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Nordoff Robbins' The Stars Come Out For Christmas featured a stripped down version of Simple Minds (Jim, Charlie and Cherisse) playing a likewise minimalistic version of See The Lights. (An interesting new version with extra electronica bolstering its acoustic foundations).

The segment featured a rather cold looking band, perched on a Taromina balcony, playing the song whilst cut-scenes revealed day-to-day life around the town. Simple Minds run from 1:13:53 to 1:19:00.

It has become customary to post pictures of Heart Of The Crowd in its box, under the Christmas tree, on the table, in the bookcase etc. So, continuing the tradition, here are both formats in the collection...

Hardback editions started appearing in early December, released on the 3rd, being hampered slightly by the Christmas post. Special editions (a limited edition run of 1000) followed a couple of weeks later.

"Simple Minds are one of the UK's most successful bands, having achieved six No.1 albums in the UK as well as hitting the top spot in countless other territories including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand."

"Simple Minds have been musical pioneers for 40 glittering years selling over 60 million records. Catching the mood of the post-punk era, when the angry sounds of 1977 were splintering into a thousand different shapes, they emerged with a style rooted in the art-rock of David Bowie and the electronic dance of Donna Summer. They went on to become one of the great bands of their generation, deploying rousing choruses and booming atmospherics to provide a soundtrack that has endured."

"They topped the American chart with Don't You (Forget About Me) and followed suit in the UK with Belfast Child. Three of their 20 studio albums reached number one in the UK, they starred at Live Aid and they played three momentous London shows in honour of Nelson Mandela".

"A spellbinding touring band, that have graced the world's biggest stadiums, Simple Minds are now marking their 40th anniversary with a live album, a career-spanning compilation and this new book."

"Heart of the Crowd is an official oral history of Simple Minds, mixing over 800 fan anecdotes with those of band members and other collaborators and with an introduction written by Jim Kerr. The book also features never before seen photographs, collectable memorabilia and fans pictures capturing their live performances."

The book included contributions from fans amd associates writing about their relationship with the band. It also included an introduction written by Jim.

The limited edition box-set (pictured above) included the following:

  • A stiff white envelope with the Live In The City Of Light logo containing:
      Black plectrum with red Simple Minds logo and winged claddagh from Live In The City Of Angels
    • Square fridge magnetic with small badge heart design from 40: Best Of and VIP 2020 in black.
    • 40 Years Of Hits Tour VIP 2020 laminated pass with small badge heart design.
    • Black lanyard with Simple Minds logo and winged claddagh.
  • A stiff white envelope with the winged claddagh and Heart Of The Crowd Collector's Edition containing:
    • A Mars Bar poster from the 1978 tour
    • A sticker sheet of 24 badge designs from 40: Best Of
    • Reproduction Saturday Night Live At The Palladium complimentary admission pass where Simple Minds were musical guests on the 9th November 1985.
    • In Concert complimentary ticket for the band's peformance on the 8th August 1979.
    • Signed black-and-white picture of Charlie from the Laurie Evans collection published in Simple Minds - Pleasantly Disturbed.
    • Signed black-and-white picture of Jim from the Laurie Evans collection from an unpublished set of pictures taken by the Clyde.
    • Certificate of Authenticity with box-set's number.
  • And the hardback book itself.

Jim, Charlie and Cherisse will be performing at the annual The Stars Come Out To Sing At Christmas on the 15th December in support for the Nordoff Robbins music therapy charity.

The event will kick off at 7PM GMT and can be viewed via this link.

"Whatever progress our band has made throughout our long career owes much to those who have worked with us.

"It is a fact. Just as our records are to an extent a result of 'all who were in the room' while creating them e.g. musicians, producers, engineers, assistants etc. Likewise, with our live shows where we have always relied (still do) on the talents of others to help us shine.

"I don't have to tell you how important it is for any live act to have a great sound engineer on tour with them. Or, how the person who controls the sound desk has the ability to make a good band - sound great! Alternately, when not quite up to the challenge. Make a great band - sound crap.

"(One example. I saw Prince perform a handful of times and only once did it sound great. Twice I left before the end - that is how poor the sound was. After all, if you went to the cinema and the image on screen was blurred and out of focus, no matter how great the acting... Would you still sit through the movie?)

"Of course, it is possible that people have differing experiences at the same concert, where the sound and visual impact depends to a large extent on where they are positioned within the venue.

"And that is where the science/physics of live sound comes in. It's where the best sound engineers demonstrate their worth in dealing with the problems on any given night. Particularly in those halls that were not designed specifically for music.

"Fortunate to have had our share of greats with us while out on tour, Olivier Gerard, Simple Minds' sound engineer over the last decade is second to none in my opinion. But going way back to the very start, during our days of playing pubs and clubs, Davey Henderson did as good a job as any. Especially considering he was working with a bunch of young pups who then had little idea about what it would take to become a great live band?

"Johnny Ramsay was another. Helping us hugely as we sometimes struggled in transferring from performing in theatres to those much larger arena venues. We had so many great nights thanks to Johnny. A few nightmares also - it has to be said!

"If any of this is of much interest to you, then it is possible that you will also like a newly launched podcast from Frank Gallagher. (

"I wrote about Frank recently, focusing on how touring with him resulted in Simple Minds cultivating what for me is best described as 'a winning attitude.' "Winning what?" you may well ask. "Winning over those fears and doubts that are sure to visit you when you set out to make something (extra) of yourself" would be my response.

19th November 2020

Frank X. Gallagher's time with the band was brief - but extremely well remembered.

He became the band's sound engineer after the poor sound of the early Sons And Fascination concerts lead to the sacking of Billy Worton after the Hammersmith Odeon show (25th September 1981). Gallagher joined the band when they began their Canadian/American leg of the tour where they appreciated his frantic working place and his fighting talk - so he became known as "the vibe man."

He left the band during the recording sessions of New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) where he stepped on one too many toes. Pete Walsh subsequently handled the sound and mixing of the album, and John Ramsey took over the band's live sound.

Check out the photos on his podcast pages as there are several featuring Jim and Charlie.

Simple Minds are one of the UK's most successful bands, having achieved six No. 1 albums in the UK as well as hitting the top spot in countless other territories, including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

The band have been musical pioneers for 40 glittering years, selling over 60 million records. Catching the mood of the post-punk era, when the angry sounds of 1977 were splintering into a thousand different shapes, they emerged with a style rooted in the art-rokc of David Bowie and the electronic music of the time. They went on to become one of the greatest bands of their generation, deploying rousing chrouses and booming atmospherics to provide a soundtrack that has endured.

They topped the American chart with Don't You (Forget About Me) and followed suit in the UK with with Belfast Child. Three of their 20 studio albums reached No. 1 in the UK, they starred at Live Aid and they played three momentous London shows in honour of Nelson Mandela.

A spellbinding touring band, that have graced the world's biggest stadia, Simple Minds are now marking their 40th anniversary with a live album, a career-spanning compilation and this new book.

Heart Of The Crowd is an official oral history of Simple Minds, mixing over 800 fan anecodes with those of band members and other collaborators, with an introduction written by Jim Kerr. The book also features never seen before photographs, collectable memorabilia and fans' pictures capturing their live performances.

"Although still not available until next month [December], just this week I got my hands on a copy of 'Heart Of The Crowd.' (A Fan History)

"And again we want to say a huge thanks to all who sent their contributions to the publisher of this quite unique and classy book.

"Having now had the chance to peek through some of the contents, I do not envy the task of editor, Richard Houghton, who quite obviously had to make some hard decisions re: precisely what stories to include. Such was the almost overwhelming volume of input.

"Congratulations are nevertheless due, at least so for the way Richard has chosen to seamlessly fit together myriad stories, that although centre around the music of Simple Minds, are equally as much about the nature of people who have adopted our music. To be fair, that for me is the essence of the book.

"I certainly don't mind saying that my eyes became misty while reading some of the emotions included within. And I also don't mind saying that my own heart gets topped up with even more gratitude while again considering the stories of those who "truly were there for us" in those early days - putting their necks on the line in various ways, some putting their own careers on hold even - while helping us within our 'obsessive crusade' of attempting to get the then still unknown music of Simple Minds out to the world at large.

"Or at least to anyone willing to give us a listen. And guess what? One by one. The world over. Lo and behold. Somewhat magically. People did start to listen. And indeed have continued to do so all these years later.

"As evidenced by the heartfelt tales that can be found within the pages of this beautifully produced book. A book that all who care about Simple Minds might well take some pride in.

Jim Kerr

The book, both in standard hardback and very limited special editions, can be purchased from This Day In Music Books. It includes over 800 anecdotes from fans, collaborators and band members including Bruce Findlay, Mick MacNeil and Derek Forbes.

Collectors were surprised to see a photograph of a "gold" vinyl version of 40: Best Of posted on Facebook. This copy turned up in Australia after a fan ordered tickets and merchandise and received this "gold" edition.

It turns out that "gold" editions of the album were planned and were going to be available with on-line ticket purchases or at the concerts themselves. Plans were put on hold after the Covid-19 shutdown.

It looks like some copies were pressed, specifically in Australia. So, one fan has got himself and ultra-rare collectable - that is, until everything starts up again.

The Simple Minds 2016 Hackney Empire performance for BBC Radio 2 can be heard again this November as part of #R2InConcert50 - a celebration of 50 years of incredible live music at the station.

Listen on BBC Sounds throughout November or you can watch the performance on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Hackney Empire, London, UK
10th November, 2016
Main Set: New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84) / See The Lights / Glittering Prize / Stand By Love / Waterfront / Andy Warhol / Chelsea Girl / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / Dancing Barefoot / Speed Your Love To Me / Promised You A Miracle / Don't You (Forget About Me) / Sanctify Yourself
Encore: Long Black Train / Alive And Kicking / Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)

When The Headphones Come Off!

