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Bob Gruen

Bob Gruen
Johnny Thunders and David Johansen, 1973
gelatin silver print
16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
framed size: 19 1/4 x 25 1/4 inches
signed and titled recto in ink
Category: Tag:

Provenance:  Private collection

Bob Gruen is one of the most well-known and respected photographers in rock and roll. From John Lennon to Johnny Rotten; Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones; Elvis to Madonna; Bob Dylan to Bob Marley; Tina Turner to Debbie Harry, he has captured the music scene for over forty years in photographs that have gained worldwide recognition.

Shortly after John Lennon moved to New York in 1971, Bob became John and Yoko’s personal photographer and friend, making photos of their working life as well as private moments. In 1974 he created the iconic images of John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt and standing in front of the Statue of Liberty making the peace sign – two of the most popular of Lennon’s images.

As chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine in the ’70s, Bob specialized in candid, behind the scenes photo features. He toured extensively with the emerging punk and new wave bands including the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Patti Smith Group and Blondie. Bob has also worked with major rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Elton John, Aerosmith, Kiss and Alice Cooper.

In 1989, he documented the epic trip to Russia of the “Moscow Music Peace Festival” featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi. For many years Bob was the official photographer for the New Music Seminar held in New York City, covering dozens of aspiring new bands in the course of a summer week. This seminal body of work reflects a profound commitment and long-standing personal friendship with the artists. His wealth of personal experiences and uncanny memory provide the most illuminating and comprehensive histories of rock youth culture.

“All Dolled Up,” a DVD documentary made by Bob Gruen and Nadya Beck of their early ’70s video footage of the New York Dolls, was released in 2005 with a follow-up DVD, “Lookin’ Fine On Television” released in 2011.

In the spring of 2007 FAAP University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, presented an exhibition of Bob Gruen’s work. Titled ROCKERS, the exhibition attracted 40,000 visitors. The ROCKERS exhibition was also shown from April to July 2008 at Morrison Hotel Gallery on the Bowery in New York City.

Bob’s “Sid Vicious with Hot Dog” photo was acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1999 for their permanent collection.
The Experience Music Project, Seattle, acquired his “Clash Live in Boston”, “Tina Turner Multiple Image”, and “Bloody Sid Vicious” photos for their permanent collection in March 2012.

In 2011 award winning director Don Letts made a feature length film titled ‘Rock & Roll Exposed – the Photography of Bob Gruen’ including interviews with Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Alice Cooper, Yoko Ono, Billie Joe Armstrong and many more.

Bob was presented in June 2004 with MOJO Magazine’s prestigious Honours List Award for Classic Image in London and in November 2010 he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. For his many charitable contributions, Bob received the first ever John Lennon Real Love Award in December 2014 at the 32nd Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert.

More recently he has also photographed Green Day’s tour of Europe, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Jesse Malin, Ryan Adams, Courtney Love, The Strypes and other new popular acts.

Bob Gruen Interview by Carlo McCormick (originally posted in The New York Trash)