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duncan barnwell
musician: guitar
associated with band: january 1978 - november 1978

Duncan Barnwell in 1978 Duncan Barnwell chanced his arm - replying to an ad which asked for a keyboard player, and turning up with a guitar. But Simple Minds accepted him in early 1978, and he became their second guitarist, a role which allowed Charlie to branch out onto violin when needed.

A good friend of Derek Forbes, he rescued the future bass player from playing acoustic guitar in Spanish bars, tempting him back to Glasgow with tales of punk and a new wave of bands. Derek ended up in The Subs, but Barnwell was probably extremely pleased when his friend joined Simple Minds in May, 1978.

But it was not to last. After almost a year of gigs, numerous demos and a forthcoming record deal, Duncan was asked to leave. He was well liked within the band, but they just didnít need a second guitar player. The disgruntled Duncan expected Derek to leave in sympathy - but Derek stayed on.

Derek recalls that record company pressure prompted the sacking of Duncan: "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."

He later emigrated to Australia, where he worked as a journalist. He still keeps in contact with the band.

"As you can imagine, we had the greatest time playing in our hometown, compounded by the fact that we had the chance to meet up with Duncan Barnwell who has returned to Scotland after decades in Australia. Always a class act, Charlie and I were delighted to chat with him before we went on! And if you are wondering who Duncan is I posted the following a few months ago. 'Despite his little lasting involvement, there is no doubt about it, Duncan Barnwell is an original Simple Mind. A little bit older than us, back in '77 he already carried himself like a professional, and both he and his gold Les Paul guitar were with us almost every day in those fledgeling first 12 months as our initial songs and attitude were coming together. In fact Barnwell, perhaps more than any of us, felt certain that Simple Minds were headed for big stuff. His quiet conviction bordered on a neat kind of arrogance in my view, and I looked up to him for that. He was no less than 100% genuine in his belief in Simple Minds, that in turn helped us all believe. When for example considering all other local bands at that time, or any competition for that matter, he expressed a kind of attitude best summed up as "F*ck them. Who cares? They don't count!" To this day I am both ashamed and happy to say that a little of Duncan's philosophy lives on in our camp." - Jim, 21st May 2017

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Simple Minds 1978