There has been numerous lists dedicated to the splendor and excitement of rock music photography, sleek and expensive Taschen publications featuring the likes of John Lennon and Lou Reed gracing the stage in all of their cultural and historical glory. The following 10 photos, however, are the ones that have a quite transcendent vibe about them, something that really lifts the rock music kitsch to a bit more profound level of experience. These are 10 photos of musicians that managed to elevate classic rock icons to an almost divine status, even if just for the quarter of a second the particular photo was taken. Enjoy!
Iggy Pop (1977)
Now, this is by no means a rare photo of Iggy during the zenith of his enigmatic Bowie-mentored Berlin period. However, often overlooked, its significance is to be sought in Jim Osterberg’s affectionate “1000 mile stare”. Through it all, the man prevailed, providing the stage with an unmatched, primordial energy whilst enriching the music world with some of the most simple yet oddly sophisticated records found on the shelf today. The emotion here is just brutal and fragile at the same time.
Kate Bush (1986)
A truly and all-around British phenomenon, Kate Bush is known for her eccentric performance style, as well as the rather reclusive nature of hers (though the long period of silence was broken in 2014 with the “Before the Dawn” concert series and more recently with a new video!). Besides that, she also looks like some sort of deity from an old poem one reads out loud in a Tolkien tavern with a wooden drone pipe whistling in the background. This is a photo that would do well as the textbook explanation for the term “ethereal”.
Lou Reed (1974)
Now, this is an amazing picture of the transformer himself taken during the period when the visual, as well as the musical transformation, was simply Reed’s way of life. Seemingly sexless, concerned with a heavy thought, indulged into a heavy lifestyle- this really is the kind of a rock and roll heart Lou used to sing about. The almost albinic appearance conflicting with the solid black background makes for a striking visual experience.
Otis Redding (1966)
Another energy bomb, whose specific yet completely enthralling type of performance and general on and off-stage demeanor laid foundations for a whole generation of soul boys to come. From what’s available on the web, seeing Otis Redding live must have been close to a religious experience. Happiness was not only something that the famous singer-songwriter generously spared the audience with, but also something that seemed to flow through the man every time he hit the stage, as evident by this photo! Just look at the guys in the background!
David Bowie (1978)
Right, here we might have a bit of a problem. If there’s anyone on this list who maintained a deity-like appearance throughout his/hers career, then it’s most likely David Robert Jones. However, despite the otherworldly looks characteristic to his Ziggy years and (to some extent) the Thin White Duke era, it’s the 1977-78 period that saw the man really embracing a kind of transcendental approach both for the designing of his performances and the styling of himself. Discipline, a clear vision of the future, and a tasteful visual austerity masks a colossal creative prowess.
Bryan Ferry (1974)
Now, this image of a sleeping (then) Roxy Music frontman is visual proof that Ferry was something of a demonic 1970’s version of Ryan Gosling. Featuring Bryan Ferry looking more like some sort of black prince during his power nap, this photo pretty much sums up the class and mystery Ferry was exuding wherever he went.
Mick Jagger (1976)
The Stones Axeman Keith Richards once rhetorically asked, “If you’re Mick Jagger, why would you want to be somebody else?” Well, one could definitely write a philosophical treatise on that one. Mick Jagger simply is the ultimate rock and roll titan. This picture proves the point in an almost mythological fashion with the man jet-setting on the tip of a crystal ship, guided by the spotlight from rock & roll heaven.
Marianne Faithful (1965)
Marianne Faithful is somewhat of a contradictional figure, and one that, in fact, seems to have a career that’s arguably made from two polarly different representations of one’s self. We have the “As Tears Go By” fairy of the 60’s and the “Broken English” care-free femme fatale of the late 70’s. For the sake of the brilliant blue eyes that encapsulate the vigor of 60’s London, we had to pick the first period.
Freddie Mercury (1974)
We could have, of course, picked the famous Darth Vader riding photo. Yet, while being a truly powerful example of the early 80’s pop culture greatness, it, unfortunately, had too much of a comic value. This, in turn, brings us a bit closer to the dark corners of Farrokh Bulsara’s (his birth name) persona, revealing how truly fascinating the figure behind one of the world’s most successful rock bands is. Throughout camp and highly royal at the same time.
Now, there isn’t much to say about this one. It’s the usual power and passion Prince used to unleash during the extravaganza of his guitar soloing. The purple smog, perhaps indicating the according song, is also there, as well as the completely care-free androgyny. The picture strikes hard because there’s something truly liberating and triumphant about it. An artist at his peak, perhaps.
How about pampering yourself with a nice little festive treat by getting your favorite pop culture icon on your wall? Don’t limit yourself to a simple poster! Bring out the true star quality of your idol on a high-quality canvas print, or make the darkness shine on a refined acrylic glass surface!