News

    Rock Icons Showcased in Photo Exhibit

    Photographer Mick Rock is known as man who 'shot the 70s'

    Photographer Mick Rock's iconic images of rock stars are on exhibit at the W Hotel in Washington, DC.
    Photographer Mick Rock's iconic images of rock stars are on exhibit at the W Hotel in Washington, DC.

    In a career spanning four decades, photographer Mick Rock has captured images of some of the great pop musicians of our time.

    Those iconic photographs, now on display in Washington, include 1970s superstars David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, as well as current talents such as Bono, Lady Gaga and Janelle Monae.

    Rock was born in London and became interested in photography as a student at Cambridge University in the late 1960s. He was taking classes in modern languages and literature but picked up a friend’s camera one day and started taking pictures of his buddies.

    That led to a passion. Soon, a local band paid him to take a few pictures of them. And that, says Rock, "sort of triggered something.”

    Shooting the 70s

    His big break came in 1972, when he heard the album, “Hunky Dory,” by an unknown musician named David Bowie.

    “There was one particular track called ‘Life on Mars,’ which I must have played maybe 20 times in a row,” says Rock. “I was completely intrigued.”

    Rock, who was already writing articles and taking pictures of musicians for local publications, contacted Bowie’s publicist and went to see Bowie in concert.

    “David looked like a space man," he says, "and then he performed, and I was completely blown away.”

    Rock became Bowie’s official photographer. Soon after, his career as a rock 'n' roll  photographer took off.

    One of his favorite photo sessions was with Deborah Harry, the lead singer for the American  group, Blondie.

    “Nobody in rock 'n' roll ever photographed as fantastically as Debbie,” he says. “It was fair enough to call her the Marilyn Monroe of rock 'n' roll."

    Two of Rock's shots of Harry are in the exhibit.

    Iconic images

    Over the years, Rock also gained fame for album covers he shot in the 1970s, including Lou Reed's “Transformer.”

    Rock believes that album cover "defined Lou forever.”

    Another of Rock's favorite photo sessions was with the legendary group, Queen. His photo of the group was used for the "Queen II" album, released in 1974.

    While Queen was not well known at the time, Rock says, the cover “became their defining image.”

    “Freddie Mercury had extraordinary talent,” he says, about the group's lead singer. “He was most comfortable at home in his dressing gown and slippers, having tea and a bit of a gossip.”  

    Many of Rock's photos of present-day superstars were taken before the singers became well known. In 1980, for example, he did test shots of a woman named Madonna.

    "I think she was just a dancer at the time," he says. "She was young and raw.”

    During a shoot with Lady Gaga in 2009, Rock says the singer surprised him with prophetic words.

    “She actually says, ‘You know I’m going to be a very big star in the next few months.’"

    New artists

    These days, Rock isn't as driven as he used to be. He prefers a life of yoga, meditation and directing photo sessions.

    He's currently working with the W Hotel, shooting portraits of musicians who perform there as part of the hotel's Symmetry Live series.

    “Shooting for the 'W' has given me an opportunity to work with some great new artists,” he says, “including two of my favorites who blend rock ‘n' roll and hip-hop and dance."

    One is Janelle Monae and the other is Theophilus London. Their photos are part of the exhibit.

    Rock would like to be remembered as a man “who maybe came up with a few memorable images.”

    The exhibit - with many memorable images - travels from Washington D.C. to other cities in the U.S.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora