The Man Who Shot the Seventies

Often referred to as ‘The man who shot the Seventies’, British-born Mick Rock is celebrated for his legendary portraits of rock and roll stars such as Queen, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols and David Bowie, for whom he was official photographer. While working at the offices of London’s Oz magazine, Rock encountered Bowie’s early record Hunky Dory. Impressed by his music, Rock attended Bowie’s gig in Birmingham, and met him backstage, where he first took his photographs. Rock became Bowie’s official photographer in 1972 and shot some of the most memorable pictures of him as Ziggy Stardust. As Bowie said about Rock, “Mick sees me the way I see myself.”

As well as this, Rock directed and remade some of Bowie’s first music videos, including Space Oddity, and Life on Mars. The 2015 Taschen publication The Rise of David Bowie: 1972-1973 explores the representation and success of Bowie during these years, all thanks to Mick Rock. The photographs Rock produced are relaxed yet glamorous snapshots into Bowie’s process of performance, often revealing him getting ready backstage for shows. This photograph taken in 1972 shows Bowie starting into a mirror at Haddon Hall, before going on stage. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Rock said that Bowie “was very open and relaxed with me. It seemed kind of normal at the time. He wasn’t saying, ‘Don’t shoot this, don’t shoot that.’ He was a very positive and encouraging personality. He was not closed, he was very open. He wanted me to take the pictures.”

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