L'AMOUR - Famed Photographer Claims Controversial Book Is Rip-off

May 2, 2018, a year ago

news hard rock heavy metal l'amour

L'AMOUR - Famed Photographer Claims Controversial Book Is Rip-off

The music business is rift with tales of backstabbing and soured relationships: bands, managers, labels and apparently, even journalism/photography. More than a decade in the making, the off & on again tome chronicling fabled L'Amour, rock capital of Brooklyn, appears to be eminent, much to Frank White's chagrin. His prints and negatives were once just considered a stack of memories, but now bankable nostalgia. When blood's in the water, the sharks begin to stir. 

From his days as a teen, sneaking a camera into Madison Square Garden, to photograph Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, White has practically always had a camera in hand. "I have been selling photos from my 43 years history of photographing many genres of music, here in North America, Brazil, UK, and Europe. This is all I do for a living and I run a music photo agency, selling for other photographers. I have been involved in other band books, since the mid-Eighties.'" Before switching to digital, he captured Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and the titans of the NWOBHM, the rise of Bay Area thrash and the ‘80s metal explosion on 35mm film. Until it closed in 2004, he was the official house photographer at L'Amour, the club that hosted everyone and anyone who wanted to be someone. "I became the house photographer when I shot Slayer in the fall of 1985," says the affable lens man. "KICK -ASS Monthly decided to use my photo of Kerry King, with the owner of L'Amour standing next to him. When I showed the magazine cover to the owner, he gave me a VIP laminate that would allow me to get into the club free and photograph anywhere I wanted."

"I conceived the book idea in the late 1990's, after selling many music photos to other books. I was on my own, until (L'Amour) DJ Alex Kayne called me in 2005, saying he heard I was interested in doing a book. He told me that he'd became the art director at a pet book company in New Jersey and he could put together my book, on his own time. We met up and I gave him photos to look at and a scan, to get an idea how they would be used in the layout of my book. I asked Alex to do the forward as he grew up and lived in Brooklyn and was the first DJ at the club when it was a disco in 1979 to the mid ‘80s, when he left. I also pulled together newspaper and flyer ads to fill some backgrounds. He dumped me after I would not sign the two contracts his lawyer drew up, basically in his favor. I was only to receive the initial payment, no mention of residuals. If the book got printed in other languages, TV series, documentary or movie possibilities, all the money went to him. At the same time, he got on Facebook, asking for photo donations through L'Amour club fans and other photographers I represent."

According to White, without his handiwork, the proposed book has undergone several machinations. "At first, there were not any interviews with band members, just my photography and background story with Alex's forward. Without me, Alex decided to do interviews with band members, as he was not there after the mid 1980's. At first, I thought Alex wanted to get his name out there, to represent his time at the club and help his (ongoing) DJ career. Then I get a call from Alex telling me he signed a publishing deal with Rare Bird Publishing in LA. I was never made aware that another company was interested, that an offer had been made, with no mention of money, from either Alex or the publisher."

"I was so pissed, that he went ahead and did this and thought it was not bad. I called the book company and was calm, at first. I was told that I was just a contributor. I exploded!  They said they had no idea the book was about my photography and time at the club. He said Alex signed the contract and that I would have to deal with him directly. So, Alex had stolen my book (by signing the contract) and didn't mention any money he received.  For the remainder of my time as part of the book, he never showed me any contract. He said all I was getting was my initial amount, for my photography and story. He would get his share for putting the book together and the forward and remaining 30% was going to L'Amour's owner, for use of the name."

"After I calmed down from all of this, Alex asked me for several bands that I did not give him. This opened the door for him to start asking other photographers, who shot there, to send in their photos to be considered and not letting me know until I found out much later, towards the end of final layout. When Alex sent me an updated layout of the book, some photos were not even from the club, but had been passed off to Alex as shot at L'amour. Since Alex had only being part of the club for about a half dozen years, he didn't not know the difference. Other photos were almost identical to mine, but Alex still printed them. I was upset, over his greediness, the lying and stealing. This book not is no longer about my photography and experience."

Then he starts to do interviews, first with an Italian metal website, then BrooklynVegan.com and RollingStone.com without mentioning my name. I contact them, to set the record straight. He never told me about offers for interviews. I also asked him to show up at a (publishing) event that happens twice a year, where we could have sold the book, but he never showed up. People began thinking that this was his book. While that was going on, a book cover ad was placed on Amazon Books which had the revised cover, saying L’Amour, Rock Capitol of Brooklyn Editing by Alex Kayne. No mention of my name. After seeing that, I asked, 'Where is my name?" Alex put the blame on the publisher, although he did the cover art. Then he designed another cover, on Rare Bird Publishing's web site, with his name in BIG lettering and my name underneath it in small lettering and now Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister (who's a friend of mine) is doing the forward." You can almost hear the exasperation in his voice. "This is a stolen scrap book being designed by a con artist, who lied and stole to help out his own career."

Asked to recount his photographic contributions to CDs/DVDs, White's spiel, off the top of his head, namedrops major players, like Metallica, Aerosmith, Pantera, Morbid Angel, Velvet Revolver, Cannibal Corpse, Dokken, Death and Twisted Sister, as well as selling images to multimedia outlets like VH1 Behind the Music, Metal Evolution, Eagle Rock, Rhino and in the late ‘80s, the set of MTV's Headbangers' Ball, when the show was filmed in NYC.

(Top photo by: Ed Esposito)

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