Mick Rock, the legendary music photographer, has died at the age of 72.
The news was confirmed via Rock’s social media 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 message read. “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.’ He was 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 list of Rock’s photographic subjects reads like a who’s-who of music icons. David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Queen, Syd Barrett, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Motley Crue, T. Rex, Blondie and Thin Lizzy are just some of the acts to be captured by Rock’s lens.
The photographer’s images of Bowie are arguably the most celebrated in his collection. Taken during the musician’s Ziggy Stardust era, the pictures rank among music’s truly iconic shots. His relationship with Bowie stretched into other media as well, as Rock directed music videos for “John, I’m Only Dancing”, “Jean Genie”, “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars.”
Rock first began photographing bands while attending Cambridge University. What began as a hobby soon turned into a life’s passion. His work would grace the covers of many classic albums, including Queen II, Reed’s Transformer and Coney Island Baby, Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Stooges’ Raw Power. Rock was also chief photographer on the set of such films as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
“I’ve never felt like a voyeur, although I’ve certainly done plenty of looking!,” Rock once explained of his work to the London Times. “I work from the inside out. Like a cook I gather all the ingredients and keep mixing and stirring and tasting until the kind of effluvia starts to rise, then I’m off to the races. It’s an addictive kind of a feeling that I need a regular shot of otherwise I don’t feel right.”
Though Rock was best-known for his work in the ‘70s, the artist continued photographing musicians for more than 35 years. The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, the Killers, Miley Cyrus, Michael Stipe, Queens of the Stone Age, Daft Punk and Jane’s Addiction are among the more modern acts to have been photographed by Rock.
In 2015, he ventured into television with On the Record with Mick Rock, a reality TV show that saw the photographer visiting musicians in their respective hometowns, examining the people and places that inspired them. A documentary about Rock called Shot! was released in 2017. He was also featured in the 2020 documentary series ICON: Music Through the Lens, which chronicled the history and cultural impact of rock photography.
In addition to showing his pictures at exhibitions, Rock regularly published photobooks of his work. His most recent, SHOT! by Rock: The Photography of Mick Rock is due out in 2022.
A cause of death was not immediately announced.
In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths
Remembering the musicians, actors, producers and others who have died in 2021.