THE Brighton artist behind striking paintings of Elvis, The Beatles and Johnny Rotten has died aged 51.

Simon Dixon started painting in 1997 and made a name for himself through his bold, vibrant pictures of popular cultural figures.

His work has been exhibited in galleries, bars and restaurants around the world.

An auction by fellow local artists was held in October to raise money for his cancer treatment but by the New Year the disease had spread to a critical level.

Mr Dixon lost his battle in late February. His funeral last week was attended by more than 200 family members and friends.

Mr Dixon was born in London but raised in the village of Maresfield, near Uckfield, where he attended school and played football for the local team until his early 20s.

He eventually moved to Brighton via a spell in Lewes, where he begun to make art.

He had suffered from two chronic illnesses since his mid-20s – ulcerative colitis and ankylosing spondylitis – and had six major operations, the last of which was in 2014.

David McHugh, a photographer and long-time friend who also grew up in Maresfield, paid tribute to a “very popular man”.

“Someone said at the funeral that they didn’t know anyone who didn’t like Simon. He introduced lots of people to other people.

“He was a very social person and popular with the ladies.

“He had a good sense of mischief, too.

“I’ve known him since I was 14. When I moved to Brighton he introduced me to all kinds of people.”

Mr McHugh said his friend’s funeral was “sad but uplifting” and that the large turnout reflected Mr Dixon’s popularity.

He added: “There was an old friend of his that performed a stand-up routine in the middle of the ceremony.”

Mr Dixon’s friend Nick Russell, who lives in Japan, is planning to create an art trail around Brighton featuring various examples of his work.

To see more of Mr Dixon’s paintings, visit: