Painter and Drummer John Douglas Brings Art of Rock ‘n’ Roll to Austin

Rock drummer John Douglas, after years of touring with rock ‘n’ roll heavyweights, is using his front-row seat in the music world as a canvas to bring rock and art together in Austin.

SXSW may be canceled, but John Douglas’ art show is still on

A lifelong drummer and lover of the percussive arts, Douglas describes himself as “hopelessly addicted to all things percussive.” His prowess on the drums has earned him time on stage with iconic rock bands, including ZZ Top, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Slash and Aerosmith.

His years of being immersed in music, and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, has inspired his work as a talented visual artist. His paintings of rock icons like Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl, Bono, The Rolling Stones, and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry have earned him the moniker, “the man who paints rock and roll.”

Artist and Drummer John Douglas
John Douglas, a drummer in his own right, is one of the world’s most sought-after drum kit artists. [Photo courtesy of John Douglas]

Painting inspired by music, and vice-versa

In an interview with Artistic Fuel this week, Douglas said music and visual art have always gone hand and hand, each feeding on the other. Every band he’s been a part of needed artwork of some kind, whether logos, flyers, show posters or album covers.

“A long time ago I wanted my drums to look cool and unique so I started painting them. This lead to me painting drums and guitars for so many bands, from Aerosmith to ZZ Top,” he said. “This ultimately lead to me working for many of these bands as a drum tech. And while working for these bands I have had the opportunity to fill in for the drummer in an emergency.”

He performed three shows with ZZ Top, two shows with Slash and more than 30 shows with Aerosmith last year, including the Grammys.

Douglas brings up a saying he’s heard since he was a kid: Paint what you know. “I have lived, breathed and performed rock and roll my entire life. It’s what I know and it’s what I love.”

Douglas added that, for him, “art and music are so thickly intertwined that they are at times indistinguishable from one another. They inspire each other. It seems art opens the door for music and music opens the door for art. It’s a constantly revolving door.”

See Drummer John Douglas’ work for yourself

You don’t have to search too hard to catch a glimpse of Douglas’ extraordinarily detailed paintings. They are on album covers, in galleries, and in Hard Rock Cafes, hotels, and casinos around the world.

Douglas’ current project brings him to Austin, where his artwork is featured at the Russell Collection gallery during what was the city’s recently-canceled SXSW event. Russell Collection Fine Art boasts a collection of art “that includes over a thousand original works, presently making it the premier visual arts gallery in central Texas. The gallery is committed to infusing its permanent holdings with fresh offerings of contemporary artists.”

Dubbed the “High Performance” Fine Art Tour, the exhibit runs through March 15.

Douglas will appear in-person on March 14th from 6-9 pm to talk to visitors about his paintings and the merger of his passion for visual art and music.


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