‘Icon: Music Through the Lens’: Kurt Cobain’s Last Shoot & More Rock History on Film


If, as the Rod Stewart song says, “Every picture tells a story,” then the shots captured in this six-episode tour of rock photography history spin unbelievable yarns.

Each hour of Icon: Music Through the Lens focuses on a different aspect of the job, from shooting concert and backstage footage, record art and magazine covers to the collectible value of the form and the place of these images in social media. It adds up to a unique way to make a living, built by trust and the power of kismet.

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Photographer Jesse Frohman understands. In the premiere (above), he recalls the day in 1993 when Kurt Cobain came by four hours late for a planned Central Park shoot that would become the artist’s last before his death eight months later.

“He showed up, oddly enough, with a bag of clothes under his arm,” Frohman says of the kooky couture the Nirvana frontman wears in the rushed shot, taken in a hotel conference room, that captures the sad and elusive grunge visionary. He believes Cobain arrived just in time for fate to take a hand. “When I got the film back…I knew I had something really special.”

Icon: Music Through the Lens, Series Premiere, Friday, July 16, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)