Mick Rock began a long and successful association with David Bowie in 1972 when he was invited to photograph David’s Birmingham Town Hall concert on March 17.
Tony Defries recalls “In their first session together at Haddon Hall Mick managed to achieve a visual understanding where he saw David in a way that reflected David’s own expectations. When I saw the results of that session I decided to take Rock on as an inhouse photographer”.
Mick had started his career as a writer and photographer while attending Cambridge University where he borrowed a friend’s camera and began taking photographs of local acquaintances including Syd Barrett and Mick Jagger’s brother Chris.
Mick photographed the album cover of The Madcap Laughs released in 1970. This was the first solo album record by Syd Barrett after he left Pink Floyd in April 1968.
That first evening after the Birmingham concert Mick travelled back to London and stayed with David and Angela at Haddon Hall and so began a mutually beneficial relationship that documented one of the most exciting periods in British rock music, working all corners of the creative field.
Mick’s first assignment was to photograph and interview David for a Rolling Stone article, so he spent a day at Haddon Hall. At that time Mick didn’t have any lighting equipment so most of the shotes were taken outside in the garden.
Mick returned to Haddon hall several times capturing the excitement as David and his coterie experimented with new costumes and hair styles as David’s vision of a ‘larger-than-life style rock figure’ continued to evolve.
One of Mick’s defining images of that thrilling period was taken at Oxford Town Hall on June 17, 1972. The now iconic photograph of David fellating Mick Ronson’s golden Gibson. Mick processed the film overnight and met David at the MainMan office the next day. It was too late for the photograph to be included in the Melody Maker magazine so MainMan paid for a full page ad featuring the image.
Mick was also present the following month when David was joined on stage by Lou Reed at the Friends of the Earth Save the Whale benefit concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. A week later at a concert in King’s Cross Mick took the photograph that became the cover of Lou Reed’s Transformer album.
Also that summer Mick photographed Iggy Pop at the same King’s Cross venue and one of his photographs from that night was used for the cover of Iggy & The Stooges Raw Power album.
Although the first leg of the UK Ziggy tour had finished in mid July David was keen to fulfil his ambition of staging a rock theatre performance so in August, with a supporting cast that included Lindsay Kemp and The Astronettes David performed a hugely ambitious rock ‘n roll spectacular at London’s Rainbow Theatre, supported by Roxy Music.
Mick then documented the rest of the Ziggy period and continued on photographing the recording of PinUps, The 1980 Floorshow at London’s Marquee Club and dozens of other iconic moments.