The good and the dismal, from Marilyn Manson to The Rolling Stones to Ringo Starr...
GIGWISE
11:03 2nd October 2008

On a week when a Pete Doherty blood painting went under the hammer, Gigwise is paying tribute famous names in music who have delved into the art world through painting, doodling or picking up a camera. The list features dismally bad artists like Ringo Starr and Moby and those supremely talented with a brush like Ronnie Wood, Thom Yorke, Marilyn Manson and Graham Nash. Click through to see pop stars, rock stars and music legends who have mixed music and art... 

  • Ronnie Wood: 'Bob Dylan' – The legendary Stones guitarist has a history in art; he attended Ealing Art College in West London before joining the band. In recent years he has embraced art and hosted a number of exhibitions which predominately feature paintings of The Rolling Stones and other musical icons. We won't mention a certain 20-year-old Russian waitress. Ahem.

  • Captain Beefheart: 'Crepe and Black Lamps' - As the above 1986 work shows, Captain Beefheart's paintings are highly abstract, but highly regarded by critics; indeed the majority of them fetching huge sums under the hammer. Like a number of people on this list, Beefheart paints under his real name Don Van Vliet.

  • Frank Sinatra: 'Fly Me To The Moon' - In the 1970s the iconic actor and singer turned part of his Palm Springs home into an art studio so he could concentrate on his paintings. His work directly echoed the style of abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko and often carried the names of some his most famous songs.

  • Dee Dee Ramone: 'Goop!' - The late Ramones bassist's series of paintings were characterised by their bright colours and bold style. This piece, entitled 'Goop!', was painted in 2001 – just a year before he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 50.

  • Grace Slick: 'White Rabbit In Wonderland' – Since retiring from the music business, the former Jefferson Airplane singer immersed herself in visual art. Her favourite subject is animals and more specifically the white rabbit, as embodied in the Jefferson Airplane song of the same name – a track which the above painting with its Alice in Wonderland themes, directly alludes to.

  • David Bowie: 'Child of Berlin' – Painted whilst Bowie was in Berlin recording 'Low', 'Heroes' and 'Lodger', this highly bleak painting perhaps reflects the singer's mental state in the mid-to-late seventies when he was overcoming his drug addictions. An extremely striking artwork, just like his Berlin Trilogy.

  • Paul McCartney: 'Big Face Mountain' - Perhaps the most technically talented Beatle with a brush, Macca started painting proper in the Eighties after admitting that he'd been interested in art since childhood. He has often been compared to Dutch abstract expressionist painter Willem De Kooning, as the above image justifies.

  • Micky Dolenz: 'Injection' – As well as being a musician, actor, television director and theatre director, the Monkees singer is also skilled artist. Colourful abstract art is his forte, often with contemporary themes thrown into the meld.

  • Marilyn Manson – The controversial goth-rocker is a well celebrated artist, who paints largely macabre and dark works in watercolours. His works have been the subject of exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic. This is Gigwise's favourite – a three faced image of Manson's nemesis Jesus Christ.

  • Graham Nash: 'Shattered Croz' – With an extremely fitting title, 'Shattered Croz' depicts Nash's bandmate behind a multi-lensed piece of glass. Nash largely takes photos of subjects that “deal with the human condition” and has received considerable critical acclaim. In 1990, a number of his photos were auctioned at Sotheby's in New York.

  • Moby - As well as using his website to spout his political views, Moby also posts cute, child-like animations on it. The majority feature the same character (a self-portrait??) as shown above. The cartoon even cropped up on the sleeve to his mammoth hit 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?'

  • Paul Simonon: 'Falling Matador' ' Former bassist with The Clash and now a member of The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Paul Simonon's artistic works have been the subject of eight exhibitions around the UK. His latest works, which were exhibited in London this year, are based on a trip to Spain where he studied bull fighting.

  • Syd Barrett: 'Untitled' – After leaving Pink Floyd, Barrett concentrated on his passion for painting alongside music. This untitled piece of two headed lions threatening a family, however, dates from before he was with Pink Floyd, aged just 17. It recently went up for auction at Christies in London.

  • Johnny Cash: 'Flight' – The late country star painted this abstract image of a bird, 'Flight', back in 1993. Since his death, prints of his artwork have become more sought after and collectable.

  • Thom Yorke – The Radiohead singer has been collaborating with artist Stanley Donwood for over a decade under the monikers 'The White Chocolate Farm', 'Tchocky' and 'Dr Tchock'. Together they have created iconic Radiohead album and website artwork, while a book called Dead Children Playing compiled some of their most famous pieces and was published in 2007.

  • Pete Doherty: 'Bloodworks' – In 2007 Pete Doherty unveiled a bizarre series of paintings entitled 'Bloodworks', which (as you have probably guessed) were painted in his very own vein juice. The above self-portrait is perhaps the most striking piece in the collection.

  • Tony Bennett: 'Brotherhood' – The legendary crooner paints under his real name Anthony Benedetto and has garnered significant acclaim for his works. This piece was purchased by chat show host Oprah Winfrey for her private collection.

  • John Entwistle: 'Guitar Gods' – The Who bassist's works were largely pen and ink drawings of his close friends. Like most of his pieces, 'Guitar Gods' (featuring Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend), has an almost teenage doodle quality to it.

  • Janis Joplin: 'Self Portrait' - Rumour has it that in Janis Joplin's youth she would perform live so that she could get some money together to buy art materials. The late singer was a skilled artist, but it's this child-like sketchbook self-portrait that she's perhaps most famous for. Her sister Laura commented about the picture five years ago: "You get a feel for who she was and how she felt about that hat in just a few strokes. And to me, that's what the technique of being an artist is all about."

