Legendary British photographer Mick Rock, known as "the man who shot the '70s" has unveiled five never-before-seen images of pop culture icons and the fascinating stories behind them.
Featuring Kate Moss, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Freddie Mercury and Syd Barrett, each print is available to buy online with 20 per cent of sales going towards West Contemporary's fundraiser for much-needed FFP3 masks for NHS staff.
Mick recalls how the NHS is, like David Bowie and many others he's photographed, an important and hugely iconic part of British culture and British history. He also has family living in the UK and says the NHS has always been there for every single Brit: "If this virus is a reminder of anything, it's how much we need the NHS. They are our lifeline. We owe them every effort we can think of to protect their own lives whilst they are protecting the lives of others."
The David Bowie portrait was shot at Milk Studios in New York City in 2002. Mick told us: "I hadn't done a studio session with David in a number of years, although we had been discussing it for a while. A shoot for a US magazine and the desire to have some new photos to include in our first photobook collaboration, 'Moonage Daydream' gave us the impetus. I pulled together a number of elements to play with. The eyepatch and the binoculars stirred thoughts in us about a pilot from an imaginary second world war movie, which we were making up as we went along. We shot a lot of different images. Somehow this one didn't surface. Until now!"
During the same year, Mick photographed Kate Moss: "I can't remember if this was before or after the Bowie session, but I do remember that Kate was a couple of hours late, however she made up for it with her highly cooperative attitude. As always, I shot a lot of frames, with a variety of lighting setups. I shot with both flash and photoflood and loved the shadows that I conjured up. The images I've shown most over the years are those where she is wearing tees with images of mine of Bowie, Iggy and Lou Reed, made up especially for the session. This one was grabbed when the hairstylist was playing with her hair. I always liked it but never found the right occasion to surface it."
Mick's portrait of Freddie Mercury was taken in Great Newport Street, London, in 1974: "I did several great sessions with him in those days. It was always very comfortable. He liked the images I came up with. I enjoyed our interaction. The one caveat was that he wanted to be shot with his lips closed. He had an overbite that made his front teeth protrude somewhat. He explained to me that he had four additional wisdom teeth at the back of his mouth. He didn't want to have them removed because it would reduce his palette which he believed hamper his naturally extensive vocal range. He looks very cool in this image. I can't explain why it got overlooked until now!"
You can read more of the stories behind these special images at west-contemporary.com.