Muscle Art by Roy Adams
by David Gentle   

Roy Adams
Roy Adams Photo Gallery

Artistic representations of the muscular and aesthetic physique have been around right from the birth of physical training publications.  McFadden's PHYSICAL CULTURE and Sandow's Magazine, depicted all aspects of art and illuminated illustrations, even more so through necessity, before the later widespread use of the camera and its' ever complicated technology.


Roy AdamsMany a 'seven stone weakling' became motivated to improve fitness and physique by sources other than p.c. journals. A prime example being comic book heroes. Back to the beginnings of the 'funnies' it has been estimated over 18 million or almost, one third of all mags sold in the USA alone in the 1940's were comics. This vehicle of fun and adventure, first published circa 1937, by the 40's superheroes Batman, Superman, and Captain Marvel etc., all powerfully strong and muscled up anatomically correct began to show. Many a later muscle champ confessed his inspiration came from such a source. DAN ATKINS illustrator of heroic figures in the late 70's once worked as a comic strip illustrator for Marvel Comics.  

The ERB (Edgar Rice Burroughs) TARZAN strips were exceptionally well drawn by many, but best by Burne Hogarth (from 1937 to 1950) with an eerie esoteric beauty, including full backgrounds. So good was Hogarth that in 1950 he became director of New York School of Visual arts.  

If all that recreational reading was not enough, the inside or back pages of literally every pulp fiction book or mag was guaranteed to contain the Charles Roman/Doc Tilney inspired 'Sand in the Face' advert for the Charles Atlas course. Atlas himself for long having been a model. Thus the combination of art work and Atlas photo, became an almost universal catalyst for millions to take up bodybuilding.  

Despite being an island, Great Britain could not escape the positive and prolonged influence of such super bodies as depicted in contemporary reading matter. Bodybuilding IS ART and literally physical 'sculpture', and all sculpture, flesh or stone requires working drawings, mind images, inspiration. Appreciation of true art is one of its' many facets, and almost second nature for any real, thinking bodybuilder. So it was that Roy Adams a young British weight trainer of the 1950's was similarly inspired and driven to exhibit his talent for art alongside his love for  physical culture.

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Roy AdamsRoy Adams almost epitomizes the image of G.B having been a former owner of the Cavern Club, where once the famous pop phenomena The Beatles played, He served in the World renown Guards Regiment, and for a time served, i.e. did duties in THE TOWER OF LONDON. Certainly visitors to the OHS Foundation Awards held annually in London will have noticed if not recognized those huge background pictures, which were produced by Roy.  

Rowland John Adams aka 'Roy' legendary Merseyside night club owner was born in 1932 in the port of Liverpool, jumping off spot for thousands of USA and Canadian and Irish emigrants. Liverpool is recognized world wide as birth place also of The Beatles and modern pop cultures. Roy lived for a while in Southern England, moved to Scotland, then came back to sedate southern seaside town of Felixstowe where he was educated at a grammar school. With an instinctive love for drawing, he spent several years at Ispswich School of Art.

When 18 at an era in UK when conscription was compulsory, Roy enlisted voluntarily into the prestigious Brigade of Guards, serving 4 colourful years in 'The colours' and 9 years on army reserves. He was demobbed in Liverpool. Previously having commenced weight training at the early age of 14yrs, Roy continued with his regular bodybuilding regimes in the army. A great all round sportsman, fine runner and rugby player, he also played rugby in the forces. Whilst stationed at the famous tourist spot of the Tower of London, where conveniently, especially for a British bodybuilder (Britain was still on war rations) he was put in charge of the rations, and trained at the nearby popular Ralph Samual's gymnasium. Not only strength and size, but also agility and ability were all inclusive as training aims. From balancing weights and bodies, he was to soon be required to balance budgets and accounts.  

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Released from the army, he returned to Liverpool and continued to build up his physique at Vic Imundl's gym. For two seasons he also became a diver at an AQUA show, attached to PRINCE COX's Circus. Restless and energetic, he took on a variety of physical demanding jobs, all part of life's rich pattern.  

Always the entrepreneur, with a love for life and a wide taste in music, Roy was introduced to the world of night life and literally built up his first night club in Liverpool in 1964. Soft spoken and with his Merseyside charm, he belied his steel like toughness forged through years 'on the door,' and as a weight trainer and wrestler. In clubs where drinks were served in paper cups to prevent injuries, where 1600 people crammed into space meant for half that number to listen to heavy pop bands and the Merseyside beat. Clubs that spawned real tough characters like movie star and former World champ martial artist Terry 0 Neil, (Terry trained Arnold S in Martial arts for films).

This chosen profession he maintained, eventually chalking up a total of 25 or more clubs, and top restaurants, from Chequers, and The Pyramid, to the Coasters and more including along the way the famed CAVERN CLUB of earlier Beatles notoriety. He also ran/owned A&B Health Studios (wrestling and bodybuilding) as well as Health & Fitness World along with Mr Universe Terry Phillips.      

Roy AdamsRoy Adams first met Reg Park at Vic Imundi's gym in 1965. Reg autographed a drawing Roy had made of him, later Roy did sketches used in The Reg Park Journal. They became then and remain very good friends. Both inspired by Steve Reeves, like Steve, Roy owns and has a great love of horses. Roy's busy life also included being offered a film career because of his fine attractive physique, after meeting John Ford's nephew Brian Hurst at a Universe show. Roy passed all interviews, but eventually declined not wishing to be parted from his family.  

An athlete, bodybuilder and business man, one of Roy's greatest means of relaxation is his art. Schiller said "Art is the right hand of nature. The later has only given us being, the former has made us men.  Obviously influenced greatly by Steve Reeves, Reg Park and contemporaries, here are just a few examples which they in turn may inspire others to take up the noble occupation of bodybuilding.

"Great art dwells on all that is beautiful." Ruskin. 

Reg Park drawing 

Muscle Art of Roy Adams © Copyright by David Gentle All Rights Reserved