Photographer Bob King could easily have come up with a clever music-related pun for the title of his
big huge massive gigantic coffee table book of concert photography. Indeed, he could have called it something like ‘Front Row, Centre’ (to quote a lyric from a Divinyls song) or ‘Life Through A Lens’ (Robbie Williams). But the fact is, King doesn’t need to use clever puns to promote the brilliance of his work. Each and every stunning ‘action portrait’ speaks for itself.
The Bob King Collection sees hundreds and hundreds of images of the world’s greatest and most successful music artists, caught on stage in all manner of glory (and in a couple of cases, disrepute).
It was 1964 when King took his first snap, at that point just a member of the audience taking a photo of a band he liked (The Beatles, and who wouldn’t?).
Half a century on, and King is pretty much considered this country’s, well, king chronicler of music performance, having photographed the best of them, from ABBA to Zappa and every rock or pop artist worth their salt in between.
His photographs – mostly live action ones but also candid portraits (like an early one of the Bee Gees mellowing out in a park) have appeared in countless music magazines and street press, hence you’re sure to find some of the images familiar. But rest assured, there is plenty here that looks as fresh as the night or day he snapped it.
Bob King might well be the envy of rock and pop photographers the world over. He’s managed to sift an immense career – and condense an absurdly large library – into one beautiful, rather spectacular book. Actually, the fact that it is 362 pages thick and weighs in at around five kilos makes this more of a tome and ultimate tribute to the power and passion of the performing music artist. Antonino Tati
‘The Bob King Collection’ is published through New Holland, available in hardback, RRP $99.99.