Mick Rock, the aptly-named photographer who snapped the greats of rock music, from David Bowie to Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and more, and created some of the genre’s most iconic album covers, has died. He was 72.
Rock’s passing was confirmed with a message posted on his social accounts.
“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,” the tribute reads. “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.’”
The Brit is remembered as “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 cause of death has not been disclosed.
Photo: Nathalie Rock pic.twitter.com/I50ofDuO0r
— Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) November 19, 2021
Born 1948 in London, Rock discovered his flair for camerawork while studying at Cambridge. A natural networker, he hooked up with locals Syd Barrett (of Pink Floyd) and Mick Jagger’s younger brother Chris.
With his relaxed demeanor, gift of the gab and keen eye for detail, Rock would get the type of access to the superstars that few, if any, are allowed.
Rock shot the likes of former Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Blondie, and created some of the most famous images of The Thin White Duke.
Some of Rock’s finest work was the result of his close relationship with Bowie. No other photographer would inhabit Bowie’s inner sanctum like Rock.
“David knows I’ve always treated him and the work with the respect,” Rock told Billboard at the launch party for The Rise Of David Bowie, published by Taschen Books. “I do the same with Lou Reed. I don’t show every picture that I have, I think discretion is also important.”
That special relationship extended to music videos, with Rock producing and directing Bowie’s “John, I’m Only Dancing”, “Jean Genie,” “Space Oddity,” and “Life On Mars.”
Rock would go on to publish several collections of Bowie photos, including 2002’s Moonage Daydream and The Rise Of David Bowie 1972-1973, which hit the racks in September 2015, just months before Bowie’s death.
His artwork would make it to the next level, featuring as album covers, including such classics as Syd Barrett’s Madcap Laughs, Lou Reed’s Transformer and Coney Island Baby, Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power, Queen’s Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack, The Ramones’ End of the Century and Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Rock was also the chief photographer on such films as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus.
“The Man Who Shot the Seventies” wasn’t stuck in time. He’d go on to shoot the likes of Snoop Dogg, Daft Punk, Lenny Kravitz , Janelle Monae, Motley Crue, and many more.
During his lifetime, Rock 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 and elsewhere.
Rock’s “focus always total,” reads the tribute on the late photog’s socials. “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.”