Mick Rock Discusses His Life, Career, Cats, and the Documentary ‘SHOT!’

Mick Rock

“Don’t mind me I haven’t eaten today and they finally gave me a bowl of gruel,” Mick Rock says to me at the start of our interview as he begins to tear apart a blueberry muffin from Starbucks.

The legendary rock ‘n’ roll photographer sits across from me with his hair wildly flaring out and wearing a pair of sunglasses despite the relatively dim lighting in the room. The photographer of such icons as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and the Ramones is now the subject of a new documentary SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock from director Barney Clay.

“People have been talking to me about it for a long time, including the old BBC as you can imagine. Of course, there are a number of documentaries out there in recent times – I haven’t seen the Harry Benson one, an old friend of mine did a lot of like fashiony stuff. I don’t know but people wanted to do it and I was very reluctant for a long time,” Rock recalled of the long road to getting this documentary made.

Having photographed some of the biggest names in music over his career, Mick Rock was reluctant to point to favorites over his career. “That’s one of those tricky questions, isn’t it? We don’t want soul stirring in their grave and damning me for eternity,” Rock joked. “I think Karen O. is a fantastic subject. Of course, she’s in the documentary. Janelle Monáe, I think she’s fabulous. Snoop Dogg. Of course it’s hard to avoid certain of those early subjects. I mean, Lou, I loved working with Lou [Reed]. The cutest of them all were the double Ds – Debbie [Harry] and David [Bowie]. In both cases there are tons of fabulous pictures out there. On the other hand, they’re also mine.”

Times have changed in rock ‘n’ roll photography and Mick Rock has no problems reflecting on the difference he’s encountered. “Back in those days, one thing is I didn’t sleep as much. I had more time for hanging out. Two, I was a lot younger. Three, everyone else was, relatively speaking, younger,” he said. “It was different times. Nowadays, you see people taking pictures much more seriously. David always did. He always understood the power of the camera. Not that he was someone who would try to direct you how to take his picture. He came in, ‘What do you want to do?’ It was like that with Lou, all the pictures I took of those two. Debbie, that’s a gift.”

Just don’t expect to Mick Rock to throw any of his past subject under the bus. When asked about any subjects that might’ve been nightmares, the photographer played it rather coy. “I know everybody’s been asking but I can’t think of – well, I can think of a couple of people but they won’t mean anything to you because they were not particularly talented and I need the money so I took it. There was a time in my life I would’ve shot your pet parrot if you paid me in cash. There was a time when I could barely get a fucking blind dope to piss on me.”

I felt compelled to ask Mick Rock about one of the more fascinating moments in SHOT! which featured an audio tape from 1976 of Lou Reed bashing the Ramones. It totally contradicts an audio tape of Lou Reed from 1974 featured in the documentary Danny Says. “We’re talking about ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,’ which was a single they put out. Lou already did love the Ramones but at that moment in time – he might not have slept – but he was at the time that’s what he said. That wasn’t an absolute,” Rock recalled of his conversations with Reed.

“Even there’s a quote from me in there, you see me talking about the Ramones being the uglier – they should’ve left in the second part of what I said, you know how manipulative film – I said at the time they were probably the ugliest band out there but I also said as the years went on they started to look better, because rock ‘n’ roll changed,” Rock expanded his recollections of the Ramones. “The Ramones were very guarded. Danny Fields, a longtime friend of mine who was managing them at the time, I remember the brief was there were two or three sessions, they hate the pictures, we’ve got no money, they don’t like photographers, if they don’t like what’s going on they’ll leave, and if you’re luck you’ll get an hour. I said, ‘I’m on board.’ Plus it was produced by Phil Spector. Times change.”

We continued talking about the Ramones and this led to a moment where I got to impress a rock icon with my knowledge. “They do a fantastic version of ‘Needles & Pins.’ The Searchers’ version I’ve always loved. Do you know who co-wrote that?”

Without hesitation, “Sonny Bono,” I replied.

“Bingo. You’re the only other person I’ve ever met that knows that. Yes, Sonny Bono.”

My moment of glory was short-lived as we circle the conversation back to Lou Reed’s conflicting thoughts on the music of the Ramones. “Lou would fuck with everybody,” Rock dryly told me. “I’ll tell you who Lou did love, the Talking Heads. He took me down to CBGBs in autumn while I was working on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart Tour in ’76 and they were only a three piece. That was before Jerry Harrison joined them. And he said, ‘You gotta see these guys.’”

According to Rock, Lou Reed had a complicated attitude towards his being credited as one of the founding fathers of punk rock. “He was always denying it, denying it, denying it, being one of the twin godfathers of punk. Covering a different part of the terrain, namely having to do with the stripped down nature of especially the Velvet [Underground]’s music,” Rock recalled.

