David Vaughan: The Artist Who Fell from Grace
Manchester-born pop artist David Vaughan was a 60s success story who got to the very top and then lost everything. Ten years after his death, this programme takes a new angle on an iconic decade and its trendy art and pop scenes, encapsulated in the tragic, but frequently funny and inspiring story of one man.
David Vaughan was in his 20s and had just left the Slade School of Art when he co-founded the BEV Group (Binder, Edwards and Vaughan) with two friends from Manchester, in the early 60s. Their psychedelic furniture, cars, fabrics, wall murals, and posters all commanded an elite list of customers, including Eric Clapton, Princess Margaret and Henry Moore. Vaughan was so successful he went to America to customise jet aircraft for Pan Am. Briefly, he also ran the Roundhouse in London, and booked Jimi Hendrix for one of his early UK gigs.
But David fell - literally - from grace, victim of a mental collapse that started after he tumbled 30 feet from a cradle while painting a wall mural on Carnaby Street, injuring his head. A friend's response to this was to give him a large dose of LSD, from which he never seemed to recover. He quit London and returned north.
But he continued making art, including many more murals, painting impressive examples in shops like Barretts music store in Manchester, and the Childrens' Ward at Tameside Hospital. These may have been bright and popular, but Vaughan's personal style had become darker, earning him the label "modern Goya" for his paintings of victims of the Vietnam War. He became, disastrously, a friend and patient of the anti-psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, who at the time was possibly in an even worse state, due to alcoholism, than Vaughan himself. Despite his continuing artistic output, however, Vaughan's life was deteriorating slowly, and after moving to Ibiza, splitting with his family, remarrying, and then moving back to Manchester, he eventually died in 2003.
This programme looks back at his life and times, with the aid of newly discovered deathbed interviews of broadcast quality recorded by Vaughan's friend, musician and soundman David Lunt. Also contributing is Vaughan's daughter, Sadie Frost, talking for instance about her wedding to Gary Kemp in 1988, to which she didn't invite her dad - because earlier, he had invaded the stage at a Spandau Ballet gig at Manchester Apollo, and "looked like a tramp".