Melissa Maerz
August 26, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Ramones’ early subway rides to CBGB’s? John Lennon’s final years in New York City? The day Gene Simmons wore clogs? Photographer Bob Gruen was there, and he’s got these gritty snapshots to prove it. Capturing 40 years of his now-famous images, his book Rock Seen offers a disarmingly natural look at icons like Blondie and Cher before the era of the posed rock-star portrait kicked in. ”To re-create these photos now, you’d need three months of preparation,” says Gruen. ”In those days, you just went out and did it.”

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