I did this drawing when I was nineteen and working as a Commercial Artist in the Special Services Art Group at Mather and Crowther Advertising Agents just the other side of Waterloo Bridge in the Aldwych.
I was also doing evening classes at Croydon Art College for Life Drawing and Design and also a Calligraphy course. Of course the James Dean drawing was nothing to do with the Art College or their courses or indeed with my work in Advertising.
It was a project I set myself for my own enjoyment, seeing as I did specialize in studies of the human head, particularly in profile view [privately rather than professionally].
Being a teenager I needed someone to identify with and chose figures like James Dean for their reputation as rebels, because I was a bit of a rebel myself in my own diffident way. I was nothing like him in fact, although I did wear casual jackets and denim jeans.
Teenagers like myself were very into heroes like Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel because they epitomized a dual role endowing power to right wrongs when required, which was often the case when most of us teenagers wore old-fashioned suits and laced shoes to work and then got ourselves up in flashy ties, bright sports-jackets, drainpipe trousers and suede casuals for weekend jaunts to the local ballroom. Although, except for a brief spell around the age of sixteen, that was not my particular getup.
My particular dual identity as I entered my twenties was that of a nondescript nine-to-five worker, who emerged like a vampire in the evenings to appear on stage as the singer of a rock-and-roll band, at one time also sporting a sparkling blue-lamé jacket and white shirt with a continental-style bow-tie resembling deep velvety shadows underlining the shirt collar. I even had a pair of elegant gold-plated cuff links shaped in the design of an electric Gibson or Gretsch Tennessean, which I still have today.
I also had a stage name. I shouldn’t tell you what it was because it was so corny you’ll probably take the piss, but I will; it was Chas Deane. Of course it was a lot less macho and a touch more twee than James Dean but it fitted the emerging times so well it was not out of place then.
More recently I’ve even been told by blues-bassist Jules Dawton that I must have had an identity-crisis to be both Chas and Dave. Actually the name was chosen for me. The band I sang with as Chas Deane was called the Castaways and to save any confusion with Tony Rivers and the Castaways who seemed to suddenly appear in the charts well after we’d already chosen the name Castaways and had by then an established reputation and gigs under that name; lead-guitarist Mick Gennoe’s father supplied my alias from an artiste of an earlier generation.
Slick-picking country and rock-and-roll guitarist John Edmed asked, “when are you going to cast-that-lot-away and join a decent band like the Partisans?” He lived in Warlingham Road, which was round the corner from Mick Gennoe’s house in Foxley Road, where I met him one day while rehearsing. I accepted the offer and joined his band as lead vocalist. Prior to that they had such a high turnover of singers that they wanted somebody they considered reliable and dedicated.
I know this because I asked John, “why do you want me to join your band?” although they were such a musically outstanding and popular band that I’d wanted to join them before he’d even asked me. Several quite successful years of gigs, social occasions and recordings followed. Although they had two regular residencies at the time I joined them, their engagement list was otherwise quite sparse and having accepted the post while already busy with other gigs, I did not want to sit around twiddling my thumbs when I could be out busy singing. So I found myself ambitiously chasing and acquiring a whole string of fresh gigs for the band, particularly as they had so much potential that to not utilize it while the opportunity arose and we were still young would be such a regrettable waste.
I first saw John Edmed play when I was only 20 and he was a mere lad of about 17 at the Endeavour, a Scout Hut in Melfort Road, Thornton Heath. He was pretty amazing even then. A year later in 1963, I used to follow the Partisans regularly at their once-monthly St Stephen’s Hall gig in Winterbourne Road, also in Thornton Heath and run by Norbury-based Architect Robin Redsull who lived at Pollards Hill.
What impressed me most about the Partisans, despite being a vocalist, was their version of the Ventures instrumental, 2000 Pound Bee, in which they’d slightly loosen the valves in their Watkins amps to produce the distinctive fuzzy sound, long before fuzzboxes and distortion-units came into general use. That number and the way the Partisans presented it, really grabbed me.
And I much preferred the more subtle instrumental line-up they had in those days, with Pete Hanaway [spelled with one ‘n’, he informed me] and John King, than the one they finally ended up with. Often, original is best.
Anyway, my James Dean portrait was done in those far-off days, which seem as if they were set in a completely different lifetime and are hardly more than a distant yet still very vivid memory, seeing as the world has changed so much that it’s almost like an alien planet these days.
The James Dean drawing shown here isn’t the original, it’s an exact copy, which was drawn in pencil and then inked in. Goodness knows what happened to the original or why I made a copy. I think it was because I was exhibiting in an outdoor art sale at the time and while I wanted to sell my artwork, I didn’t want to lose it, so I just made copies of some.
Still, that doesn’t explain why I’ve ended up with a copy, as I would’ve kept the original and sold the copies.
But there it is, and nonetheless, shown here is the remaining copy of my James Dean portrait.
Beneath the featured James Dean portrait I’ve included a slideshow of four documents as listed here:
Art Scholarship Cover
Art Scholarship Detail
Creative Dept Mather & Crowther
Mather & Crowther Tel List
Click on each image in the slideshow to enlarge and view.
Place cursor over image to reveal centrally-placed arrows to move back & forth through slideshow. Alternatively, click on (play slideshow) in the description beneath to automatically scan through the images.
Dave Draper, June 2014.
Guitar Man: Located in ART under Portrait and Caricature
John Edmed: Located in ART under Portrait and Caricature