Legendary Music Photographer Mick Rock is Dead

Legendary album art photographed by Mick Rock
Photo Credit
clockwise from top left: RCA Records, Sire Records, Parlophone Records, Hollywood Records, RCA Records, Blackheart Records

Mick Rock, photographer of some of the most instantly recognizable and iconic portraits of musicians in the '70s, has died. He was 72.

"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," a statement from his Twitter page issued late Thursday, Nov. 18, read. "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."

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The London-born Rock became known as "The Man Who Shot the '70s" for the sheer amount of legendary portraiture from his cameras. A graduate of Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge (possessing degrees in medieval and modern languages), Rock became friendly with local musician Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's original vocalist, and soon immersed himself in England's expanding rock scene. Among his most famous collaborators was David Bowie, whom he met in 1972 and would capture in the throes of the Ziggy Stardust era. (Rock also directed striking promotional shorts for Bowie's "Space Oddity," "The Jean Genie" and "Life on Mars?" among others.

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Just one of Rock's album cover shoots would be legendary on their own, but he did all of these and more: an accidentally overexposed portrait of Lou Reed used for his bestselling Transformer (1972); an intense onstage shot of Iggy Pop for The Stooges' Raw Power (1973); a decadently-lit image of Queen for their second album (reproduced several years later for their "Bohemian Rhapsody" video); a comparatively colorful shot of the Ramones for their End of the Century (1980); and an image of Joan Jett in a pink blazer and blue neckerchief for her sophomore album with The Blackhearts, 1981's I Love Rock 'N' Roll.

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“I think a great photo is like a hit song," Rock said while reflecting on his career with Interview in 2020. "it keeps you coming back for another nibble.” Indeed, many will be nibbling on his images of countless stars, from Debbie Harry and Madonna to Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

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Rock is survived by a wife and daughter.

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