty hours of recorded memories. Having covered the past, the story then began to unfold in real time. The missing negatives were re-discovered, an exhibition was mounted in London and the pair, Robert & John, flew to Germany to attend the annual Zappanale. Robert also began giving a series of talks. All these experiences and memories were distilled and edited into the narrative. Then began the task of discovering and collating representative photographs to tell and enhance the same story.

Like an innocent abroad in a crazy world, Robert has let events guide his life. With a knack for meeting unusual and interesting people, he has also struggled with loss, hardship and being homeless. The accompanying photographs make real his quest to regain those missing negatives and thereby reclaim his life. His unwavering belief in himself is rewarded after nearly fifty years of searching and shows that, despite everything, dreams can come true.