Mick Rock, née Michael Edward Chester Smith, known as one of the most influential British music photographers and known as “the man who photographed the 1970s” has passed away. He was 72.
Rock photographed some of rock music’s iconic names including Queen, T. Rex, Syd Barrett, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, The Sex Pistols, Ozzy Osbourne, The Ramones, Joan Jett, Talking Heads, Roxy Music, Thin Lizzy, Geordie, Mötley Crüe and Blondie. Some of the most memorable shots of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust were shot by Rock while he was serving as the musician’s photographer (“acting,” since he was not an official Bowie’s photographer at the time, so Inside hook).
– Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) 5. November 2021
– Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) 9. November 2021
– Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) 18. November 2021
– Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) 12. November 2021
He also shot the production stills for Die Rocky Horror Bildershow and Hedwig and the angry Customs.
Rock came to be known as “the man who made the 70s” in an interview with BBC in 2007. According to what is described Years of rock and roll excess, Rock would have heart surgery and a kidney transplant in the 1990s.
“I’ve lived life,” he said later. “I not only took the pictures, I also lived the life.”
After quitting cigarettes and drugs, he continued his work photographing modern rock icons like Pharrell Williams, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. He has published several books of his work, including 2015 The Rise of David Bowie: 1972-1973. In 2016 it was the subject of the documentary Shot! The psycho-spiritual mantra of rock.
Photo: Nathalie Rock pic.twitter.com/I50ofDuO0r
– Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) 19. November 2021
Rock’s death was shared on his official Twitter account:
With the heaviest of hearts we share our beloved psychedelic renegade Mick Rock, who made the Jungian journey to the other side. Those who have had the pleasure of existing in its 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 wonderfully insolent way.
The stars seemed to align effortlessly for Mick when he was behind the camera; The ingestion of food from the unique charisma of his subjects electrified and energized him. His intention always intense. His focus is always total. A man fascinated by images absorbed the visual being through his lens and immersed himself in their art, creating some of the greatest images rock music has ever seen. To know Mick was to love him. He was a mythical creature; that we will never see again.
Let’s not mourn the loss but celebrate the fabulous life and extraordinary career of Michael David Rock. While you are doing this in your own way, we must ask that you respect the privacy of those close to you and loved ones at this point in time. Therefore there will be no further comments.
DPReviews Gannon Burgett wrote an excellent obituary for Rock for those who want a more detailed look at his legacy. This also includes the recording of an interview from 2015 by The art of photography Ted Forbes talking about his incredible career.
Rock leaves behind his wife Pati and daughter Nathalie.
Credit: Photo of Mick Rock by Nathalie Rock.