Book Review: ‘Rock Dreams,’ by Guy Peelaert and Nik Cohn

Rock Dreams

This collection of Guy Peelaert’s paintings (with brief accompanying text by Nik Cohn) is a classic.

The artist’s idea was to portray musicians in appropriately fantasized settings. So Bo Diddley appears as a gunslinger while Eddie Cochran stands outside a soda shop eyeing the girls who pass by and the Everly Brothers are with their dates at the drive-in. The Drifters, meanwhile, are under the boardwalk and the Stones are cavorting with 10-year-old girls. Brian Wilson, the reclusive genius, sits cooped up in his room with a piano and a pile of beer cans.

A series of four paintings portraying Bob Dylan’s public images is a highlight. First, we see “Hobo Bob” frying fish by a lake, then “New York Bob” in Washington Square Park with Allen Ginsberg,  Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and others. Next comes “Superstar Bob,” aloof in furs and shades in the back seat of a chauffered limo, and finally “Country Bob,” eating country pie around the kitchen table with his wife and kids.

Combining elements of truth about both artists and audiences with a good deal of humor, these paintings are truly inspired.

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