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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 1999
© Ivan Durrant/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 1999.78

Currently on display: Gallery Two (Contemporary Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Ivan Durrant (age 52 in 1999)

Johnny O'Keefe

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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This exhibition showcases portraits acquired through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patrons, L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC.

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We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.