Dec. 9, 2011 -- intro: Time was, you had to really know a celebrity to photograph her with her guard down, licking her shoulder, a la Madonna Louise Ciccone (she still had all three names) in 1980.
Before the days of cell phone cameras and Twit-pics, Mick Rock was there -- backstage, in hotel rooms, off-hours, "getting into all kinds of mischief" -- with rock 'n' roll's most iconic figures. Queen, David Bowie, Blondie, the Sex Pistols, Joan Jett: He snapped them all, and then some.
More than a dozen of his portraits, new and old, have been collected into an exhibition that will travel to W Hotels across the country as part of the Symmetry Live series. ABCNews.com asked Rock for the stories behind the photos at show's opening reception at the W New York Downtown.
"She hadn't even made a record. Somebody brought her up to my studio, and he would bring young people up, some not for any purpose other than to say hi. She had aspirations, and I just took a few pictures."
"[The pose] wasn't my idea. There was no "Baby" then. She was very brazen. She's had an amazing career since that day, and I take my hat off to her, because she broke a lot of ground in a business sense, for women. She took control of her destiny and she set the trail for people like Lady Gaga."
quicklist: 1title: Lady Gaga and Bono, 2009text: "You can see the similarities with Madonna and Gaga. I can see similarities with Gaga Ziggy Stardust, too, with David Bowie. [Madonna and Gaga] are both very talented, God bless them. And they're both Italian. There's something about these Italian girls." media: 15113292
quicklist: 2title: Kate Moss, 2002text: "I've got tons of pictures of her a bit like that. I actually did a shoot for V magazine, and it was going to be Ziggy Stardust meets Debbie Harry meets Johnny Walker. We did a ton of pictures. This is not a shrinking violet, and she looks fabulous. That's the belt that Lou Reed wore for 'Rock 'n' Roll Animal.' I said, 'I'm not going to shoot you like a model. I'm going to shoot you like the rock 'n' roll animal that you are, Miss Moss.'" media: 15113282
quicklist: 3title: Peter Gabriel, 1973text: "It was a long time ago. He's into surrealism, as you can tell by the photograph. It was a ridiculous reverse Mohawk, long on the sides and the chunk out the middle." media: 15113327
quicklist: 4title: Joan Jett, 1982text: "That's Joanie, what can you say? With her and Debbie Harry, was I spoiled in my years. I saw her about 18 months ago, and she still looks like that. But this picture defined her. I saw her as a female Elvis when I shot that." media: 15115701
quicklist: 5title: Cee Lo Green, 2010text: "I don't drink. I said, 'OK, Cee-Lo. You take the martini.'" media: 15113214