Many refer to photographer Mick Rock by his modern media tag, ‘the man who shot the 70s’. It would be easy for the sharp-eyed artist, who was long ago taken under the wings of modern heroes like Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Lou Reed and then some, to reject the copy as reductive and annoying, but as Rock says in Barnaby Clay's new documentary, Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, which takes Rock for its subject, Mick’s just glad to be thought of in a positive light at all.
Rock is far cooler than this hook and he's led a career that no catchphrase can honor. Luckily, Clay’s new film, which opened in Los Angeles and New York last Friday, in addition to on-demand availability, goes a long way in offering the essential and stylish posterity his story deserves.
Like how Danny Fields taught us that a manager or a publicist need not be just one thing, or serve one function, Rock was far more than a photographer to his wonderful subjects. Yes, he was capable of bringing out an essence of his icons that rang beautifully true to their art - take the album covers for Lou Reed's Transformer or Iggy Pop's Raw Power, both shot by Rock within the same 24 hour period - but in addition to being a gifted fly on the wall, he was also a crucial participant in the lifestyle he captured.
With a great sense of vision that understandingly mirrors Rock’s style and imagery, while still standing on its own, Clay tells Rock’s story properly, extending the narrative to years that fans may not know so much about, and ultimately capturing Rock's evolved psycho spiritual mantra. Rock is a wonderful interview subject, as I myself also had the pleasure of discovering, and his jaw-dropping anecdotes are in a good hands.
For fans of photography, glam, punk, psychedelic death art, and beyond, Shot: The Psycho Spiritual Mantra of Rock is an absolute treat.