It’s hard to call a photographer “legendary.” Such a term is usually used to describe rockstars and top-tier actors, but after meeting and interviewing Mick Rock — who is also known as “the man who shot the ’70s” and has taken incredible shots of everyone from Queen, David Bowie, and Lou Reed to Syd Barrett, Iggy Pop, and Joan Jett — I must say he is a truly legendary photographer.

What struck me upon first meeting Mick was his sense of grace and acceptance of all. I thought he might be a bit, you know, rough around the edges and overly “artsy,” but he was far from it. Actually, he seemed like the embodiment of peace and love — as “hippie” as that sounds. I mean, he DOES come from the ’70s, so maybe it is quite appropriate. His life included lots of drug use, but he’s found natural highs now. It just took him a while to realize he could obtain a nice buzz in an organic, drug-free fashion.

When I met with Mick last week, we talked of the ’70s and the lifestyles of that era, we talked of drugs, we talked of shows, we talked of the existential crises that everyone faces. We even talked about the coffee we were sipping. He was quite conversational. Not only was he eager to answer my questions, he was also interested in me, my life, my band, and my path.

The interview was nonchalant and conversational, and Mick Rock was humble and fun. We need more people like him in the world, especially the music industry!

So Mick, tell me about how you got started as a rock and roll photographer.

MR: LSD (laughs). I was at a festival, and a friend of mine gave me some acid. It was my first experience. All I could do was play with his camera. It didn’t even have film in it, but I was in awe of the feel and sound of the “click.” I knew it was for me. When I came down from the acid, I still had the interest, so away I went.

How has the industry changed in the last 40 years?

MR: Back in the day, there weren’t as many photographers and competition around so you could have more fun and be less pretentious.

Why do you think Bowie and Lou Reed preferred you to be their photographer?

MR: Bowie felt comfortable with me. People attacked him and Reed…many couldn’t be mellow around them. I think they liked the fact that I didn’t care about fame and simply enjoyed taking photos and having fun. This is why Bowie allowed me to pursue my writing and directing goals, which ended in my significant participation of the “Life on Mars” and “Ziggy Stardust” music videos [produced and directed by Mick].

Did you have a lot of crazy times on tour with these bands/performers?

MR: Mate, too many crazy times, really. To a point where we all had to remind each other of who we were and why we were traveling all over the place! It was grand.

How would you compare the rhythm/timing of a musician to the rhythm/timing of a photographer?

MR: Well, they’re both the same, aren’t they? Without grabbing the right shots at the opportune moments, everything falls out of place. It’s the same with writing and playing music. Rhythm is very important in both fields.

What are you getting up to these days?

MR: Well, I’ve been getting the opportunity to shoot some really cool cats who are making waves in the music scene these days: Snoop Dogg, Daft Punk, The Killers, CeeLo Green, The Black Keys, Lady Gaga, etc. Also, I’ll be doing a show on Ovation TV where I go to artists’ hometowns and see how they grew up and became inspired to write.

That’s awesome. You’re awesome.

MR: You’re really cool too, mate.

Mick and I really hit it off. He even invited me to a private party with exclusive guests that I will most definitely be attending. Also, he looked up my band. I love the guy. Check out this photo of us, but more importantly, the photo he took on the wall behind us.

me n mic

Mick Rock’s new television series, On the Record with Mick Rock, premieres on Ovation TV this Sunday, August 2, at 5 pm PST. You should check it out. And really, check out some of his iconic photographs. They’re quite impressive.

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Mick Rock