  • Ron Asheton: 'Commercially Dead' - The Stooges guitarist seems to perfectly embody the hardcore ethos of his band, this punky painting seemingly has a pop at corporatism. A keen painter, he has amassed a number of works.

  • Bob Dylan: 'Self Portrait' – Whilst on tour there's nothing Mr Zimmerman likes more than to sketch, in fact some of his drawings were featured in a major exhibition in London and Germany last year. The above self portrait is perhaps his most memorable work, having been used on the front cover to the 1970 album of the same name.

  • Ringo Starr: 'Face and Flowers' – Of all the musicians on this list, Ringo Starr's artwork is easily the worst, but equally the most hilarious. In fact, it's laughably bad. Face and Flowers looks like something a kid would draw on Microsoft paint. On the plus side, at least it's memorable.

  • Jim Morrison: 'Untitled' – Way before John Squire mimicked Jackson Pollock's 'drip paintings' with The Stone Roses, the young Jim Morrison was creating his own pen drawings which took direct inspiration from the abstract impressionism movement.

  • Bill Wyman: 'Bill Fisheye Self-Portrait In Vence' – The Rolling Stones bassist has used his skill as a photographer to make an important, unique document of the band. Just like Ronnie Wood, his works largely focus on the Stones and their families, aside from forays into landscape photography.

  • Bono: Peter & the Wolf series - A few years back, the U2 frontman illustrated a series of prints based on the classic children's tale 'Peter & The Wolf'. Ever charity conscious, all of the proceeds from sales of the signed prints goes to the Irish Hospice Foundation.

  • John Squire: 'Three Figures' – While with The Stone Roses in the 1980's and early nineties, Squire's artwork was heavily influenced by Jackson Pollock. Since the demise of The Seahorses in 1998 he has been able to focus solely on art and has become highly successful in the field. This 2008 piece is made from encaustic, wool and silk on hessian.

  • Donna Summer: 'Madame D' - In her autobiography the disco singer admits that painting can be much more gratifying than performing live saying: 'The difference between painting and performing for me is that at the end of a concert, there is nothing left except a sense of elation that diminishes with time. With painting, whatever I put down on the canvas is there when I wake up the next day and forever.'

  • Stevie Nicks: 'Rhiannon' – The Fleetwood Mac singer started painting angels when her best friend Robin was diagnosed with leukaemia. 'Rhiannon', her most famous piece, was started while Robin was in hospital and completed after her death. Nicks commented about the vibrant colours in 'Rhiannon': “I finished her in brilliance upon Robins death - because Robin was brilliant.”

  • Robert Smith: 'Self Portrait' – Painted in 1990, this self portrait from The Cure singer is a pretty spot on likeness with his voluminous, messy hair and moody gothic features perfectly depicted.

  • David Byrne: 'What Is It?' - The multi-talented Talking Heads singer has an extremely varied artistic palate, with installations, paintings, powerpoint images and prints just some of the mediums he utilises. The above laminated ink jet print dates from 2003.

  • Joni Mitchell: 'The New Orleans Laundromat' – The singer has said in interviews that she considers herself “a painter first and a musician second” and that she got “derailed” in her career by “circumstance”. This piece dating from 1972 was loosely based on a photograph Mitchell took of a reflection in a window.

  • Brian Eno: '77 Million Paintings' – Just like his music, the former Roxy Music man's artwork is forward thinking and revolutionary. Not technically a painting at all, '77 Million Paintings' is a software program that creates randomised images based on combinations of light patterns. 77 Millions alludes to the number of pictures it can technically create.

  • Jimi Hendrix: 'Genesis' – While on the road with his band, aside from composing new songs Jimi Hendrix was an avid painter. Most of his works, like 1969's Genesis, were pen and watercolour creations.

  • Jerry Garcia: 'Bird Land' - This abstract painting by the legendary Grateful Dead singer was a posthumous tribute to influential jazz musician Charlie Parker who died in 1955 at the age of 34.

  • John Lennon: 'Self Portrait' – Of all John Lennon's drawings, his self portrait is one of the most enduring. A simple Quentin Blake-esque pen sketch, it went on to feature on the 1988 greatest hits collection 'Imagine' and became immediately synonymous with the late Beatles star.

  • Eric Burden: 'Hollywood Woman' - One of his most famous pieces is a painting of Bob Marley, but we like The Animals man's pen and ink sketches the best, including the one above complete with its partially clothed ladies and Burton looking slightly smug.

  • Andy Summers: 'City Like This' – The Police guitarist documented the band's time on the road through photography during their heyday in the late seventies and eighties. A book, aptly titled 'I'll Be Watching You 1980-1983', was published in 1984. The above image is lifted from a 2005 exhibition which explored everyday life.

  • Bryan Adams: 'Amy Winehouse' – In our humble opinion, Bryan Adams' award-winning photography is far more impressive than his musical output. He has photographed a galaxy of famous stars over the years including Mick Jagger, The Who, Take That and Morrissey, while his works have been the subject of more than 20 major exhibitions at prestigious galleries around the globe. This Amy Winehouse shot was taken in 2007.

  • Tico Torres: 'All That Jazz' – The Bon Jovi drummer has been exhibiting his works since 1994 and has proved a deft hand with the brush. Not only that, but he has also explored ceramics, bronzes and even glass work.

  • Michael Cartellone: 'The Carousel' – The current Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Cartellone has had his art exhibited in various cities around the United States. This realistic painting of a carousel almost come to life is our pick of his extensive back-catalogue.