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Rock is dead, but the photographer's iconic images of Bowie, Blondie and more live on

Photographer Mick Rock at the opening reception for <em>Mick Rock: Shooting For Stardust - The Rise Of David Bowie & Co.</em> in Los Angeles in 2015.
Angela Weiss
Getty Images
Photographer Mick Rock at the opening reception for Mick Rock: Shooting For Stardust - The Rise Of David Bowie & Co. in Los Angeles in 2015.

Once dubbed "The Man Who Shot The '70s," rock 'n' roll photographer Mick Rock has died at age 72. His death was announced onhis Twitter page.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share our beloved psychedelic renegade has made the Jungian journey to the other side," the statement begins.

During an era of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, Mick Rock was both player and observer, photographing everybody: a back-bending, shirtless Iggy Pop, Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, Lou Reed's comically haunting Transformer cover. A sensuous Rock portrait of Blondie vocalist Debbie Harry was chosen for the cover of Penthouse in February 1980.

Rock's images graced dozens of album covers, including Queen 2, with the band's faces glowing within a black background. Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, Carly Simon: the list of Rock's glamorous, often scrappy subjects is extensive. And newer generations of artists also solicited his artistry, including Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keyes.

As Claire O'Neill reported for NPR in 2012, "Rock never planned on being a photographer. He was studying language and literature at Cambridge University, and found himself in the right place at the right time. He got high, picked up a friend's camera, 'and began to play,' he says."

You can see some of Rock's iconic images in O'Neill's story, here.

The tribute on Rock's Twitter feed calls him "a photographic poet—a true force of nature who spent his days doing exactly what he loved, always in his own delightfully outrageous way."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

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