"We're closing in. That's right. The finishing line is within touching distance and over this next week we'll cross over. I'm talking about the recording of the latest Simple Minds album.

"And although I might have given up counting how many albums we have released over the decades, there is still the same sense of achievement in the air now as when we put the finishing touches to our debut recording back in 1979.

"Perhaps even more so? Considering that we have managed to push on through with the completion of a brand new album, within a year where the world over we have all witnessed work/life plans of so many, unavoidably come crashing to a halt as a result of the pandemic.

"How we've managed to make sure that the music never stopped, where necessity meant collaborating remotely, plus dealing with ever changing quarantine regulations etc, and thankfully managing to keep healthy ourselves in these times - as we carried on pursuing our working goal? Well, that has all made for an interesting story. One that we will no doubt talk about much more around the release of the record. And what to do now... as the headphones come off on the last days of recording?


"I'm already thinking hard about the next album. Because as already said: "The music never stops."

Jim Kerr
18th October 2020

Jim followed up this post on October 24th, remarking it was the last day of recording in Germany, with Charlie finishing a guitar solo on an inspired tune written by Ged Grimes. So the album is finished.

There was talk of new Simple Minds material would be available this year. But given the continuing lockdowns and uncertainty around the world, then I think the new album will be kept under wraps until early next year.

Here's the continuation of Retropopic's interview with Derek which took place in 2018.

RP: The second album Real To Real Cacophony. It's completely different isn't it? The song writing is split between all the members of the band. So, what brought that change about?
DF: Having no songs. [Laughs]
RP: Ah!
DF: That was 1979 we did the first album. January 1979 we did the first album - June 1979 we did the second. After we'd recorded everything we that knew and been written - that was it. It was just a watershed. We hadn't even thought 'Oh! Is there going to be a second album?' We never knew. Then we were in there and you can hear my basslines, starting then. You can hear everybody. For Jim, lyrically it was his best point - perhaps going into Sons And Fascination. It was great.

RP: Agreed. It's funny you should say that because I think Real To Real Cacophony is a great album. From the textures and the indistinct vocals of Jim - it gives it a sound, doesn't it? But you've also got the Kraftwerk influence in the music. But to me, it's a band not afraid to experiment musically. I mean, Changeling, is an absolute classic song and should've been a hit. What are your memories of Real To Real Cacophony? And take me through Changeling as well with that.
DF: We were in Rockfield Studios in Wales. We had no songs basically. So I remember Charlie coming up - "Got this one - Got this one Changeling." And Jim had got a title for it. And we'd gone to the old mill which was just a rehearsal space that we had. We all lived there - they had houses around Rockfield Studios and they've different ones like got the old mill, and the little anchor mill which is uphill, and the farmhouse. So we had The Teardrop Explodes up there - for their first album, I think it was their first album. And then we had The Rolling Stones Mobile - we recorded some stuff with that. Charlie came up to me with three chords - E-minor, A, D - so I just did the root notes. And then John Leckie the producer's said "Derek. Go in the other room. Here's a tape. Go in the other room and write me a hit bassline." And that's how I got it. [Sings the last bars of the song]. You know the line.
RP: Very much so. Brilliant.
DF: That's what we used to do. That's what all the producers used to do. "Derek. Go on. Write something."
RP: "Go on Derek. Go in and write a hit bassline."

RP: What was John Leckie like? Was he the great encourager?
DF: Fantastic. He was the 5th Beatle in our band with five in it. [Laughs] The sixth Beatle. But he was great. All the sequencer stuff he did - he started showing Mick around all that stuff that he'd done. Because he worked with Bill Nelson and he worked with XTC and people like that - anybody, they were geniuses these guys. So you got the sequencer with John and he got Mick to work out parts with it. And he would throw them in there. And that's how a lot of the songs came up from that. Or it would be drums. Because we'd be playing and you'd hear a pattern. And I'd hear a bassline in my head straight away. And then I'd put it down. Or Mick or Charlie would do some chord sequences and it was chemistry. Jim was sitting on top of my amp, sitting on top of an 8 by 10, with a notebook writing down lyrics. As we were playing and writing the stuff.

RP: Another thing I'm intrigued by when I talk to people - I mean Rick Buckler told me this about The Jam - he said "Neil, when we were big, I didn't know we were big. We were in this creative bubble and we were just getting on with the work." Now, at the time of Empires And Dance, I've got to say you're coming on my radar. Simple Minds. You're coming on my radar as a seriously cool band to watch. And I know you were popular live pretty quickly. When did you sense - in your little bubble you're in - that something special's happening?
DF: We could tell, I think, just from playing. We knew the songs were going well. The first record company we had, had to give us a "last supper" with them - they took us out to a place called Browns in London, for Fish and Chips. They had everybody, every department there. Because, by the time we got to Empires And Dance, they didn't know how to sell it.
DF: But Virgin did. So the people from Virgin - they were poaching us from Arista. And it was a great move to go in with that and do that. But we were on a wage - we started on about £35 per week. So financially we never knew we were moving up. We got to a point where we said "We're going to need a hit. We're going to have to get on Top Of The Pops." And then one night, in a place called West Runton Pavillion, it's near Newcastle, we said "We need to write something. Is there any way we can put a single out before we do an album?" And the manager said "I don't see why not." And that's when Promised You A Miracle came in.
RP: Ah.
DF: Kenny Hyslop listened to all the black radio stations in New York. And he'd be up all night taping them.
RP: Ah, I heard that. He was playing them on the tour bus. Can you remember the song you built Promised You A Miracle around?
DF: I know how the bassline went. I don't remember anything other than the front notes. It just went "Da da da da da"[Sings opening from Promised You A Miracle]
RP: That was the seed from which the whole song grew from.
DF: Jim was going "Dan, we need a middle-8." So that was the wee bit that played from the F to Bb and Eb.

RP: When you said about your move from Arista to Virgin, I got the sense there was a reason behind that. So you felt confident as a group here. Can you take us through the reasons for that change?
DF: As you said earlier, Real To Real Cacophony, that was a change - a big change from Life In A Day. That was us as a band writing together. And that stunned them. And when Empires And Dance came out, they were lost. Because they were a little bit more pop. To be fair they had some cool people, but they had Bay City Rollers and people working in there that dealt with pop records on Top Of The Pops. But they also had Patti Smith and Iggy Pop and Lou Reed - it was quite a cool label but ...
RP: They just couldn't work out what to do with you.
DF: And then we met the people from the company [Virgin]. Ros Stapleton, he was an A&R man, he was great with us. I think he was instrumental in getting us onto Virgin.

RP: Virgin really supported groups in those days. I'm a bit thrown by the fact you had Steve Hillage as producer.
DF: We used to call him 'Cabbage Head'. As Glaswegians we like - almost the same as Cockneys, Scoucers...
RP: You had a language didn't you?
DF: They called me 'Big Dan' - that was my name. It's because I'm tall by the way. But he was great - Steve Hillage - because he was a musician. He almost had a heart attack in the studio - had to be taken to hospital. Because it was that wild - we'd written so many songs. We got Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call - we had to make it a double album. Because him, like us, probably like yourself, we couldn't decide what to leave out. Theme For Great Cities? Oh no, you need to put that in.
RP: You were spewing out songs.
DF: Spewing them out. Absolutely no problem.

RP: The thing is - and I want to come back to something because this sort of confuses me - you've got the album Sons And Fascination which contains the terrific singles Love Song and Sweat In Bullet - and you've got this bonus disc entitled Sister Feelings Call - we know it's later issued as a separate album - and it contains Theme For Great Cities which I think is one of the best ever instrumentals. Period. And The American, which we all love, of course. Why didn't you as a group release a double album with one title?
DF: We tried to. I think possibly someone was being a bit arty! Perhaps it was not cool because it was a punk thing - you'd never get a double album. It was a record company decision. We'll call it Sons And Sisters - that'll be good enough. There are some classics on there. That was a really creative time that.

RP: The song I Travel is a song I never tire of listening to. I would guess the initial idea would've been that driving, remorselessly percussive sound. How did that song come together?
DF: Pure chance. It wasn't as if it was built up to do that I'm sure. Mick MacNeil was messing around with settings, pulled down a key, and we got that chop rhythmic sequence. I knew exactly what I was doing. Brian did a kind of disco beat to it - that Keith Forsey sound, he did it with Donna Summer and stuff. Do you know the slap sound? That's us and John Leckie around a ping-pong table.

RP: It must've been so creative in those days. It's strange that I'm in Australia and your first significant success as a band comes in Australia. Strange isn't it because as with Sweden, Love Song, that's such a great song, is a top twenty hit there and you experience a claim - as well as you tour there at the end of 1981. Of course, your wife's Australian, your children are Australian - what are your memories of playing Australia?
DF: I remember us being over in Perth and Jim was out for a run. And it was King's Park.
RP: King's Park. Yes. I used to live in Perth. It was the place to go in Perth.
DF: He was doing his running to keep fit. Someone stopped him and said "Excuse me mate. Are you Richard Kerr?" [Laughs] So we called him Richard for ages after that.
DF: I wanted to move there. Duncan Barnwell, the second guitarist, who moved on from the band, I told him to go. "You need to go. It's the best place in the world." His family's being doing this I would be doing this. I would go. And he did. And he was there for twenty years - maybe more. He's back here now. I don't know why. It's freezing.

