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Who Shot Rock and Roll

Celebrating the photographers who created the visual identity of rock music

Who Shot Rock: 1966: Bob Dylan

Photograph by Jerry Schatzberg courtesy of Who Shot Rock and Roll

Bob Dylan photographed for the cover of his ‘Blonde on Blonde’ album cover in New York City, 1966

“We started shooting in the studio and I was getting some very nice images. It was not very hard to shoot Dylan. I’d brought him into the studio to have a little more control but eventually I wanted to get out and see what we could do outside. I’d always liked the meatpacking district. It was cold and neither of us was wearing much, but we started working. I must say that a lot of the images are very sharp and very good but he chose this one. Went right for it. A lot of people say it’s supposed to be a drug trip but it’s not. Why he went for it? Maybe because nobody else had a photo that was blurred and a little off register or maybe he thought it’d just be a good image. Who knows what was going on in his head.” –Jerry Schatzberg

Interviews by Alex Vadukul

Who Shot Rock: 1983: Madonna

Photograph by Maripol courtesy of Who Shot Rock and Roll

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Madonna photographed inside New York City's Danceteria in 1983.

"The picture is talking in a way. It's saying 'Look who I am. I'm not famous but I'm going to be.' She didn't drink much but she liked her Martini. I don't think she smoked. Maybe I gave her the cigarette for attitude. I never saw Madonna smoking cigarettes as much as other people. She never did coke. That's why she was Madonna, why she became as big as she did: because she was always in control." -Maripol

Who Shot Rock: 1984: R.E.M.

Photograph by Laura Levine courtesy of Who Shot Rock and Roll

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 R.E.M. at Walter's BBQ – the subject of their song "Walter's Theme" – in their hometown, Athens, Georgia in 1984.

"My memory is foggy but my guess is that we had spent the whole day shooting around Athens and they were hungry. It wasn't a set up. We were actually eating there. Michael was a vegetarian, so that is probably my plate of food he has, we just put it there. I was such good friends with the band that my approach was very documentary with them. They were still small at the time: on IRS, still driving in their van and sleeping on floors, but I knew they were on their way to being very successful." -Laura Levine

Who Shot Rock: 1992: LL Cool J

Photograph by Albert Watson courtesy of Who Shot Rock and Roll

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LL Cool J photographed in 1992.

"When he came in he said he wanted a very simple shot. He said he didn't want to be doing something he didn't do normally. 'I'm a pretty serious person,' he said. But he also said not to make it as a passport picture. Well, I was fairly good at doing passport pictures that looked quite important. The lighting is the secret. I've shot rappers for years and I always got along very well with them because I was direct. In fact most of them would come into a shoot thinking I was black." -Albert Watson

Who Shot Rock: 1993: Tupac

Photograph by Danny Clinch courtesy of Who Shot Rock

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur, August 1993. A photo from this session appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1996 after Tupac was murdered.

“I’m very much about capturing the spirit of the moment in a loose way. Tupac seemed excited for RS. He showed up on time and only had one guy with him. At the time hip-hop groups would bring their whole posse to a shoot. He was ready to work and he was into it. Very professional. During the shoot we thought he should change his shirt for some variety. When he did I saw his tattoos and said, ‘Hey, those tattoos are great. Can I take some shots with the shirt off?’ He said sure. The other thing I remember about the shoot is that at the time I was keeping a Polaroid book. Basically I would take a Polaroid from the shoot, put it into my book, and then have the artist sign next to the Polaroid. He had written something along the lines of, ‘If a portrait is worth a thousand words then photographers are worth a million.'” -Danny Clinch

Who Shot Rock: 1995: Marilyn Manson

Photograph by Richard Kern courtesy of Who Shot Rock and Roll

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Marilyn Manson photographed for his single "Lunchbox" in New York City, 1995.

"Manson wanted to do the photo like the Marilyn Monroe that was on the first cover of Playboy. This was before he'd gotten big so they could get away with this stuff. When the photo came out the "cunt" part was not visible. They'd photoshopped it out. No one saw the actual image. The "cunt" was his idea though. If you wanna work with rock musicians, ask them first: 'do you have any ideas?' They know what they want. Don't try to interject. It was nice to work with someone who wanted to push it a bit." -Richard Kern

Who Shot Rock: 1997: Notorious B.I.G.

Photograph by Michael Lavine courtesy of Who Shot Rock and Roll

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Notorious B.I.G. at Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, 1997.

"I found Biggie to be a very quiet soul. He's a very large but when I met him he was very sweet, so it was this contrast in character. I swear, I was scared when I met him but he was so sweet. I remember driving in my car with Puffy and Biggie in the graveyard and Puffy was giving me a hard time because Elvis was on my stereo, but Biggie was like, 'Come on man, Elvis is the man. Relax man.' The graveyard shot wasn't planned. It was shot with a long lens to get that ominous feeling. If you snap a shot there normally you won't get that look. I just wanted to cram in as many tombstones as I could to get that effect. I knew it was good but I didn't know it was going to have the resonance it did three weeks later." -Michael Lavine

Who Shot Rock: 2007: Amy Winehouse

Photograph © Max Vadukul

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Amy Winehouse photographed in Miami, Florida on May 18, 2007 for her Rolling Stone cover story.

"When people look at that picture they say how great it is that he has her in bed with her hand down her crotch playing with herself, but there's another story. She'd been married that morning. It was a Rolling Stone photo shoot on the same day as her wedding. She asked me to do the wedding pictures and I did out of generosity. When we actually got to the studio she walked off the set after 15 minutes saying she'd had enough. In her mind it was her wedding day, I challenged her saying that we didn't have the shot, that there was still no warmth and no connection with the audience. That picture ended up being taken in a very tense situation. When it ran later, though, it was pretty great. So what happens on paper, sometimes its very hard for the reader to understand how it happened." -Max Vadukul

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