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Skids Press & Related Articles |2007|
January 2007
 
THEY WORE AWFUL CLOTHES, sang indecipherable lyrics and were routinely pilloried by the music critics of their day.

As their former singer Richard Jobson admits, The Skids "never had a cool factor". Until now, that is.

Thirty years after they formed in Dunfermline, one of Scotland's first legitimate punk bands is finally being treated with reverence rather than ridicule.

For this they can thank U2 and Green Day, who recently joined forces for a cover of The Skids' 1978 single The Saints Are Coming, released in aid of Hurricane Katrina victims.

"By attempting to be cool you're not, is my philosophy," says Jobson.

"The reinvention of The Saints Are Coming at a time when Skids had been pretty much dismissed just goes to prove that the work we did speaks for itself."

 Sitting in the London offices of his film production company, Jobson admits he wasn't always so proud of his punk roots, having long turned his back on music for a career as a broadcaster, writer and director. "If The Skids have been dismissed, then I'm just as guilty in a way. I wasn't interested and hadn't thought about them for years. And then Stuart died."

 
It was 17 December 2001 when Jobson stepped out of a film screening and switched his mobile back on to discover 60 missed messages. "I knew something seriously bad had happened," he says. Stuart Adamson, The Skids' guitarist and founder who went on to even greater success as frontman of Big Country, had been found dead in his Hawaii hotel room.

Like many, Jobson was stunned to discover that Adamson had been secretly battling the bottle, a subject he later tackled in his 2003 film 16 Years of Alcohol.

"No-one's ever really asked me about Stuart," he ponders.

"The alcohol thing was a tremendous shock. It still is. But I have nothing to say about it because I don't know that much other than he died tragically.

I'd rather not know too much about what he went through, to be honest."

A couple of memorial gigs in Dunfermline and Glasgow in early 2002 saw Jobson's return to the stage after more than a decade's hiatus, to play a handful of Skids tracks: Adamson's son, Callum, stood in for him on guitar.

Jobson has since incorporated Skids music in his films, and named his latest after the group's 1980 single, A Woman in Winter. With the U2/Green Day cover reaching No 1 in ten countries worldwide, he now has every reason to re-embrace his past.

Raised in the "100 per cent testosterone" Fife mining village of Ballingry, Jobson was a self-confessed "tough wee guy". He spent his youth bunking school to watch Kubrick's ultra-violent A Clockwork Orange and knock around with fearsome Dunfermline teen gang the Abbey View Toi.

It was this same "toughness" which brought him to the attention of Adamson, two years his senior, who invited him to audition at Cowdenbeath Working Men's Club. Barely 16, Jobson, "the only other punk in town", got the gig.

For "about two pints" they called themselves Marcus Zen Stars with Tom Bomb and the Martyrs of Deal. "We all created stupid names," smiles Jobson.

"Our first bassist, Willie Simpson, called himself Alex Plode. I still think that's fantastic."

But it was as The Skids that they began making a name supporting visiting punk bands from England.

"I remember when we played with The Clash, when we finished we stood right at the front of the stage among the audience. Joe Strummer thought that was hilarious. I think in their eyes we were the real thing - a bunch of kids from a housing estate, a world of nothingness."

Their first single was the self-financed Charles EP on manager Sandy Muir's No Bad label ("No Bad Records," laughs Jobson, "how very Fife!").

Its title track set the Skids' musical blueprint: Adamson's Celtic fuzztone riffs propelling Jobson's inscrutably mushy delivery about a factory worker so desensitised by his job that he mutates into the machinery.

John Peel was among the first to take note, as did Virgin, who signed them in the summer of 1978. In November that year they made their Top of the Pops debut with the original The Saints Are Coming.

The BBC make-up team could barely conceal a bruise on Jobson's face from a fight two days earlier. "It's on YouTube," he grins, "I've got a tooth missing as well. You can tell by the way I'm singing I'm a real little *bleep*."

The single failed to get into the Top 40, not that it mattered - 1979 was to be The Skids' annus mirabilis, with four consecutive hits.

The first, Into the Valley, was both a triumphant calling card and a commercial millstone. It also returned them to Top of the Pops, where a non-bruised Jobson appeared in a monogrammed "Captain Scarlet suit", the first of many dubious fashion moves.

Aptly described by one critic as "Thin Lizzy meets the Charge of the Light Brigade", Into the Valley was actually triggered by events in Northern Ireland.

