MICK ROCK BIOGRAPHY
Legendary rock photographer Mick Rock is often referred to as ‘The Man Who Shot the Seventies’, for his iconic images of Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Blondie, Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc. London born, he has resided in New York for the past 35 years. He has shot over 100 album covers.
But he in reality never shopped shooting. His recent subjects include Snoop Dogg, Father John Misty, Lenny Kravitz , Janelle Monaie, Jimmy Fallon, The Black Keys, Karen O, Ellie Goulding, Alicia Keys, Michael Buble, Daft Punk, Perry Farrell, Motley Crue, TV On The Radio, Pharrell, Josh Groban, Flaming Lips, Nas, Rufus Wainwright, Kings of Leon, RKelly, The Black Lips , Queens of The Stone Age etc.
Rock was instrumental in creating many key rock ‘n’ roll images, such as album covers for Syd Barrett’s Madcap Laughs, Lou Reed’s Transformer and Coney Island Baby, Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power, Queen’s Queen II (recreated for their classic music video ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’) and Sheer Heart Attack, The Ramones End of the Century and Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, among many others. He was the chief photographer on the films The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus. He recently shot special stills for the new TV version of Rocky Horror, featuring the transgender actress Laverne Cox as Frank n Furter. He also produced and directed the seminal music videos for Bowie:
‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, ‘Jean Genie’, ‘Space Oddity’, and ‘Life On Mars’.
He recently did a new edit of his classic ‘Life On Mars’ Bowie for Parlophone Records, which was released in November 2016 as part of the promotion for ‘Bowie-Legacy’, a collection of Bowie’s most beloved singles. It has been universally acclaimed. One writer for ‘Liner Notes’ called it “An incredible new video and it’s visually stunning.” Mick says “I had a little jewel and I wanted to polish it into a state where it was an absolutely perfect gem. Modern technology, which obviously we didn’t have when I made the original in 1973, helped. I believe I achieved my goal.”
In recent years he has published a series of books, mostly based on his classic images:
A Photographic Record 1969-1980 (foreword by Lou Reed) (Century 22 Books, 1995)
Glam: An Eyewitness Account (foreword by David Bowie) (Omnibus Books, 2006)
Psychedelic Renegades / Syd Barrett (Genesis Publications, 2002)
Moonage Daydream / Ziggy Stardust (with David Bowie) (Genesis Publications, 2002)
Rock ‘n’ Roll Eye (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2003)
Killer Queen (with Brian May and Roger Taylor) (Genesis Publications, 2003)
Picture This / Debbie Harry & Blondie (foreword by Debbie Harry) (Omnibus Books, 2004)
Raw Power / Iggy & The Stooges (foreword by Iggy Pop) (Omnibus Books, 2005)
Rocky Horror (foreword by Richard O’Brien) (Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2006)
Classic Queen (Sterling Press, 2007)
Tamashii: Mick Rock Meets Kanzaburo (Kabuki Theatre Photos) (Hachette Fujingaho, Japan, 2007)
Psychedelic Renegades (Gingko Press, 2007)
EXPOSED (Hardcover, Chronicle Books, 2010)
Transformer (with Lou Reed), (Genesis Publications 2013)
EXPOSED (Softcover, Palazzo Editions, 2014)
His latest publication ‘The Rise of David Bowie 1972-1973’ (with David Bowie), (Taschen Books, published September 2015): a spectacular limited edition co-signed with Bowie, sold out just before David’s death. It was Taschen’s fastest -ever selling limited edition publication. He is currently promoting the trade edition.
He is featured in an episode of the Red Bull Films series ‘Visions of Greatness’, to be initially broadcast Spring 2017
He had an acclaimed Ovation Cable TV series this year, ‘On The Record With Mick Rock’. The second series will begin in June2017
A documentary about his career, produced by Vice Films and Straight Up Films, called ‘SHOT!’, was launched at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2016. It will also be screened in the London, Sao Paolo, Stockholm, IDFA Amsterdam, Montreal Festivals etc
The doc is being distributed by Magnolia Pictures. They intend to release it theatrically in Spring 2017. Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said: “The number of iconic photos that Mick Rock has taken and the access to the most compelling figures of our time is staggering. This film beautifully realizes his journey”
A classic quote from Mick in the London Times, who dubbed him ‘the music world’s top snapper’: “I’ve never felt like a voyeur, although I’ve certainly done plenty of looking!
I work from the inside out. Like a cook I gather all the ingredients and keep mixing and stirring and tasting until the kind of effluvia starts to rise, then I’m off to the races. It’s an addictive kind of a feeling that I need a regular shot of otherwise I don’t feel right…”
He has had major exhibitions in Tokyo, Toronto, London, Liverpool, Berlin, Manchester, New York, Oslo, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Sao Paolo, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Toulouse etc.
Upcoming Exhibitions in 2017 will be held in LA, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, London, EMP Museum Seattle etc
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