Mick Rock: I'd photograph Miley Cyrus but she doesn't have the Seventies shock factor

The 'man who shot the 70s' says he would photograph pop acts like One Direction so long as he wasn't 'having his period'

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

From David Bowie and Lou Reed to Blondie and The Sex Pistols, Mick Rock's status as "the man who shot the Seventies" is well-earned. But now the British photographer is adding a contemporary twist to his classic snaps.

The 65-year-old insists he is not stuck in the past, even going so far as to say that  he would photograph serial twerker Miley Cyrus and teen heartbreakers One Direction, so long as it was "going to be fun".

"I'm not going to go out and forage for that kind of thing but I'm fairly liberated," he says.

"I've shot Deadmau5! How about that? I'm not 'If you make this kind of music I won’t shoot you' at all. It depends on what side of the bed I get up on and what time of the month it is, if I'm having my period. I'm more like a lady in that sense."

Rock may joke, but his range of subjects include the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Mick is a big fan), The Killers, Snoop Dogg, Cee Lo Green, Janelle Monae, Robin Thicke and his own beloved cats.

"It's about having fun, projecting energy, which is what musicians do," he says. "You can get a bit of energy out of a model, and I do, but it’s a little one-dimensional. With a musician, you’re dealing with an artist."


But although Rock is full of praise for the number of rising stars he has photographed in recent years, what he misses most is the shock factor of Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, and other acts deemed cutting-edge four decades ago.

Cyrus, Thicke, Lady Gaga and their headline-grabbing antics simply cannot match up because, frankly, we've seen it all before.

"Back then, everything wasn't so accessible, there was more mystique," he says. "Sometimes I was the only photographer around but nowadays, if someone pops up and waves a bit of a flag, people are all over it. The big media machine needs to be fed all the time; it’s constant, and completely different to how disposable everything was in the Seventies."

Rock knows that trying to fight changing times is futile and besides, even if he wanted to, his 23-year-old daughter is there to keep him firmly in the 21st century.

"She's into all that electronic music, Skrillex and bloody Swedish House Mafia," he says. "She's been educating me about that stuff for years."

Mick Rock revisits one of his iconic images of David Bowie

But as the popularity of Instagram and its vintage filters continues to rage in iPhone world, Rock's authentic rock'n'roll vibe is arguably more popular than ever.

Entitled The Revisit, Rock's latest project sees him celebrate some of his most famous images. The iconic Debbie Harry photo "Blue Debbie" (see gallery, above) has been recreated with up-and-coming Brooklyn singer-songwriter Danielle Parente, using Nikon's new retro-styled Df camera.

His original Queen II album sleeve, seen in the band's "Bohemian Rhapsody" music video, has also been revamped in the name of nostalgia.

"At first I used to find the whole "man who shot the Seventies" thing a little irritating because I didn't only shoot in the Seventies," he says.

"I saw it as an impediment and believed people thought I was a relic crawling out of a gutter to peddle old images, a bit like how Bowie gets stuck with Ziggy Stardust. But the past is a treasure trove for modern artists and I've learnt to embrace and accept that."

"You can't fight the times you live in," Rock continues. "I don't have any prejudice against the modern world just because I was spawned back in the Seventies. The main difference is that back then all I did was shoot and chase girls, but nowadays I don't have time and besides, my wife would give me a thick ear if I did!"