SEATTLE - The early 1970's saw the rise of a rock star named David Bowie. And photographer Mick Rock was there. Dozens of those images are now on display here at the Museum of Pop Culture.
"He said, 'Mick sees me the way I see myself," recalled Rock.
Rock first met Bowie backstage before a concert in 1972. The two struck up a lifelong friendship.
"And I remember him saying, 'I like your name,'" Rock remembered. "And I said, 'It is my name.' Because his wasn't, and I was well aware of that."
The former David Jones invited Rock to follow his every move, from makeup sessions to undressed moments backstage.
Rock said, "I've got more intimate moments. Some of those we do not show."
He documented Bowie's birth as the outrageous Ziggy Stardust, and his friendships with other musical groundbreakers.
"I mean the likes of him, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, people wanted to lock them all away," said Rock.
The musician was constantly refining his look, even removing his eyebrows in a moment of inspiration.
"He had shaved them off one day on the American tour," Rock recalled. "I remember him popping down in the morning and saying, 'So what do you think of that, Mick?' And I'm looking at him thinking he does look a bit different. Talk about an alien."
Rock cherishes the everyday moments the most. One photo depicts a shared train ride, shared meal, and shared secret with guitarist Mick Ronson.
"There's like a conspiratorial look between them, like they know they've got the tiger by the bollocks," Rock said.
Another catches Bowie in the middle of an afternoon nap.
Rock added, "With his fly undone so he can relax his stomach."
And there's a shot of the rock star, down on his knees in playful prayer.
"He's just faking it for me," Rock said.
One repeating detail now stirs regret.
"Always with cigarettes," Rock observed. "I mean, his whole career. I think he smoked himself to death.
Every image reminds him of the friend, the artist, who can never be replaced.
"It was beyond being a blow," Rock said. "It made me think, in a certain way, about the passage of time and the fact that everybody dies."
Bowie passed away from liver cancer last year at the age of 69. But his music lives on. And so do the images of a young star captured by the eye of Mick Rock.
"He was a true artist, and he was articulate, and he was a beautiful man."
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