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Mick Rock on his new show: I'm the Anthony Bourdain of rock and roll

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Ovation

British photographer Mick Rock earned the nickname “The Man Who Shot the Seventies” for producing iconic images of rock legends like David Bowie, Queen, and Iggy Pop. Now he’s ready to take on… Josh Groban?

On his new show On the Record With Mick Rock, debuting Sunday night on Ovation, Rock travels the country and hangs out with musicians as they squire him about their hometowns. The series premieres with Rock in Los Angeles with Josh Groban, while future episodes will have him going to Oklahoma with the Flaming Lips and visiting Philadelphia with Patti LaBelle. He also shoots the musicians in each episode (though not as much as he’d like). We spoke to Rock about the show, his adventures with Groban, and more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I honestly never thought I’d see a TV show starring Mick Rock. How did the concept come about?

MICK ROCK: The original concept was to go to different cities and hang out in record stores and meet all the different characters in each one. But then they changed it a little bit, so the idea is that I’m the Anthony Bourdain of rock and roll. Which is fine, although me, personally, I’d rather it just be me doing photo sessions! That’s when I’m at my nuttiest. But the show still has a lot of my nuttiness, even though they’re bleeping my bad language.

In the first episode, you hang out with Josh Groban, whose music isn’t historically your scene. Did you two get along?

I liked Josh! That was the first time I’d met him, and we got on great. He’s a character, and he has a wicked sense of humor. I’m enjoying all of it, but I just wish I’d had more time to shoot [photos of him]. I get to a little bit, but it was just a few snaps. I really want to get into it, that’s what I do. But whatever, I signed the contract! It’s their [Ovation’s] money, their program. 

But it’s too bad they don’t have cameras in the car, because when we were going from place to place, Josh and I were having such a good time just chatting and, you know, being politically incorrect. Most of that, of course, is not in there. I told them, you need to shoot this stuff! And so they did end up coming up with those little cameras to capture our natural banter.

How was your time with the Flaming Lips? Did you like Oklahoma?

That one was great, hanging out with Wayne [Coyne]. And I did a lecture! But they didn’t use any of the footage, but they’ll put a little clip on the Internet, I guess. Which, you know, is something at least.

A lecture? On what?

I did what I normally do: I show a bunch of pictures and talk rubbish for an hour. [laughs] This was in front of a bunch of students. I told them not to listen to me, that I couldn’t tell them anything I actually told them I didn’t know what they were doing at the lecture when they should be doing something serious instead. But there they were! I hope they had fun, but at least I had fun.

Tell me about your time with Patti LaBelle.

Oh, she was great! I enjoyed them all, not one more than the other, but she’s a lovely lady. She’s like the Queen of Philadelphia. So we went down there together, and it was a riot!

What other guests do you have lined up?

There is talk of getting Method Man, to have a little bit rap in there. I’ve been lobbying to get more hip-hop and electronic characters in there. I’d also like to shoot some of my actor friends who are also musicians, like Norman Reedus and Juliette Lewis. But they’ve so far exnay’d that because… well, I don’t know why! Juliette makes albums and then tours them. She’s rather be a musician than an actor, but the acting pays a lot more money! There are more I can’t quite say, but they’re getting lined up.

Whatever, if people want to watch it, have a crack! It’s only a half an hour. If you’ve got nothing better to do on a Sunday night, you can hear me blabbing.

A version of this story appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1375.

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