Bob Gruen is one of the most well-known and respected photographers in rock and roll. From John Lennon to Johnny Rotten, Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones, Elvis to Madonna, Bob Dylan to Bob Marley, Tina Turner to Debbie Harry, he has captured the music scene for over 40 years in photographs that have gained worldwide recognition.
Shortly after John Lennon moved to New York in 1971, Bob became Lennon’s and Yoko Ono's personal photographer and friend, making photos of their working life as well as private moments. In 1974 he created the iconic images of John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt and standing in front of the Statue of Liberty making the peace sign—two of the most popular of his Lennon images.
As chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine in the 1970s, Bob specialized in candid, behind-the-scenes photo features. He toured extensively with the emerging punk and New Wave bands including the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Patti Smith Group and Blondie. Bob also worked with major rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Elton John, Aerosmith, Kiss and Alice Cooper.
In 1989, he documented the epic trip to Russia of the "Moscow Music Peace Festival" featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi. For many years Bob was the official photographer for the New Music Seminar held in New York, covering dozens of aspiring new bands in the course of a summer week. This seminal body of work reflects a profound commitment and long-standing personal friendship with the artists. His wealth of personal experiences and uncanny memory provide the most illuminating and comprehensive histories of rock youth culture.
All Dolled Up, a DVD documentary made by Bob Gruen and Nadya Beck of their early '70s video footage of the New York Dolls, was released in 2005 with a follow-up DVD, Lookin' Fine On Television released in 2011.
That same year, a Publisher's Weekly review of Gruen’s book John Lennon, The New York Years, stated, "….Gruen is THE world's best rock and roll photographer…from the legendary shot of Lennon on a rooftop clad in the now iconic New York t-shirt to a heart-wrenching shot of a young Sean Lennon curled up in Yoko's bed not long after John's murder, both Lennon's and Gruen's geniuses are exhibited here."
In the spring of 2007 FAAP University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, presented an exhibition of Bob Gruen's work. Titled ROCKERS, the exhibition attracted 40,000 visitors. The ROCKERS exhibition was also shown from April to July 2008 at Morrison Hotel Gallery on the Bowery in New York City.
Bob's Sid Vicious with Hot Dog photo was acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1999 for their permanent collection.
The Experience Music Project, Seattle, acquired his Clash Live in Boston, Tina Turner Multiple Image, and Bloody Sid Vicious photos for their permanent collection in March 2012.
In 2011, award-winning director Don Letts made a feature-length film titled Rock & Roll Exposed—the Photography of Bob Gruen including interviews with Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Alice Cooper, Yoko Ono, Billie Joe Armstrong and many more.
Gruen was presented in June 2004 with MOJO Magazine's prestigious Honours List Award for Classic Image in London and in November 2010 he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
More recently Gruen has photographed Green Day's tour of Europe, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, Iggy Pop, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Jesse Malin, Ryan Adams, Courtney Love and other new popular acts.