Exclusive: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s drummer Michael Cartellone talks about his art in restaurants [classic article]

Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Michael Cartellone (and former drummer for super-group Damn Yankees) has exhibited his uber-cool art at NYC’s Hard Rock Cafe. He started painting even before he was a drummer, making his first creations at age 4. He tends to favor either delicate, pen-like lines in black and white, or bold, Mondrian-like colors of iconic images. He takes his painting supplies on tours. This Renaissance man with many multi-platinum records under his belt is not eating Cheetoes on a tour bus. He takes great care of himself and thus, still passes for 20-something when many other famous musicians look like the picture in Dorian Gray’s attic.

Here’s Michael’s take on his art in restaurants:

Fine art meets fine restaurant dining 

Contributed by Michael Cartellone: drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd 

A few years ago, a good friend of mine, the late Don Bernstine, approached me about getting my artwork into the Hard Rock Café in New York City. Don was the guy who had the world’s coolest job: collecting all that amazing Rock and Roll memorabilia you see on the walls at those cafés. In fact, Don had already acquired one of my drum kits that I used on tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd. So, we arranged to have my set of five Road Series Paintings — with the theme of life on tour with the band — exhibited at the NYC Hard Rock. It was a great honor and they were showcased for several months. You can see all of these paintings by visiting www.michaelcartellone.com.

This experience raised my Fine Art Meets Fine Restaurant Dining awareness. My radar started to discover more and more great art — in more and more restaurants. I’ve had the good fortune to travel the world because of my work, recently touring Europe for a month, and experience this first-hand. I was pleased (and not surprised, frankly) to see great art in restaurants during my travels: Le Coupe Chou in Paris, The Cinnamon Club in London and Chez John in Lake Geneva/Vevey, Switzerland to name but a few (please forgive the name dropping!). It made me realize that restaurants are an ideal location to exhibit artwork, as people are out for an evening to experience the finer things in life.

Interestingly, what started as an extension of my drums going into the Hard Rock Café – then, my artwork – has begun to open doors for more and more opportunities: showing my art in great restaurants, to reach more people beyond the world of the art gallery.

I thought it would be fun to mention, as I type this I’m on tour with the band. As always, I carry a canvas and paints — and I’m currently painting a portrait on the band’s founding singer/songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant. That painting, which is on the easel next to me, will debut this fall. I’ve just ordered room service at The Four Season’s Atlanta, where we’re staying (Penne pasta/garlic and oil, topped with roasted peppers, pine nuts, wild mushrooms and grilled chicken- in case you’re curious). As you can see, today I’ve created my own Art and Dining experience.

So, for those artists reading this who don’t have relationships with great restaurants… and great restaurants who would like fine art to enhance their diner’s experience… I would like to make the introductions!

Best Wishes,


Here’s an update: Lynyrd Skynyrd is coming out with an awesome new CD, God and Guns, on 9/29/09. I was able to listen to a preview copy — you will love it! Check out more info about it: www.websterpr.com/pressreleases/view

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