THE KING BEES
The King Bees (who nick-named themselves The Bees) was a band composed of five enormously talented musicians from Melbourne, Australia. Although the band was not around for very long, they managed to gain a keen following. They performed covers, all played in their own powerful style of Blues-Rock / R&B. They released a 5-track E.P. as a small run.
From left to right in the pictures are drummer Steve Donald, Hammond and piano player Mick “The Reverend” O’Connor, guitarist and vocalist Peter Laffey, bass-player and backing vocalist Jimmy Fewing, and sax, harmonica player and vocalist Steve Williams.
The band needed a poster shot, and I attempted to shoot them in a very tight line, head to head. Being a bunch of burly guys, it soon became obvious that my idea just wasn’t going to work, so I told them I would shoot them individually and come up with something usable.
Selecting the best shots, then printing them all to the same size, I then set about cutting them out and assembling the pics into a neat group, mounted on card. With a bit of hand retouching, to disguise the joins, a final print would be ready for reproduction.
At that time, I had been reading a book by Philippe Halsman about his collaboration with Salvador Dali. Halsman was famous for his photographic experiments, and one shot in the book struck me as a great concept. He had projected an picture onto the surface of a container of milk which had been rapidly agitated, producing a very distorted image.
I decided to try a similar experiment, using a tank of water, into which I tipped some intense black dye which effectively made the water surface a mirror. Setting the assembled shots of the band on the far side of the tank, aiming down at forty-five degrees, I then set up the camera, looking down at forty-five degrees from the opposite side. This gave me a square-on view of the assembly in the water surface. Using an electronic flash head on either side of the assembly, to light it evenly, and also to give the short exposure times needed to avoid blurring, I tapped on the side of the tank and watched as the faces of the band went into all sorts of crazy distortions. It was such fun!
Laughing out loud at the images I was seeing, I shot off a roll of 12 images, then rushed to my darkroom and developed the film. When the band saw the proofs, they had a good laugh, too; they thought they were “amazing”. Only problem was, perhaps unsurprisingly, they never used them, nor did they produce a poster of any sort. The images, above, are the first time any of these shots has seen the light of day.