Photographer Mick Rock, whose iconic portraits of rock stars including David Bowie, Lou Reed and Debbie Harry saw him christened “the man who shot the 70s”, is dead. He was 72.
A statement released Friday on Rock’s official social media accounts said: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share our beloved psychedelic renegade Mick Rock has taken the Jungian journey to the other side.” No cause of death was reported.
Rock was born in London in 1948 and studied at Cambridge University, where he met Syd Barrett, a founding member of Pink Floyd, who became one of his first subjects.
He was Bowie’s official photographer in the early 1970s, and helped make the singer’s alter ego, androgynous alien superstar Ziggy Stardust, a sensation.
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Rock went on to take some of the most famous musicals of all time: a topless Iggy Pop on the cover of the “Raw Power” album; a spectral Lou Reed on “Transformer”; the members of the Queen, their faces partially shaded, to the front of “Queen II”.
“People say, ‘Man, how did you get all these pictures? Well, because no one else was interested,'” Rock told the Associated Press in 2002. “It was not like I was struggling with other photographers to get the pictures.”
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Rock underwent heart bypass surgery and a kidney transplant in the 1990s after years of rock ‘n’ roll profits.
“I lived life,” he said later. “Besides taking the pictures, I lived life.”
He gave up cigarettes and drugs and continued to work, taking pictures of musicians including Pharrell Williams, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.
“Those who had the pleasure of existing in his orbit know that Mick was always so much more than ‘The Man Who Shot The 70’s,'” the statement announcing his death 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.”
Sharon Osbourne tweeted: “We lost a legend, a true artist Mick Rock.”
Queen guitarist Brian May said he was “saddened and shocked to hear of the death of our friend, photographer Mick Rocks.”
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He said the “Queen II” cover image “gave us a lasting image, inspired part of the” look “of our Bohemian Rhapsody video a few years later, and has been widely imitated by others over the years since then.