Apologies if this has been pasted before.
Ioannis Vasilopoulos interviews Mick Rock
HOW DID YOU MEET QUEEN?
MICK: During the recording of David Bowie's 'Pinups' in France in the summer of 1973, his producer, Ken Scott, mentioned to me that a new unknown band called Queen were keen to meet me. They were admirers of my work, especially with Bowie and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. So I met with them a few weeks later. They explained that they wanted to graft some of that decadent 'glam' sensibility, which had become my trademark vibe of the period, onto their own image. I was the man for the job, no doubt! And so began a two year collaboration that would produce probably their most famous images...
WHAT WAS FREDDIE LIKE?
MICK: Freddie was a gem, as sweet a person as I've ever met in the music business. He and I made an immediate connection. Although Queen were always a democratic group, it was clear that Freddie had the clearest and strongest ideas about their visual presentation. After all he had named the group and also designed their famous logo and lettering. He and I worked closely together, and it seemed that on the bottom line Freddie was always able to lure the other three into his way of thinking about most things visual. That wasn't true of the sound of Queen. That was collaboration between Freddie and Brian May, aided by their great producer of the period, Roy Thomas Baker.
HOW DID THE IDEAS FOR QUEEN II AND SHEER HEART ATTACK COME BY?
MICK: The brief the band gave me for the 'Queen ll' was that it should have a black and white theme, it should feature the band, and that it was to be a gatefold cover...Around that time I came across a book of photos of Marlene Dietrich, which included a shot of her on the set of 'Shanghai Express'. It's hard to explain in words but I made an immediate connection with Queen. It had something to do with Freddie's personality and the general aura of the group, which was somehow outrageous and also magnificent. And of course no one was ever more 'glam' than the divine Ms Dietrich. So I showed the photo to Freddie and he immediately got it and corralled the others into going along with it.
'Sheer Heart Attack' was the group's idea. The brief was: "We want to look wasted and abandoned, like we've just been thrown up on the shore of a desert island." They also wanted really bold lettering on the front. So they got what they wanted and then some!! As Freddie is quoted in our collaboration 'Killer Queen':" God, the agony we went through to have the pictures taken, dear. Can you imagine trying to convince others to cover themselves in Vaseline and then have a hose turned on them! We suffered for art that day!"
DIDN'T YOU RECENTLY COLABORATE WITH QUEEN ON A BOOK PROJECT?
MICK: The above referenced book 'Killer Queen' was published a couple of years ago by Genesis Publications (genesis-publications.com). It is a beautiful limited edition book in a slipcase of 2500 copies with new text by Brian May and myself and a foreword by Brian, co-signed by Brian and myself (the first 1000 are signed by the two of us plus Roger). Brian gives a very sweet description of yours truly in his foreword: " The man was a one-off; a curious meeting of Zen and George Hurrell; of intellectual aestheticism and total awareness of commercial wiles; an artist for the people. You can see why he appealed to us!" Thank you, Brian...
ANY LAST WORDS ON YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH QUEEN?
MICK: Not only have our collaborations withstood the ravages of time; there are also some people today who even regard them as 'art'! And then of course the magnificent timeless musical outpourings propagated by these relentless sons of rock n roll is probably more celebrated and admired than ever. If only dear Freddie were around to enjoy the love...although I've no doubt that he's busy regaling the angels with the full-throat promise of 'We Will Rock You'!!
New York City