The Abusers line-up was
John Milarky (vocals/saxophone),
Tony Donald (bass),
Alan McNeil (guitar) and
Brian McGee (drums). In November 1977,
they released their debut single Saints And Sinners / Dead Vandals. On
the day it hit record shops, the group split up.
Next Kerr and
Simple Minds - the band name taken from a lyric in the
David Bowie song Jean Genie. The Minds
were seen as punks. But with a record collection of influences which included
Bowie, The New York Dolls, Iggy Pop,
Genesis, Eno and
The Velvet Underground the possessed a more experimental approach to music.
On January 17, 1978, Simple Minds played their
first ever gig at Satellite City - a tacky disco
upstairs at the legendary Glasgow Apollo. With tickets priced at £1.50, they
supported reggae band Steel Pulse. Also on the bill were
Rev Volting and the Backstabbers and
The Nu Sonics (who later became Orange Juice).
Kerr made an immediate impact on the sparse
audience. His distinctive pudding bowl haircut - and sombre priest's frock coat instantly
set him apart. With Burchill, he's written 30
minutes of original material of which
Pleasantly Disturbed and
Wasteland would later crop up on
their debut album.
The group's reputation quickly spread thanks to a weekly residency in Glasgow's dingy
Mar's Bar. They also played live in venues like Cinders
and Zhivago's - two Glasgow discos - and The Dourne Castle,
a ctiy lounge bar. Their fee at the Dourne was £25 plus a tray of filled rolls. And
the Minds were continually asked to turn their
volume levels down... because peas were leaping off the plates of diners in the steakhouse
On May 11 and 12,
Simple Minds recorded
their first demo. Spending £226 at
Ca Va Studios in St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, they laid down six tracks -
Act Of Love,
European Son and
Doo Be Doo. The group hawked the
demo around London's major labels. Support slots followed with
Siouxsie And THe Banshees,
Generation X and
The Pleasers, and brought more attention across Scotland.
Within the group line-up there were changes. Bass player
Tony Donald dropped out, and second
guitarist Duncan Barnwell moved on after just
four months. With the Mind's nucleus now
McGee they recruited
Derek Forbes from punk band The Subs -
whose single Gimme Your Heart had been released on Stiff. On
April they added a keyboards player
Mick MacNeil. During their string of gigs at
The Mars Bar, the group were watched by
His chain of independent record stores - called Bruces' - had led to the
formation of his own record label Zoom in 1977.
Findlay was hooked by their dark, haunting sons and
striking almost glam image. He became the group's driver, then manager.
Findlay began to tout the band's demo around London
and found interest in Arista Records. After a gig at Pollock Halls
in Glasgow - the 48th live show of their career -
Simple Minds signed to Zoom Records,
in a special licensing deal through Arista.
On December 11-13, 1978, the band went back into Ca Va Studios to
lay down demos for what would evolve into
their first album. For a fee of £300, they
recorded the songs
Special View She Sells To You,
A Sad Affair,
Rosemary's Baby. In the new year,
Simple Minds began to make plans for their
debut album. Impressed by his work with Magazine, the group approached
John Leckie to see if the was
interested in working with them. After catching a show at Dundee University,
Leckie agreed to produce the band.
The early sessions produced a new song called
Life In A Day, which quickly stood out and
became the record's title track. When
Life In A Day was released on March 10th,
1979, critical opinion in the music press was mixed. But the album sold well - especially in
Scotland - and it reached number 30 in the UK charts. The foundation stone of a 20 year
career had been laid.