From the early seventies John Byrne’s biography reflects his diverse talents, as a designer of theatre sets and record covers. He made an animated film. His first play ‘Writer’s Cramp’ (1977)was followed by ‘The Slab Boys in’(1978)and won him the Evening Standard’s most promising playwright award. In 1983 there was a New York production of ‘The Slab Boys’ with Sean Penn, Val Kilmer and Kevin Bacon.In 1986 John wrote the immensely successful, six-time BAFTA award-winning television series ‘Tutti Frutti’ starring Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson. This was followed by another series ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ with Tilda Swinton and countless other plays and films to the present day
He has designed record covers for Donovan, The Beatles, Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly. Singer-songwriter Rafferty's song Patrick is written about Byrne (the lyrics begin: "Patrick my primitive painter of art/You will always and ever be near to my heart"), and the pair co-wrote several songs together.
John Byrne was born on 6th of January 1940 in Paisley. His work is held in major collections in Scotland and abroad. Several of his paintings hang in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, the museum of Modern Art and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.
In 2001 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list for services to literature and the theatre but returned it in protest at the British Government's joining forces with the US Administration's invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.
In 2004 he was made an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and a full member in 2007.