Bob Gruen is one of the best-known and respected group photographers in the history of rock and roll. From Muddy Waters to the current Stones; Elvis to Madonna; Bob Dylan to Bob Marley; John Lennon to Johnny Rotten, he has captured the music scene for more than 40 years in photographs that have gained worldwide recognition and that already form part of our musical historical archive.
Bob Gruen began to tell stories with pictures the moment that his mother bought him his first camera while he was still a child. He soon became his family’s official photographer, thus learning to capture the most beautiful, interesting moments without getting involved in the action.
After a childhood with different cameras and John Lennon’s move to New York in 1971, Gruen became the personal photographer and friend of both him and his wife, Yoko, immortalising—through his photos—both his work life and his private moments.
In 1974, he took what are now iconic pictures of John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt in front of the Statue of Liberty while making the peace sign. In fact, it is one of the most popular photos of Lennon.
At the same time, Bob Gruen worked with great rock groups such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Elton John, Aerosmith, Kiss and Alice Cooper. Apart from all that, the fact that he was in charge of the magazine, Rock Scene, in the 70s enabled him to go on long tours with up and coming punk and new wave bands of the time including the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Patti Smith Group and Blondie.
In 1989, he recorded the epic journey to Russia of the Moscow Peace Festival with Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi. For many years, Bob was the official photographer of the New York New Music Seminar, which is why he not only took photos of rock and roll celebrities and stars, but was also surrounded by emerging artists and talented young people for many years.
Bob has always been characterised by the wealth of personal experiences he has lived through that—put together—make up a professional profile that is hard to equal. This was true to such an extent that, right from the start, he managed to get ever-more important jobs. He was a different kind of photographer given that musicians felt comfortable with him as his job was also his great passion. He did not annoy or interrupt them, did not make them pose for unlifelike photos, and simply waited for the right moment to work the shutter of his camera and to click the button—at the precise moment—to take what would be and is an historic photo.