RP: During the first part of 1979, you have a UK tour. In 1980, there's a European Tour. And in the later stages of 1981, the band experienced their first world tour. So it's really moving forward now. How enjoyable were those early days of intensive touring in the 1980s?
DF: At some point you would think it would be great to get home and see family and all that, get back to the flat, or whatever. And as soon as you got there it was great. And then at about six o'clock at night you'd be "Where are we going tomorrow?" You'd be desperate to go.
DF: We played with Icehouse. It was the first time we played in Australia. We let them support us in Britain, they came on a British/European tour with us. That was great - there was the Divinyls - Chrissie from the Divinyls - Simple Minds, Icehouse and The Dinvinyls all on one bus with the Australian crew and stuff like that. It was great. And one of the guys was great - we went to Woga Woga where his Dad was buried - so we went to his Dad's grave.
DF: It was just great to go and see different places. Couldn't believe kangaroos jumping around and camels in some of the places... I'm mean, did someone slip acid into my tea then?
DF: I'm getting a very strong sense, just from your enthusiasm of reflecting back, it was almost like The Beatles. You did everything together as a team. Was it like that?
DF: We got people screaming at airports for us in Australia. That was weird. But then - later on - in Italy we had people climbing all over our small six seater - eight seater - whatever - they were all over it, that was frightening. That was proper "Beatle-y" stuff. The two tours we did - the one with Icehouse and the other one we did in a jeep - a sort of safari jeep - there was gear in it, we went back to Brisbane. I think we went to Perth again. I'm not sure - I think it was the Embassy Ballroom - we played in Perth, I remember that.

RP: I've got to come on to New Gold Dream. The demos for that were very important - talking to Jim that's what he told me about it - he played Someone Somewhere In Summertime. What struck me about that song is that it was a great team song. Everybody was contributing and it's a great song. To be honest if anything - the reason why it wasn't a hit was because maybe it wasn't quite catchy enough but you're all functioning so well on that song aren't you? Everybody's blending and contributing. What that what it was like with the demos for New Gold Dream?
DF: The demos for New Gold Dream was an earth shattering experience. It was just us, on a farm, in Scotland. Locked in there, we had a chef, three of us were smokers of the "special" cigarettes and the guy would say "Does everybody like mushrooms?" "Yup, I'm fine." "OK - mushroom risotto tonight then." "All right - we'll have that." So we're all playing away, working away, and we go for dinner - we eat the dinner - we come back and everything looked different and we just got right back into what we were doing - more than usual. The next day he said "Mushrooms pizza?" and he said "Who'd like some mushroom tea"? We didn't realise the guy was putting it in everything.
RP: You were flying through on magic mushrooms - is that what you were trying to tell me?
DF: We never knew it was happening. [Laughs] I remember having an argument with Jim and it was quite a heated argument - but I was laughing as I was arguing with Jim. And then I went for a shower and I watched one little bubble of steam floating right through all the mist. [Laughs] I'm not advocating that people do this but we didn't ask for it. The guy did it. It was just strange. So that's why I say that was our Sgt. Peppers.
RP: Sgt. Petters on mushrooms. It's too good an album to this day. Every single track's a strong track. But I'd like to know - what was the thinking behind the album cover?
DF: We had a guy called Malcolm Garrett. He was the guy who did most of our covers. Life In A Day was by this girl - who'd taken a photograph of that puddle - said it looks like a lake. And then the next one we wanted it to look a bit more industrial - that was Jim and I that picked that. And then Empires And Dance - the photograph - Jim and I were out in Soho and we saw a photo magazine and that was on the cover or inside it - it looked like Rommel at The Parthenon. I was "That looks great, it's striking, what a photograph."
RP: Very eastern European isn't it?
DF: That's what we were doing at that time. Passing through, going to Berlin through a transit route. It was all Russian soldiers with Fruit Pastilles on their head, and missiles pointing up, and tanks and soldiers. That was a weird time.
RP: At least you had each other.
DF: Oh, we loved it. We just loved travelling and doing what we did. It was a non-stop party. The next album Sons And Fascination / Sisters Feeling Call - that was J Jim and I again. The photographs were of a fruit market in London. And Malcolm collected American cars - big American cars - that's what's in the photograph.
DF: For New Gold Dream, I had no influence in that at all.
RP: It was Malcolm all the way.
DF: The template is a bit 'New Testament' as well.
RP: I wouldn't be able to read anything into that yet it sets the style.
DF: There's no way there's any 'Paul McCartney's dead' in it or anything.

RP: I think Jim was telling me it was this idea of gold running through. Alchemy and the fact you were having a golden time and the summer was golden - that sort of thing?
DF: You could be right. Someone Somewhere In Summertime was - it wasn't religious - we weren't religious or anything - the Pope was in Bellahouston Park and all these people wanted to see him. Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, he was using our mics and all that, he was using our P.A. Mental! And our sound man doing the sound. Maybe there was music - I don't know. That was a really mentally sunny day for Glasgow. That's what inspired him to write about that. There's nothing in the lyrics that you can read that into it. But I remember him telling me that's what inspired him to write it.

DF: Mike Ogletree playing the drums and the cymbals. Brian McGee was the first drummer and Kenny Hyslop was the second. It was Mike Ogletree, the third drummer, who did that. He toured Australia with us the second time we went out - which would've been the third tour.

RP: At one point you had two drummers didn't you?
DF: New Gold Dream - there's actually three drummers on it. Kenny Hyslop did Promised You A Miracle and when it became a hit Kenny was off - he was gone. Mike came in and he toured with us in Europe and Australia and all around. We'd recorded the album and he did that tour. At one point we had to get Mel - Pete Walsh siad "It's taking a bit longer to do the drums here. Mike, do you mind we get someone else in because we're running out of time? And we really need to move on it." "That's fine with me." He was a really easy-going guy was Mike. And Mel came in. And Mel did a few tracks on it. On New Gold Dream it's both of them. I was in there on bass to play along with them. The two of them were facing each other with a kit each in the live room - and I was in the live room with them. So the three of us were there. They were looking at each other - the two of them. They both had a drum machine as well - and then there was percussion after that. So you've got two full drum kits and two drummers playing at the same time, the drum machine and then a lot of percussion to top it. So it was just monster. If you imagine that sound - and I was doing my tank division bass.

RP: You're steaming along at this stage, you've got commercial success but you're regarded well artistically which I know is really important for you guys as musicians. You're still essentially a cool band and at this stage Jim is becoming a confident performer with his skeletal figure and eye make-up - there's a peppering of mysteriousness about him - using lots of gestures on stage. What are your memories of the days when you experienced your first big success in the UK?
DF: It's hard to pinpoint that because every single gig we did, apart from one, at that time. I'm talking about from when we started, everywhere was packed - except when we were at the Stagecoach which was a famous gig, I remember [because] Jim got fleas, [laughs], there was hardly anybody there - but everywhere else we played sold out. We just kept getting bigger - playing bigger halls - there were people queuing around buildings to get tickets. The success just meant you got to playing bigger venues.
RP: Because we don't realise as music fans just what it's like. Because you're in a creative bubble. It's not something you're particularly aware of is it?
DF: You're not. For me, that was the best time, when we were at that level. If it could've stayed there. But it got bigger and bigger and bigger - it got so big we did ten nights at Hammersmith Odeon. On a roll. That wasn't enjoyable at all. None of us enjoyed that. Ten gigs at the Hammersmith Odeon. That held about four and a half thousand - so that was forty-five thousand people. Just like going to your work. Didn't really enjoy that so much. But we held the record for a while. And then a few weeks later Elton came in and did about twenty nights. And then Clapton did about thirty seven. [Laughs]

RP: Success is cemented with the top 20 hit Waterfront. With the characteristic Derek Forbes bass - as you say "rumbling" along - surely it was you who came up with that idea?
DF: I did. Jim will tell you that. Mick, Charlie and Jim were in London. Mel was in London. And I was at home in Glasgow. They were doing different things and then they came into a rehearsal room and I was to go down and meet them so I went down to hear the new stuff. Charlie and Mick used to write wee parts together and I would come up with basslines all the time - it wasn't a problem for me to do that. As soon as I heard the drummer, you could tap your feet and I would write something to it. They knew I'd be there when it came to it. I'd just bought this Dynacord combo amp with a switch on it that could record a sample - a second and a half - and I just went "Da da, da da."
DF: I got that and then I played my fretless on the top. And then "Dum dum deeee". The harmonic. That's all fretless. That's what I took to them. And Jim said "What's that Dan?" in the studio. And I said "That's something I wrote on my own." And he said "Mel? Can you play along with it?" And Mel played along. And he said "Mick, can you do something with that? Can you play along with Dan? The melody?" So the two of them are playing that, and then Charlie came in, with "Daa Daa". "What's that chord Charlie?" "We'll put that in." We'd written it in no time. At the end of the rehearsal. So we just wrote it - that was it.
DF: And we played it the next day. Because we were rehearsing to go to Phoenix Park as special guests of U2. And we'd played it the next day - me with that wee amp, we'd hit the right spot. We just go "De de de de".
RP: I mean the structure's always there. You can change it. It's such a great structure isn't it? My goodness, these just come around out of the blue every so often. You don't get them every day. That's such a good structure of music isn't it? Did that come before the lyrics?
DF: That all came before the lyrics. I got all the music together. And then the guys just played along with me doing that. And then we worked out different parts - you know the stabs - "Bam bam". Which is a huge part of it as well. And Mel doing is "So far, so good" bit with the drums.
RP: You've got the steady bass going through which is brilliant. And you can add these splashes can't you? It just works so well.
DF: There's a slap I've got in the middle. It's better when it's up high in the mix - then you can hear that. I'm doing that with slap and it just sounds like helicopters coming because it was really percussive. When I'm doing it live I make sure people hear that bit.
RP: It's such a great bassline. You must be so proud of it. Simple, but effective.
DF: Simple, but there are four parts to it. People just think its "de de, de de, de de". That's it. But there's all that melody. I play all that when I play it live.

RP: Without exception everyone speaks highly of Steve Lillywhite. Mark Brzezicki of Big Country calls him "the great encourager." Colin Moulding states he's easy to get on with, processing great people skills. What unique skills does producer Steve Lillywhite have? What makes him so special?
DF: He's just one of the guys. He's just like a kid. He's the same as us. He won't tell you "Oh, don't do that." He'll just encourage you to do what you want. I'm sure he was the same with U2. He wanted us, that album, to sound more "live" - the live show was great whereas New Gold Dream was more - what I would term - a coffee table album. It's not really - it's a bit smoother. Some people said they couldn't hear the bass on Sparkle In The Rain.

