There are many anecdotes about John Belushi and his various antics. Dan Ackroyd is fond of recounting the habit John had of finishing a recording session, leaving, and just turning up at the homes of friends or strangers; taking advantage of their hospitality and staying for days. This habit was the basis for a Saturday Night Live sketch, a spoof horror, called "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave'. Bill Murray & Jane Curtain play a couple terrorized by Belushi. He takes over their home, their TV and rummages through their kitchen looking for food. Art imitating life!
John Belushi and Ronnie Wood were good friends. When Ronnie was living in Mandeville Canyon, California, John was a regular guest, often just turning up and staying as long as he could. John was smitten with Jo, Ronnie's girlfriend and future wife. Ronnie writes in his autobiography of waking up from dozing on the sofa, to hear John proposing to Jo; Ronnie told him ''John, if you weren't so fat and ugly I'd take that as a threat."
In the Steven Spielberg movie '1941', John Belushi stars as Wild Bill Kelso. While filming the movie he slipped and fell off the wing of an airplane he was climbing into. The scene was very much in character and kept in the movie. However, this was a real accident that resulted in a sprained ankle for John and a long term house guest for Ronnie. This gave Ronnie the opportunity to seize a moment, to paint a character defining portrait. A semi-mobile John Belushi, had no option but to succumb to being painted. The resulting study of him recumbent on the couch, looking somewhat worse for wear, captures the moment and the man perfectly.
Ronnie Wood's house in Mandeville Canyon was visited by some of Hollywood's other movie legends. One of them, like Ronnie, also has a second career as an artist. Tony Curtis, star of such classics as 'Some Like it Hot' and "Spartacus' was a frequent visitor. Tony has been a painter for years and has a similar style to Matisse. The two artists spent a lot of time together, discussing their drawings and paintings and reminiscing about the good old days of Hollywood over a glass of fine wine.
Tony also had a house in London, that Ronnie and Jo house sat for a couple of weeks. Tony graciously gave them the keys to his wine cellar, stacked with 40 or 50 cases of rare vintages. Unfortunately, Tony underestimated just what thirsty work being a rock star is and on his return was shocked to find only one bottle left.
Another Hollywood star committed to canvas by Ronnie Wood is, 'king of cool' Jack Nicholson. In his portrayal of Jack, Ronnie captures the mischievous grin that has defined him throughout his career. Mr Nicholson liked the picture so much he bought the original and it hangs in his office in L.A. Having been a collector for 50 years, he knows a thing or two about art, happily paying a million dollars for artists he admires. He has even picked up the brushes himself, maybe Ronnie and Tony were his inspiration.
Footnote: Tony Curtis is a friend of Brock Street Gallery, Bath and the gallery is hoping to host an exhibition of his work in 2009.