Bengt H. Malmqvist began taking pictures of family and friends when he was only 13 years old, but his teen years were really marked by another interest: jazz music. However, Bengt never developed into the jazz guitarist he dreamed of becoming – he had to express himself through the camera instead. In the mid-1940s he enrolled at a photographer’s school in Stockholm. After two years at the school he was employed at a picture agency. During evenings and nights he took jazz pictures at the legendary Stockholm jazz clubs of the times, just because he thought it was fun. At some point he submitted a number of his pictures to the jazz magazine Orkester Journalen, which published them. He was also employed regularly by the British weekly Melody Maker.|
With his strong connection to music, it’s not so surprising that Bengt H. Malmqvist became Sweden’s most frequently employed record sleeve photographer from the 1950s onwards. “Usually, the artist had made a record and then the record company phoned me up, asking me to take a picture that was to be delivered the following day. A few years into the 1960s, when The Beatles ruled, the sleeves became significantly more exciting and fun to work with. Premium Publishing’s book Bengt H. Malmqvist – Stjärnornas Fotograf (”Photographer To The Stars”), written by Urban Nilmander and Kenneth Ahlborn, contains a rich selection of Bengt’s famous pictures, notably ABBA – Bengt took the famous “park bench picture” that featured on the sleeve of ABBA’s multi-million-selling Greatest Hits album – and other famous Swedish acts such as Lill-Babs, Cornelis Vreeswijk, Monica Zetterlund, Tages and Jerry Williams.
After many decades in the service of the camera, Bengt H. Malmqvist left us in 2008. The last years he was primarily engaged in maintaining his unique picture archive of jazz artists from the 1950s and 1960s.