We all know Mick Rock shot punk.
Bowie, Blondie, Barrett—they were his buddies. Lou Reed was his mentor. Madonna, Mercury and Mötley Crüe his muse. And Mick was as gloriously hedonistic as any of them in embracing the idols of nihilism—sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, baby—that killed off half their lot.
But he’s also a major photographer, one of the lone survivors from that era who has proved superhuman in physical and mental fortitude since then. (Mick started having heart attacks in his mid-40s and in 1996 had one requiring quadruple bypass surgery—but says now that his heart and liver remain stronger than ever.)
Recent shows in New York and London were flanked by Phantogram performances and Mark Ronson DJ sets; he’s currently filming a documentary and set to partner with Iggy Pop on a run of some as-yet unreleased prints.
It surprises some to learn that In fact, Mick’s a Cambridge man with the noble discretion of the British (“Lots of people have asked, but no, no, I’d never write a tell-all”) and a disarming way of describing how he’d reference drugs during early interviews without alarming his now-92-year-old mum. (“If I called my indulgences ‘chemical inebriation’ she didn’t seem to pick up in it.”)
It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share our beloved psychedelic renegade Mick Rock has made the Jungian journey to the other side. Those who had the pleasure of existing in his orbit, know that Mick was always so much more than ’The Man Who Shot The 70s.’ He was a photographic poet — a true force of nature who spent his days doing exactly what he loved, always in his own delightfully outrageous way.
The stars seemed to effortlessly align for Mick when he was behind the camera; feeding off of the unique charisma of his subjects electrified and energized him. His intent always intense. His focus always total. A man fascinated with image, he absorbed visual beings through his lens and immersed himself in their art, thus creating some of the most magnificent photographs rock music has ever seen. To know Mick was to love him. He was a mythical creature; the likes of which we shall never experience again.
Let us not mourn the loss, but instead, celebrate the fabulous life and extraordinary career of Michael David Rock. While you do so in your own way, we must ask that the privacy of his nearest and dearest be respected at this time. Therefore, there will be no further comments.
Photo: Nathalie Rock