Cover Story for October 5, 2007
Subject – Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – We're Only In It For The Money - Released in 1968 on Verve/Bizarre Records, with cover photography by Jerry Schatzberg.
Sticking with out “psychedelic” theme another week, this week’s Cover Story is on one of the best from the era – Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention’s fantastic spoof of everything and everyone involved in making (and promoting) that genre’s music titled We’re Only In It For The Money. Using an overall style of songwriting that would serve for many years as Zappa and The Mother’s trademark – sparing no subject, touching on all aspects of that subject that made it a joke in the songwriter’s mind, and then delivering this material via bound-to-be-censored lyrics, memorable melodies and with superb musicianship and studio craftsmanship – this record made more people laugh uncomfortably than any other I know of (until the Sex Pistols released Never Mind The Bullocks… 10 years later.
The record parodied everything that the Hippie/Flower Power movement stood for and used as its symbols – from songs such as “Who Needs the Peace Corps” , “Flower Punk”, “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance”, to the finale of “The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny” – and was Zappa’s conscious effort to get the youth of the day to stop a minute and look at how silly everything was. After The Beatles had released their widely-praised concept record Sgt. Pepper’s, Zappa wanted to show the world both that he’d mastered many technical aspects of the modern recording studio and that, perhaps, some of the widely praised concepts were, in fact, nonsensical, superficial and often meaningless in the long run.
The record did have some decent commercial success, hitting #30 on the Billboard Album charts in 1968, but it has had its greatest impact when viewed historically by fans of rock music. Rolling Stone Magazine included it in its "Top 100 Albums" list in its 20th Anniversary issue in 1987, commenting on how mercilessly – and with great talent - a band from that era could spoof its musical brethren of the time (it also came in at #296 on Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the "Top 500 Albums of All Time").
Of course, one of the most-memorable aspects of the record was the packaging. Here again, The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper's stood for what was in vogue at the time, and so Zappa and his crew felt that it was important to use their newly-famous imagery as a starting point for their parody. Famed photographer and (film-maker) Jerry Schatzberg was called in to aid in this “homage to the collage” of Sir Peter Blake and Michael Cooper, creating the first of what would be many parodies of that work (I particularly liked the one done on The Simpsons in the 90s). How it all came together is addressed in today’s Cover Story….
In the words of the photographer, Jerry Schatzberg (interviewed September, 2007) –
“I had shot a photograph for the Rolling Stones in drag for the U.K. release of their single “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?". Zappa had seen that and after seeing the cover of Sgt. Peppers, he had the idea the he wanted to do a spoof of that image, with the principals in drag. I had met Zappa a couple of times before that, but we’d never worked together, so I was intrigued when I was told that this was going to be the cover of his next record.
We had a couple of weeks to produce this, and keeping the Sgt. Pepper’s cover in mind – with its elaborate costumes, flower-filled foreground, and its amazing cast of celebrity guests who were featured on the cover, both of our staffs set out to find the clothes, the props and some “celebrities” who would be part of the final composition.
We all agreed that it’d be very funny if we’d use fruit and vegetables and other junk in the foreground (instead of flowers), and since both of us knew Jimi Hendrix, we asked him to take part (you’ll find a real-live Jimi Hendrix on the far right-hand side of the shot, the second person to the right of Zappa, who’s posed in a mini-skirt). Zappa and his record company then decided on the rest of the background imagery and then a series of photos were taken. I submitted all of my tests over the two weeks and then the final one was selected. No special effects or lenses were used – the final photograph contains just the props and the people you see. Everyone was very happy with the results.”
On the original Sgt. Pepper's record package, the collage was the cover, a photo of the band with Paul standing with his back to the viewer (“Paul Is Dead?”) was on the back cover, and the inside gatefold image (quite strange for a single LP) showed the band in costume on a bright yellow background, spread across both panels. For the Zappa version, we shot a back cover photo of the band with only one member facing the viewer, and then a gatefold portrait of the band – in costume/drag – standing in front of a bright yellow background.
