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Dent was born in Oakland, California and graduated from Oakland High School. His style emerged after he painted a spontaneous portrait of John Lennon at a 1980 vigil. Dent married Ali Christina Flores.
A Denny Dent performance, which he referred to as a "Two-Fisted Art Attack," consisted of him rapidly painting on a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) black canvas with multiple brushes in both hands, as well as painting with his bare hands, to a musical accompaniment. Over the course of just a few pop/rock songs, he would complete a portrait. His subjects were most often musicians, but also included other entertainers, sports figures, and political leaders. One of his most famous performances was at the Woodstock '94 concert.
A painting that Dent did of Albert Einstein hangs in the Lecture Halls building at St Louis Community College's Meramec campus.
On the History channel series Pawn Stars, Dent's green painting of Jim Morrison is featured prominently on a wall of the shop. The shop also has on display Dent's paintings of Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix, and in one episode, acquired a portrait of John Lennon painted by Dent.
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