Gruen was born in New York City. He began photographing rock stars with Bob Dylan and served as John Lennon's personal photographer during his time in New York City. Gruen is best known for his photograph of Lennon wearing a New York City T-shirt. Other notable celebrities and rock bands photographed by Gruen include Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Led Zeppelin, Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, Joe Strummer, The Who, and lately Green Day.
I took this in Toronto in 1977. I'd known Debbie Harry for a couple of years. I remember the first time I got a call telling me to go and take pictures of a band called Blondie because the singer was an unbelievably beautiful girl and they were going to be big. Blondie were opening for Iggy Pop on their first major national tour.
When they were getting ready before the first show, Iggy Pop came in to say hello. I saw Iggy and Debbie talking, so I asked: "Can I get a picture of you two together?" We stepped into a bathroom by the dressing room. Instead of just standing there, he put his arm round her, feeling her up; she started licking his chest. A great music picture is all about attitude – and Debbie and Iggy have pure attitude. They just look cool.I was using a built-in flash for the first time. It had just been invented. Before, you had to calculate the power of the flash . . . it was difficult to get a properly exposed colour picture.
Those scars you see on Iggy's chest were because he had a tendency to throw himself into his work. He'd literally throw himself into an amplifier or into the audience. I was totally taken with Debbie; I still am today. In my mind, she's the Marilyn Monroe of that generation. Someone has to be the most beautiful girl, and she's the one.
Joan Jett - Sunset Marquis, Los Angeles CA 1978
Joe Perry and Steven Tyler - New York, 1976
Debbie Harry On Tour Bus, ENGLAND 1980
David Johansen, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone playing Pinball @ CBGB's, 1972
The Clash in the Dressing Room about to go on stage, London 1979
Stiv Bators and Friends and CBGB's, 1978
The Heartbreakers outside Johnny Thunders' apartment, New York, 1975
David Johansen at Max's Kansas City, the other club in New York for musicians to hang out, 1980
Johnny Thunders and David Johansen, LA, 1973
New York Dolls getting ready to go onstage in a Santa Monica Bathroom, 1974
Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry backstage, Torronto, Canada, 1977
Ramones on NYC Subway, 1975
Ramones Outside CBGB's, 1975
Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol, 'Love You Live' Party, Trax, NYC 1977
Keith Richards, Tina Turner & David Bowie, Ritz NYC 1983
Sid Vicious, New York Diner, 1978
David Johansen and David Bowie, Max's Kansas City, NY 1974