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Elderly Care Home Residents Recreate Classic Album Covers with Attitude

Images from Robert Speker/Sydmar Lodge
Images from Robert Speker/Sydmar Lodge

A group of care home residents in North London have recreated classic album covers to liven up lockdown. These elderly rockers from Sydmar Lodge in Edgware prove the Rolling Stones aren’t the only powerhouse pensioners in town. They may lack the agility needed for a crowd dive, or to trash a hotel room… but their most excellent efforts have gone viral on Twitter!

Among the 12 special images are Lily’s version of Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ and a dramatic replica of Blink 182’s famous image of a nurse pulling on a rubber glove. This time the action is performed by Hilda. According to Deutsche Welle, photo snapper and home activities manager Robert Speker “wanted to include their authentic personalities as much as possible.”

You don’t see a whole lot of Martin Steinberg, who shows his back for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born In The USA’ – in this case, altered to ‘England’. His appearance however is on the, um, cheeky side. Adele’s ‘21’ became Vera’s ‘93’. Roma Cohen agreed to trip the light fantastic as ‘Aladdin Sane’, with a red and blue streak painted down her face in imitation of the legendary David Bowie. Bowie’s widow Iman and son Duncan Jones retweeted the result, drawing further attention to Speker’s loving tribute.

The award-winning care home innovator thought of the idea to amuse his ageing friends. “I feel that music is one medium that can attract so many people” he told Deutsche Welle. ”And the benefits of music, especially in the care home setting, are so important. Many of the albums are iconic, and these residents have lived through all of the featured artists.”

Incredibly, Sydmar Lodge has been in lockdown since March and visitors are strictly not allowed. With the residents’ usual supply of outside entertainment cut off, Speker figured he’d put on a show right there. It also proved an important lifeline to friends and family at home.

What did his subjects make of leaving their own unique mark on music history? Speker tweeted, “Gladly all of them were enthused and perhaps a bit bemused by the idea, but happy to participate.”

Especially happy to be involved was Sheila Solomon. In fact she was Speker’s first port of call for the fun-filled frolic into rock and roll. Sheila took part in no less than 3 covers – she played her walking stick for an iconic Elvis album photo. Then that stick was dashed to the ground in tribute to ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. Finally she underwent a fake tattoo job for ‘Human’ by Rag’N’Bone Man. Though in this instance she actually met the man himself beforehand.

“Solomon has such a range of contemporary music tastes and love of live music that Speker once took her to a music festival to see Rag’N’Bone Man” reports CBC Radio. Speker is quoted as saying: “We got VIP tickets. And as a surprise, I organized for him to meet her beforehand, where he gave her a signed album, which appears next to the actual recreation of her.’”

The high profile shots took a maximum of 45 minutes per person… considerably less time than their famous counterparts one would assume! More could have followed, had Speker not become a father shortly after the Blink 182 session.

Speker has been surprised and delighted by the global response. And the ageing rockers certainly approved. “When it did snowball, the residents really enjoyed opening a newspaper and seeing their pictures inside or turning on the TV and seeing it reported on there” he told Deutsche Welle.

Related Article: Young Music Icons Gone Too Soon – How Would They Look Today?

When people began enquiring about donations to the home a GoFundMe page was established. Proceeds from it go towards three charities of the residents’ choice. Not wanting to feel left out perhaps, four staff members got in formation to recreate ‘Queen II’.

Has the curtain come down on this celebration of classic tracks and the human spirit? Far from it by Speker’s reckoning. “Even a few musical artists have suggested that their albums could be covered” he revealed to Deutsche Welle. Chairs aren’t going to be the only things rocking over at Sydmar Lodge…

Steve is a writer and comedian from the UK. He’s a contributor to both The Vintage News and The Hollywood News and has created content for many other websites. His short fiction has been published by Obverse Books.