RP: I've got to be honest. Many of of us were wanting New Gold Dream 2. But instead, Simple Minds gave us Sparkle In The Rain. Whilst the first four songs are really good, because you'd set the bar so high, Sparkle In The Rain - whether it's right, whether it's wrong - is seen as a disappointing album by some people. How do you regard that album in comparison to New Gold Dream? It's entirely different.
DF: It is entirely different. Again that will be the Steve Lillywhite influence as well, going a different route, trying to sound more live. What you would see when you come to see the band and actually playing live - and there are some wacky songs on it. There's a lot of experimentation going on as well. But we were doing ridiculous hours - we would do 24 hours. "We've only got one day left so we're going to go right through. Is everyone OK with that?" We were going to go through to about 8 in the morning - is that fine - and it was now 10 o'clock the day before. We'd stop for dinner and all that on the fly. But that's what we were doing. It was a bit labour intensive.

RP: Was it a bit more of a chore because you had this marvellous success with New Gold Dream on Sparkle in the Rain?
DF: I never saw it as a chore. I remember the The Kick Inside Of Me - I remember we were inside doing that and I thought Jim's vocal on East At Easter was fantastic. I remember watching him doing that. I could see a silhouette of Jim doing that and he was performing. And then we did The Kick Inside Of Me when I famously bust my thumb while we were recording it and the blood was going everywhere. And we had Paul McGuinness, the manager of U2, sitting there watching us do that and I did it in the control room - he was sitting down and I was standing up playing it - and everyone was in the control room watching me do this recording it. And when I burst my thumb, there was no way I was going to stop, I got the take and Paul said "The once and future king." That's what he called me at that point. Couldn't believe it. Because it was a proper thumb that had gone - if I'd left it and tried to do it again with an Elastoplast then it just wouldn't have worked. You wouldn't get the sound. So that was strange. But I impressed them all with the level of commitment.

RP: Your thoughts: Sparkle In The Rain was a progression?
DF: Not many of the songs could've been on New Gold Dream. We toured for a long time after New Gold Dream. It was more spread out, we took more time touring the world. So it was a longer time. So maybe that's naturally what happened. We'd be on stage writing stuff. I like it. I like Shake Off The Ghosts and stuff. I liked all that filmic stuff we were doing. We were starting to think like that.
DF: We were watching loads of films. We had a few tracks that were on films - there's an obscure French one with Premonition on it. That's the thing about Simple Minds - that music would always get played on loads of different things - the older Simple Minds stuff DJs have used. I think there's sixty different tracks. Theme For Great Cities has been on loads of tracks.

RP: Don't You (Forget About Me) was brought to the group, something of a Psychedelic Furs sounding song from what Jim tells me. With the group effectively rebuilding that song - now Jim states that as you had such great material for the next album and were so focussed on working with Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain, the issue of writing credits didn't even cross your mind. But the bottom line is Simple Minds completely rebuilt the song Don't You (Forget About Me). Can you tell me how you rebuilt it?
DF: The story about that is that we were in Barwell Court. That was a big house that John Giblin stayed at with his wife - it had a rehearsal room, studio there, everything for us to work and get ourselves ready for the next album which was Once Upon A Time at that time. We'd been offered this - Keith Forsey had sent us a track and he wanted us to do it for a film. We never knew what the film was at the time. And we thought "It doesn't sound like us." And we never realised he'd offered it to Billy Idol and he'd knocked it back. Or offered it to Bryan Ferry and he'd knocked it back.
DF: Jim wasn't that keen on doing it. So the rest of us: Mel, Charlie, Mick and I said "What if we do it?" And Jim was like "If you want to do it then do it - whatever." I was going to sing it because Jim wasn't going to do it. But I convinced him. I said "Jim, this is a film company. A Hollywood film company that are putting a film out. It's going to be a hit. They will pay for it to be a hit." We saw the film, we went in with the guys from the film company, it wasn't the final edit, just to see it. We loved it - we thought it was a great film. And as my kids have grown up - and they love it. And when we play that song - everybody knows it. "Oh, I had that at my High school prom." Or "That was me when we got married."
RP: It takes you back to a period of time, doesn't it Derek? That's just a fantastic feeling.
DF: It's comfort for a lot of people. And they all sing along. And you can milk it to death [laughs]. And no-one seems to get fed up with it. The only people who get fed up with it are probably the Simple Minds fans because, again, it's a departure from "cool" Simple Minds. Although still it's a great youngster's track.
RP: The thing is, Jim brought in the "La la las"
DF: Jim started with the "Hey hey heys" - as much a great a part as the "La la las." "Hey hey hey ooh" - that was Jim, that was the Simple Minds. In addition to basically having us playing it as well. You have the sound. The bassline, for me, is just "dum-de-dum-de-dum" - it's just the way I play it as well. Nothing challenging you know.
RP: Understood. Having said that, it is dramatic - it's filmic, isn't it? You've got that Derek Forbes insistent bass, part of that rising musical crescendo, leading into the "singalong" ending. It's second only to Hey Jude to be honest - that's how big it is now.
DF: [Laughs] Is that what they're saying?
RP: It's what I'm saying. [Laughs] Because it's the 80s version, isn't it?
DF: It probably is, aye. Everybody knows it.
RP: Whenever I want a feel-good song that covers the 80s [sings] "Don't You forget about me." It's fantastic.
DF: It's having the power of Simple Minds. It's having Mel doing that drum fill - they've now got a girl drummer, it took her a wee while to get it, she's a fantastic drummer and she learned that from Mel. it's fantastic.

RP: It's interesting because it's got all the best bits of Simple Minds in. But I suppose, for Simple Minds maybe, it's maybe not your favourite song.
DF: I've got so many favourites with Simple Minds. I loved Sweat In Bullet - that got Pete Walsh - that's why he wanted to work with the band because he heard Sweat In Bullet.

RP: A very imaginative bassline that. It's amazing. With Once Upon A Time, in my view, Simple Minds got back to their best - I've got views, you can tell, about the album. After New Gold Dream, it's not one of my favourites, Sparkle In The Rain, I'm a fan, I've got views - you know that, you respect that. But I feel they really got back to their best on Once Upon A Time and there's not really a musically weak track on that album. Now - I know you contributed initial ideas with some of the songs on that album - although you're not credited as a co-writer - now I'd like to hear, in your opinion, why you were dismissed from
Simple Minds?
DF: It was jealousy. This is from Jim's mouth. Jealousy. I had a girlfriend at the time - and it was stupid of me, it was my Yoko Ono moment and took her everywhere with me - and Jim didn't like it. It was taking me away from the band. Although I loved the band - when I was out that was a plane crash to me. That was like I lost my family - where is everybody? It was a killer. That's basically that's what it was.
DF: I got called in to see the manager, Bruce Findlay. Charlie and Mick were there and Paul Kerr, Jim's brother. And Paul Kerr was there and he was angry - because he was angry with Jim because it was Jim's decision. The two of them - Charlie and Mick - were in tears - sitting there and watching. I walked in and Bruce Findlay usually takes about an hour and a half to say something to get the point over and I walked into the room and just went "What is it? Am I sacked?" And he just went "Yeah." [Laughs] That was it. It was pretty traumatic for me.
DF: They did regret it. They all regretted it. The thing is we had been writing the songs. I've got the demos of us, everybody, we're all talking in it, and we're writing songs, and I was called the scribe and I wrote down all the parts and the names we had for the songs before they were properly named and stuff like that. And it's there for everyone to hear. It's exactly the same songs that they put on. I get told, I phoned the office, and said "What are you doing about the songs?" And I was told "Oh, we're just scrapping them. We're not going to use any of that."
RP: I do feel for you. Because you're not credited as a co-writer. And I wasn't there but the sense is that you should've been. How do you get through that? Because they're big songs on that album.
DF: I never wrote Alive And Kicking. I never wrote that. That, for me, that was the best song they'd written without me. I always think that. I like some of the other ones they wrote after that.
RP: You wrote Ghostdancing with them?
DF: We played that at Barrowlands in 1984. So that was a bit strange.

RP: But you have to come through it, don't you? You have to move on. It's a fact that you're not a co-writer even though you had input. What I'd like to ask you is how could it have been handled differently?
DF: I don't think it could've been at that time. [I had] Too much of a personality - too much power. And doing newspapers and stuff like that - doing interviews. People wanted to speak to me - [Jim] didn't like that. And he admitted it that anyway - so that's fine.
RP: It's all in the past isn't it?

Derek Forbes: Early Days Simple Minds To Leaving The Band
Retropopic 183

Edsel issued two promotional sets for the Rejuvenation: 2001-2014 CD/DVD box set. The first was the seven CDs and one DVD from the commercial box packaged up as plain pressings in simple black-and-white typed sleeve. The second, and slightly smaller set, included just the seven CDs, but with much more colourful packaging.

Following on from the last update, BMG Rights Management (Germany) also pressed up their own versions of the The Signal And The Noise and Sense Of Discovery singles. These are especially interesting as they're watermarked. So there's a German promo CD for each of the Walk Between Worlds singles.

Keeping on the subject of German promos, new promo varients of Rockets and Stars Will Lead The Way have turned up. They feature just the radio edits of both tracks, but have different label and sleeve designs.

There have been several on-line interviews published over the last month. These include chats with Mick MacNeil, Derek Forbes and the latest entry in the decade-spanning series between Todd Richards and Jim. There are hours of new material and revelations to discover.

So the first is an interview with Derek Forbes where he talks to Retropopic about his introduction to music, playing in Spain and joining Simple Minds. The full interview can be found on (I've only transcribed the interview from when Derek Forbes returns to Glasgow).

Audio: Saints And Sinners

In 1977, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, influenced by punk, began their musical career, in Johnny And The Self Abusers. How did you get to join the Glasgow punk group, The Subhumans, later known as The Subs, in 1977?
DF: I went back [to Glasgow] for my 21st birthday, 22nd June 1977. And I moved into a flat with a guitar-player friend of mine, Kevin Kee. I was playing lead guitar with him in other bands before that, before I went to Spain. Because I was a lead guitar player from 16 so I was now 21 - and I had my life all over in Spain - I was playing six days rehearsals and one day off on a Sunday - so we played 7 nights a week. We rehearsed from 2 'til 6 - every day apart from a Sunday - and then we would play on stage from 10 o'clock at night to half-past four in the mornings, 7 nights a week. And the bass player couldn't sing and play bass at the same time - so I ended up having to do a couple of hours of bass and then going on lead guitar. I was playing whatever was the hits at the time I was having duals with some of the guitar players from the other pubs or clubs as well - you used to get the guys coming up to me and I'd be playing with my teeth - I'm just a bit of a showman.
DF: The thing is, when I came back and I moved in with Kevin, and Kevin says 'Do you want to join this band? You'll need to play bass because I'll be doing guitar.' And they had another guitar player - he sounded like a tractor revving up in the background - he was awful.
DF: [Kevin's] now a very successful rehearsal room owner. He's got this whole big complex and Beyonce's been there - he's done very well. Kevin and I went down to London with a demo that we'd made. Stiff Records were interested and they were the first punk label so we signed up to that.
RP: Obviously you were aware of punk around you then?
DF: Well, Duncan Barnwell came out [to Spain]. He was playing in Johnny And The Self Abusers - that's a friend of mine from school. I'd taught him guitar - well, I helped him. I never taught him completely - that's wrong - Duncan did it himself as well. He ended up in Simple Minds - he was from The Abusers and when I joined Simple Minds, Duncan was there. With Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee and Mick MacNeil. And Tony Donald was playing bass. Tony played at least one gig, possibly two gigs, with Simple Minds before I came in. My drummer left, Brian McGee did a guest spot for us, with The Subs. And then I reciprocated - I did a thing for them.

Audio: Gimme Gimme Your Heart by The Subs.

RP: To be honest, I've listened to Gimme Gimme You Heart - I mean it was on a One record. That was a label attached to Stiff wasn't it?
DF: It was actually Stiff Records but it was the One Off series. We were Off One - that was our [catalogue] number. Off Two was Madness.
RP: I really like that record. It's a good record. And, from my point of view, if it was released in 1977, I actually think it might have become a hit. But, the thing is, it was released in 1978. With the on-set of new wave, arguably that sort of simplistic punk sound became less acceptable. I just wanted to know what your thoughts are on that - that first record of yours?
DF: Well, we were told that it was a hit in Belgium. And I'm sure it was. When people coming on to you, and people in Canada coming on to me as well and saying 'I loved it. I loved The Subs.' It was a double-A, because Party Clothes was the other one. And it was great to work with the producer, Larry Wallis, who was the original lead guitarist of Motorhead.

Audio: Ace Of Spades by Motorhead

DF: I knew Lemmy. He just turned up in my life all over the place. With Simple Minds we were on a farm [probably the Farm recording studio]. And he came to the farm to get a motorbike and got dragged away on a motorbike. We've seen him in rehearsal places. I've seen him in Crazy Girls in Hollywood. And I remember, my friend Ray McVey and I, with Ian Asprey from The Cult - and we were going out to do a re-enactment, a World War II re-enactment - Ray and I needed money for the blanks basically - it was in an army camp - proper training - and we went at half five in the morning and we were standing at a cash machine in London, in Kensington, and there was a tap on the shoulder and an 'Awright boys?' and it was Lemmy again. It was just great.
RP: He's a character.
DF: Saying about The Subs there, the actual set of The Subs was incredible. And that had a big part of me getting into Simple Minds as well because every show we did around Glasgow - mainly the Mars Bar - Jim Kerr would be there with his girlfriend to see us because he wanted me - I'd met him when I was in college, when I was a painter and decorator, when I was an apprentice, and he came to a gig with a friend ... because he was into music Jim.
RP: Just coming in there. About the single still. What intrigues me about that single is you've already come some way in developing that unique style of yours Derek. Haven't you?

Audio: Peaches by The Stranglers

RP: I know you said you were influenced by Jean-Jacques Burnel. In simple terms, what sound do you look to achieve when you're playing the bass.
DF: With JJ Burnell it's the growl. He used a flanger with it as well. It made me write things. It was just a bit more colourful and - I remember someone saying that the bass should be felt not heard. It's in your face or nothing. Because I was a lead guitar player - that's why I come up with these melodies and tunes. McCartney-esque.
RP: As you say, you do get to join Simple Minds. You stand in for them. What are your first memories then, going back to meeting Jim and Charlie before Simple Minds.
DF: I saw them playing in the Doune Castle in Glasgow. They looked great. Charlie looked amazing - I thought he was really striking, very sharp, with his wee haircut all dressed in black. Jim seemed influenced by Howard Devoto - the one from Magazine - was one of the people he would cite - and Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground and Peter Gabriel as well.
DF: Luckily that side of it moved on from the punk so you could wear make-up. It was a bit more wild at that time. I was wearing leopard skin suits. And with The Subs I was wearing pink satin suits. And white satin suits. And whacky make up around my eyes - I looked like a panda. My wife's actually a professional makeup artist for film and television so I could've done with her at that time.
DF: Jim had been in the audience of The Subs for so many gigs, so I got to meet him there and I didn't meet Charlie until the Doune Castle. We just got on like a house on fire really. I think things won't working with my whole thing. I was going to go back to lead guitar, because I had my Les Paul my hard earned money had paid for - I just wanted to do that. I didn't want to be a bass player. The songs were interesting at that point - they were even more interesting later on. Once we'd did that first album, that's when I became a writer, really, with them. No they were weird. I liked the weird vibe.
DF: I wanted to pursue the lead guitar thing. And then someone stole my guitar. And I know who it was now. [Laughs] And I was going to thank him - I'm not going to hit them.

Audio: Top Of The Pops by The Rezillos

DF: At that time, I was asked to audition for The Rezillos. Luckily I never go it. I loved wee Jo Callis - he was great, he wanted me. But they got this cool looking dude called Simon Templar - which isn't a lie! [Laughs] He got the job. And then someone stole my guitar. I went to rehearsals with him and I went 'Oh right, I'll do the bass then. Someone's nicked my guitar - I can't do lead guitar. I can't afford it.' That was it - I was in.
DF: Then they got rid of Duncan Barnwell. The reason was that he was playing Led Zepplein stuff with a band called Big Dick And The Four Skins - believe it or not - and he was still in the loon pants phase. He wasn't for changing. The record company guy said 'You need to get rid of the guy. The other guitar player. He doesn't look the part.' That was all it was because he was great - Duncan - he was great, it was great they had two lead guitar players as well. So there was confusion there. And Duncan had to go.

Audio: Chelsea Girl

RP: November 1978 when we get Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, yourself and Mick MacNeil. My understanding is pretty much straight away you work on the demos of songs that form the first album. So, just to get a flavour for the listeners, what was the mood of the new band you'd joined?
DF: Very optimistic. They had everything in place for guys so young. Very professional the whole thing. They had their own big bus, they had their own lighting person and sound person, and they were sister and brother, David and Jaine Henderson. That was different from everybody else because we put a show on and we dressed the part. We looked an established band. And we could all play. Mick MacNeil was great - because he never knew anybody, didn't even know David Bowie as he was from the highlands, he was playing all the Teuchter stuff - Teuchter is what we called people living in the highlands. It was Scottish bagpipe stuff. He knew nothing - it was a blank page.
DF: Later on, the track New Gold Dream, [sings first riff] that's an accordion part and it worked really well. How does he play that?

Audio: New Gold Dream

RP: I'll just summarise about what I think about Life In A Day. It's got the intriguing front cover and the two singles off it are really good. But the bottom line is that Charlie and Jim have all the writing credits.
DF: They did write a lot of the songs but we actually wrote in the studio as well so that was a wee bit cheeky of them. [Laughs]

Audio: All For You

DF: All For You we wrote. I remember doing that in the Townhouse Studios. The bass line is me starting my whacky bass lines. There were a few things - we definitely added to it - we didn't get any publishing for that. But to be fair that was the first album. And we made quite a pretty penny out of it, but not anything like what was to come.

Audio: Waterfront

The Musical Story Of Derek Forbes To Life In A Day
Retropopic 500
August 2020

The Don't You (Forget About Me) demo has become the subject of legend. Composed and performed Keith Forsey, the band didn't think much of it - and Jim likened it to a bad Psychedelic Furs B-side - but it remained very much under lock-and-key. (Keith Forsey does sound like Richard Butler hence the comparison).

That was until an on-line article, a multiple source interview piece, extensively detailed the making of the song, and included the demo itself. The rights probably resided with Keith Forsey and/or A&M, but the legals weren't completely checked, and the demo was quickly yanked from the Internet.

Well, it's back. And given its history, it would be prudent to make your own copy, as it may not survive online for much longer.

Don't You (Forget About Me) Demo

The demo also clears up an oft-asked question. After the opening credits, there's a short version of the song which plays as the various members of The Breakfast Club make their way to the school. Turns out it's the demo.

The 2002 remasters and their promos are now a staple part of the discography. But two Danish promos (Once Upon A Time Remaster Danish Promo and Real Life Remaster Danish Promo) suggest that other Virgin subsiduaries were also pressing up promotional sets.

And in the same vein, BMG Rights Management (Germany) also pressed up their own versions of the Magic and Summer singles. These are especially interesting as they're watermarked.

"Today I finally got it framed, so let me show you this unique item that I had worked on for many many months. When I first saw the cover artwork of 40: Best Of I thought how great it would be to recreate it with real badges. So after a while I decided that I will make it. I had to re-design all 233 badges, set them to be the same size as the two non circular original Real Life badges which I bought for this purpose, and then I got them made by a badge factory. Thanks to Stuart Crouch for the amazing artwork and his support. As you can see it is HUGE, about 30" x 30" (see the second photo that has the LP next to it for comparison). It took many hours to create the designs by scanning photos and record covers, and it was even more difficult to place the badges individually to the right position. But it was worth it. Now I need to find out where I would place it in the house (and how to ensure that it wouldn't fall as it is really heavy - about 15 kilograms)." - Otto Jung

An amazing piece of work. The original artwork was created digitally by Stuart Crouch so this is the only real version of the sleeve; plus some of the badges were designed specifically for the artwork so Otto has the only physical versions of those now.

Collectors may recognise Otto's name as he supplied many of the scans of rarer promos used on Dream Giver over the years. So thanks again for those Otto and thanks for posting the pictures of this amazing piece of work.

Le Shoeclack Dechaine, Quebec, Canada
October 21st, 1981

"It's been a little while since the Shoeclack presented us with a show. This bar, which used to produce almost every month a band, often European, coming here to start a career in North American, (Telephonne and Fingerprintz, for example), had slowed down its activities a bit lately."

"Last month, Simple Minds, a Scottish band, was introduced to us a little by surprise, the show having been announced barely a week in advance. Simple Minds, of which very few of the 300 people present that evening had ever heard of, gave a great show. The music (let's say New Wave) is always very intense, impeccable arrangements for each of the instruments, a voice, that of Jim Kerr, who often reminded us of Bryan Ferry's from Roxy Music, everything gave off a very special atmosphere, a little intoxicating. Add to that, an impeccable sound, making it the best concert we ever heard at the Shoeclack."

"Only shadow in the picture, however, the show only lasted 55 minutes, and there were no encores. It is a shame because the comments heard after, were more about ticket price/duration of show, than of the quality of the show itself. Alain Martineau of Polygram explained to us that the band, particularly drummer Kenny Hyslop, who was new in the group, had experienced technical problems. For this reason, Simple Minds decided not to do an encore at all rather than risk making a bad one. If they had immediately explained the situation to the audience it is likely we would have kept a better memory. All in all, we were treated to an evening of excellent music and we can only wish that Simple Minds will be back soon." - Quebec Rock, December 1981/January 1982

Many thanks to Philippe Labelle for the scan and the translation from the original French.

I'm back.

I've been working on some projects for the band. This used up my spare time.

So when it came to updating the website, I discovered that I had a 40 track live album, 40 track compilation album and a super deluxe box-set to cover. And a tour. And two new books. And a convention. And Derek Forbes And The Dark. And various interviews and magazine pieces. And the COVID-19 situation. And everything being rescheduled...

I'm almost up-to-date now, but this looked like a good point to stop and say "I'm still going."

Go back to the news section from 2019 and read from there. That's where the story picks up and there's a lot of material there.

The following parts of the discography have been updated:

Also, information about all the songs recorded during this period has been added:

Plus, details about the "unreleased" tracks which were mentioned in the Street Fighting Years book:

The postponed White Hot Day Simple Minds Convention has now been rescheduled for Saturday 17th October.

Rescheduled from 21st March, original tickets remain valid. All other details remain the same.


We know! We know! Some may be thinking "What is this? No more Book Of Brilliant Things?"

Well, we've had a change of heart and decided to re-think the book we are currently working on in collaboration with Simple Minds' fans worldwide.

First thing is to make clear to all who have already sent your stories to . Your contribution is well appreciated and still applies to this new title.

And for those thinking "What? Have I missed something?" Then here goes:


We want your stories and anecdotes for this book.
Want to know how you discovered our music, and what your relationship is with Simple Minds?
How it began and how and why it has continued?
Why for you was it Simple Minds?
Additionally, what are your memories of seeing us live over the 40 + plus years of our existence?
Perhaps you saw us in the early days during our first ever gigs in pubs and clubs?
What did it mean to see us for the first time, or even more recently.
Maybe you've travelled far and wide to see us in theatres, arenas, stadiums?
Crossed continents possibly?
Wherever in the world you have connected with Simple Minds, why not let your story be known, including of course your connection with others who share your enthusiasm for our music?
Maybe you met some of those at gigs, maybe you became associates through our social network sites?
Likewise, maybe you worked with Simple Minds.
A crew member, perhaps you worked with with one of the record companies/concert promoters who promoted our music?
Maybe you were a DJ who played our songs, or perhaps you have covered our songs in your own band?
Whether you have been a fan since our very beginning or perhaps since teatime last night?
What's your story?
All this and more let us know.
More than any other publications, your unique stories will be at the heart of this book.
Simple Minds don't do things half measures.
We want HEART OF THE CROWD to be something that both band and fans can be proud of!
We need your input therefore.
Relying on your support - as always
Thanks to all!
Jim Kerr

If you would like to contribute to Heart Of The Crowd then do send your memories - before the end of July - to Stories of approximately 350 words would be great, photos of course would be welcome also!

"It's quite amazing the stuff you can sometimes find lying within dusty boxes in the corner of an attic room."

"The Race is the Prize written by Alfred Boss was the first ever authorised book on Simple Minds, and until a few days ago when I came across it inside one of those boxes, I don't think I had ever set eyes on it, since - well, since the day it was published possibly?"

"It was an odd experience to flick through thoughts and quotations that I held as someone in my early 20's - and in so many ways still lacking any major experience. And yes, it certainly all seems like a lifetime ago."

"A couple of things I did correctly foresee way back then in 1984, was that Simple Minds would be ever changing and always seek to evolve. I also pledged that we were in this as a lifetime commitment, that we would aim to continue making music for a very long time to come."

"Much praise for Alfred Bos. He did a great job of capturing the feeling within the music and culture of Simple Minds at that period. A wonderful job in fact."

"Re: books on Simple Minds. As many will already know, we are working currently on a forthcoming book based on the experiences of our fans, how they first connected with our music etc. - and what it means to be an enthusiast of Simple Minds. Within that endeavour we are looking to create something to which all longterm Simple Minds fans will hopefully want to contribute their stories. And that together, both band and fans, we can create something truly special. More on that coming very soon!" - Jim, 26th June 2020

"Wow! Joy Division, OMD and Simple Minds, when ticket prices were one pound fifty. Now less than the price of a small packet of crisps? I still have memories of turning up at Eric's in Liverpool, 1979, and seeing that poster on the wall. Realising that most of the bands were already in my record collection and feeling frustrated that I could not see them as we were always out on tour ourselves, and rarely crossing paths. No matter how friendly and how enthusiastic the audiences are, I still get momentarily intimidated when turning up to perform in cities that historically have produced the greatest music. Liverpool is certainly one of those cities! Always feel honoured to play in those kind of places. Always want to go beyond when you walk on stage" - Jim, 14th June 2020

Producer and musician Steven Wilson and singer and songwriter Tim Bowness have started The Album Years Podcast where they talk about releases during a particular year.

The first part covers 1980 during which both Simple Minds and Empires And Dance are discussed.

Luckily the section where they talk about the band's third album is available as a clip on YouTube:

"I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but Bill Graham, the Hot Press journalist, was some kind of seer. He certainly had a very big brain, and he certainly did U2 a favour when he pointed us in the direction of Paul McGuinness and said 'This should be your manager.'"

"When we could just about get into wine bars and underground cellars age 18 (sort of!) and met Bill after he'd been surfing some burgundy, he would get very excited and repeat "81-82-83-84" into my ears... I thought he was suggesting that U2 would eventually get there during those years. What I didn't realize is he was hallucinating a hook for a Simple Minds song that would prove germane to U2's evolution from a rock band into something much more ecstatic. Without the album, NEW GOLD DREAM, I don't believe there would have been an UNFORGETTABLE FIRE or a JOSHUA TREE... Charlie and Mick, you accessed this ecstatic music and Jim had the poetry to paint the picture."

New Gold Dream
Sun is set in front of me, worldwide on the widest screen
New Gold Dream
Burning bridge and ecstasy, crashing beasts and fantasy

"You promised us a miracle, and they're all around us. Thank you. See you with SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IN SUMMERTIME."

15th May 2020

Information about the new album has been trickling out from a variety of sources over the past year. Surprisingly there's quite a lot.

Now in shutdown and with the tour postponed until next year, Jim and Charlie are now working on new songs. No real titles or tangible information yet, but it's good to know that it's being worked on.

Life During Wartime

As though the sky itself had fallen and now lay submerged under the surface of the water.

Not to be missed, I decided to pull over and get out the car for a closer look - in doing so unavoidably recalling the kids bedtime story of 'Chicken Little.' - a tale with a moral in the form of a chicken who believes that the sky is falling and the world is coming to an end.

Despite the odd negative 3AM thought, I don't believe the world is coming to an end. At least not more than I ever did - that means never. That said, I'm not stoic enough (yet) to stop myself occasionally wishing that this current shared reality is nothing more than a warped dream that we are all due to wake from imminently.

But no - this is real life baby.

And as David Byrne sang in the Talking Heads classic Life During Wartime: "This ain't no party, This ain't no disco. This ain't no moving around."

So instead of being on stage over the last months, doing what I love doing more than anything else. I returned to Scotland and went back to doing the things I love doing almost as much: Making banana bread, watching highlights of football matches from back in the years when players wore shorts painfully tight, making DIY face masks out of some old bandanas that I had lying around!

You know I'm only kidding. Right?

Instead, I went straight back to my studio room and began to lose myself in writing stuff. Stuff that from somewhere inside I feel the compulsion to express.

The good news is that within days the Simple Minds creative supply chain was open for business. Testament being new tunes that started to arrive from Charlie Burchill, Ged Grimes, Owen Parker and Martin Hanlin. Martin even managed to find a demo recording of a long lost song. An idea of ours from somewhere around the late '90's, most likely when we were busying ourselves with preparations to record Our Secrets Are The Same. Working on that idea again earlier this morning, I felt like a kid who has rediscovered a once favourite toy - thought to be lost forever - now turned up within the darkened corner of a dusty attic room.