When the record was first released, a lot of the songs were censored, and so the record company decided to make changes to the packaging, too, and basically turned the package inside-out, with the gatefold image presented as the front cover and the collage on the inside. Years later, when the record was re-released on CD, the original cover was returned to its proper position.
About the photographer, Jerry Schatzberg –
Born In the Bronx, New York in 1927, Jerry attended the University of Miami, and then worked as assistant to Bill Helburn (1954-1956), after which he left to start his career as a freelance photographer. His fashion and portrait photography has been published in magazines such as Vogue, McCalls, Esquire, Glamour, Town and Country, and Life. He was also in demand by the record companies as a photographer and was the one who shot the famous cover photo image (as well as the other photos used on the record sleeve) for Bob Dylan’s 1966 LP Blonde on Blonde. His cover photo portfolio also includes Sonny & Cher’s Wonderous World of Sonny & Cher, The Rascals’ Young Rascals, Wilson Pickett’s Midnight Mover, and others for Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin, Carmen McRae and many others. In 2006, Genesis Publications released a limited-edition collection of Schatzberg's photos of Dylan entitled Thin Wild Mercury.
It was his portrait photography that taught him how to deal with actors. He realized that most people feared the photographer’s lens. To relax them, he would spend as much time with them as possible, not only to know them better, but to see beyond the surface and discover their true self - the one they hid from the outside world. Most of his great portraits of the sixties - Bob Dylan, Francis Coppola, Andy Warhol, Arlo Guthrie, Roman Polanski, Fidel Castro, Milos Forman, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones and many more - reveal these moments of truth.
By not giving specific directions to his photographic models Schatzberg gave them rein to find the moment. It is the same way he gets actors to reach inside. In many ways his photographic style is much closer to that of Andre Kertesz or Henri Cartier-Bresson than to the more-contemporary Irving Penn or Richard Avedon. Instead of the self-contained space of the frame, he looks for the space beyond. His photographs are narrative; they tell a story. In an instant they recognize an action, a gesture, an emotion while at the same time they have a rigorous formal pattern that expresses their meaning. The style however, never manifests itself ostentatiously and never encroaches the fluidity of life.
After expanding into directing TV commercials, he made his debut as a film director in 1970 with “Puzzle of a Downfall Child”, the story of a fashion model. Schatzberg then scored with his second directorial effort, the gripping, finely acted “The Panic in Needle Park” (1971), a bleak study of heroin addiction starring Al Pacino. Pacino co-starred with Gene Hackman in Jerry’s next film, “scarecrow” (1973), which was a moody tale of two drifters which in many ways is an apotheosis of 70’s alienation and confusion. Schatzberg was one of the leading protagonists in the Hollywood Renaissance that struck critics and film-goers alike at the beginning of the 70’s. Perhaps significantly, Schatzberg’s critical following in the United States rose and fell with the 70’s; after 1979’s “Seduction of Joe Tynan”, the trend in Hollywood shifted from small introspective films to the Spielberg/Lucas blockbuster mentality.
Jerry Schatzberg never lost his European devotees, as witnessed by the international success of 1989’s “Reunion”. He also directed 1995’s Lumiere et Compagnie with Sylvia Miles and Rob Cea and 2000’s The Day the Ponies Come Back with Burt Young and Guillaume Canet. He’s been nominated for 4 Golden Palm Awards at Cannes (winning one for “Scarecrow” in 1973 and serving on the jury in 2004) and continues to work on projects – writing books and screenplays – to this day.
Ed. note – I’d like to extend a special “thank you” to Florence Annequin, Assistant to Jerry Schatzberg, for her help with this article.
To see more examples of Jerry Schatzberg’s work, please visit his Web site at:
To see more examples of psychedelic artwork in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please visit
All images Copyright 1967 & 2007 Jerry Schatzberg www.jerryschatzberg.com
Except as noted, All other text Copyright 2007 - Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery (www.rockpopgallery.com) - All rights reserved.