John Lennon and Bob Gruen

Bob Gruen is one of rock & roll’s finest photographers. Over the years, he has photographed many of the greats including The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, The New York Dolls and most famously John Lennon. Gruen met Lennon in 1971. They became both friends and business associates with Bob becoming  the former Beatles personal chronicler of his New York years. Many of Lennon’s most iconic images from this period including the rooftop photos with John wearing a New York City t-shirt and his holding up a peace sign while standing in front of the Statue of Liberty  were taken by Bob Gruen.

In 2005, Gruen published an excellent book, John Lennon: The New York Years, collecting the best of his Lennon photographs. I highly recommend any Lennon admirer adding it to their bookshelf.

Below are a few photos from the 1974 rooftop session. The first photo is the now iconic New York City t-shirt shot. The second photo is an interesting behind the scene polaroid of Gruen photographing Lennon during that now famous session. Finally, one of Gruen’s contact sheets from the shoot.




If you are a photographer like me or a Lennon admirer, there is a very good documentary on Bob Gruen that covers his entire career. It called Rock and Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen. Unfortunately, it’s not on DVD, however, it does show up on cable occasionally.

As John Lennon once said, “You shoulda been there.”

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