The wonderful and loquacious Mr Bruce Findlay is 77 today. Here he is pictured with someone masquerading as a “social butterfly” back in the summer of 2018, after a talk he had (with Ian Rankin and Vic Galloway) at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh as part of the Rip It Up exhibition.
I had to post this on SMO FB (the pic). Back in June at the Rip It Up exhibition in Edinburgh, I sssooooo wanted to sneak a pic of this neon sign, but I didn’t dare! It just instantly made me think of Jim and my silly fetish…and his interview with Georgey Spanswick in which he talked about getting the Pripton Weird name – Mr Weird Ears. Man alive, I love those ears! Lol
I’ve had two days away as part of a whirlwind cultural/music experience in Edinburgh and Newcastle. More on last night’s Warm Digits gig to come! But first, let’s talk Rip It Up – the exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, and of the talk given by Bruce Findlay and Ian Rankin, hosted by Vic Galloway on Thursday night.
Taken from the personal slant, as usual.
Ah, planes. They are handy. Luton, as an airport, is handy…but it became quickly obvious as soon as we were making our way there that things were going to be rather chaotic. Traffic was bad. I was dropped off at the roundabout before the short stay drop off car park. Legged it down to the airport from there.
Security at check in was just in disarray! Lots of people running late for their flights…just, yeah.
No information on the departues board for Edinburgh…I was dreading what that was revealing to me. Mercifully, the flight was only delayed by an hour.
I didn’t know you could get trams from the airport into the city! I knew Edinburgh once again had trams, and I had planned to grab a ride. But I didn’t know they departed from the airport! I was in heaven!
I had planned a little mooch around the city before heading to the exhibition, but got a message from my friend Yvonne (aka Birdy) saying she and her other friend were already at the museum. I made my way there but was parched and rather peckish when I arrived. Edinburgh was BAKING on Thursday. Lol. I was melting. A ginger beer and a lovely piece of coconut and pineapple cake revived me.
The exhibition itself was a rich tapestry. Starting in the 50’s and the career of Lonnie Donnigan (born in Glasgow in 1931 to an Irish mother and Scottish father, but raised in London from aged two) and the skiffle scene. One of the pictures that blew me away seeing it was one of Alex Harvey with Tommy Steele – of all people! I’d have never associated those two ever at all. Lol.
Also on display was Alex Harvey’s stage gear from the mid 70s, complete with bamboo cane, amongst other Sensational Alex Harvey Band memorabilia.
It’s quite an interactive exhibition, with audiovisual elements. Interview clips, and screens with headphones with which you can enjoy watching music videos of the various artists on display.
I know it could be deemed biased, but given the magnitude of their impact and success, Simple Minds don’t feature heavily in the exhibition. Perhaps it was the decision of Jim and Charlie to be humbled with being a featured artist in the exhibition, rather than be a prominent and DOMINANT part of it. When I spoke to Bruce later that day (more on that to come, of course), he asked me had I seen the exhibition and what I had thought of it. I replied that I had enjoyed it. He then says to me “there’s not enough Simple Minds”. Lol. And that was from Bruce!
Of the SM display was the revelation that the gig poster featured in it was designed and made by Jaine Henderson! Geez, I’m not sure I can derive much more envy of this woman! Lol. But there we are. Oh, to live the life vicariously…
Anyway! I digress. Another reveal was the photography of Harry Papadopoulos, a name I had not really seen mentioned before. One of his pics of an early Simple Minds gig featured in the display.
The whole exhibition really is visually rich. Lots to see. Stage props…instruments (guitars, keyboards, bass drum covers, etc), clothing, tour posters, photographs, handwritten lyrics and sheet music. Some wonderfully quirky things too, like King Creosote’s “KC RULES OK” painted garden fence, to KT Tunstall’s “time machine”…as well as her outfit she designed and had made to wear for this year’s Tartan Parade in New York City.
There was a really good mix of things, and a lot to see. If you are in Scotland in the next few months, and in Edinburgh in particular, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the exhibition. I may just think about a return visit myself. If not working something around seeing Caezar in a few weeks, then maybe around my birthday or at least before the exhibition closes on Nov. 25th.
I checked in to where I was staying at literally just down the road in Guthrie Street. It was a place called Euro Hostels. I mean, wow! It was the centre of Edinburgh for £22.50. It was a basic room, but it was clean, it had a window (seriously…some EasyHotels, you don’t even get a WINDOW in your room!) and the bed was comfortable. I’d stay there again if I need to stay overnight in Edinburgh.
A couple hours to recharge the batteries (literally in my phone’s case) and then back to the museum for the talk from Bruce and Ian Rankin.
Bruce was already there, milling around. I thought I’d try and say hello beforehand. He was busy talking to some peeps. I stood back, waiting for my moment when a break in the flow of conversation happened and I could make myself known. His daughter was with him, and she could see I was itching to say hello, and so she grabbed his attention and pointed me out to him. I was so nervous! But so excited. That’s when he asked had I seen the exhibition. I said about hearing his talk with Grant Stott and that I wanted to say about Love Sing making Top 10 in Oz (cos he had mentioned Canada being one of the first places that SM had had a hit). Of course, as I suspected, their breakthrough in Canada preceded Oz by a couple of months.
He asked me where in Oz I was from “Oh, I love Sydney!” I was thinking “yeah, probably not the part of it I’m from, Bruce.” Lol. I should have told him I’m from Busby.
And as he talked about Minds in Oz, he said “we did an interview for the radio station 2JJ. I love that radio station. Best station in the world. And then they recorded us at the Musicians Club. That was a fabulous gig. We had sold 500 copies of albums in Australia prior to arriving. Combined sales! Of all the albums released. Just 500. And after the tour? Thousands! The crowds loved us.”
