Baby Huey, Listen to Me

James Brown, Sex Machine

Herman Kelly, Dance to the Drummer’s Beat

Johnny Pate, Shaft in AfricaThis week news broke that Eric Clapton shelled out $120,000 to buy twelve paintings by legendary graffiti artist Lee Quinones; each work depicts a shoplifter grabbing an album from the Seventies, including James Brown’s Sex Machine and the Isley Brothers’ Get Into Something. The guitarist’s apparent love of graffiti art dates back at least a decade, when he attended a London show that featured Quinones and fellow train-to-canvas artists Stash and Futura. Clapton bought a few pieces and commissioned the artists to paint guitars for his concerts. So when Quinones was looking to sell his collection, he sent e-mails to Clapton and other famous fans of his work, like Debbie Harry and the Beastie Boys. But before he could fire off the next round to Jay-Z and Russell Simmons, Clapton responded. „He was the first. Like within ten minutes. He must have been online,” Quinones laughs. „He never even saw them in person and was like, «Lee, they’re mine.»”

This dirty dozen of paintings, as Quinones likes to call them, was inspired by his life in New York City in the Seventies. „I was painting all the time and to make money on the side, I was lifting records,” he says. „It fit into my agenda of lifting everything from coffee to paint. All I needed was paint and music to survive. I could live on water after that.”

Each painting depicts Quinones’ hands slipping one album into his jacket. „The paintings are a celebration of the times, musicians and those songs,” he said. „The album covers are meticulously reproduced because they were also beautiful pieces of art. These paintings are exploding with color and then have a ghostly image of my hand — a kind of skimpy drawing of my hand to symbolize that I had to be invisible in that store ‘cause you knew you had to go back in and do it again.”

„A short tour,” Quinones says. „I know he’s wanting for them. And I want him to have them. There’s only one or two paintings that I’ve created over the years that I knew would go to their rightful owners, people who will love them from the heart and soul like I did. I go to sleep at night thinking this series is in its rightful place with Eric.”

Here’s a list of the twelve albums in the collection:

  • Herman Kelly, Dance to the Drummer’s Beat
  • James Brown, Sex Machine
  • The Jimmy Castor Bunch, It’s Just Begun
  • Isley Brothers, Get Into Something
  • Baby Huey, Listen to Me
  • Yellow Sunshine, Yellow Sunshine
  • Babe Ruth, The Mexican
  • Lonnie Liston Smith, Expansions
  • The Futures, Castles in the Sky
  • Johnny Pate, Shaft in Africa
  • Dennis Coffey, Scorpio
  • The Incredible Bongo Band, Apache

[News item seen on Rolling Stone]