The Faces of Rock’n’ Roll
Chronicle books
Possessor of what must surely be the most fortuitous name in, well, rock, Mick Rock
was court photographer to popular music’s aristocracy during its golden years, and has
been dubbed ‘The Man who Shot The ’70s’. As such, much of this collection of photographs
will make the perfect coffee table accessory for any Mojo/Uncut subscriber; all the big guns are present: Bowie, Jagger, Reed, Harry, as well as images from album cover shoots such as Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs and Queen’s Queen II (about which Rock is quoted as saying ìWow! Ziggy Stardust meets Led Zeppelinî – although I’m not so sure about that myself). These wellknown images sit with collections of outtakes – location and studio shoots, peppered with glimpses of the stars behind the scenes. They are intimate, revealing, always demonstrating a trust between photographer and subject. At this point it is customary to write that Rock was as much a part of creating the times as he was documenting them: that is certainly evinced by the first half of this book. There is no denying the iconic currency of these images, and that is largely thanks to Rock ‘being there’ when the significant stuff happened – he was invited in and was quite obviously received as one of them. This is evident from the-late ’60s work through to images captured in New York in the late 70s (Rock relocated to Manhattan in 1977, swapping London for the energy of the NYC underground). Established as one of the rock photographers, Rock worked subsequently much like a record producer after landing a few hit records; latterly his name has become the one to ask for if you want to be mentioned in the same breath as Debbie Harry et al. Step up Lady Gaga and Kate Moss, recently snapped recreating a classic Harry shoot. And that’s where the collection falters. Mick Rock began his career by being paid a fiver to snap a local band; he was the guy with the camera, the guy who was there. While looking at images of Lady Gaga I wonder why they don’t have the same iconic pull. Aside from the fact that pop star images are nowadays ubiquitous, we also have unprecedented access to digital cameras, not to mention the acts themselves. Mick Rock was once a lone gunman but the modern concert hall is a sea of camera phones and bootleg recordings. Minutes later images are online
and movies are on YouTube. While there is no denying the enduring craft and timelessness of much of Rock’s work, the iconography he once enshrined may now be gone for good. Jamie Holman


Debbie Harry, New York 1978
photo © Mick Rock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment