Jaine and Muriel are coming to Sicily today and I am really looking forward to seeing them.
The weather in Scotland has been even more lousy recently than usual, and no doubt these (childhood friends) will relish
some days in the sun.
Who is Jaine and Muriel you'll no doubt be wondering - and why would I want to mention this here? What is the connection with Simple Minds? Is there even one?
Well, there certainly is a connection to Simple Minds, and in my view it will always be substantial.
To elaborate I need to rewind back to the late Spring of 1977 and to the then coolest record store in Glasgow city centre. It
was called 'Graffiti.' Oh I should say now, that our still great friend and former manager Bruce Findlay, will
not be impressed reading this. For Bruce also owned a record store a few streets away, and very cool that was also.
However, for a handful of months during that year when Punk/New Wave style of music broke through with an unforeseen force,
Graffiti was" the place" to be seen - least so for us "Southsiders." Sorry for that Bruce!.
Sure, both stores were pushing the same new music and most probably were selling all the same titles from a whole host of new
and exciting artists.
The difference for me and many other who made their way into town with the burning desire to discover new sounds, was that
Graffiti had both Jaine and Muriel behind the sales counter. And what an asset they were. As
indeed was Jaine's brother, David Henderson. And last, but never least,
Scott MacArthur, coming all the way from the wilds of Dunblane.
All of them, kind and charismatic youths with their own great and individual dress style. All knowledgeable in what was going on
in music and the arts. All totally secure with their own taste, carrying no doubts about their likes and dislikes regardless
of how fashionable an act might or might not be perceived. And all to be found behind the counter at the aforementioned Graffiti.
As a collective, they seemed to me as intriguing and as interesting as the artists who's work they were enthusiastically promoting.
In my eyes they were stars too. How could we not look up to them?
Being so, after work they'd usually decamp entirely to the pub next door. It was only natural to follow and hang around likewise. I
was developing a crush you see. In sum though, they and a few others created "the scene" that a whole new Glasgow music scene
arguably grew out of that.
Johnny And the Self Abusers, leading of course to Simple Minds, certainly grew
out of it - and the Henderson (family) would go on to become a huge part of the Minds early story. More of that at some point later.
But for today, I'm thinking about the first time I spoke to Jaine and Muriel.
I was in Graffiti, asking them for the name of the artist that they were playing over the store speakers?
All new to me, it was a slow and sentimental tune, and that was against all the rules of Punk music.
Going against the grain in style, I was informed that it was called Alison.
Both Jaine and Muriel were obviously proud to introduce me to a different Elvis!
It remains a fave of mine to this day, and thinking about those months hanging around a record store in Queen Street, Glasgow
also brings back favourite memories.
They say that "No man is an island." I would add to that "No band is an island". And what I mean is that for
Simple Minds to happen, it took more than just a bunch of musicians (no matter how talented) getting in a
room together. That in my view is often the end product.
The real beginning for any artist is the scene that you grow out of. The people you hung out with. Those who influenced, unknowingly
of course, turning you on to all manner of new stuff. Could be music, films, theatre, fashion, books. You name it? In doing so they
all help create the landscape that gives birth to your own imagination. And at the end of the day creativity is largely all about
imagination, and how much of it that you really have?
All I can tell you now is that Simple Minds owe a ton of our success to all the others Glasgow kids that we
we hung out with back in the day. They all helped set our imagination on fire. That fires still burns
And their influence is very much still a part of us.
25th October 2017