“Of course, the godfather was Little Miss Iggy, wasn’t it? And still going. That’s fucking defying all the laws of gravity. It’s probably criminal that he’s still around. I mean there’s something wrong with it,” Rock joked about the iconic rocker Iggy Pop. “If there was amongst the people I knew of the death row victims, he was well ahead – he was ahead of Lou, and he would’ve been pitched ahead of Keith Richards, too. Of course, look at him. I love him.”

Of all the acts that he’s shot over the years, I asked Mick Rock if there were any artists from the New York punk scene that he wished he had the chance to photograph. “I photographed the Dead Boys, the Ramones. I got some pictures of Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Talking Heads. Maybe Television, not because they were so dynamic to see on stage but they were certainly musically very interesting,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the Cramps, but they would’ve been worthy. You can’t shoot everybody. You can’t fuck all the girls you want, it’s the same thing just because you want to. If the stars aren’t correctly aligned, you know.”

The iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographer has an idea for a new book that’s had trouble getting off the ground, but it’s something that might actually be quite successful in the modern internet age. “I love cats. I wanna do a cat book and everybody just to pet me says, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll absolutely do a cat book, but can we do this other book first?’ A fucking rock ‘n’ roll book,” Rock said with a laugh. “But I wanna do a book now called SHOT! that reflects the breadth of my work. We would even include a couple a couple of cocaine still lifes. Because I took really fucking good pictures of cocaine. Yes, I was inspired by the subject. And yes, there was a certain level of stimulation going on. But I could, that was the one time in my life I could shoot still life.”

SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock is now in select theaters and available on VOD platforms.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Battle of the Sexes Interview
Emma Stone and Steve Carell Talk About Reviving the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ for the Big Screen

One of the biggest sporting events in history is now one...

New ‘Amityville: The Awakening’ Clip Takes us into the Basement

The original Amityville movie effectively terrified audiences forty years ago. The story...

Elizabeth Blue
‘Elizabeth Blue’ Examines Mental Illness in Powerful, Inventive Ways

People from all walks of life deal with mental illness. Despite...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
5.7/10
Review – Drive Girls (PS Vita)

So what do you get when you take the robots out...

Nights of Azure 2
Koei Tecmo America Details Demon-Slaying Action For Nights Of Azure 2: Bride Of The New Moon

Survive the environments of Nights Of Azure 2: Bride of the...

SteelSeries North
SteelSeries Announces Partnership with FC Copenhagen, Nordisk Film and Their Top-Ranked Counter-Strike Team, North

Three of the Most Successful Danish Brands Team up to Accomplish...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
viz
VIZ Media Announces New Digital Manga Content For August Update

VIZ Media details digital manga updates for August highlighted by the...

viz
VIZ Media Announces New Manga and Literary Acquisitions At Anime Expo

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of...

9.0/10
Supergirl Makes Contact in ‘Supergirl Being Super’

Title: Supergirl Being Super #4 Writer: Mariko Tamaki Artist: Joelle Jones...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Yu-Gi-Oh Code of the Duelist Special Edition Debuts 9/22/17

Yu-Gi-Oh Code of the Duelist Special Edition Releases Tomorrow 9/22/17 introduces brand-new...

Yugi's Collector Box Review
I Can’t Believe The Cards That Come In This – Yugi’s Collector Box Review

I have been out the duel monsters game for awhile, but...

atari
New Atari 2600/Sega Genesis Systems from AtGames Now Available

Classic Gaming Lives Again with Release of New Atari 2600/Sega Genesis...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Mayweather and McGregor Previous Fights Now On Demand on Cable, Plus Interviews, Workouts and More

From iN DEMAND – New York, Aug. 17 – Before the...

Rumble on the Water 2 Delivers Punching Power

July 29, 2017 – Long Beach, CA – The Queen Mary...

UFC Star Jon ‘Bones’ Jones Releases Emoji App – BonesMoji

From BonesMoji – Los Angeles, CA., July 27, 2017 – One...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
CULTURAL JUNK DRAWER SDCC 2017 86.3% TRUE RECAP!

A totally true recap of the most important geek cultural even...

Comics on the Can: Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers

Written by John Barber, Pencils by Steve Kurth, Inks by Juan...

Star Wars Themed Lands Will be the Perfect Safe House for the Rebellion and the First Order

Disney’s D23 Expo has revealed a lot of what is to...

Event News Event Reviews
The Third Annual ‘BeerX’ from 91X in San Diego Featured Sunburns and Beer Goggles

This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual BeerX, presented by...

anime film festival
LA-Anime Film Festival Kicks Off to Celebrate 100 Years of Anime Films

Los Angeles Anime Film Festival (LA-AFF), presented by international creative company...

stan lee
Extraordinary: Stan Lee at The Saban Theatre

Comedian, Nerdist CEO, and podcast extraordinaire Chris Hardwick will lead a roster of...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...