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Mick Rock Rock Music

The legendary photographer who's captured the spirit of rock 'n' roll since the 1970s lands his new exhibition in London's Idea Generation Gallery

Photographer Mick Rock, 'The Man Who Shot the Seventies', is in town. His touring exhibition - Mick Rock Rock Music - is opening this week and if you go, prepare to relive some of the most iconic moments in rock 'n' roll. Because if it was worth documenting, Mick Rock was there with his camera. As the one-time official photographer of David Bowie, Rock managed to capture a whole movement and, when Bowie performed as Ziggy Stardust, he helped create a myth.

But it's not all about Bowie; Mick Rock saw the likes of the Stooges, Velvet Underground and Queen revolutionise the way we listened to and saw rock music. Also the younger generation rock stars have been the subject of Rock's inquisitive lens. As these images prove, and the exhibition and its accompanying book shows, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, Snoop Dogg and Michael Buble are all part of this extensive and all-important archive of modern rock 'n' roll.

Dazed Digital: How did you get started?
Mick Rock:
In a state of extreme inebriation, I picked up a friends camera and caught the buzz. Aimed at a young blonde lady friend. Those images I took piqued my curiosity and I never looked back.
DD: Do you have photographic training - is that needed in your line of work?
Mick Rock:
No and No – it is much better if you follow your instincts as the brain isn’t overloaded with technique.
DD: What do you look for in an image
Mick Rock:
It’s not what I look for, it’s what I can fin din an image. I have to prepare myself with yoga and mindset and that’s when I find the image.
DD: You've shot old school stars (Bowie, Queen, Warhol) and the generation (Lady Gaga, Karen O, Brandon flowers) - how do they compare?
Mick Rock:
These two eras were in different times so it is difficult to compare. The modern acts are exposed so heavily by media. They can’t be the rebels that they used to be because society wont 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
DD: What is our (and yours) obsession with rock stars?
Mick Rock:
I don’t have an obsession with rock stars – I wasn’t looking for it but I seem to have a feel for musicians in the industry. I have been inspired by many rock stars, I think I simply have been in the right place at the right time.
DD: You have documented four decades of rock n roll - which one was the coolest?
Mick Rock:
I think the 70s – it was right on the edge of culture. My nose was buried right in the edgy culture and I got to take so many rising stars – Bowie, Syd, Iggy.
DD: What's your fave photo in this exhibition?
Mick Rock:
I love them all. It all depends on the day, the hour, the minute and the moment. It’s hard to ignore my dear friend Syd Barett – without him I’m not sure I would have become a photographer and met so many other stars to shoot.
DD: What's your next step?
Mick Rock:
Sleep, when I return to New York.

DD: Is there a rock star out there whom you haven't shot and is at the top of your wish list?
Mick Rock:
No, but I wish I had been around in the 50’s to shoot a young Elvis, that would have been good. Or a Young Keith Richards in 1969.  Perhaps John Lennon.


Mick Rock Rock Music in association with Zippo and KR3W: 11th November – 16th January Idea Generation Gallery

Also the  book, Mick Rock : Exposed The Faces of Rock and Roll Chronicle Books, is out now