Advertisement

Legendary Scottish writer and artist John Byrne dies aged 83

File photograph of artist and writer John Byrne <i>(Image: Martin Shields/PA)</i>
File photograph of artist and writer John Byrne (Image: Martin Shields/PA)

THE legendary Scottish writer and artist John Byrne has died aged 83.

A statement released through the Fine Art Society in Edinburgh said he died "peacefully" on Thursday with his wife Jeanine by his side.

He was best known for his Slab Boys trilogy of plays and the TV show Tutti Frutti.

Byrne was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire and grew up in the Ferguslie Park housing scheme.

He attended St Mirin's Academy and later studied at the Glasgow School of Art.

Byrne designed record covers for Donovan, The Beatles, Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty, who was also brought up in Ferguslie Park.

The National:
The National:

He designed the cover of a 1980 Beatles compilation of the band's ballads.

His work is held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

In a statement, the The Fine Art Society said: "Born in Paisley and trained at the Glasgow School of Art, his own image was a signature of Scotland.

READ MORE: John Byrne to be honoured in £22m Paisley Town Hall rooms makeover

"He recreated it over and over in the self-portraits which made his finely cultivated appearance instantly recognisable, wreathed in cigarette smoke, his hooded, often sleep-deprived eyes twinkling with self-aware amusement. 'Paisley Buddies are, to a man and a woman, total oddballs. I should know, I’m one of them,' John said once.

"But it was an oddity seen through a prism of the fantastic and John made magic out of himself."

In 2017, he revealed he had been conceived as a result of his grandfather's incestuous abuse of his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia and died in Dykebar Hospital aged 74.

Byrne was married twice, first to Alice Simpson, who he divorced in 2014 before marrying Jeanine Davies the same year.

He was also actor Tilda Swinton's partner for many years, with whom he had two children.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said Scotland had "lost a cultural icon" with Byrne's death.

He said: "There are not the words to do justice to the talents of John Byrne. An extraordinary playwright, artist and designer.

"Scotland has lost a cultural icon, and the world is less bright with his passing."

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "So terribly sad to hear of the death of John Byrne, supremely talented playwright and artist, one of Scotland’s most important cultural voices of modern times, and the loveliest of men.

"I was thrilled in 2017 when he agreed to do the illustration for my First Minister Xmas card. My condolences to his loved ones."