Simple Minds

  • Scottish rock-new wave band formed in 1977 from Glasgow Scotland. There have been many members over the years. The main lineup during their successful years in the 80s was Jim Kerr (lead vocals, songwriting), Charlie Burchill (guitars, songwriting), Derek Forbes (bass guitar), Mel Gaynor (drums, backing vocals) and Mick MacNeil (keyboards, songwriting).
  • Kerry, Burchill, bassist Tony Donald and drummer Brian McGee were in a band as school boys, named Biba-Rom!. In 1977, they were joined by guitarist and vocalist John Milarky and guitarist Allan McNeill, and they became a punk band called Johnny & the Self-Abusers. They played a number of concerts that year, and in November they released a single. The day the single was released, the band split up – Milarky and McNeill left to start another punk band, and the remaining members continued to perform, changing their name to Simple Minds. The name was taken from a lyric in David Bowie’s song Jean Genie. 
  • The group became the house band for a Glasgow bar in 1978, and over the next year their reputation grew. MacNeil joined on keyboards in March that year, and in April, Donald quit and was replaced by Forbes on bass guitar. The lineup of Kerr, Burchill, Forbes, MacNeil and McGee was signed to a recording contract, and they began to rehearse for their debut album.
  • The album Life In A Day was released in April 1979. Two more albums followed in late 1979 and the summer of 1980. They weren’t very successful, barely charting on the UK Album charts, and the title track to Life In A Day managed to peak at #62 on the UK Singles chart. The albums had different styles, as the group evolved from a pop-punk sound to one with innovative electronics – new wave music had begun to evolve as a rock genre.
  • They signed with a new label and a double album was released in 1981. The single Love Song got some international attention, charting in Australia and Canada as well as the UK. Their breakthrough in Europe came with their next album, 1982’s New Gold Dream. The album reached #3 in the UK and it was their first to chart in the U.S. Two singles – Promised You a Miracle and Glittering Prize – broke into the top 20 on the UK Singles chart, but they still couldn’t get a hit in the U.S. They continued their trend of success in Europe with their Sparkle In the Rain album in 1984. The single Waterfront reached #13 in the UK, but again – no success in the U.S.
  • That changed in early 1985. Record producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Schiff were working on the score for a film to be released in February 1985. They wrote a song and offered it to Bryan Ferry, who declined to record it. They then asked Billy Idol, who also declined. Forsey admired Simple Minds, and he asked them to record it. They were reluctant, since they previously had only recorded music that they had written for themselves. They reconsidered, and Don’t You (Forget About Me) became the song used in the opening and closing credits for the film The Breakfast Club. The single was released in February 1985, and in May, it was #1 on the Hot 100 chart and top 10 on eighteen other international charts.
  • Soon after Don’t You (Forget About Me) was released, Forbes left the group, tired of squabbling with Kerr. He was replaced by John Giblin. In October 1985, they released the album Once Upon a Time. It was their most successful album, topping the UK Album chart and peaking at #10 in the U.S. Three singles charted in the U.S. – Alive and Kicking reached #3 on the Hot 100, Sanctify Yourself reached #14 and All the Things She Said peaked at #28, while all were in the top 10 in the UK. Their final album of the 80s, Street Fighting Years, topped the UK Album chart, and the single Belfast Days became their final #1 song in the UK.
  • As the band entered the 90s, there were various lineup changes, with Kerr and Burchill as the only constants. Four studio albums were released in the 90s, four in the 00s and three in the 10s, with varying success, largely in the UK. Many live and compilation albums also were released. In 2022, they released their 19th studio album, Direction of the Heart. 
  • Right place, right time. Who’d have known that a film with a million dollar budget would become the quintessential film of the 80s? Good decision on recording that song you didn’t write! Here’s the video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *