How photographer Mick Rock shot the cover of Lou Reed's Transformer
A version of this story originally appears in Entertainment Weekly’s Untold Stories issue, on stands now or available to buy right here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
Legendary British lensman Mick Rock has photographed a host of music icons from David Bowie to Blondie. Along the way, he has been responsible for creating the cover images for a clutch of classic albums, including Lou Reed’s 1972 collection, Transformer.
Rock met Reed through Bowie, who co-produced Transformer. The blurry cover photo looks like a studio shot, staged to make Reed look vacantly wasted, but it’s actually a live photo taken at London’s King’s Cross Cinema on July 14, 1972. “The shot wasn’t meant for an album cover,” says Rock. “But I remember showing Lou the contact sheet, and he zeroed in on that. It’s actually quite a sharp shot. I went away and made up a few prints, and the first pass on that one, it fell out of focus in the printing. I loved it when I saw it coming up. When I brought the prints back, he said, ‘That’s got to be the cover.’ And of course, it haunted him and me for, like, 45 years.”
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A documentary about the photographer called Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, is now available in theaters and on VOD, Amazon Video, and iTunes. Watch the film’s trailer, above.