Dudley Edwards

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From Wikipedia:

Dudley Edwards (born 1944, Halifax, Yorkshire) is an English painter, draughtsman and applied artist specialising in illustration, textiles, ceramics, murals and photography.


Edwards was born in Halifax, England to Muriel and Jack Edwards and was educated at Halifax School of Art 1960 – 62 and then Bradford College of Art 1962 – 65. He then moved to London, becoming known as an “undisputed protagonist of the London rock scene.” He became a significant figure in the London art scene during the 1960s and beyond. His work over the years apart from painting has included graphic design and illustration, murals, textile design, photography, film direction and ceramic arts.


Edwards first came to prominence in the mid-1960’s during the Swinging London era, and quickly confirmed his legendary credentials as co-founder of pioneering pop art collective ‘Binder, Edwards & Vaughan’ aka BEV – a collective consisting of artwork by Douglas Binder and Edwards, with David Vaughan acting as their manager/agent. Binder and Edwards produced vibrantly painted furniture:

In 1965, aged 20, the Guinness heir Tara Browne commissioned BEV to paint his newly acquired AC Cobra (AC 289 Sports) – ‘to give it the treatment’. Brown subsequently introduced BEV to the Beatles. Tragically, Tara Browne was killed in a car accident in 1966 at the young age of 21 (driving a different car). It was his death was the inspiration for “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles.

The Tara Browne AC Cobra was exhibited at the Robert Fraser Gallery in Mayfair and subsequently was the subject of a photo-shoot by Lord Snowdon for both ‘Paris Match’ and ‘Look’ magazines.

One of the most notable pieces that BEV painted was Paul McCartney’s “magic” piano. The piano now resides in his music room in London. According to McCartney writing the songs ‘Getting Better’, ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘Fixing a Hole’ on the decorative piano “added to all the fun of it”. The psych-painted instrument is said to have also inspired the ‘Hey Jude’ album’s kaleidoscope aesthetic. BEV were selected to represent the ‘Swinging Sixties’ at Madame Tussauds, in recognition of their artistic contribution to that era. The piano was described by Micky Dolenz of The Monkees as “the freakiest thing you’ve ever seen”.

Group murals appeared everywhere from the boutiques of Kings Road and Carnaby Street to the British Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67.

1967 also saw Edwards painting murals in the homes of Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, living in their houses for six months.

The collective were renowned for their ground-breaking light shows, including ‘The Million Volt Light & Sound Rave’ at The Roundhouse in London. This multimedia art, light and sound installation featured the only known public presentation of the ‘Carnival of Light’ sound collage created by Paul McCartney and John Lennon during recording sessions for their Sgt Pepper album.

The group disbanded in 1967, although their ‘architectural work positioned [them] at the forefront of cutting edge Art and Design [that] would go on to inspire the Graffiti and Street Art movements that would develop years later.’ Despite their short existence, between 1965 and 1967, the group was described as being ‘The Beatles of the art world.’ […]

In June 1966, Paul McCartney moved into his new house at 7 Cavendish Avenue in St. John’s Wood, London. On the top floor, he created a music room, where he stored many different instruments, including a small Alfred E. Knight piano.

A friend, Tara Browne, introduced Paul to David Vaughan, a member of the pop-art collective BEV (the initials of Douglas Binder, Dudley Edwards and David Vaughan). Browne had commissioned BEV to hand-paint his AC Cobra MK3, and Paul was impressed with the results. He asked Vaughan and his colleagues – including Dudley Edwards – to paint his Knight piano in psychedelic colours.

In 1967, Dudley Edwards painted a mural in Paul’s house, and also in Ringo Starr’s.

It was a Knight piano that I had them paint, a small upright; they have a short string length, they’re more like cabaret pianos but they’re very easy, the best of that type. So they did my piano, which is still my magic piano.

Paul McCartney – From “Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

It was around this time [Sgt. Pepper’s] that Paul McCartney had indicated to his friend Tara that he would like Doug and I to paint his piano. Not just any piano, but the one upon which Paul composed many of his classics.

Dudley Edwards

I wrote ‘Getting Better’ on my ‘magic’ Binder, Edwards & Vaughan piano… One raised the lid and one heard this magic sound… Of course, the way in which it was painted added to the fun of it all.

Paul McCartney – From Dudley Edwards Page (godfreytownsendmusic.com)

Dudley Edwards painting Paul McCartney’s ‘magic piano’, UK, 1966
From Paul McCartney: The Lyrics – The British Library (bl.uk) – Paul at home with his original ‘Magic Piano’. ©Mary McCartney

Last updated on May 5, 2024


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