For more than 40 years, Bob Gruen’s name has been synonymous with rock and roll.
From taking early photos on tour with Ike and Tina Turner and capturing the early CBGB/Max’s Kansas City scene, to hanging out with John and Yoko and covering current stadium rockers such as Green Day, Gruen has always been at the right place at the right time. As Alice Cooper says, what makes Gruen’s work so memorable is that “he always got the money shot.”
Gruen covered the New York City music scene, taking photographs that have gained worldwide recognition – Led Zeppelin to the Rolling Stones, Elvis to James Brown, Bob Dylan to Bob Marley and John Lennon to Johnny Rotten. Shortly after John Lennon moved to New York in 1971, Bob became John and Yoko’s personal photographer and friend, capturing their working life, private moments and creating two iconic images – John Lennon wearing the New York City t-shirt and, standing in front of the Statue of Liberty making the peace sign.
These years of close friendship and respect for the many artists he photographed set the stage for the exhibit, ROCKERS that will be on display from Thursday, April 13 – Wednesday, May 26, hosted by Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The exhibition will be on display in the URBN Center Annex’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery (3401 Filbert St.) and is free and open to the public Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. The exhibition, which encompasses 124 photographs including 65 contact sheets demonstrating the pre-digital selection process and a “Teenage Bedroom” installation, is also supported by the Kal and Lucille Rudman Institute for Entertainment Industry Studies.
Gruen will appear at the Pearlstein Gallery on Thursday, April 13 at 5-7 p.m. for the opening reception of ROCKERS. On Wednesday, May 3, at 6 p.m. music journalist and rock and roll correspondent Rona Elliot will join Gruen for a conversation about his career and book signing for his monograph "Rock Seen".
Gruen’s photographs take the viewer backstage, on tour and into intimate moments – bearing witness to the rise of rock and roll and punk. Gruen’s photography has been used extensively in print, and has been featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. His work is included in the collections of The National Portrait Gallery in London and The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, and his photographs have been exhibited at MoMA in New York, The Brooklyn Museum, Sotheby’s S/2 Gallery in London, The Beatles Story Museum and various museums, galleries and businesses across Asia, Europe, North & South Americas.
His iconic images—including John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt (1974), Led Zeppelin standing in front of their airplane and Sid Vicious eating a hot dog (in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London)—have appeared worldwide in every form, from magazine covers, posters, T-shirts and even postage stamps. He is the author of 15 books including his monograph Rock Seen; John Lennon: The New York Years; See Hear Yoko; New York Dolls and a new special limited edition of The Clash. Gruen was profiled recently in a Showtime documentary Rock ‘n’ Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen.