Mick Rock

Posted on 1st August 2020 in "Times Square"

On June 1, 2016, Mick Rock did a signing for the “unlimited” edition of his book, The Rise of David Bowie, at Taschen in New York City, and I went.

Of course I got an autographed book, but I also took the opportunity to ask him about the photos of Robin I’ve been theorizing he took at the same time as the back cover of the soundtrack album.

I showed him a page with the four photos printed on it, and there ensued a conversation that went more or less like this:

Q: Could I ask you a quick question?

A: Yeah. I don’t know that I can answer it…

Q: I know you took the first photo here. Did you take the other three as well? I know this is yours.

A: How do you know that? But it is mine.

Q: Because on the back of the album, it says, “Photo by Mick Rock.”

A: Oh, yeah, yeah, not many people now even know about the film Times Square.

Q: I’m the one.

A: No, I did take that one. Very good, I haven’t had it come up in years.

Q: Did you take these others?

A: No…

Q: Because these are the only ones where she’s got that guitar. And it is —

A: I could have… no, I shot them both together. That was a long time ago… They paid me a lot of money…

ASSISTANT: Just take the credit!

SECOND ASSISTANT: Take the credit for it!


A: [laughs] Anyway.

ASSISTANT: “Is it rubbish? It’s good? It’s mine!”

A: [laughs]

Q: Thank you very much.

So I guess we still don’t have a definitive answer, and won’t unless someone else manages to get one from him, or he finds and releases the originals from his archive. But he certainly seemed to be leaning in that direction, and so I feel more certain than ever that these shots, and any more that might possibly turn up, of Robin in her “Aggie Doon’s debut” outfit, and with that Kent guitar, and any shots that may surface of Trini in the poncho she wears during the final sequence that aren’t obviously shot during filming, were all shot by Mick Rock in a session that yielded the back cover of the soundtrack album, and for which he was paid a lot of money.

Me and Mick Rock

Your humble narrator with the man himself. If he had taken the photo, I might have looked cool too.


Would you like to know more?

From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE (songbook)
Times Square UK Press Kit (post 4 of 4)
Nicky Marotta in Limbo
Filmstar, Vol 1 No. 3, Thailand, August 1981


From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE [detail, back cover]
564px (W) × 800px (H), 96dpi, 239 kb (image)
Photo by Mick Rock
©1980 Chappell & Co.

[TIMES SQUARE UK Press Kit photo a]
1080 px (H) x 864 px (W), 96 dpi, 154 kb (image)

[Nicky with Her Kent]
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
862 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 338 kb (image)

inscription: [on reverse:] [handwritten in blue ink:] D+P. EAST 170 mm deep x 115 mm wide PA77
[handwritten in black ink:] ROBIN JOHNSON. 20

Filmstar Vol. 1 No. 3, 15 August 1981, back cover (magazine (periodical), AAT ID: 300215389)
25.9 x 18.9 cm. (work);
Filmstar Vol 1 No 3_back_cover_1080px.jpg
1080 px (H) x 777 px (W), 96 dpi, 679 kb


Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+


[THE RISE OF DAVID BOWIE, front cover], [Mick Rock’s autograph], photographed by Sean Rockoff, July 26, 2020
[Me and Mick Rock], photographed by one of Mick Rock’s assistants, possibly an employee at Taschen Store New York… now permanently closed… thank you for your service…


Film Review, Vol. 30 No. 10, October 1980

Posted on 1st February 2016 in "Times Square"
“‘I’d sung in a choir when I was 12,’ Robin chirps…”


Film Review, Vol. 30 No. 10, October 1980 page 1





Assuming that any periodical dated October probably hit the stands in September, here’s a British magazine devoting an entire page to Robin, a month before Times Square’s premiere, and four months before it would open in the UK.


Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p8, the first half of "Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music", dealing with Hazel O'Connor and <em>Breaking Glass</em>Full page advertisement for "Breaking Glass" (1980)

The article is the second half of a two-page spread entitled “Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music.” The first arrival is Hazel O’Connor, whose film Breaking Glass opens on September 21st according to an ad on page 41 (another reason to think the magazine was out before then).


The photo of Robin that accompanies the article is this one, which I believe to have been taken by Mick Rock at the same session that produced the shot appearing on the back cover of the soundtrack album. The photo on the magazine’s contents page is also from that same session. This may have been the only time they saw print.

The article isn’t attributed to any author. I can’t speak to the Hazel O’Connor portion, but the Robin half was composed entirely through clever editing of the press materials we’ve already seen, to make it look like an original interview. Here’s the text as it appears in the article; compare it with Robin’s bio in the Press Kit. (Robin doesn’t “chirp” in the Press Kit.)


America’s ROBIN JOHNSON in ‘Times Square’

R08IN JOHNSON also plays a rock star in a film bursting with New Wave sounds, this time an American film — the forthcoming Times Square — but unlike Hazel O’Connor (see opposite) Robin is still only in her mid-teens.

Director Allan Moyle, formerly an actor in films like Joe, Outrageous! and Montreal Main, searched high and low for his young star. With the assistance of an army of talent scouts, Moyle went to youth centres and punk clubs and even placed advertisements in newspapers in the hope of finding his leading lady.

A prospector finally spotted 15-year-old Robin smoking a sly cigarette on the steps of Brooklyn’s Technological High School. Despite the absence of any formal theatrical training — “I’d sung in a choir when I was 12” Robin chirps — Moyle signed her up immediately for the demanding role of Nicky Marotta, a 15-year-old street “delinquent” who dreams of becoming a rock star.

“We were looking for someone who was Nicky,” Allan Moyle explains, “but Robin’s definitely not that doomed child. Luckily for the picture she’s brought a lot more humour to the character than I had originally envisioned. Robin’s youthful innocence and energy buoy what might have been too much of a downer.”

Times Square, the first of four New York-based, multi-million dollar films to be produced by Robert Stigwood — already laughing all the way to the bank with Grease and Saturday Night Fever — is a contemporary drama about two very opposite youngsters yearning for the same dream: success at the top of the rock ‘n’ roll ladder. With a strong musical soundtrack performed by the likes of Patti Smith, Talking Heads and Tom Petty, Times Square takes over where Fame left off. and with a budget of $5½ million is the first New Wave-influenced film backed by a major studio.

“I was standing on the stoop at Brooklyn’s Technological High,” Robin recalls, “when a man gave me this card and said to call the number if I was interested in being in a movie. Well I just thought ‘Oh. another wise guy’, but gave it a shot.” The part of Nicky, a rebellious and spunky runaway, turned out to be a tougher role than young Miss Johnson had envisaged, calling for an intensive programme of voice lessons, singing tutorial and dance and movement classes, as well as performing on the roof of a 42nd Street theatre marquee, getting dumped in the polluted waters of the Hudson River (in December!) and having to chew a mouthfull of roses. “That was pretty disgusting. I’d never tasted flowers before,” Robin scowls.

Robin Johnson is a pretty girl displaying a keen sense of fun, as well as being both witty and talented. She also took to the rigours of film-making like a true professional.

But films aren’t the beginning and end-all of Robin’s life. “I hope Times Square does well, but it’s not the answer to my life, though I loved meeting and working with so many wonderful people. And I’d like to work with Allan again.” Let’s hope for our sakes that Times Square is the success Robin deserves.

Times Square is an EMI film co-starring Tim Curry as an all-night disc jockey and Trini Alvarado (from Robert Altman’s Rich Kids) as the timid 12-year-old whom Robin befriends.

I think that was the final mention of Tom Petty’s association with the movie.

Film Review was published by EMI Cinemas Ltd. Times Square was an EMI film in the UK, so perhaps it’s not surprising that their magazine would create an article from their own publicity materials. That’s what they’re for, after all.

Finally, here’s a better look at the photo from the contents page:Detail of the Mick Rock photograph of Robin Johnson from page 3 of Film Review, Vol. 30 No. 10, October 1980

Karen (DefeatedandGifted) wrote about this article in October 2011.



Film Review, Vol. 30 No. 10, October 1980;
UK EMI Cinemas Ltd.; 29.8 cm (H) x 21.3 cm (W) (work);
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p1_1080px.jpg (cover)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p3_1080px.jpg (contents)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p3_detail2_1080px.jpg (detail of contents page)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p8_1080px.jpg (“Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music”)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p9_1080px.jpg (“Two New Arrivals on the New Wave of Music”)
Film Review Vol 30 No 10 Oct 1980 p41_1080px.jpg (ad for Breaking Glass)
1080 px (H), 96 dpi (images)



From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE (songbook)

Posted on 24th December 2015 in "Times Square"

Songbook containing the sheet music of the songs comprising the soundtrack to the movie "Times Square" Cover text: From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE A Robert Stigwood Production Featuring Music Of SUZI QUATRO, THE PRETENDERS, ROXY MUSIC, GARY NUMAN, MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB, TALKING HEADS, JOE JACKSON, XTC, THE RAMONES, ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO, THE RUTS, D.L. BYRON, LOU REED, DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE, GARLAND JEFFREYS, THE CURE, PATTI SMITH GROUP, DAVID JOHANSEN


… is exactly what it sounds like, a squarebound book collecting the sheet music for all the songs appearing on the Times Square soundtrack album. This of course excludes “Dangerous Type” by The Cars, which although heard for quite a bit longer in the film than some of the other songs (“Grinding Halt” and “Pretty Boys” spring to mind), wasn’t included on the record and so didn’t make it into the songbook.


The cover looks unfinished, somehow… it’s the album cover extended vertically, but in my opinion the Times Square logo should have been enlarged… there’s just too much empty space there in the middle. Most interestingly, though, it’s not just the album cover, it’s the UK album cover, without Nicky’s Johnny LaGuardia pin. This continues on the inside: the first few pages of the songbook are larger versions of the photos that appear on the inner gatefold of the record cover, and again, it’s the set as they appear on the UK edition. Tim Curry is nowhere to be seen, his photograph replaced with a group of sign-wielding Sleez Girls. The song listing also contains the same typo as the UK album cover. The no-prize for identifying it is still unclaimed.


The pictures in the songbook are cropped differently from the ones in the album, generally showing more at the top and bottom and less on the sides. This is most visible in the tv-dropping shot, and in the Sleez Girls shot, where the songbook version loses entirely the girls holding the “I’m a Monster” and “T.V. Sucks” signs. The exception is the Times Square Theater marquee shot, which shows more of all four sides in the songbook.

For your convenience, here’s the text that appears in near-unreadable blue type on pages 3 and 4:

[Page 2]

TIMES SQUARE a contemporary drama with music, stars the brightest new talents of
Tim Curry, British performer best known for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Trini
Alvarado, who scored a remarkable screen bow in Robert Altman’s “Rich Kids,” and
introduces Robin Johnson, a dynamic 16-year old Brooklyn actress and singer in her
film debut.

TIMES SQUARE depicts the misadventures of two rebellious teenage girls, one from
an affluent environment, the other a product of the streets. Together, they flee from
their room in a neurological hospital, commandeer an ambulance and begin a series of
wild and bizarre escapades with their behavior reported by an all-night disc jockey,
played by Tim Curry, who urges them on as their antics turn them into minor media
celebrities. Dubbed “The Sleez Sisters,” their flight from authority of any kind is
climaxed in a nerve-tingling dramatic conclusion atop the marquee of a Times Square
theater as hundreds of their teenage followers below cheer in tribute.

[Page 3]

The TIMES SQUARE soundtrack is one of the most exciting ever compiled. It presents
a unique anthology of original songs written expressly for the film plus rock classics by
major contemporary artists from both England and the United States. Featured artists
are Suzi Quatro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe
Jackson, Patti Smith, XTC, Garland Jeffreys, The Cure, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The
Ruts, Desmond Child and Rouge, Marcy Levy and Robin Gibb, D.L. Byron and David
Johansen. “Rock Hard,” “Help Me!,” “Pretty Boys,” “Take This Town,” “Damn Dog,”
“Flowers of the City,” and “Your Daughter Is One” are just some of the original titles
from the film.

Rock classics include “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Life During Wartime,” “I Wanna Be
Sedated,” and an amazing new rendition of the Supremes’ hit “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

The motion picture and the brilliantly compiled soundtrack recording portray the
colorful and restless segment of a young, contemporary generation and its music.

Unfortunately, the printing of the photos in the songbook isn’t all that great. The record cover versions of the photos can be seen in the US Soundtrack post; the Tim Curry-replacing Sleez Girls photo can be seen in the UK Soundtrack post.

If you’re hoping to see the sheet music here, sorry; there are some things that would almost certainly be an indefensible violation of copyright and which I will not post here, such as the actual soundtrack music, the entire film, and, yes, any song’s complete sheet music, let alone the entire songbook. I will post one page of it, just as an example. As I’ve noted before, the first page of the sheet music to “Damn Dog” is one of the few places that Norman Ross’ writing credit appears. The first four measures therefore are his riff.


Finally… one last longing look at the magnificent photo by Mick Rock that adorns the back cover of the album and songbook. As I noted last time, there are three other photos I know of where Robin is in that outfit, holding that particular Kent guitar. Mr. Rock has not as yet replied to my inquiry about them.

Photograph by Mick Rock of Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta from the back cover of the songbook containing the sheet music of the songs comprising the soundtrack to the movie "Times Square"

Merry Christmas!



From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE; songbook (AAT ID: 300026432), 9 in (W) x 12 in (H); 90 pp. (work); front and back covers, pp 1-9, 47 displayed


©1980 Chappell & Co.


Forward Into The Past

Posted on 15th December 2015 in "Times Square"

Back issues of Screen International are surprisingly hard to come by. That’s why I’m posting this so far out of the chronological order I’ve been trying to adhere to… I didn’t have this until last week (as of this writing). And I don’t even have the entire issue; I just have the upper left corner of page 44, but that’s enough. This “People and Places” column comes from the 8-15 March 1980 issue, and so takes the place of the April 23 Aquarian article as the earliest published piece of Times Square publicity I know of (not counting the article from Radio and Records, for which I don’t know the actual date).

[EDIT, January 29, 2017: I now have a full copy of the issue, Screen International No. 231. Yay.]

Clipping from page 44 of Screen International, 8 March 1980, containing photo of Robin Johnson with caption.  Text:  ROBIN JOHNSON (left) makes her debut in producer Robert Stigwood’s new film “Times Square".  The 15-year-old New Yorker was literally discovered standing outside her school!

The photo is a cropped version of the one used in Photoplay’s “Last Word” column in May, although severely cropped. I find it interesting that the one fact used to try to generate interest in the film is not about the film itself, but is the earliest description of Robin’s “discovery” on the steps of Brooklyn Tech.

Robin would indeed be 15 for another month and a half after this article saw print.

A much more impressive piece of publicity from Screen International is the two-page center spread from the 21-28 June, 1980 issue, which I don’t have, but fortunately for all of us is in Karen Dean (DefeatedandGifted)’s collection and is on display at her Times Square Fandom blog:

Scan by Karen Dean - original file at https://defeatedandgifted.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/ts_rj_centrefold/

It was published squarely between the above-mentioned “Last Word” column and the Northeast Ohio Scene article, and as Karen notes, a full seven months before Times Square’s UK release.

