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May 22, 2023

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, the Group Shot of the Musicians With Children by Art Kane in 1968

Afraid and unnerved by the angry music of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Art Kane was nervous about this shoot in 1968. But, on the day of the shoot, he was met with warmth and compassion instead. He wanted to shoot them protesting angrily with their own images plastered as their picket signs, but Frank Zappa dismissed it as “the worst f**king idea I’ve heard in my entire life.” Kane decided to reveal the band as a more human and emotional group of people. The contrast between the naked babies and the long-haired, bad-boy rockers was his way of making viewers look beyond the tough image that they projected and get a view at the vulnerability beneath.

Kane asked the band members if they had kids, and of a few of them did, so he said, “Please bring your children.” Then they cast a few professional model babies. A bunch of moms, circa 1968, showed up and nervously stood around while their beautiful little babies were put in the hands of these terrifying, bearded, long-hair freaks.

“I showed up for the shoot after school, I was 11 years old, and I was a bit nervous to meet these rock stars.” his son, Jonathan Kane, told Interview Magazine. “They looked so terrifying, but immediately Frank Zappa rushed up to me, hugged me, and said, ‘Hey man, you should’ve been here an hour ago, man. The babies were pissing all over us! We got soaked, man!’ Apparently that did happen, the babies were naked and at one point they all started peeing. Everybody got saturated.

“For me, though, that photo is so full of life, love, and humor. It’s so packed in the frame with a Renaissance-like theme. Everybody, with the exception of the babies, has their eyes glued on Art Kane and that was one thing my dad demanded. Unless he had another vision, he insisted that subjects look directly into his lens.”


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