Mick Rock’s New Photography Book Featuring His BFF… Lou Reed!
NEWSFLASH! “The Man Who Shot the Seventies” aka the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll photographer and our coolest friend on the planet, Mick Rock, has done it again. Already boasting photography books featuring the likes of David Bowie (fun fact: Mick kicked off his killer career as Bowie’s official photog!), Debbie Harry, Queen, and like, every other rock star who matters, Rock has returned with TRANSFORMER, which is jam-packed with photos of the incomparable Mr. Lou Reed. AND IT’S TRIUMPHANT!! The photos, for which all true rock ‘n’ roll fans will squeal over, document the performer and poet from 1972 to 1980 doing his thing whilst in the studio and on stage, winding down in hotel rooms and kicking it with his seriously amazing pals including Bowie, Nico, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop and Andy f’n Warhol. NBD, right?! *Faints*
Galore chatted with Mick Rock himself about the limited edition MUST HAVE collector’s item, his unfortunate long lost photos of Keith Moon, and why he’ll never, ever pen a memoir. (That makes us really sad, you guys.) Oh, but before all of that ensuing amazingness, get your pre-order on right here! PS. Each book is numbered and signed by the rocker BFFs, Mick Rock and Lou Reed. MERRY SUPER EARLY CHRISTMAS!
How long in the making was ‘TRANSFORMER’? How collaborative was this with Lou?
Mick Rock: The publisher, Genesis Publications, first asked me about doing this several years ago. So it had a long gestation period. They even prepared some layouts to show me. But the time wasn’t right — I had several other books in the pipeline. And I wanted to do it on the 40th Anniversary of the release of the album. So finally I went to Lou, and he said I’d taken the best photos of him and he liked the idea — Lou Reed in the ’70s. Of course the Anniversary passed last autumn — Lou and I both got so busy we didn’t have time to wrap it up. I picked out a bunch of photos I thought would work for the book, more than I knew we actually needed. Lou then made the final edit of what he liked best. And then we co-signed the signature pages. It was very collaborative.
What are some of your favorite Lou Reed songs?
MR: That’s difficult. I love certain songs from the Velvet era, like ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror,’ ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and, of course, ‘Waitin’ for My Man.’ I love his solo work like ‘Perfect Day,’ ‘Dirty Boulevard’… I could go on!!
I imagine this is impossible to answer, but I’m gonna ask anyway…! Can you somehow choose one (okay…top 3?!) photo that means the most to you? That captures what you’re all about as a photographer, that brings you effortlessly back to that moment in time…
MR: That’s impossible to answer. There are so many. It depends on the day, the week, the month or whether I’m having my period! (After all, men are also subject to the pull of the moon and the tides, and the resulting mood changes, I’m certain!!). When someone is in front of my camera, I always fall a little in love… and sometimes it’s a passion! I do have a special fondness for the photos I took of Syd Barrett at the very beginning of all this lunacy. Syd was the man who had it all and then walked away. It’s a fascinating tale, and young rockers still want me to take photos of them ‘just like your photos of Syd.’ It happens all the time.
What would the title of your memoir be? Would you ever consider putting the camera down and writing a book about your adventures backstage, on the tour bus, etc? Or would you be concerned about your famous pals not wanting you to reveal certain things?
MR: ‘ Dreams , Madness and Monsters’ would be an appropriate title!! I’ve often been offered money to do this, but I never would consider it. Certainly I would never want to offend those people I love. It’s been a privilege to work with them and make my living this way. I also have a 23-year-old daughter and a 92-year-old mother who is still alive. They would be mortified to know the dark secrets!!
Out of all of your well known iconic subjects you’ve shot, who do you remain closest with?
MR: Probably Lou Reed. Rock’s version of the great French Symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire.
It seems like you have SO MANY unreleased photos. How have you managed to maintain all of your photos from the pre-digital era? Are there any you regret losing?
MR: More by luck than judgement! The only one that got away was a set of negatives of Keith Moon taken three days before he died. That I regret. I was just too crazed and chemically impaired! It is certainly a miracle that many more didn’t slip away!
How do you feel about music of today? Are you nostalgic for the past? What musicians of today do you respect and enjoy?
MR: I’m never nostalgic for anything. My life has been non-stop busy for as long as I can remember. And I’ve still got a lot of living and so many projects to do and photos to take. I certainly respect Janelle Monaie, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Theophilus London and of course, Snoop Dogg, Rap’s greatest artist, although he’s been around for a bunch of years now.
Patti Smith said that New York has been “taken away” from the young artist. What would you say to those moving to NYC with dreams of being the next Mick Rock?! Should they move to Portland? Berlin?!
MR: Yes, it must be very difficult for young artists to mature in cities like New York and London. There are so many financial pressures today. When I started out, you could live for so cheap in a big metropolitan environment. You didn’t have to worry about money all the time. You had plenty of time to be creative and have fun — and having fun is the source of creative energy. That’s what produces the magic of artistic expression. Yes, East Berlin is definitely a good place to go. Although cheap accommodation is getting to be less available than it was a few years ago. For a time Williamsburg was were all the young artists gravitated, although the prices there are rising steadily now too.