This fully-realized piece of art, Nicky overlaid on a Times Square collage, was only ever used here and, nine months later, as the Australian movie poster. (That poster was reproduced on the inside insert of the 2000 Anchor Bay DVD, and the image is on the cover of the current UK DVD release.)

The photo of Robin came from the same session that produced this shot and the shot on the back cover of the soundtrack album. The Kent guitar — a cheap replacement for the cheap guitar used in the movie — is a dead giveaway.

The album photo is one of the few that has a credit.

Mick Rock.

I think it’s safe to assume Mick Rock took all the “Kent” photos. It’s tantalizing to think that there may exist one or several rolls of photographs of Robin, in that outfit, against a black background, taken by Mick Rock.



“People and places,” Screen International, 8-15 March 1980, p. 44, 1980; article (AAT ID: ID: 300048715), 7 5/8 in (H) x 6 3/4 in (H) [portion of page] (work); 800 px (H) x 606 px (W), 96 dpi, 191 kb (image)
ROBIN JOHNSON (left) makes her debut in producer Robert Stigwood’s new film “Times Square”.
The 15-year-old New Yorker was literally discovered standing outside her school!


ts_screeninternational_jun80_RJnet_shrunk_version.jpg (image): reduced-size version of ts_screeninternational_jun80.jpg (image), digital image of Screen International (London, UK, n. 246, pp 12-3) (work), from Dean, Karen. “Times Square / Robin Johnson Centrefold!” “Times Square” Fandom. N.p., 29 Jan. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.


Nicky Marotta in Limbo

Posted on 8th December 2014 in "Times Square"

Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta, 1980 B&W publicity photograph

Black limbo, that is. This photo isn’t one of the “Kodak paper” series, but I’m going through these photos in the order they’d appear in the film (since I don’t know the order in which they were shot), and this one comes next. Except…

You know how I’ve been saying the pictures are from alternate takes that don’t actually appear in the film? This one doubles that. Triples. First, there’s no background. This is one of the very few shots taken only for publicity and not at a recognizable shooting location. Robin is wearing the Aggie Doon costume, so she’s dressed for the world premiere of “Damn Dog” at the Cleo Club, but she’s carrying her cheap Kent that she lost when she was arrested in the opening scene, and not the expensive Rickenbacker she plays with the Blondells. Also, her hair isn’t slicked back like Elvis like it is in the film. This is a glamor shot of Nicky, nothing more, nothing less.

This photo shoot produced at least four shots: this one; another which along with this one was published in Film Review in October 1980; the image that was used on the Australian movie poster and is currently on the UK DVD; and the picture on the back cover of the soundtrack album. (I’ll get to those in time.)

The back of this photo has crop measurement marks indicating the actual size of the picture. My guess is that was to help in laying out whatever page someone may have been planning to print it on, but I don’t really know.

Frame capture from "Times Square" (1980), brightened considerably to try to enhance detail in the guitar Nicky's playing

I’ve lightened all hell out of this dark alley to try to see the guitar better.

The most interesting thing to me about this picture is, that’s NOT Nicky’s guitar. In all the photos from this shoot, the Kent’s big K logo is plainly visible, it has one pickup in the lead position close to the bridge, and the fretboard has big rectangular inlays. The guitar she plays in the film, however, has no logo, has one pickup in the rhythm position closer to the neck, and the fretboard has little round dot inlays. The pickguard is also a vastly different shape, as is the body itself, and the tuning peg for the B string is missing. It’s a cheap beat-up guitar all right, but it might not even be a Kent. (If you can identify it, please chime in.)


“Nicky with Her Kent”
8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
862 px (H) x 1080 px (W), 96 dpi, 338 kb (image)

inscription: [on reverse:] [handwritten in blue ink:] D+P. EAST 170 mm deep x 115 mm wide PA77
[handwritten in black ink:] ROBIN JOHNSON. 20

853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 343kb(image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured and enhanced 2014-11-22
Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+