And Jeez! What a treasure of a song this is now turning out to be.

There is more to life than work however, or there should be for those lucky enough to have any work, and of course I've missed the ongoing everyday interaction with others. But I've also experienced some unique moments over these weeks. Moments that I would have most likely missed under normal circumstances. Standing at the waters edge, staring at my solitary reflection on the surface of the remnant of Scotland's ice age - being one!

Jim Kerr
1st May 2020

Due to the White Hot Day Simple Minds Convention being postponed, the next book in Hanging Around Book's collection of Simple Minds photographs, which was due to be released at the convention, has been issued today.

This is my favourite from the trilogy. Richard Coward's work was used extensively but he only received fleeting or no credit - so it's good to finally be able to put locations, dates and - most importantly - a name to these images.

The images of the band taken at Edinburgh's Royal High School, and used as early Zoom promotional glossies, were by him.

The eerie blurred black-and-white stills used for Empires And Dance were also shot by Richard, the result of experimentation with stills and television images. The images on the lyrics sheet were from a portrait shoot at his home in Wapping, taken against a brick wall. Thanks to the terse label copy of Empires And Dance, the credit was just for Coward.

And finally, unused images from a photo shoot at Glasgow's botanic gardens were used for the Celebration album.

These images, and many alterantive and unused versions, can be found in the book.

Available from Hanging Around Books.

The impending UK lockdown, and the various lockdowns throughout Europe, have meant that both the Derek Forbes And The Dark tour, and the Simple Minds Convention, have both regrettably been postponed.

Despite their best efforts, which included playing two consecutive sets to reduced audience numbers at Copenhagen, the 40 Years Of Hits Tour has regrettibly temporarily come to an end. With lockdown in Europe, the future of this tour is now in question.

In seeking out rare and previously undiscovered and unseen music-related images, the long hours of research usually begin by making contact with friends and families of both the artists and the photographers. In the case of "The Suit He Wears Belongs To Me", a recent conversation with the supremely brilliant record producer John Leckie, proved to be fortuitous. John happened to mention that his close friend Richard Coward was not only responsible for the TV imagery that featured on the sleeve of the magnificent album John produced (Empires and Dance) but that he had also shot the band in Edinburgh, Glasgow and at his studio in Wapping, East London.

John informed me that Richard sadly passed away in 2014, but that his wife Siobhan was now living in Edinburgh. It has been my delight to work with Siobhan in going through Richard's archive and digitising the negatives to bring this collection together.

As you'll see in the book, Richard manages to capture a diversity of styles with the 1980 line-up of the band. There's the aforementioned TV images, band line-ups in the Botanic Gardens of both Edinburgh and Glasgow, atop Edinburgh's Calton Hill and in front of the city's former Royal High School, as well as a series of superbly executed studio portraits. It will come as no surprise that the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland has purchased one of Richard's portraits of Jim Kerr for their collection and it's a fitting tribute to both a fine photographer and his subject matter.

With foreword by Ronnie Gurr and endpiece by Siobhan Coward.

The next installment of Simple Minds photographs from Hanging Around Books will be exclusively available at the White Hot Day Simple Minds Convention on the 21st March 2020. They will go on general release later in the year.

Street Fighting Years Super Deluxe was released today. The band marked the occasion by playing Street Fighting Years during their gig at Stockholm, Sweden.

Annexet, Stockholm, Sweden
6th March 2020
Main Set #1: The Signal And The Noise / Waterfront / I Travel / Love Song / Let There Be Love / Up On The Catwalk / Glittering Prize / Promised You A Miracle / The American / Hunter And The Hunted / Belfast Child / Stand By Love
Main Set #2: Theme For Great Cities / Book Of Brilliant Things / She's A River / Real Life / Someone Somewhere In Summertime / See The Lights / All The Things She Said / Street Fighting Years / Don't You (Forget About Me) / New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
Encore: Let It All Come Down / Alive And Kicking / Sanctify Yourself

"Stockholm will always loom large in the history of Simple Minds, since some of our most memorable nights on stage occurred right here. From the smallest club venues, (Only 20 years old when first performing in Stockholm) going all the way to a stadium show, the locals wholly encouraged us with their enthusiasm for our music."

"Maybe we will have a chance to re-connect over this weekend with some of those who go all the way back to those days with us, while also initiating a bond with newer fans who are possibly seeing Simple Minds for the first time. In any case, thanks to all who are coming to see us in Stockholm tonight and tomorrow."

"Re: tonight's set list? (We try to never play the exact same set.) It seems appropriate that for the first time in quite a few years we should play Street Fighting Years. And why not? When considering that today sees the release of Street Fighting Years - our classic album remastered and boxed with a bonus disc of edits, B-sides and remixes, two CDs of the legendary "Live From Verona" concert plus a hardback book and fold-out poster. Also on new gatefold 180 gram 2LP, 2CD deluxe and single CDs" - Jim, 6th March 2020

Hanging Around Books release their second compilation of Simple Minds photographs today. Entitled Pleasantly Disturbed, it features the work of Laurie Evans who captured the band at the Mars Bar in Glasgow in 1978.

In 1978, Laurie Evans was the in-house music photographer for the Edinburgh "what's on" magazine City Lynx. As such, Laurie was on hand to capture some of the earliest images of Simple Minds at various gigs at Glasgow's Mars Bar and the Astoria in Edinburgh's Abbeyhill.

Laurie has opened her archive to us and we've collected these images together for the first time and produced a beautiful little photobook that features many previously unseen images of the band from those early days. "Pleasantly Disturbed" (HA031) will be released on February 28th (same day as the band open their 2020 World Tour). There will be 250 copies of the first edition and you can pre-order your copy to be mailed out on day of release here.

Some of the photographs will be familar to those with The Race Is The Prize as some of Evan's pictures appear there. Also, some shots, particularly of Jim and Charlie on stage, were used as early Zoom promotional pictures.

With an introduction by Jim, this 36 page book is highly recommended, and is available from

Super Deluxe Edition has interviewed Jim about the forthcoming Street Fighting Years box set.

It's a great interview and nicely compliments the essay in the box itself.

Jim was also asked about the lack of demos and outtakes in the interview: "Some of the box sets we put out get a better reaction than others. It's hard to explain, how can I say this without being patronising... I mean, just because you've put something on a piece of tape, it doesn't mean to say that it's a demo to go out. There was a few songs in the air there, but they were never part of Street Fighting Years, they were just something at the time. There'd be songs that Trevor wasn't involved in or Steve wasn't involved in... we were working every day. If you were to say every day equates to a demo for Street Fighting Years... no, it wasn't, it was just that day's work. And even the fact that people know about those tracks, means that someone nicked them and someone put them online! Who knows? There's a couple of those songs we might go back to - they're unfinished. There are songs on our last album, Walk Between Worlds, from an idea that was more than 25 years old. Finally, we cracked it! So, the idea that you just load [the box set] all up with whatever was in the air at the time, I don't think so."

SuperDeluxeEdition also promoted the box-set with an exclusive interview with Jim. He also published a glossy 24-page book which included the full unedited interview with Jim and an unpublished interview with Steve Lipson. This small booklet was specially designed to fit in the box-set as a bonus.

The line-up for the forthcoming Simple Minds Fan Convention continues to grow. Joining Simple Minded will be Derek Forbes And The Dark, former Minds' manager Bruce Findlay, and special guest Mick MacNeil.

There will be further special guests and a charity auction of Simple Minds memorabilia.

It takes place on the 21st March 2020 in Glasgow.

Derek Forbes And The Dark have announced the following tour dates:

17th MarchPin Ups (The Islington), London
18th MarchThe Eagle Inn, Salford/Manchester
19th MarchDuffy's Bar, Leicester
20th MarchThe Rigger, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
21st MarchSt. Lukes, Glasgow
22nd MarchPJ Malloys, Dunfermline

They have also released a CD of newly recorded Simple Minds classics. This is available through (Also available is Derek's previous CD of Simple Minds' covers called Echoes).

Derek Forbes And The Dark:
1. I Travel
2. Changeling
3. Celebrate
4. Premonition
5. The American
6. Love Song
7. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
8. Theme For Great Cities

Simple Minds are the cover stars on the March edition of Classic Pop Magazine. The interview concentrates on Street Fighting Years Super Deluxe, the forthcoming tour and gives away a few details about the forthcoming album.

It is also the swearist interview by Simple Minds ever given. F-Bombs are dropped all over the show. So highly recommended for the sheer amount of casual swearing.

From left to right: Berenice, Ged, Gordy, Jim, Charlie, Sarah and Cherisse.

Now only weeks away from the start of our year long tour, and it feels great having 'all our gang' back together. Rehearsals are well in hand and we are looking forward to the months ahead with even more enthusiasm than usual. Along with Ged, Gordy, Sarah, Cherisse, Charlie, and yours truly, it is always a pleasure to welcome a new addition to our ever evolving line-up. So welcome to you Berenice Scott! We know how much you'll enjoy performing in front of all who come to see Simple Minds."

"What more to say? Dates are still being added in what is shaping up to be one of our most extensive tours ever. So look out for us in your corner of the world - we are bound to pop up somewhere near you sooner or later. Thanks for your support."

17th January 2020

A big welcome to Berenice Scott who filled the vacuum in the band casued by the departure of Catherine AD. Although Gordy and Charlie shared keyboard duties, which gave the live songs a new dynamic and arrangement (as heard on Live In The City Of Angels), the band definitely needed someone behind the keyboards full time.

She'd been most recently being playing keyboards for Heaven 17, after being recruited into the band's line-up in 2011 for live performances of The Luxury Gap. Before that, she released her own solo album, Ten Takes, in 2007, and has worked on varied projects, collaborating with Level 42's Phil Gould and Willy Badarou, and playing live with Johnny Hates Jazz.