We parted company after 5 or 10 mins. It was amazing to hear him enthuse. As I said goodbye (for now) we shook hands and he gave me a kiss.
The talk itself was great. A bit of a technical hiccup. Vic Galloway had a laptop in front of him. The concept of the talk was to discuss Bruce and Ian’s musical loves, and we’d hear excerpts of 10 tunes that Bruce and Ian had picked, and they’d discuss the music of the period. Except a technical hitch with the laptop meant Vic couldn’t trigger the musical prompts. Eventually the laptop was taken away and worked on while we continued.
Bruce was asked about his discovery of SM, signing them to his label, becoming their manager, not just being owner of the record label they signed to. Both Bruce and Ian expressed a love for Real To Real Cacophony.
Ian talked about his love of punk music and also of his favourite artist, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and they played an excerpt of Swampsnake.
It was a great talk. I really enjoyed it.
I had bought things from the exhibition from the gift shop earlier…the book accompanying the exhibition, written by Vic Galloway. Before he disappeared, I was able to ask Ian Rankin to sign the book for me.
Bruce was even more popular still after the talk. And I was itching to get to him again. I had the Virginia Turbett print with me to ask him to sign, and the exhibition book as well…but I also had three of my prints to give to him. But of course I wanted to show them to him, just to see what he thought of them and get a sense of feedback. He seemed impressed enough. He particularly liked the HATH themed one. I think he thought I wanted him to make a decision on which he liked most and then I said “you can have all three. They’re all for you.”
By this time I am conscious of taking up so much of his time, surprising him with Virginia’s print (I think he was quite flabbergasted by it, initially). Virginia had told he has never seen the photo, so it would come as a shock, potentially. Well it did. Lol. His daughter was watching over his shoulder. She saw it and said “what ARE you doing in that?” I said “he’s revealing his breast, obviously.” said with a cheesy grin, and my tongue firmly in my cheek. But, not only the Virginia print, but taking out the art prints and showing him. So when it came to rolling the prints back up again to put back into the tube, I was all flustered and starting to make a pig’s ear of it. But he was patient and lovely and fun…and just wonderful!
Before leaving him alone for good (Lol. Hog that I was), I asked for a photo op. He was obliging, of course, and I asked Birdy if she’d take the pics. After a couple I said “I should sneak in a kiss…should I?” I can’t recall what Bruce said, but I think it might have been in the confirmative. I hope so anyway!
Lastly, I briefly spoke to Vic Galloway and got him to sign the book. I asked for a selfie with him. I look bloody awful. Lol. But it’s a souvenir. As he came over to me (he was behind a desk) to hug it out for the selfie, he saw my Minds badge “Ah, look at your wee Simple Minds badge” and then I stood back a bit and pointed out my shirt, saying “And, yes…Jim Kerr on my shirt.” “Jim’s a great guy. I got to interview him a few times recently. Hung out with him in Perth at Scone Palace and for Radio Scotland. He’s lots of fun. He’s my favourite rock star.” I had to chime in and say “He’s my fave too.” Vic then quantified it as just before me, he signed the book for a lady and they were talking about Shirley Manson. So he says “Male. Male rock star. Shirley’s my fave female.”
It was a fabulous evening. Topped off with an AMAZING calzone and tiramisu from an authentic Italian restaurant just down the road from the museum. Nom!
It seems the wrong word to use in some respects…as the way I interpret the word “mogul”, esp. when it comes to music moguls, I see types like Colonal Tom Parker, Tony Defries, Eric Hall, Don Arden, et al – larger than life types that just blag their way through stuff with brash, bolshy machismo.
Bruce Findlay has always come across as something different. Hard working, meticulous, knowledgable. A thirst and hunger for music. A love of the art. It was never about him, but the music itself…the artists and bands he loves. A passion and enthusiasm contagious in its desire to achieve. Gregarious he certainly is…but he has swathes of humility and knows what humble pie tastes like.
So, when speaking of Bruce, I use the word “mogul” more for poetic effect.
I rarely use or visit Twitter these days…just quickly look in on it twice a day, and I always look to what Bruce has been talking about. Last night he was (among other things) talking about the Rip It Up exhibition that has just started in Edinburgh. I will be there next Thursday to see the exhibition, and to see Bruce and writer Ian Rankin give a talk next Thursday evening.
I tweeted Bruce to say how excited I am to be going to the exhibition, to see him talk, and to hope for the opportunity to say hello to him. Here is his reply…
Oh, it is going to be so wonderful! I’m not sure Bruce realises just how many Simple Minds fans may end up there next Thursday. Apart from myself, I know of at least four others going there. Too modest by half! But I do hope we have time to chat. Words may fail me again, as they tend to with Jim.
I will be taking along something special with me for him to sign. Nothing SM related, strictly speaking, but something I hope he’ll get a kick out of seeing. It will be wonderful I know 🙂
This sounds like it’ll be great…a contribution from Jim as well!
You can find more info about The Story Of Scottish Pop on the BBC Radio Scotland page by CLICKING HERE
I’ve given the new canvas another layer today because I could still see the bare canvas coming through after yesterday’s prep. In my head with this painting, I see several things happening. There are several scenes I need to paint. One involves a number of people. They need to be small. Matchstick men – positively Lawry-esque! But…I won’t even be able to make mine as compelling or as good as Lawry’s.
I’m doubting my ability to put all the elements I want in it, there. But only time will tell!
And I can always just…