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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Johnny O'Keefe "A little bit louder now..."

1999
Ivan Durrant

synthetic polymer paint on board (frame: 129.0 cm x 98.5 cm, support: 122.0 cm x 91.5 cm)

Johnny O’Keefe (1935–1978) was Australia’s first rock ’n’ roll star. At a time when radio stations were reluctant to promote local talent, O’Keefe was the first Australian rock performer to score a chart hit with the 1958 song ‘Wild One’, paving the way to success for other Australian musicians. A raw, energetic and exuberant performer, O’Keefe recorded 30 chart hits, but his signature tune remained Shout, containing the oft-repeated words ‘a little bit louder now’. In 1959 he presided over the television show Six O’Clock Rock and he was later host of The Johnny O’Keefe Show. Despite his success, the Wild One’s personal life was tumultuous. He suffered periods of depression, was prone to violent outbursts, and in 1960 his face required extensive reconstruction after a near-fatal car crash. Drug abuse, drinking and overwork contributed to his death from a heart attack at the age of 43.

Ivan Durrant was about thirteen years old when he first saw O'Keefe on television. At the time Durrant had a 'rocker' hairdo and fancied that he resembled O'Keefe. He painted the singer as he imagined him at the beginning of his career - an innocent young boy just entering the world of rock 'n' roll. "A little bit louder now" is a line from the song Shout.

Commissioned with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 1999
© Ivan Durrant/Copyright Agency, 2022

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Ivan Durrant (age 52 in 1999)

Johnny O'Keefe

Subject professions

Performing arts

Supported by

The Gordon Darling Foundation (36 portraits supported)

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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