On 6th March Simple Minds will release a brand new deluxe version of the classic album Street Fighting Years as a 4CD box set, including the original album remastered at Abbey Road plus a host of B-sides, edits and 12" remixes. It also includes a previously unissued Verona live show from 1989 plus brand new book including a new interview with Trevor Horn.

Also available as 2LP, 2CD or remastered single CD.

Street Fighting Years is released in multiple formats which are all fully endorsed by the band. The album was remastered at Abbey Road studios by Simon Gibson and contains the album as well as a bonus disc of B-sides, edits and 12 remixes, and a previously unissued Verona show from 1989 round the set off.

The booklet was designed by long time contributor Stuart Crouch and contains sleeve notes by Daryl Easlea who interviewed the band and producer Trevor Horn extensively for the set. They provide a fantastic insight into how the album was recorded and produced.

An artistically ambitious and elegant album, it arrived at a time of personnel changes. It saw the band reduced to a trio of Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and Mick MacNeil with session musicians playing the bass and most of the drum roles (notably Manu Katché from Peter Gabriel's band and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland).

Recorded in Scotland between 1988 and 1989, it was also a stylistic departure from the sound of Simple Minds' previous album, Once Upon a Time. After 10 years of recording and releasing music, the band had learnt their craft, becoming skilled musicians and songwriters. This resulted in an album with a sense of drama and cinematic in quality.

"I was 30 years old and I wanted to write about Belfast..., Apartheid and I wanted to write about the policies of Margaret Thatcher. I'm glad I wanted to do that." - Jim Kerr

Having recently turned 30 years of age, and at the end of an incredibly divisive decade in British politics - not to mention global tensions - an outward-looking maturity emerged in frontman Jim Kerr's lyric writing, which found him confronting major themes of the times.

This is demonstrated on songs that tackle such subjects as Apartheid (Mandela Day and a cover of Peter Gabriel's Biko), the on going troubles in Northern Ireland (Belfast Child), knife crime (Street Fighting Years - a very personal lyric about the loss of a Kerr family close friend), as well as the Poll Tax, Berlin Wall and nuclear submarines off the coast of Scotland.

Musically, where Once Upon A Time was influenced by American soul and gospel, Street Fighting Years was a much more atmospheric album, incorporating many styles, including Celtic and folk influences. It was Trevor Horn who recognised a folk quality about the band, especially in Kerr's voice, and encouraged them to explore new territory.

Nowhere is this exemplified more than on Belfast Child. Released three months prior to the album on the Ballad of the Streets EP, Belfast Child was based on the Irish folk song She Moved Through The Fair. Kerr heard the melody of this song a few days after the horrific Enniskillen bombing, and wrote a song trying to relate to the people of Northern Ireland and those who had lost loved ones. The song received praise for addressing such a painful and emotive subject, including from Q Magazine (who also awarded the album five stars).

Equally contemplative songs on the album include Soul Crying Out (about Margaret Thatcher's government) and Let It All Come Down. Conversely, though in large part a highly meditative and reflective album, Street Fighting Years also features more strident, uptempo numbers, such as Take A Step Back, Wall of Love and Kick It In. Songs which showcase the guitar-playing mastery of Charlie Burchill.

Street Fighting Years was a creative triumph for Simple Minds and attained the remarkable commercial achievement of securing a number one single with a song almost seven-minutes in length. Although, as ever with Simple Minds there is hope and optimism, also present is a wistfulness on an album that captures, and is a reminder of, the end of one of the most tumultuous decades of the 20th century.

Standout songs on the album include This Is Your Land, which saw the band fulfil a teenage dream, as it featured one of their heroes and biggest influences - Lou Reed, and Mandela Day. Approached by Jerry Dammers to write a song celebrating Nelson Mandela (who was still imprisoned at that time), Mandela Day was completed in under an hour and recorded in less than a day. It made its live debut not long after at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley Stadium, in June 1988.


DISC ONE: Street Fighting Years
Street Fighting Years
Soul Crying Out
Wall Of Love
This Is Your Land
Take A Step Back
Kick It In
Let It All Come Down
Mandela Day
Belfast Child
When Spirits Rise

DISC TWO: Edits, B-Sides and Remixes
Belfast Child [Edit]
Mandela Day [Edit]
This Is Your Land [Edit]
Saturday Girl [B Side]
Year of The Dragon [B Side]
This Is Your Land [DJ Version]
Kick It In [Edit]
Waterfront ['89 Remix]
Big Sleep [Live]
Kick It In [Unauthorised Mix]
Sign O' The Times [Edit]
Let It All Come Down [Edit]
Sign O' The Times [B-Side]
Jerusalem [B-Side]
Sign O' The Times [C. J. Mackintosh Remix]

Plus On The 4-CD Version:

Theme for Great Cities '90
When Spirits Rise
Street Fighting Years [Live]
Mandela Day [Live]
This Is Your Land [Live]
Soul Crying Out [Live]
Waterfront [Live]
Ghost Dancing [Live]
Book of Brilliant Things [Live]
Don't You (Forget About Me) [Live]

Gaelic Melody [Live]
Kick It In [Live]
Let It All Come Down [Live]
Belfast Child [Live]
Sun City [Live]
Biko [Live]
Sanctify Yourself [Live]
East at Easter [Live]
Alive and Kicking [Live]


Street Fighting Years
Soul Crying Out
Wall Of Love
This Is Your Land
Take A Step Back
Kick It In
Let It All Come Down
Mandela Day
Belfast Child
When Spirits Rise

No U Turns (Well, Maybe Just One!)

"It's scary to think that a life could seemingly be made by a single event that took place on particular day, but that is how I view things. The event I'm thinking of happened 42 years ago this week, (17th of January) on a bitterly cold Monday night in Glasgow. And although characteristically not the type to take much notice of birthday's and anniversaries, mine or anyone else's, it always comes natural for me to reflect a little on that date when it comes round annually."

"To say I was excited during the hours leading up to Simple Minds' first ever gig is an understatement. It also ignores the fact that the emotion I was experiencing most was nervousness. A colossal amount of nervousness. Enough to make me do a U-turn back to the squalid dressing room - just as we had all begun walking towards the stage. Those nerves suddenly needed an outlet and I needed to vomit. Stagefright!"

"That taken care of, I was ready to go join Charlie Burchill, Brian McGee, Tony Donald and Duncan Barnwell, all stood side stage waiting on me. A minute or so later, Charlie hit the opening chord. McGee booted his bass drum. Tony's bass rhythm began working towards a crescendo. And Duncan let loose with a guitar solo both beautiful and abrasive."

"With that Simple Minds were born. And already sounded 'f*cking great.' At least to my ears."

"True. I hadn't even sung one line yet, and I was convincing myself that we were en-route to becoming a worldwide success. Don't laugh. What did I know? I was only 18."

"And if you are going to aim for anything, no point in not aiming high? In any case, every story needs a beginning, and our story genuinely began that night. So what if things had not gone so well for us on that first gig? Would we have crawled back home, licking our wounds? Drowning in disappointment? Humiliated etc? Yes, I would have experienced all of that and more. But soon enough those feelings would have subsided and we would have moved forward, even more determined."

"One thing for certain. No way would we have made any U turns within our goal. We might still have been babes, but we were tough. We had something, and we were hellbent on adventure. Plus, we were more than ready to push ourselves to unknown limits."

"Others seemed to be doing it for fun? Not us. A lifetime of dedication lay in front. That I recognised, from the very first gig. 42 years ago this week."

12th January 2020


"Where the hell did you get that?"

My only possible response as he stood there awaiting a reaction - a proud look written all over him - and a brand new bass guitar hanging around his neck.

We had walked to school every day in each other's company. I had sat next to him in class year after year. We'd gone to the youth club together most evenings, listening in awe to T Rex, Bowie and Alice Cooper among others. And yet, not once did 'Skinny,' (even my mother referred to him by that nickname) mention that he wanted to play bass guitar? Then again, Tony Donald was always different. Others would show off brilliantly. But he liked being low-key. Sometimes downright secretive.

Many have played a part in Simple Minds' story. That is for sure. Some may have contributed smaller amount than others, but all deserve recognition for the part they played. Equally sure is that the deeper roots of Simple Minds formed when a group of teens from Holyrood School in Glasgow, started tuning out from learning Latin and mathematics, and instead focused our attention more on bashing out covers of rock n' roll songs.

'Skin' was at the very centre of all of that. In some ways, given his better knowledge of music, (his Dad was a musician, at a very young age Tony also played drums with the St Francis Pipe band) it is possible to say that he was the engine that enabled the rest of us to kick start our dream. Less than a handful of years later those dreams were becoming reality, as were Simple Minds.

I can never find an answer whenever I am asked the question: "What were the best days of your life?" Had so many great days, it's way too difficult for me to decide. But I know for certain that Antony Donald was with me when many of those days were happening. I also know that one of the saddest occurred last week, with the news of Tony's passing.

A childhood friend, an 'Original Mind.' Charlie and I are still hurting.

2nd January 2020

Blogger Kelvin Hayes has recently been musing on the Scottish music scene, concentrating on the various acts which have appeared since the 1980s. Simple Minds are there of course, but many more idiosyncratic, icronic obscure groups are also covered, including The Associates, The Blue Nile and (a personal favourite of mine) One Dove.

Hats Off To The Scots has recently moved to Kulture Kiosk and is well worth a read.

A mailing list has existed in various forms since 1992, being the original source of news, gossip and discussion about the band online.

It's an alternative way of keeping in touch rather than through social media.

The mailing list was hosted by Yahoo for many years, but Yahoo have now removed support and are going to delete the archives, and so the list had to move. It can now be found on Google Groups. For more information, and details on how to subscribe, then check out the Walk Between Minds mailing list.

(The old Yahoo archive can still be found here. I don't know how much longer this will be available.)

What are you waiting for? Subscribe and get posting!

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