Mick Rock has shot some of the most recognizable portraits in rock music history and he's got, hands down, the best name in shutterbugdom. But with a candor and style that's as palpable as any of his subjects, he is also just as cool. In LA this weekend for a couple of events tied to his new book, Exposed: The Faces of Rock n' Roll (which would have made this list had we known about it earlier), we had a chance to chat with charismatic photographer, scooping some shot-by-shot exclusive commentary on what we both agreed are 10 of his most memorable images:
Mick Rock's immense talent is a given, but by his own admission, some of his best shots came out of sheer luck, while others were the result of euphoric experimentation. Rock led a debauched, drug-filled lifstyle not unlike his subjects. In the book, he talks of "inner demons" and losing himself "in the fantasy of living on the edge 24 hours a day." A near death experience in 2006 turned things around.
His recollections of those raucous times (and his work) may not always be vivid, but what he does recall is fascinating stuff. In the book, he indexes each shot with just enough info to provide insight and still preserve the mystique of the images. Exposed joins Rock's impressive library of published works including photo tomes focusing on Glam Rock, Ziggy Stardust, Queen, Blondie, Syd Barrett, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Iggy, etc.
"I'm known as a glam rock photographer," he told us. "But this new book shows a wider range." Rock's glam background will likely come in handy with a proposed new project, what he'll only reveal as "a glam musical" for being discussed with a big producer, and maybe involving Toni Basil (who was at the private party in his honor at Confederacy Thursday night). Rock also says an art project in conjunction with Ziggy Stardust's 40th anniversary might be in the works as well as bio-doc on the photog himself.
Here are the 10 most memorable Mick Rock photographs, with commentary:
10. Bono and Lady Gaga, New York, 2006 Shot at a private party at The Spotted Pig in New York after the 'Gavin Friday & Friends' show (Carnegie Hall). A great example of Rock's gift for capturing candid moments and a shot that shows he's still a major player in contemporary pop culture.
"It was a long night and Bono, who requested I shoot it, was in fine communicative form."
"I don't know where the forks came from [this was not a dinner]. It was in the hidden VIP room in the attic."