Mick Rock

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Mick Rock
Michael Edward Chester Smith

(1948-11-21)21 November 1948[1]
Hammersmith, London, England[2]
Died18 November 2021(2021-11-18) (aged 72)
Staten Island, New York City, U.S.
Other namesMichael David Rock
SpousePati Rock

Michael David Rock (born Michael Edward Chester Smith;[3] 21 November 1948 – 18 November 2021)[4] was a British photographer. He photographed rock music acts such as Queen, David Bowie, Waylon Jennings, 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, Blondie and Third Eye Blind. Often referred to as "The Man Who Shot the Seventies",[5] he shot most of the memorable photos of Bowie as Ziggy Stardust in his capacity as Bowie's official photographer.[6] Rock's work is held in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.[7]

Early life[edit]

According to most sources, Michael David Rock was born in 1948 in Hammersmith, London, the son of David and Joan Rock,[8] although in a 2017 interview he stated that his birth name was Michael Edward Chester Smith, and his birth was the result of his mother's relationship with an American airman.[3]

He was educated at Emanuel School in London, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, graduating with a degree in Medieval and Modern Languages.[9][10][11] While at Cambridge, he developed an interest in 19th century Romantic poetry—principally the works of Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Shelley, and Byron—and his first appearance in the press came after he was arrested for marijuana possession.[2][12][13]


During his time at Cambridge, Rock rowed in the Caius First VIII,[13] and also picked up a friend's camera and started to take pictures of the local rock music scene, acquiring some friends and contacts along the way (including Cambridge native Syd Barrett and Mick Jagger's younger brother Chris).[14][15][16]

In addition to his work with Bowie, whom he met in early 1972, Rock also created album covers for Barrett's The Madcap Laughs, Waylon Jennings's Lonesome, On'ry and Mean, Lou Reed's Transformer and Coney Island Baby, Iggy Pop and the Stooges' Raw Power, Queen's Queen II (recreated for their music video "Bohemian Rhapsody") and Sheer Heart Attack, Geordie's Don't Be Fooled by the Name, the Ramones' End of the Century, and Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n' Roll.[5][17]

He was the chief photographer on the films The Rocky Horror Picture Show,[18][19] Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Shortbus. He also produced and directed the music videos "John, I'm Only Dancing",[2] "Jean Genie", "Space Oddity", and "Life on Mars" on Bowie's Sound and Vision DVD collection.

His photo subjects include The Misfits, Snoop Dogg, Air Traffic, Maxwell, Alicia Keys, The Gossip, Lady Gaga, Richard Barone, The Killers, The Scissor Sisters, Michael Bublé, Miley Cyrus, Michael Stipe, Kate Moss, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Chemical Brothers, Janelle Monáe, Queens of the Stone Age, Daft Punk, Kasabian, Snow Patrol, Daniel Merriweather, Black Keys, Hall & Oates, Peter, Bjorn and John, MGMT, Alejandro Escovedo, Pete Yorn, Gavin Degraw, Peaches, Fat Joe, Rhymefest, Nas, Q-Tip, Jane's Addiction, Tom Stoppard, the Foo Fighters and old friends Bowie, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Mötley Crüe, Nicos Gun, and Iggy Pop.[17][20][21][22]

Rock received the Diesel U Music Legends Award for his contribution to Music in late 2006.[23]



Rock was the host of On the Record with Mick Rock, a documentary series on the Ovation channel.[26] The series followed Rock as he rolled across the country and met with musicians for a tour of their hometowns,[27] highlighting the people, places, and cultural institutions that have been integral in their lives and careers. Each episode features a performance. Guests in the first season included Josh Groban, The Flaming Lips (featuring Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd), Kings of Leon, Patti LaBelle, and Mark Ronson.


Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock (2016) is a biographical documentary about Rock, directed by Barnaby Clay, produced by Monica Hampton.[28][29][30][31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Rock moved to New York in the mid-1970s[33] and lived in New York City on Staten Island with his wife, Pati Rock and their daughter.[34][35]

He died on 18 November 2021, at the age of 72.[36]

Album cover photography[edit]

The following album covers feature Rock's photography:


  • A Photographic Record 1969–1980 (Century 22, 1995)
  • Glam: An Eyewitness Account (foreword by Bowie) (Omnibus, 2006)[42]
  • Psychedelic Renegades / Syd Barrett (Genesis, 2002)
  • Moonage Daydream / Ziggy Stardust (with Bowie) (Genesis). ISBN 978-1-84403-380-5.
  • Rock 'n' Roll Eye (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2003)
  • Killer Queen (with Brian May and Roger Taylor) (Genesis, 2003)
  • Picture This / Debbie Harry & Blondie (foreword by Debbie Harry) (Omnibus, 2004)
  • Raw Power / Iggy & The Stooges (foreword by Iggy Pop) (Omnibus, 2005)
  • Blood and Glitter. 2005. ISBN 978-0-9537479-9-3.
  • Rocky Horror (foreword by Richard O'Brien) (Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2006
  • Classic Queen (Sterling, 2007). ISBN 978-1-4027-5192-9.
  • Tamashii: Mick Rock Meets Kanzaburo (Kabuki Theatre Photos) (Hachette Fujingaho, Japan, 2007)
  • Psychedelic Renegades (Gingko, 2007)[43]
  • Mick Rock Exposed (Chronicle, 2010).[44]


