At 72, the famous London-born photographer must publish five of his unpublished portraits of pop culture giants David Bowie, Kate Moss, Bryan Ferry, Freddie Mercury and Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd. And 20% of the sales of the prints, which were to be assembled in London this spring in a small exhibition of unpublished works, will go to the gallery fund to buy protective masks for NHS staff.
“The NHS has always been there for me growing up in the UK and for everyone in my family,” said Rock, who lives in New York but has relatives in Britain. “If this virus reminds us of something, this is how much we need the NHS. They are our lifeline. We owe them every effort to protect their own lives while they protect the lives of others. “
Each photo is accompanied by memories of Rock on how it was taken. The cost of prints, available through West Contemporary, has been reduced so that more fans can afford a favorite image.
The 2002 image of Bowie of Rock, taken in New York, was created using a fictional shading. “The patch and the binoculars made us think of a pilot from an imaginary World War II film, which we invented as we went along,” said Rock.
A 1975 plan shows Ferry in his garden in what he describes as his “Our Man in Havana” look, a tribute to the film Alec Guinness from the novel by Graham Greene, while Mercury, reveals Rock, had a key request during his visit to the photographic studio. at Great Newport Street in 1974. “The only caveat was that he wanted to be shot with his lips closed. He had a bite that slightly protruded his front teeth. He explained to me that he had four more wisdom teeth in the back of his mouth. He didn’t want to have them removed because it would reduce his palate, which he said would hamper his naturally extended vocal range, ”recalls Rock.
The photographer first took a camera after graduating from Cambridge University because it was a welcome contrast to university studies. In the decades that followed, his powerful images themselves became objects of study, hanging in museums. “I became so universally identified around this time that they say I shot the 70s,” said Rock. “What was once rock’n roll, and very disposable, is now art. “