John Byrne: Celebrated Scottish artist & playwright who created of Slab Boys and Tutti Frutti dies aged 83

Paisley-born artist and writer John Byrne died peacefully with his wife by his side
Celebrated Scottish artist and playwright John Byrne has died at the age of 83. (Credit: Getty Images)Celebrated Scottish artist and playwright John Byrne has died at the age of 83. (Credit: Getty Images)
Celebrated Scottish artist and playwright John Byrne has died at the age of 83. (Credit: Getty Images)

Celebrated Scottish writer and artist John Byrne has died at the age of 83. Byre, known for his work as a playwright in penning The Slab Boys trilogy, died peacefully with his wife by his side on Thursday (November 30).

A statement from The Fine Art Society read: “It is with huge sadness that we announce the death of John Byrne. He died peacefully yesterday with his wife Jeanine by his side. We will miss him tremendously. Our thoughts are with his family.

"John was one of the most inventive and versatile of all Scotland’s modern artists. As well as being a technically masterful painter, he was a designer of theatre sets and album covers and one of the most notable playwrights of his generation."

After the success of The Slab Boys trilogy in 1978, he would go on to write TV series Tutti Frutti in 1981, which launched the careers of actress Emma Thompson and the late Robbie Coltrane. Alongside his literary work, Paisley-born Byrne, who was once married to actress Tilda Swinton, was lauded for his artworks.

Some of his most prominent work include three huge murals of legendary comedian Billy Connolly around the city of Glasgow. He has also created album artwork covers for acts such as The Beatles, Gerry Rafferty and Donovan.

The Fine Art Society added: “Born in Paisley and trained at the Glasgow School of Art, his own image was a signature of Scotland. He recreated it over and over in the self-portraits which made his finely cultivated appearance instantly recognisable, wreathed in cigarette smoke, his hooded, often sleep-deprived eyes twinkling with self-aware amusement.

“‘Paisley Buddies’ are, to a man and a woman, total oddballs, I should know, I’m one of them,’ John said once. But it was an oddity seen through a prism of the fantastic and John made magic out of himself. The family are grateful for your understanding of their need for privacy at this time.”

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