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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, 1975 (printed 2011)

Lorrie Graham

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 50.1 cm x 40.4 cm, image: 40.0 cm x 26.8 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 have a chart hit with the 1958 song 'Wild One'. A raw, energetic and exuberant performer whose nickname 'the Wild One' reflected his antics both on and off stage, O'Keefe recorded 30 chart hits including the legendary Shout. In 1959 he compered the television show Six O'Clock Rock and later hosted The Johnny O'Keefe Show. Despite his public success, O'Keefe's personal life was tumultuous. He suffered periods of depression and his first marriage ended because of his violent outbursts; in 1960 a near-fatal car crash necessitated reconstructive surgery to his face. A pattern of dynamic performance leading to overwork, depression and breakdown led to his death from a heart attack at the age of forty-three.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

Accession number: 2011.92

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Lorrie Graham

Johnny O'Keefe (age 40 in 1975)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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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.