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For years, artists have created work in celebration of public figures and celebrities. Musicians, in particular, are popular subjects-of-choice. Here, we take a look at some sculptures depicting musicians that have made a mark on the world and have later been immortalised in bronze.
TUPAC AMARU SHAKUR
Considered one of the most influential musicians of all time, Tupca was killed in 1996 in a drive-by shooting, aged just 24.
There are a couple of statues immortalizing Tupac. His mother Afeni Shakur commissioned artist Tina Allen back in 2005 to create a 7-foot bronze statue in the Peace Garden at the Tupac Amaru Shakur Centre of the Arts in Georgia. The sculpture depicts Tupac dressed in a suit and carrying his poetry book, ‘The Rose That Grew From Concrete’, penned when he was only 19.
Another statue of the American rapper stands in MARTa Herford in Germany. Artist Paolo Chiasera created the concrete statue back in 2007.
Founder and frontman of American rock band The Doors, Jim Morrison died in France on July 3, 1971 at the age of 27. He now lies in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris where stands his headstone and bust, carved by artist Mladen Mikulin.
The grave had become a shrine for the singer where fans would travel from around the world to pay their respects. Over time, the bust of Morrison had been damaged and defaced and in 1988 it was stolen. Later in 1990, the grave had been totally destroyed.
In 1991, his parents, who rejected their son’s rock and roll lifestyle, finally visited his grave. They refurbished the grave in the months coming up to the 20th anniversary of his death. They installed a new bronze plaque on the headstone with a Greek inscription that reads: “Faithful to his spirit.”
A life-size, bronze statue of English singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse was created by artist Scott Eaton and erected in 2014. The statue stands in Camden Town in London where Winehouse lived.
Amy Winehouse was widely known for her soul music and deep, expressive vocals. During her career, Amy received 23 awards from 60 nominations.
Like Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse joined the 27 club on 23rd July 2011 after losing a battle with alcohol and drug addiction.
MICHAEL JACKSON AND BUBBLES
Inspired by the triangular composition of ‘Pieta’ by Michelangelo, Jeff Koons produced this life-size, gilded, porcelain rendering of singer Michael Jackson and his pet chimpanzee, Bubbles back in 1988.
There are three editions of the sculpture, one is located at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, another in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and one in Athens.
“If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux” Freddie Mercury fell in love with Montreux in Switzerland and decided to settle there, where he recorded six albums with his band, Queen.
A statue of the Queen frontman was designed by the late Czech sculptor Irena Sedlecká and erected in 1996, five years after his death. The bronze statue stands on the shore of Lake Leman and depicts Mercury, fist aloft, his other hand holding a mic stand. He is dressed in the yellow military jacket and red-striped, white trousers Mercury wore at the Wembley concert in 1986.
Montreux has become a place of pilgrimage for his fans over the years and the city now hosts the Freddie Celebrations Days, an annual event celebrating the legacy of Freddie Mercury on his birthday, 5th February.
Sculptor James Earl Reid was initially commissioned to create the seven-foot monument of jazz singer Billie Holiday back in 1971 in Baltimore, Billie Holiday’s home town. However, the project grinded to a halt when the money he was promised by City leaders dried up.
Fast-forward to 2009 and finally, Reid’s vision was realised when the city donated $76,000 to replace the pedestal with 20,000-pound of solid granite, incised with text and two sculptural panels. One panel depicts a lynching and is inspired by her song, ‘Strange Fruit’. The other panel takes inspiration from the song, ‘God Bless the Child’ and features an image of a black child, with the umbilical cord attached. Referencing the rope used for lynching.
James Earl Reid praised Billie Holiday back in 2009, stating that: “She gave such a rich credibility to the experiences of black people and the black artist.”
Another artist to join the 27 club after an accidental overdose in 1970, Janis Joplin was immortalised back in 1998. The five-headed bust was designed by American sculptor, Douglas Clark and is located at the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur in Texas.
Janis Joplin had made a name for herself with her electric stage presence and deep soul voice. She performed with other famous musicians and paved the way for other female musicians in the industry.
Located in Memphis, Tennessee on Elvis Presley Plaza, the bronze statue of Elvis Presley. The artist wanted to encapsulate the younger Elvis Presley, the way he looked and dressed circa 1955 when he would walk the streets of Memphis as an emerging superstar, before he reached the height of his fame and before he was given the epithet: ‘King of Rock and Roll.’
The statue is actually a second version. The original statue was created by Eric Parks and unveiled in 1980 and in 1994, it was relocated to the downtown Memphis Tennessee Welcome Centre. The statue had seen better days having been worn down by the elements and tampered with by fans.
In 1997, sculptor Andrea Lugar unveiled the current statue of Elvis, standing 9.5 foot tall and featuring the iconic curled lip, a wave in the hair and a guitar in hand.