Simple Minds

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Simple Minds
Photo: Virginia Turbett/Redferns

1. The Scottish rock band formed in Glasgow in 1977 and became the most commercially successful Scottish band of the 1980s.

2. The roots of Simple Minds are in the short-lived punk band Johnny & The Self-Abusers, founded on the South Side of Glasgow in early 1977. In common with the early punk bands, various members took on stage names, with Jim Kerr becoming “Pripton Weird” and Charlie Burchill “Charlie Argue”.

3. Kerr and Burchill had known each other since the age of eight. After joining Johnny & The Self-Abusers, they brought in two of their school friends, Brian McGee on drums and Tony Donald on bass – all four had previously played together in the schoolboy band Biba-Rom!

4. Ditching the stage names and the overt punkiness, the remaining members continued together as Simple Minds (naming themselves after a David Bowie lyric from his song “Jean Genie”).

5. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was featured on the soundtrack of the film The Breakfast Club which broke Simple Minds into the US market. They achieved their only number one US pop hit with the track in April 1985. The song written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff had been offered to Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry before Simple Minds agreed to record it.

6. New Gold Dream (81–82–83–84) was released in September 1982. The album was a commercial breakthrough and generated charting singles including “Glittering Prize” (which reached the UK Top 20 and Australian Top 10).

7. Original drummer Mel Gaynor had been a member of Samson alongside Bruce Dickinson (later of Iron Maiden). As a session drummer Gaynor has worked with the likes of Elton John, Meat Loaf, Peter Gabriel, The Pretenders, Gary Moore, Jackson Browne, Little Steven and Brian May.

8. The 1983 hit single “Waterfront” features a bass line consisting of a single note (D) throughout the track.

9. Their 1984 album Sparkle in the Rain peaked at number one in the UK Albums Chart and reached the top 20 in numerous other countries around the world. It gave rise to successful singles like “Waterfront” (which hit number one in a few European countries) and “Speed Your Love to Me” and “Up on the Catwalk”.

10. Between 1982 and 1995 Simple Minds scored three number one albums, and another three albums reached the Top 3 in the UK charts as well as 21 Top 40 singles.

11. Jim’s brother Mark Kerr is the lead vocalist with the hard rock band Gun.

12. Street Fighting Years released in 1989 became their third UK number one album on the back of the chart-topping single “Belfast Child”, which had been released three months earlier.

13. Former member Kenny Hyslop was in Slik with Midge Ure and had the UK number one hit “Forever and Ever” in 1976. He also went on to play with The Skids who had the 1979 single “Into the Valley.”

14. In 1984, Jim Kerr married Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders who renamed herself Christine Kerr, the marriage lasted until 1990. He subsequently was married to actress Patsy Kensit in 1992 (divorced in 1996). Kensit later married Oasis singer Liam Gallagher.

15. Simple Minds were the first band to sign up for Mandela Day, a 2010 concert held at Wembley Stadium, London, as an expression of solidarity with the then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Bands involved were asked to produce a song especially for the event – Simple Minds were the only act which produced one. This was “Mandela Day”, which the band played live on the day.

16. Current guitarist Ged Grimes was a founding member of Scottish pop band Danny Wilson whose hits include “Mary’s Prayer.”

17. “Belfast Child”, was a rewrite of the Celtic folk song “She Moved Through the Fair” and reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1989. With a run time of 6:39. at the time, it was the second-longest UK number one after The Beatles “Hey Jude.”

18. Both Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill are Celtic fans and are active supporters of the Scottish football club.

19. Simple Minds won the 1991 Best Live Act at the Q Awards and in 2014 won the Q Inspiration Award. In 2016 the group also won the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection.

20. Jim Kerr released his first solo album, Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr, on 27 May 2010.

Important Dates In The Life Of Simple Minds:

On this day in music
2 Jan 2021
Record producer Steve Brown died age 65. He produced many acts including U2, The Pogues, Big Country, Elton John, The Cult, Manic Street Preachers and Simple Minds as well as producing Wham!’s debut album Fantastic.
2 Feb 2020
Czech-born American musician, filmmaker, record producer and singer-songwriter Ivan Král died age 71. He played bass with Blondie, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. His songs have been recorded by such artists as U2, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Simple Minds and John Waite, among others.
26 Jan 1991
Queen had their second UK No.1 with 'Innuendo'. At 6 minutes 30 seconds, it exceeded their epic 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by 35 seconds and became the third longest UK No.1 song of all time, behind The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’ and Simple Minds 'Belfast Child' (subsequently the 9 minutes 38 seconds 'All Around The World' by Oasis took over the top slot and demoted Innuendo to fourth place). For 'Innuendo's' flamenco guitar solo, Brian May was joined by Yes guitarist Steve Howe.
13 May 1989
Simple Minds went to No.1 on the UK album chart with 'Street Fighting Years', their fourth No.1 album. The album featured 'Mandela Day', 'Belfast Child' and 'Biko'.
25 Feb 1989
Simple Minds were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Belfast Child.' The song uses the music from the Irish folk song 'She Moved Through the Fair', but has completely different words. At 6 minutes 39 seconds it became the second-longest running No.1 after The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’.
11 Jun 1988
Nelson Mandellas 70th birthday tribute took place at Wembley Stadium, London, featuring Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Dire Straits, Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman, George Michael, Eric Clapton, UB40, The Eurythmics and Simple Minds. The event was broadcast live on BBC 2 to 40 different countries with an estimated audience of 1 billion.
18 May 1985
Simple Minds were at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Don't You Forget About Me', (a No. 7 hit in the UK). Written by Keith Forsey (who won an Oscar for "Flashdance... What a Feeling") and Steve Schiff (guitarist and songwriter from the Nina Hagen band), the track was featured in the 1985 American teen drama film The Breakfast Club.
5 May 1984
Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr married Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde in a horse drawn carriage in Central Park, New York City. The couple divorced in 1990.
28 Jan 1983
The first Narara Music Festival was held near Somersby, NSW over the Australia Day weekend, the line-up included Men At Work, The Church, The Choirboys, Cold Chisel and INXS. The following year saw Simple Minds, Talking Heads, Def Leppard, Eurythmics and The Pretenders all appearing.
17 Jan 1978
Scottish rock band Simple Minds made their live debut at The Satellite Club, Glasgow. The band went on to achieved five UK Albums chart No.1 albums and have sold more than 60 million albums worldwide.
6 Oct 1972
During sessions at RCA Studios, New York City, David Bowie recorded 'The Jean Genie', which became the lead single from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. The track spent 13 weeks in the UK charts, peaking at No.2, making it Bowie's biggest hit to date. The line "He's so simple minded, he can't drive his module" would later give the Scottish band Simple Minds their name.
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