Simple Minds

Simple Minds are a Scottish New Wave/modern-rock band that released 11 albums on Virgin between 1979 and 1995, achieving UK/Euro fame with a prolific string of titles during the early 1980s.

Members: Jim Kerr (vocals), Charlie Burchill (guitar), Brian McGee (drums, 1977-81), Tony Donald (bass, 1977-78), John Milarky (vocals, guitar, saxophone, 1977), Alan McNeil (guitar, 1977), Derek Forbes (bass, 1978-85, 1997-98), Michael MacNeil (keyboards, 1978-89), Duncan Barnwell (guitar, 1978), Kenny Hyslop (drums, 1981-82), Mike Ogletree (drums, 1982), Mel Gaynor (drums, 1983-94, 1998-present), John Giblin (bass, 1985-88), Malcolm Foster (bass, 1989-95)


Simple Minds are one of two bands to emerge from Glasgow punks Johnny & the Self Abusers, which cut the September 1977 Chiswick single “Saints and Sinners” (b/w “Dead Vandals”) and disbanded on the day of its release. That band featured three guitarists, two of whom (friends Allan McNeill and co-vocalist John Milarky) went off to form Cuban Heels. The remaining four Abusers — singer Jim Kerr, guitarist Charlie Burchill, drummer Brian McGee, and bassist Tony Donald — renamed themselves Simple Minds, derived from the lyric “He’s so simple-minded” in the David Bowie song “Jean Genie.” The four had been schoolmates.

In early 1978, Simple Minds added keyboardist Mick MacNeil and second guitarist Duncan Barnwell, though the latter only lasted 10 months. That summer, Donald cleared way for bassist Derek Forbes, a friend of Barnwell’s. The lineup of Kerr, Burchill, McGee, MacNeil, and Forbes established a following on the Scottish club circuit and impressed Zoom Records owner Bruce Findlay, who became their manager and secured a contract with Zoom’s parent label Arista.


Life in a Day

Simple Minds released their debut album, Life in a Day, on April 20, 1979, on Zoom.

Zoom lifted “Life in a Day” as the first single, backed with the non-album “Special View.”

In late June, “Chelsea Girl” became the group’s second single, backed with the exclusive “Garden of Hate.”

Real to Real Cacophony

Simple Minds released their second album, Real to Real Cacophony, on November 23, 1979, on Zoom and Arista.

Arista issued “Changeling” (b/w “Premonition”) as the album’s only single.


Empires and Dance

Simple Minds released their third album, Empires and Dance, on September 12, 1980, on Arista.

“I Travel” became the first single, backed with the non-album “New Warm Skin.”

In late February 1981, Arista lifted “Celebrate” as the second single (b/w “Changeling”).


Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call

Simple Minds released their fourth album, Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call, as a two-record set on September 4, 1981, on Virgin. The two records are housed in separate sleeves but were initially bound in shrink-wrap as a single purchase item. Virgin later issued the two records as individual titles.

Sons and Fascination

Sister Feelings Call

In May 1981, Virgin paired two Sister cuts, “The American” and “League of Nations,” as an advance single.

In early August, the Sons tracks “Love Song” and “This Earth That You Walk Upon” appeared as a second advance single.

In late October, Virgin pressed “Sweat in Bullet” as a second Sons a-side, backed with the Sister cut “20th Century Promised Land.”


New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

Simple Minds released their fifth album, New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84), on September 17, 1982, on Virgin.

“Promised You a Miracle” first appeared on April 2, 1982, as a standalone a-side, backed with the Sister track “Theme for Great Cities.”

“Glittering Prize” preceded the album by three weeks as an a-side, backed with “Glittering Prize Theme.”

In November, Virgin lifted “Someone Somewhere in Summertime” as the third single, backed with the album-closer “King is White and in the Crowd.”

In March 1983, Virgin Italy issued “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” as the album’s fourth and final a-side, backed with “Somebody Up There Likes You.”


Sparkle in the Rain

Simple Minds released their sixth album, Sparkle in the Rain, on February 6, 1984, on Virgin (UK) and A&M (US).

“Waterfront” first appeared in November 1983 as an advance single, backed with a live version of the New Gold number “Hunter and the Hunted,” recorded at the City Hall, Newcastle (11/20/82).

In January 1984, “Speed Your Love to Me” appeared as the second advance a-side, backed with “Bass Line,” an instrumental version of “White Hot Day.”

Virgin lifted “Up on the Catwalk” in March as the third Sparkle single, backed with the non-album “A Brass Band In Africa.”


“Don’t You (Forget About Me)”

Simple Minds’ theme to The Breakfast Club, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” first appeared as a single on February 20, 1985, on US A&M. On April 8, the song appeared on UK Virgin.

Once Upon a Time

Simple Minds released their seventh album, Once Upon a Time, on October 21, 1985, on Virgin and A&M.

“Alive and Kicking” appeared in late September as an advance single, backed with an instrumental version of the song. It appeared weeks later on US A&M, backed with a live version of “Up on the Catwalk.”

In January 1986, Virgin lifted “Sanctify Yourself” as the second single, backed with an instrumental version. The single also appeared as a double-pack with live versions of the Sons track “Love Song” and the Lou Reed staple “Street Hassle.”

In March “All the Things She Said” became the album’s third single, backed with a live version of “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

In November 1986, Virgin lifted “Ghostdancing” as the fourth and final Once Upon a Time a-side, backed with an instrumental version of “Jungleland.”


Street Fighting Years

Simple Minds released their eighth studio album, Street Fighting Years, on May 2, 1989, on Virgin (global) and A&M (US).



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