Known as ‘the man who shot the 70s’, Mick Rock is responsible for immortalising Ziggy Stardust in his capacity as David Bowie’s official photographer.
Idea Generation Gallery’s current exhibition Mick Rock: Rock Music is a chance to see many of the photographer’s legendary shots; including those of Bowie, Blondie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. In town to open the exhibition and promote his new book, Mick Rock spoke exclusively to i-D Online about his rock ‘n’ roll career.
You are best known for your iconic images of the 70s. Without being modest, do you think your images shaped the way we look at that era? Or were you simply documenting what was happening around you? I think to a certain extent, I was in the right place at the right time. I was able to pick up a camera and document what was going on around me. I owe a lot to my dear friend Syd. We had fun together.
How do today’s rock stars compare to the legends you shot in the 70s? Has your relationship with your subject altered significantly in the last 40 years? The modern acts are exposed so heavily by the media. They can’t be the rebels that they used to be because society won’t let them. The older generation were like criminals – living outside the moralities of the time, they were cultural revolutionaries in their own right. To compare the two – the talent is the same but the resonance is different.
With musicians, is their image as important as the music? I think it’s more their personalities and alter egos. Their music can be hopeless but if they have a good character they will be big. I always remember Lady Gaga telling me she was going to be big, and she was.
Many of your images are so familiar – almost universally famous – I wonder when you see them, do you still think of them as yours? What is your relationship to these images? The images will always be mine, yes. But each one tells a story and takes me back to the time and the place that it was shot.
Mick Rock Rock Music in association with Zippo 11th November – 16th January. The book, ‘Mick Rock: Exposed The Faces of Rock and Roll’ published by Chronicle Books, is out now.