Legendary music photographer Mick Rock – who chronicled the lives of many of the world’s greatest rock stars over five decades including his soul mate David Bowie – has died aged 72.

The Londoner, dubbed ‘the man who shot the 70s’ and ‘the music world’s top snapper’, took the most famous pictures of the Ziggy Stardust era and became Bowie’s closest friend and confidante until the singer’s death in 2016.

He would also direct Bowie’s videos for Space Odyssey, Life on Mars, Jean Genie and John, I’m Only Dancing while the stars he photographed compared photo sessions with him to ‘taking crack’. Rock, in his prime would insist that he stand on his head 30 minutes to take a single frame. This was because he believed the blood rush and oxygen from the cocaine and his body’s ability to improve his work.

Rock’s wife Pati, and Nathalie (their photographer daughter), are his survivors. They announced today that Rock had died but did not reveal the cause. Famously, he spent twenty years struggling to conquer an addiction to heroin. This began when he met Syd Barrett at Cambridge. But later on in life, Rock would trade hard drugs with yoga and massage.

In a 50-year career, Rock went on to create album covers for rock legends the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop the Ramones, Mötley Crüe and The Sex Pistols. Daft Punk and Debbie Harry also featured as subjects. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody video featured a remake of a picture he took with Freddie Mercury.

His family posted a message on Twitter that said, “It is with heavy hearts that we share the Jungian journey made by Mick Rock,”

He was an artist and a poet. We will never again see the mythical creature he was.

Photographer Mick Rock, pictured in LA in 2016 with one of his famous images of his great friend David Bowie, has died at the age of 72

Mick Rock (photo taken in LA, 2016) with one his iconic images of David Bowie has passed away at 72.

Patti Rock and Mick Rock in 2010

Nathalie Rock and Mick Rock in 2008

Mick Rock (left) with Pati and Nathalie (right), at recent exhibitions

Rock was close friends with David Bowie and took most of the most  famous pictures of him during the 1970s. They were close until the star died in 2016

Rock was close friends with David Bowie and took most of the most  famous pictures of him during the 1970s. Both were close to Bowie until his death in 2016, when he became a star.

Queen's iconic video for Bohemian Rhapsody was a recreation of a photograph he took of Freddie Mercury and the band.

Rock also took the picture for Lou Reed's iconic album Transformer

Rock shot Bowie covers and Iggy pop. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody video is a recreation of a picture he took with Freddie Mercury. Lou Reed took his picture for the legendary album Transformer (pictured from top left through bottom right).

Mr Rock's family released the statement revealing 'the man who shot the 70s' has died after an extraordinary 50 year career

His family issued the following statement, revealing that Mr Rock has been buried after his extraordinary career of 50 years.

Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr shared this image of a photo shoot with Rock, which he compared to 'taking crack'

Johnny Marr from Smiths shared this photo of him and Rock during a photoshoot. It was something he likened to ‘taking crack.’

Johnny Marr (guitarist with British rock band The Smiths) led the tribute. He tweeted, “Goodbye, Mick Rock, for now.” A picture of them together was shared by the visionary poet.  

Mr Rock would famously insist on standing on his head for 30 minutes before taking a single frame.

Famously, Mr Rock insisted on standing upright for thirty minutes before taking one frame.

Rock was born in West London, 1948. He graduated from Cambridge University in Medieval Languages and Modern Languages.

He discovered a passion for photography during university and began shooting local gigs. 

Rock continued to make album covers for Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and country singer Waylon Jennings.

Other subjects included rapper Snoop Dogg, Daft Punk, Debbie Harry, Ozzie Osbourne and close friend David Bowie – for whom he was the official ­photographer during much of the singer’s Ziggy ­Stardust days. 

Rock, who was actively involved in the music scene right up until his passing, has been a subject of Kate Moss, Bono, and Lady Gaga. 

He said that cigarettes were what killed Lou Reed and David Bowie in an interview.

“They chain-smoked for more than 40 years. They gave up smoking for the last several years but it was too late. David smoked constantly – you will see in all the pictures and videos, he’s got a fag on. My own cardiologist has been a part of the conversation. “The damage was done.”

Speaking about his friendship with Velvet Underground lead singer Lou Reed, he said:  ‘Lou and I were very close. Lou died before I could complete the book.

Rock – his real surname – was Reed’s close friend and Bowie’s confidante from the early Seventies until his death in 2016.

A LA exhibition of Rock's most famous pictures including of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and David Bowie

LA Exhibition of Rock’s Famous Photographs, featuring Lou Reed, Iggypop, Debbie Harry, and David Bowie

The famous cover shot of Lou Reed and a more recent image of his great friend Bowie

Lou Reed covers shot and Bowie’s recent photo.

Photographer Mick Rock at The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust" book party at The National Arts Club in New York City in 2002 with one of his famous pictures

Mick Rock photographed at The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust’ book party at The National Arts Club, New York City in 2002. One of his most famous photos was there.

The star photographer pictured in Las Vegas with a famous picture of Blondie singer, Debbie Harry

Photograph of Debbie Harry, Blondie’s star photographer taken in Las Vegas

Rock with his great friend Lou Reed in New York in 1995

Rock and Lou Reed, his friend from childhood in New York.

A famous picture of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed taken by Rock

A famous picture of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed taken by Rock

His photographs of the members of Queen would inspire the video for Bohemian Rhapsody

He would take photos of Queen’s members to inspire Bohemian Rhapsody.

He helped Bowie create Ziggy Stardust as his alter-ego in the glam period. This documentary documentary focuses on Rock’s remarkable life.

Photographer Mick Rock uses a point and shoot camera in 2005

Mick Rock, a photographer in 2005 uses a point-and-shoot camera

Shot! Shot!

Rock fell for the debauched lifestyle, and he entered a vicious cycle of addiction, penury, and heartache. Rock was addicted to cocaine. In the Eighties, he spent almost all of his income on drugs.  

At Cambridge, he met Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, and went on photographing the cover for his first solo album The Madcap Laughs. This was after he left Pink Floyd.

Barrett began to show signs of mental illness by 1970. This was aggravated by his reckless use of hallucinogens.

Rock recalls, “I had acid with him once, and we had lots of fun.” People say that Syd Barrett took LSD, so it must have been heavy. However, we laughed quite a bit.

Rock’s success was dependent on his social flexibility. Rock was just as at ease working alongside bad guys like Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott than he was with Kate Moss.

Rock, despite having been on the wild side of Seventies life, fought a twenty-year-long drug addiction and became clean in the 1990s.

“I only smoke marijuana and that is all I do now. He said that his obsessions include kundalini yoga and massage, as well as acupuncture.

Johnny Marr, former Smiths guitarist, described Rock’s high energy levels in a photo session as he was ‘taking crack! documentary like ‘taking crack.’  

Rock stated, “It gives your incredible strength.” Rock said that even in cocaine years you could stand on your head for up to half an hour if the drug, blood, and oxygen combination was there. You could even make photographs and fall in love with a gorilla for one month.