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MICK ROCK

He documented the 1970s, working with some of the most famous artists on the planet, including David Bowie, Bob Marley, Queen and the Sex Pistols. Teri Saccone meets legendary photographer Mick Rock

COVER STAR

Photographer Mick Rock’s searing images have dominated pop music for nearly half a century. He’s not only shot seminal portraits of countless musicians, but also over 100 album sleeves. Rock possesses a larger-than-life personality but is devoid of pretence and remains selfreflective. An avid yoga practitioner, he’s still got the fire inside. When we speak, he’s just returned from Mexico City for a museum retrospective of his David Bowie photos. Despite being dubbed ‘The Man Who Shot The 70s’, he remains relevant and highly indemand; recent subjects have included Lana Del Rey, Kate Moss and Father John Misty.

Michael David Rock (yes, it’s his real surname) was born in London in 1948, one of three children. His father, David, was a civil servant. Attending Cambridge University on a scholarship (“my parents couldn’t have afforded that education”), studying modern languages and literature, Mick began photography quite accidentally, while he was under chemical influence.

“I was tripping on LSD with a young lady. I picked up a friend’s camera and loved the added intensity and explosions it made as I clicked,” he says. He also realised that: “Rock ’n’ rollers were the modern-day equivalent of the poets I was enamoured with, the English and French Romantics: Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Byron, Shelley, Keats and the American Beats: Kerouac, Ginsberg…” Rock’s career progressed organically. “I wasn’t looking to be a photographer. It moved into my life, set up shop and took over. This really wasn’t much of a career trajectory in the late 60s.”

Serendipitously, Rock found himself at the centre of both the glam and punk movements, and had a talent for spotting burgeoning stars, and an instinctual knack for photography, despite never studying it.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Sep-18
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