Bill Hicks BBC Documentary

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These pictures have just come back into my life after 18 years. The BBC have made a Bill Hicks Lives film and the film makers contacted me the other day to ask for permission to use these shots I took of Bill back in 1992. I was a photography student at the time and was experimenting with taking pictures through a magnifying glass. Bill was very kind to me and let me take a load of pictures of him really close up with the magnifying glass. I had a great time with him in the dressing room for well over an hour and we talked about loads of stuff. He gave me £4 and asked me to send him the pictures, which I did and he wrote back to me thanking me for making him look like Randy Bachman!

Luckily, I put my name and address on the back of all the pictures I sent him. His Mother now has all the stuff he apparently fastidiously collected and she passed the pictures on to the film makers. I lost the original negatives when I left them in the darkroom and the cleaner threw them away so I haven’t seen these pictures for a long time.

Although, Rykodisc recently did a box set on Bill Hicks and also contacted me to use all my pictures. I agreed, and sent them high resolution images, which they said they needed for the contract. They then sent a contract which I had to sign with Universal, telling me to hand over all the pictures for free for use in perpetuity and the territory was to be ‘The Universe’. I told them that I hadn’t even been able to bring myself to do anything with these pictures since hearing about Bills death and was not prepared to just hand them over for free for the rest of time for a big corporation to use over and over again and commercially exploit. Imagine, they could have used them for adverts, T-shirts, posters and all sorts of marketing. I reminded them of what Bill Hicks said, “If you’re in marketing, kill yourself!” They rang me and gave me all sorts of sob stories about how everybody was working on this box set for free. “What, even the printers?” I said. I gave them permission to use one shot if they gave £500 to cancer research. Since then I have not heard from them and they won’t return any of my emails or call me back. All I want is some reassurance that they did in fact not use my pictures, or if they did, they gave the money to the charity. Nothing. Typical record label.

Anyway, all the photographers on this project are being paid and that is the way it should be. I think Bill Hicks would be the first to agree that as artists we need to stand together and stand firm and not do anything for free. Having said that, I’ve been giving away the six.byseven:04 album and the Twelve:03 album away as a free download for weeks now! Still, the albums stopped selling a couple of years ago and it does work to bring in new people and I’ve noticed an upturn in sales too since doing it. Lets face it, if someone wants those records for free there is fuck all I can do about it now anyway, so they might as well get it from me in exchange for an e mail address. But let me tell you, I don’t like giving it away, not one bit.

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2 comments

  1. Wow!
    Any chance of recounting that meet on a blog Chris? Would like to hear more Bill stories. Can you imagine what comedy he would be doing now? Bush Junior would have not stood a chance!
    ‘ Cover of Newsweek’ wwwwwwiiiiiiimmmmmmmppppppp President’
    Sorted Bill is going to walk me home tonight.

  2. I know, it’s madness..Bill Hicks dies and we get a second Bush and another Gulf war..how unlucky, you just can’t imagine the gems we missed out on. I’ll recount the meeting with him one day soon!

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