Gallery of Dead Rock Stars

Last week I completed a painting of Frank Zappa that I began in high school, over thirty years ago. I hung it up in my office along with the acrylic painting of John Lennon and the large watercolor of John Cipollina, both of which were begun about the same time as Frank, but completed in the past few years. This has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I am terrible at finishing things… all kinds of things. So, I thought I would work through some unfinished projects, one by one, and see if I could develop a habit of completing whatever I start.

So, why do I call these three the Gallery of Dead Rock Stars? Well, when we lived in Maine, Denise had taken my unfinished art out of storage and nailed it to the exposed framing around the family room “down cellar.” Sue and Mark were visiting and she was surprised to learn that I was once an aspiring artist. She asked who the subjects were and I realized they were all dead… they were dead rock stars. So, that’s when I came up with the concept.

As I thought about it a little more, I remembered that I had begun a painting of another rock star at about the same time. It was a large oil of Steve Winwood from a photo, taken by a friend at a Traffic concert we went to. I was experimenting with airbrush, “floating” Mr. Winwood in mid-air ala Magritte. As I reflect on it, it was really very good but I was stressing out over it. It became a turning point for me as I crumpled it up and walked to the trash can at the curb and stuffed it in the barrel. I walked away from art and didn’t return for 30 years. Anyway, I think I may have saved Mr. Winwood’s life by not painting him. Everyone else I painted died young. Even in the portrait of John Cipollina, you can see the back of Greg Elmore — he’s still alive. Creepy, eh?

Actually, I’m not superstitious at all. It’s just a strange coincidence. And, if you are concerned about the little boy in the pencil drawing next to Frank, don’t be. First of all, it’s a drawing – not a painting. More importantly, little two-year-old Sam is not a rock star, so he’s safe.


  1. Donna Webster said:

    David and I are really impressed with your talent Bo

    February 24, 2007
  2. Diane Thorne said:

    Bo, those really are some amazing pieces of art you created. And kudos for going back to them yrs later to finish!! Keep it up! 🙂

    February 24, 2007
  3. I really like the Frank Zappa one. I have always like Steve Windwood’s voice. I liked him much better as part of Traffic vs. on his own. He got sort of Bubble gum-pop when he went out by himself. “Bring Me a Higher Love” case in point.

    February 25, 2007
  4. pietyhill said:

    Thanks for the nice comments…

    Diane, that was sure fun seeing you on the webcam last night. Denise was masking her excitement… “did Diane’s computer come with that?” She totally wants one now, but she wouldn’t dare let on. I expect a few more coy references to it and then I’ll have to get one. I like the space shuttle effect… it looks like you’re talking to someone in outer space.

    February 25, 2007
  5. Diane Thorne said:

    boy, that WAS fun! Didn’t expect to see YOU guys! It was like you were right there, in the next room, or in my computer!!! We need to do that EVERY night! hehe… Then it won’t feel like we’re so far away 🙁 Now I need to tell Camille to get a acct so we can use the microphone. Let the fun begin!…over and out

    February 26, 2007

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