Simple Minds are arguably one of the best live bands in the world and over a thirty year career have been responsible for some of the most innovative and enduring anthems in rock music.
Simple Minds Short History
· In April 1977 Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitar) formed the punk band Johnny and the Self Abusers and released a debut single. The band disbanded in November 1977. Two weeks later Kerr and Burchill formed Simple Minds.
· The name ‘Simple Minds’ was derived from a lyric in David Bowie’s “Jean Genie.”
· Simple Minds is Scotland’s most successful rock group to date. Having topped America’s Billboard chart, the Glasgow band have achieved six No.1 albums in the UK as well hitting the top spot in countless other territories including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.
· Simple Minds’ debut album “Life in a Day” was originally released in 1979 on the “Zoom Records” (the label was run by their then manager Bruce Findlay), distributed by Arista Records. The album was produced by John Leckie, and spawned the singles “Life in a Day” and “Chelsea Girl.”
· Simple Minds toured the UK in 1979 as the support band to Magazine.
· Their second album “Real To Real Cacophony” (1979) explored dark rhythms and experimentation. The album was produced by John Leckie, and was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales. The only single from the album, “Changeling,” was released in 1980.
· Their third album “Empires and Dance” (1980) possessed a more industrial European electronic feel and was heavily influenced by the German electronic bands Neu! and Kraftwerk, not to mention the British industrial funk band Cabaret Voltaire. The album was produced by John Leckie, and featured the single “I Travel.”
· “Empires and Dance” so impressed Peter Gabriel that he invited the band to support him on a European tour.
· By 1981, Simple Minds signed to Virgin Records and release their turnaround album “Sons and Fascination/Sisters Feelings Call” which spawned the hit single “Love Song.” The album was produced by Steve Hillage, former guitarist for the psychedelic progressive rock band ‘Gong’. Hillage and Simple Minds shared a common interest in krautrock music.
· The instrumental “Theme For Great Cities" proved so enduring a composition that it was later re-recorded in 1991 as a B-side to the single "See the Lights". The minimalist, dance-oriented compositions, reminiscent to the German electronic band Neu!, were examples of man-made trance well before trance itself.
· 1982’s “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” produced several top twenty hits including “Promised You A Miracle,” “Glittering Prize” and “Someone, Somewhere in Summertime.” The album was produced by Peter Walsh. Twenty-six years later, the band performed the entirety of the album on their 30th Anniversary Tour (2008).
· Mel Gaynor first played drums on Simple Minds’ “New Gold Dream” album (and still drums with the band in the current line-up). In addition, jazz keyboard legend Herbie Hancock performed a synth solo on the track "Hunter and the Hunted."
· 1984’s “Sparkle in the Rain” proved to be a complete departure that put Simple Minds in a more aggressive rock oriented frame of mind, similar to that of U2’s “War” album, and went on to spawn three hit singles – “Speed Your Love To Me”, “Up On The Catwalk” and “Waterfront”. The album was produced by Steve Lillywhite, and also featured a cover of Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle.”
· In 1985 Simple Minds scored their first American No.1 hit single “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” which was a massive hit in the John Hughes coming-of-age teen film “The Breakfast Club” starring Molly Ringwald an Emilio Estevez.
· During the same year, Simple Minds released the album “Once Upon A Time” which went to No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic but surprisingly didn’t feature “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” The album included four hit singles – “Alive and Kicking,” “All The Things She Said,” “Sanctify Yourself” and “Ghost Dancing.” The album was produced by Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain.
· Also in 1985, Simple Minds performed at Live Aid at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.
· In 1985, Bono joined Simple Minds for a live rendition of “New Gold Dream” at Glasgow Barrowlands.
· In 1987 Simple Minds released a double live album that was originally recorded at Le Zenith in Paris on August 12, 1986. Entitled “Live in the City of Light” the album was released to document their successful worldwide “Once Upon A Time” tour. The only song that wasn’t recorded live in Paris was “Someone, Somewhere in Summertime,” that was recorded live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Australia, October 1986. The album was produced by Bruce Lampcov.
· In 1988, Simple Minds performed the song “Mandela Day” at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at London’s Wembley Stadium. The concert was a celebration of the anti-apartheid movement, with many musicians voicing their support for Mandela. The Specials’ Jerry Dammers, the writer of the song “Free Nelson Mandela,” was one of the organisers. Santana recorded the instrumental “Mandela” and Tracy Chapman performed the song “Freedom Now.”
· In 1989, Simple Minds released the album “Street Fighting Years” and scored their first No.1 UK hit single with “Belfast Child.” The album also went to No.1 in the UK album chart. Lou Reed contributed vocals to the song “This Is Your Land”, while Stewart Copeland played drums on one of the album tracks. The album was produced by Steve Lipson and Trevor Horn. The album also included the songs “Mandela Day” and a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Biko.”
· In 1991 Simple Minds were voted Best Live Band by Q magazine.
· 1991’s “Real Life” went to No.2 in the UK album chart and included four singles “See The Lights,” “Let There Be Love,” “Stand By Love” and “Real Life.” The album was produced by Steve Lipson. This was the first album recorded without Mick MacNeil, founder member of the band, who left after the previous tour.
· “Good News from the Next World” was Simple Minds’ 10th studio album, released in 1995. It featured two hit singles, "She's a River" and "Hypnotised." The album was produced by Keith Forsey and Simple Minds.
· For the 1998 studio album “Neopolis,” Simple Minds reinvented themselves, this time reaching back to their early electronic pop days. Bassist Derek Forbes returned after a 16-year absence along with drummer Mel Gaynor, who became a full-time member once again. However, it is notable for being the only Simple Minds album released by Chrysalis Records. The music video for the album’s first single, "Glitterball," was the first time a video of any kind was filmed at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
· In 2001, Simple Minds released an album of covers entitled “Neon Lights.” Songs included Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You,” and “Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot.”
· In 2002, Simple Minds released the album “Cry” on Eagle Records. The album included two singles “Cry” and “Spaceface.” The album was produced by Jim Kerr and Planet Funk.
· Their 14th studio album of new material, “Black & White 050505,” was originally released by Sanctuary Records on September 12, 2005, and featured the singles “Home” and “Stranger.” This was the first studio album to be produced by Jez Coad and Simple Minds.
· During the summer of 2008, Simple Minds played the 90th Birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela on June 27th in London's Hyde Park. The band performed “Mandela Day” and “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
· Although divorced from his first wife Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders for more than twenty years, Jim Kerr has retained a close relationship with his ex-wife and intends to work with her in the near future. Kerr said “Not only is she still one of my closest friends but she is a truly great artist and I remain as much a fan now as I did way back when I first heard her.”
· Looking back on career highlights of more that thirty years, Simple Minds lead singer Jim Kerr says, “Getting the opportunity to sing with such great artists as Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie and Iggy Pop was a thrill. But the real highlight was to sing for both Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.”
· “Graffiti Soul” was the band’s 15th studio album since their debut album “Life In A Day” (1979). The band recorded the album at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, Wales, the same studio they recorded the “Real to Real Cacophony” album. This album celebrated 30 years of recording albums for Simple Minds.