Really Big Portfolio

Shown below is my full collection of group drawings.

Quick navigation to a specific portrait:

The Beatles

The Beatles Pencil Portrait
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Published statistics from the R.I.A.A. (Record Industry Association of America), Apple records and E.M.I. in July 2012 posted worldwide Beatles record sales at 2,303,500,000 units, indisputably making the group the best selling musical act of all time. Within individual market territories, most notably Britain and the United States, their closest rival is Elvis Presley although even then, the margin involved is considerable.

Whilst The Beatles have continued to gradually cede individual single and album sales statistics to other mainstream acts, their overall popularity is unlikely to be superseded by another artist. This fact is attributable in equal measure, to both the white heat environment of 60’s Britain in which they emerged, and the rapidly expanding multi entertainment leisure industry available to twenty first century consumers.

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The Shadows

The Shadows Pencil Portrait
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It’s a stratocaster, the first to be owned by anyone in the UK, played through a Meazzi Echomatic tape delay and a Vox AC30 amp. Using mostly the guitar’s bridge pickup, but picked near the neck, the man who would be Buddy Holly palmed the vibrato arm to impart his trademark twang.

Commencing with toms and a cleanly strummed A minor chord, the rhythmic/lead interplay on ‘Apache’ between Bruce Welch and Hank B. Marvin would herald The Shadows’ declaration of independence from Cliff Richard, and inspire more than one generation of young Englishmen to purchase a guitar.

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The Who

The Who Pencil Portrait
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It should have been a night to savour: December 3. 1979 – The Who, seemingly resurrected after the death of Keith Moon, live in concert at the Riverside Coliseum, Cincinnati, yet by the end of the evening, events would signal the end of ‘festival seating’.

The origin of the disaster in which eleven fans, aged between 15 and 27 would die, could be traced in part to the practice of general-admission seating, as some 7,000 concert-goers rushed to secure first-come, first-served spots at the edge of the stage. As many as 14,770 of these so-called festival-style tickets had been sold for the Cincinnati performance at $10 each, with just over 3,575 reserved seats. There were also too-few doors and too-few ticket takers to handle the sudden influx of fans. Others, including the local WCPO-TV station, quickly cited drug use among the waiting throng, with some overdoses reported.

Despite these early deaths and fearing a riot, the newly installed Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell, decreed that the evening concert should proceed. Neither Pete Townshend nor Roger Daltrey were reportedly told of the horrific events that had unfolded just outside until after their main set was completed. The band memebers, quite understandably, were devastated.

A Riverside tragedy was waiting to happen – a similar situation having ocurred just over three years earlier at an Elton John concert. A 1976 item from the Cincinnati Enquirer quoted fire captain James Gamm as expressing deep concerns over the practice of festival seating — adding that he feared bodies could “pile up in a major catastrophe.” Thereafter, first-come, first-served ticket sales would be banned in Cincinnati, even as 33 lawsuits piled up. All were reportedly settled by July 198, according to the Enquirer, yet no criminal charges were ever filed.

Townshend can still barely reflect on the night, his 2012 sparse autobiographical recollections littered with distortions and factual inaccuracies. One suspects he’s still suffering.

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The Trotters

The Trotters Pencil Portrait
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He’s the ultimate opportunist; the indomitable wide-boy; the eternal optimist with an unflagging sense of enthusiasm. ‘You wait Rodney – this time next year we’ll be millionaires!’ he can be repeatedly overheard, reassuring his younger brother in their worst moments.

Our hero can ‘turn more than a bob or two’ and we should not rush to judge. For millions, all the qualifications, job prestige, and so called trappings of success belie more than one generation of ‘wannabees’ simply living ‘champagne lifestyles on lemonade money.’

Dell Boy deals in cash, not credit. When he’s ‘on the ups’ he knows he is!

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ABBA

ABBA Pencil Portrait
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Be in no doubt that Neil McCormick is not an admirer of Sweden’s best selling export since the Volvo car. Commenting in “The Daily Telegraph” in 2008 on the eve of Mamma Mia premiering on the big screen, he was moved to write:

“I hate Abba. I hated them first time around, when their cheesy disco pop with its clod-hopping rhythms and banal, repetitive, linguistically challenged choruses made them singalong family favourites. And I hate them even more now, when the flattening effect of nostalgia has lent a spurious retro-credibility to their formulaic Euro drivel.”

“People talk about Abba as if they were on a par with The Beatles, when all they did was grab one little corner of the Fab Four’s harmonic oeuvre and pillage it for all it was worth. Sure, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson knew how to craft a pop song. The verses are catchy, the bridges prepare us for lift-off, the choruses are relentless and everything falls neatly in the right place. But they were musical one-trick ponies: the Ramones for squares, a spandex Status Quo. Just because they created hook-lines so insistent it would take invasive surgery to remove them from your cranium does not make them classic songwriters.”

Well I’ve always sort of liked them. I’ve seen the film, the stage show, and would never dream of turning them off when they’re on the radio. And unlike some mean spirited journalists, I always liked Agnetha’s backside. Inviting maybe, but fat? Never! But the thing is – I’ve never bought one of their discs and I’d never, ever, go out of my way to consciously put them on a CD machine. So for me, they fall into some sort of musical limbo land. Why? That’s that’s not an easy question to answer, although one can start with those early outfits. Looking like they’d been kicked off the set of “Star Trek” never bode well for establishing credibility with the N.M.E. Aah well……………

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