  • Punk Drunk Love: The Images of Mick Rock (Panoramica, 2007)[45]


Rock's work is held in the following permanent collection:


  1. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (20 November 2021). "Mick Rock, Sought-After Rock Photographer, Dies at 72". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Mick Rock, famed music photographer and 'man who shot the 70s', dies aged 72". the Guardian. 19 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Mick Rock: I Blame the Name", The Talks, 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2021
  4. ^ "Mick Rock". huxleyparlour.com. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b Photographer lives the Rock dream BBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2011
  6. ^ "The Rise of David Bowie: Mick Rock's legendary photos of the late artist". The Independent. 15 March 2020. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Mick Rock". www.npg.org.uk. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  8. ^ 'Mick Rock', FLATT magazine (Accessed 10 April 2019).
  9. ^ "The Man Who Shot the Seventies: Mick Rock (1948-2021)". Gonville & Caius. 20 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Mick Rock: David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Queen photographer dies at 72". BBC News. 19 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  11. ^ 'Cambridge University Tripos Lists', Times, 26 June 1967.
  12. ^ 'Mick Rock: from "Receiver" to Transformer', andrewpurcell.net, 6 July 2015 (Accessed 10 April 2019).
  13. ^ a b Once a Caian..., Issue 3, Spring 2006, pp. 16-7. (Accessed 10 April 2019)
  14. ^ 'Gary James' Interview with Photographer Mick Rock', classicbands.com (Accessed 10 April 2019).
  15. ^ 'Mick Rock interview: Shooting David Bowie portraits', Amateur Photographer, 4 December 2016 (Accessed 10 April 2019).
  16. ^ Schudel, Matt (20 November 2021). "Mick Rock, photographer who created indelible images of rock greats, dies at 72". Washington Post. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  17. ^ a b "The stunning photography of Mick Rock". NME. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Legendary music photographer Mick Rock has died, aged 72". NME. 19 November 2021. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  19. ^ McMahon, James (19 November 2021). "Mick Rock, 1948-2021: iconic photographer who brought pop's greatest to life". NME. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  20. ^ "From Iggy Pop to Janelle Monae, the stunning photography of Mick Rock". NME. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Rockarchive - classic images from the vaults". NME. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Raw Power: Rare Iggy Pop photos by Mick Rock". NME. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Diesel-U-Music Awards 2006". Music-News.com. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  24. ^ "Rock'n Roll Eye: The photography of Mick Rock". topmuseum.jp. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Rock 'n' Roll Icons: the photography of Mick Rock". Urbis. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  26. ^ "On the Record with Mick Rock : Series : Ovation Official Site". Ovation. 18 January 2017. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  27. ^ Steinberg, Brian (23 April 2015). "Isabella Rossellini, Mick Rock To Join Ovation TV Schedule". Variety. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  28. ^ "Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock review – picture-perfect profile". The Guardian. 23 July 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  29. ^ Ehrlich, David (6 April 2017). "'Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock' Review: David Bowie's Favorite Photographer Gets His Close-Up In Candid and Compelling Documentary". IndieWire. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  30. ^ "SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra Of Rock". Time Out. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  31. ^ Grow, Kory (7 April 2017). "Mick Rock on Shooting David Bowie and His Life-and-Times Doc 'Shot!'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  32. ^ Fishkind, Scott (22 July 2020). "The History of Rock: An Interview with the Iconic Mick Rock". AS IF Magazine. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  33. ^ Morris, Bob (14 December 2011). "Mick Rock Survives the '70s to Shoot Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  34. ^ Vora, Shivani (24 March 2017). "How Mick Rock, Music Photographer, Spends His Sundays". New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  35. ^ Heching, Dan (19 November 2021). "Mick Rock, Legendary Rock Photographer of David Bowie and Andy Warhol, Dead". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  36. ^ Legaspi, Althea (19 November 2021). "Mick Rock, Photographer Behind Iconic Images of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Dead at 72". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  37. ^ "Rock photography meets street art in Mick Rock, Fin DAC project". Reuters. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  38. ^ a b c d e Kohn, Daniel (19 November 2021). "Mick Rock, Legendary Music Photographer, Dies". SPIN. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  39. ^ Helman, Peter (23 April 2016). "Yeah Yeah Yeahs Reunite To Cover David Bowie & Lou Reed At Mick Rock Party". Stereogum. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  40. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (24 August 2011). "Atlas Sound Announces New Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  41. ^ Kaufman, Gil (16 November 2020). "Miley Cyrus is a Pop Queen on Dramatic 'Plastic Hearts' Album Cover". Billboard. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  42. ^ Roberts, Randall (19 November 2021). "David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Queen: Photographer Mick Rock captured stars of glam rock and beyond". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  43. ^ "Psychedelic Renegades: Photos of Syd Barrett by Mick Rock". Rolling Stone. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  44. ^ "Mick Rock Exposed: The Faces of Rock 'N' Roll". Flavorwire. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  45. ^ "Photographer lives the Rock dream". BBC News. 10 May 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2021.

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