Monday, April 10, 2006


It was late one night in the late '60's, and I was driving across the 79th St. Causeway on my way back from a wedding or such on Miami Beach. Hitch hiking was common in those days, and safe enough for the one hitching the ride, but some people were afraid to pick up hitch hikers, especially if they had long hair and looked like a hippy. I stopped to pick up a guy with shoulder length blonde hair who had his thumb out. Billie Robbins was his name. We chatted as I drove. He noticed my cameras. He said that he and his brother had a rock group called Fantasy, a record contract pending, and would be needing photographs. I gave him a card as he got out of the van, never expecting to hear from him again.

A few weeks later I was at Thee Image, a former bowling alley converted into a rock venue in what is now Sunny Isles Beach. Fantasy was playing. Yup, I'd gotten a call and they wanted me to see and hear them play, and the rest of the band wanted to meet me. A week or two later their producer from Liberty/United Artists, Wayne, was to be in town and we made arrangements to all get together. I exchanged a series of phone calls with the art director and it was decided that the front cover would be art work with four insets of stark high contrast head shots of the guys. I used Kodalith Ortho to print the negatives, and went through a couple of generations to build the contrast and eliminate all middle tones.

When you opened up the cover they wanted a 12"x24" photo of the group on the beach at sunrise. We shot it on a deserted beach on Key Biscayne. The photo they finally decided on using has them sitting crosslegged on the sand, sort of evenly spaced across the photo. I always preferred this picture. It's much more dynamic and interesting, but the choice wasn't mine to make, plus there was a big problem with using this photo. The camera was already on a tripod so it was no big problem to use the self timer. I wanted to get a shot of me with the group. My hair was a bit shorter than their's and I was wearing a sports jacket. That's me with the outstretched arms! Over the next few years I shot publicity pictures of just about every Liberty/UA act, Including Ike and Tina Turner, that came through Miami, but as Wayne and others moved on to other jobs elsewhere eventually it came to a halt. None of the other shoots were for album covers.

Fantasy's first album was moderately succesful, a second album was in the planning stages. We'd even talked about ideas for the cover. Then I heard that Billie had walked into the Everglades and blew his brains out. Fantasy was no more.


Blogger Al Kaplan said...

Jamine Miller, Fantasy's female vocalist shown on the right in this photograph, passed away in late 2008. After Fantasy broke up she sang with a variety of top rock groups from the Grateful Dead to the Doors. She was in great demand as a studio vocalist and did the lead female vocals on a lot of tracks that she never sang in a live performance. Jamine, we miss you!

10:21 PM  

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