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johnny and the self abusers

Clockwise from left: Charlie, Jim, Tony, John, Brian and Alan.

vocals/keyboards: Jim Kerr (Pripton Weird)
guitar/violin: Charlie Burchill (Charlie Argue)
drums: Brian McGee
bass: Tony Donald
vocals/guitar/sax: John Milarky (Johnnie Plague)
guitar: Alan McNeil (Sid Syphilis)

"Just ye wait til you hear Johnny And The Self Abusers. Johnny And The Self Abusers, the band in my head that's gonna blast all those fucking bands here off the stage." - Alan Cairnduff

After meeting Alan Cairnduff in the Doune Castle on a Saturday night in March 1977 and hearing his ideas for a band, the next morning found Jim and Charlie wheeling an amp to John Milarky's house. There they witnessed John Milarky, showing off his first composition Pablo Picasso, playing guitar and singing into a microphone hanging from the ceiling.

Jim was adamant that it just wouldn't be talk. No problem, said Milarky: we'll book the Doune Castle, that way we'll have to do it.

As Charlie later stated " We decided, if we were going to do anything, we should do it, sort of, fullheartedly." That included forming an unweildy line-up of six: adding Alan McNeil, a guitar playing friend of Milarky, and Brian McGee and Tony Donald from Jim and Charlie's school band days.

So, they hired the Doune Castle, and after one weeks practise, and with one original song, they were on stage. It was Easter Monday, 1977.

(They weren't the first Glasgow punk band to play live, they were beaten to it three-piece The Jolt by two nights.)

"Charlie and I only had to do it only once to realise that this was what we wanted. It was all lots of fun. Charlie had a violin, I played the few chords Charlie taught me on the keyboards and we also had a few girls who had made themselves up like Indians out for war, at our request. There was a touch of glamour there. Even then it wasn't punk. No spitting or anything, more like kitsch."

Two weeks later, Johnny And The Self Abusers played Edinburgh supporting Generation X. "Nobody liked us, so we started to practise. John Milarky got money from his parents, and we used it to record a demo." This came to the attention of Chiswick Records, who promised to release a single in August.

In the meantime, The Abusers continued writing and gigging. All of Milarky's songs were filtered out (no-one wanted to play his other compositions such as Toss Yourself Off which Charlie described as trash), and Jim and Charlie became the main songwriting team.

Tensions started to mount between the two groups. This even erupted into fits of fury; one night, Brian McGee threw a wellington boot through Milarky's front window. By July 1977, it was obvious that they had nothing in common. But they stuck together - waiting for the single. They even bought a flat in Wilton Street, Glasgow that October, leading to more riotous behaviour.

By now, fed-up with the confines of punk, and unhappy with the group's lavatorial name ("I began to feel Johnny And The Self Abusers sounded like Big Dick And The Four Skins. I can do without that kind of toilet humour"), Jim changed the name of the group to Simple Minds. This resulted in calls to Chiswick Records to get the name on the single changed - which was in vain.

"The group's legend far outweighed their musical ability." - Billy Sloan

April 1977 - November 1977


Johhny And The Self Abusers: 2 tracks demo tape Saints And Sinners 7"

live legacy:
Scotland 1977

By November 1977, the band ceased to exist; since they were now recording and gigging under the name of Simple Minds.

see also:

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