Discovering John Byrne Again And Again.

I keep seing pictures in magazines and on telly of an old guy with  the best moustache and beard in the World!
He dresses just like me and I keep thinking to myself:
(a) Who is that guy?
(b) What does he do?
(c) That is exactly how I hope to look in later life.
It turned out to be playwright and artist John Byrne and although I didn’t know it, I’d been a great admirer of his work most of life!

Everything fell into place for me when John Byrne appeared in the recent BBC documentary on Gerry Rafferty.
“THERE’S THAT GUY!” I shouted at the screen.

I’ve only got one Gerry Rafferty album (“Can I Have My Money Back”) and I’ve always really liked the front cover but silly old me, I had no idea that John Byrne was the artist behind it.
I thought to myself: “If I was Gerry Rafferty, I’d want John Byrne’s artwork on all of my albums forever!”
…And that seems to be what Gerry did!

Can you believe how beautiful those album covers are!?
Looking through them all felt really familiar to me even although I don’t own any of them. It was like I’d seen them before but until Gerry Rafferty died, his albums were surprisingly hard to find in Glasgow so I think I can rule that one out.
The album covers reminded me of being really small and after some digging around on the internet, I found out why.

When I was young my folks used to take me to the People’s Palace in Glasgow where these paintings hang:

So there you go. it seems that I’ve been looking at these paintings all of my life and never once bothered to find out about the artist.
Shame on me but at least I made the connection in the end.
I’ve spend all week investigating John Byrne and as the days go on, I find myself thinking: “No way! that was him too?”

I remember being in a shop a few years ago and staring at the downright glorious DVD artwork for “Tutti Frutti”.
Yep, that was John Byrne too! Today I feel really stupid because John Byrne also wrote “Tutti Frutti” and I never even knew that.

My latest John Byrne surprise concerns The Beatles’ White Album.
I’m a huge Beatle fan and I have shelves of bootlegs and one of them is called “A Doll’s House”.
“A Doll’s House” was a sort of working title for “The White Album” and John Byrne was commisoned for the album cover which of course wasn’t used in the end but it’s on the bootleg I have and it was eventually used for “The Beatles Ballads”

I feel like I’ve been looking right at John Byrne’s work with my eyes closed for 25 years!
I learn something new every day.


My pal Natalie just got in touch to say that Mr. Byrne designed some posters for some plays which her theatre group performed. Also, John Byrne happened to write the plays.
I should’ve known.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A truly talented guy ! Is there anywhere I can get a book about him or his work?

  2. There surely is my friend.
    What you want is a book called ‘John Byrne Art And Life’.
    Amazon stock it and here’s the link:

  3. A recent doc (from a brill series) on the BBC, 🙂

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