Meet Bob Gruen: Bugle Player for the Clash and Photographer of Rock Royalty

The most important thing about Bob Gruen is that he played bugle for the Clash. The second is that he shot a bunch of the most iconic rock and roll photos of the 20th century. John Lennon hired him as his personal photographer in the 70s, which resulted in that picture of Lennon in the New York City shirt that your dad probably has framed somewhere. He also took the picture of Sid Vicious bleeding from a cut up chest that you probably have unframed somewhere, and on one special night in 1975 he took a picture of Mick Jagger’s giant penis.

Bob Dylan, 1975

Gruen got into music photography in the mid-60s while living in Greenwich Village. He befriended bands that were part of the burgeoning folk scene at that time like the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Magicians, and in 1965 shot his first concert—Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. Soon after Ike Turner personally selected Gruen to photograph Tina Turner, and from there his career exploded. Bob photographed rock and roll gods like the Stones, Bowie, and Zeppelin in their prime, but it was through his gig as John and Yoko’s photographer that he became involved with a group of mascara’d gentlemen who called themselves the New York Dolls.

Bob was the first photojournalist to document the Dolls in any real way. He took some of the earliest pictures of the band, and in 1973 went along with them on a West Coast tour. Now, Gruen is getting ready to release a documentary about that tour from the video he shot while on the road with them called New York Dolls, All Dolled Out. I called up Bob because I am jealous of his life and wanted to hear all about it.

New York Dolls on the Real Don Steele Show, 1973

VICE: How did you first meet the New York Dolls?
John Lennon was working with the Elephant’s Memory band, and they were managed by the same company as the New York Dolls. So I was bringing pictures to their office when one of the guys was like, “You have to see this other band we manage.”

I went down to the Mercer Arts Center and was totally blown away. Over the next few weeks I took pictures and made some videos of them. We worked together for the next couple of years—they’re like family.



  1. trespass3 reblogged this from vicemag
  2. radio-rotten reblogged this from vicemag
  3. acharmingdevil reblogged this from duchessrattails
  4. duchessrattails reblogged this from vicemag
  5. flip-flop-flower reblogged this from vicemag
  6. paradoxlouie reblogged this from vicemag
  7. thisclassneverends reblogged this from joestrummerlover
  8. joestrummerlover reblogged this from vicemag
  9. parodymanson reblogged this from psihiatriya
  10. theronsonnronsonexperience reblogged this from vicemag
  11. pheeltherush reblogged this from vicemag
  12. snzk-snzk reblogged this from vicemag
  13. jack-slims reblogged this from vicemag
  14. freakysugar reblogged this from vicemag
  15. isucker reblogged this from pacientecero
  16. sirjuliantheprotector reblogged this from noiseymusic
  17. fcha reblogged this from vicemag
  18. dameadelphia reblogged this from vicemag
  19. irkajavasdream reblogged this from psihiatriya
  20. psihiatriya reblogged this from pacientecero
  21. neilmasseyblog reblogged this from vicemag
  22. croah-antonia reblogged this from vicemag
  23. theghostoftomorrow reblogged this from vicemag
  24. richardbillick reblogged this from vicemag
  25. angealrotten reblogged this from not-so-typical-nerd