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A Melodic Legacy

It is common for people in creative fields, such as playwrights and musicians, to call upon their muses whenever they embark upon a new project. Now, students at the USC School of Music can look toward visual representations of two of the most famous guitarists in music history when they seek inspiration.

Thanks to a generous donation from USC alumnus H. Thorp Minister III, the School of Music is now home to two paintings of guitarist Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) and Jimi Hendrix, created by German artist Sebastian Kruger.

“I bought these originally as an investment,” Minister explains. “I bought the Keith painting first, then the Hendrix – he’s my number one artist I love the most because he was the epitome of live performance, and the painting captures it. I liked that Kruger was painting current artists and wanted them appreciated in a high-traffic area.”

I bought these originally as an investment. I bought the Keith painting first, then the Hendrix – he’s my number one artist I love the most because he was the epitome of live performance, and the painting captures it.

– H. Thorp Minister III, USC alumnus 

Minister, the author of 101 Life Lessons According to Dad, lives in Las Vegas but is no stranger to the music industry. After starting his career in television production for CBS, he spent over ten years developing his creative eye while making music videos.

“Every production job has a story,” Minister states. “You could plan for a job for ten years thinking that everything is covered. However, the reality is things go wrong and you have to be nimble enough to handle it with grace while under a tremendous amount of pressure.”

According to the San Francisco Art Exchange, Kruger’s portrait of Richards, entitled “Captain Keith Richards,” was first published on canvas in 2006. It was named as such due to Johnny Depp asserting that Jack Sparrow, his character in Pirates of the Caribbean, was partly inspired by Richards – hence, a parrot is seen perched upon the guitarist’s shoulder. (Incidentally, Richards himself would appear as Sparrow’s father, Captain Teague, in the third and fourth installments of the series.)

Meanwhile, Kruger’s portrait of Hendrix, based on a performance at the Marquee Club in London in 1967, was printed on canvas the following year. It depicts the artist playing his guitar onstage.

Kruger, born in Hamlin, Germany in 1963, began his career designing album covers and creating illustrations for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Playboy, before transitioning to a painter in 2003 with his “Personality Portraits” series of entertainment icons. He has been friends for years with the Stones themselves, as they have collected some of Kruger’s artwork where they are the main subjects. Other prominent musicians that Kruger has depicted include Louis Armstrong, Slash, and Alice Cooper, and his artwork has been included in several private collections and exhibitions at the Caricature Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

Now, two copies of Kruger’s artwork can be found thousands of miles away in Columbia, South Carolina, and Thorp Minister hopes these pieces will inspire the students enrolled in the USC School of Music.

“Music is a very interesting way to make a living,” Minister observes. Musicians are in the relationship business – the longer you’re in the business as a player, the smaller the community gets, so having an expanded circle is important. It’s a very fluid existence, particularly through live performances; you must be good at your craft and have ‘game.’”

Minister also hopes that having these paintings around will create a new appreciation for Richards and Hendrix’s legacies.

Great music is timeless, and so are Keith and Jimi, so this made for a nice marriage,” he affirms.“Long after we are dead and gone, great music will continue to play forever.”

These works are on view in the School of Music Music Library.

You can make a difference, too.

Leave your legacy at the School of Music and invest in the students of tomorrow with an endowed or planned gift. These gifts help ensure the music keeps playing at the School of Music for years.  If you are interested in making a donation, contact Audra Vaz, Assistant Dean for Advancement, at 803-777-9732.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.