"A lot of the young guys my age on my estate had no chance of getting a job," Jobson explains, "so the only opportunity was to join the army. These kids wanted to be car mechanics or engineers and they were promised these gigs in the army but 20 weeks later they'd be carrying a rifle down the Shankill Road. Into the Valley was about that."

The song would gain greater notoriety for Jobson's garbled diction, famously sent up in a 1990s Maxell tape advert where "Boy, man and soldier" was instead transcribed as "Barman and soda". Jobson still isn't amused.

"I hated that commercial. They did it without my permission. It put a spoiler on something quite precious."

Controversy of a different kind surrounded the release of The Skids' second album of 1979, Days in Europa.

Its original cover illustration - evoking the 1936 Berlin Olympics, complete with Gothic lettering - was construed by the press as suspiciously Aryan in tone.

Fearing accusations of Nazi sympathies, Virgin withdrew the LP before reissuing it in a different sleeve.

"It was a time when people used these fairly empirical images," says Jobson, "but we were the ones who got singled out.

It was OK to be called Joy Division, and they even had booking agents called Final Solution, but it wasn't OK for The Skids to use that sleeve? I thought, f*** 'em."

By the early 1980s, The Skids' fire had burned out, and Jobson and Adamson's relationship had reached an impasse. The latter quit during the making of The Skids' fourth, final album, 1981's Joy, on which Jobson tried unsuccessfully to push them towards traditional Scottish folk. Ironically, it was Adamson who went on to patent a Caledonian rock formula with his new band, Big Country.

"It was pretty bad," says Jobson of the break-up. "We never came to blows, but Stuart had a tendency to walk out a lot. Musically he was always the leader, so it didn't surprise me when he took centre stage in Big Country.

I always thought Stuart had a better voice than me. And he was a tremendous guitar player. I think the best testament to Stuart is that when U2 did The Saints Are Coming, The Edge played the guitar solo exactly the same."

In the wake of the U2/Green Day cover (and, recently, a surprise namecheck from Arctic Monkeys), the Skids back catalogue has been dusted down for a best-of CD plus a live retrospective.

"It has been suggested we do some gigs but, come on, I'm 46," says Jobson.

"I was in The Skids when I was 16. I was a real little punk then, quite fearless. Now I'm the opposite, and a parent. And besides, I've got my views on bands who reform after 20 years. It's always naff." Such a cool perspective. How very un-Skids. Thursaday 15th March 2007 by Gary Fitzpatrick

Interview with Skids Legend Bill Simpson

 

NOW a successful property executive, Bill Simpson still has fond memories of his wild punk days in The Skids, when he gloried in the stage name Alex Plode.

The revival in interest in the Dunfermline band has received another boost with the release of two albums celebrating their ’70s heyday. This follows the accolade of U2 and Green Day covering ‘The Saints Are Coming’ for a high-profile charity recording.

Bill, now 49, has been talking to the Press about the days when The Skids stormed the charts with hits like ‘Into the Valley’.

The roots of the band were in Bill’s friendship with Stuart Adamson, then living in Crossgates, when both attended Beath High School.

"We liked the same music and Stuart had a band playing covers of Roxy Music, Bowie, Status Quo among others," said Bill. "When the bass player left they asked me to step in even though I hadn’t pick up an instrument in my puff."

In the punk era, of course, lack of musical experience was never seen as a barrier to getting involved.

Soon Bill and Stuart were playing gigs, often in RAF bases in the north of Scotland, and then had a spell in Amsterdam.

When they came back to Fife, they met up with Richard Jobson, who would go on to be The Skids’ all-action stage performer and distinctive vocalist.

"We didn’t know him but I think Stuart must have met him somewhere and he came along and the next thing he was our singer," said Bill.

"We then put an advert in the Dunfermline Press, I think, for a drummer. We wanted them to know it was a punk band and so Richard put ‘Hippies need not apply’."

Tom Kellichan proved he was up to the job and wasn’t a hippy, completing the line-up under his alias, Tom Bomb.

The band – all still in their teens – practised in an old building at Broomhead and afterwards enjoyed a pint in the Castleton bar but soon the lights of London were beckoning.

"Looking back, the success maybe came too quickly for us. Within a year of the band starting out, we were recording albums and appearing on Top of the Pops," said Bill.

"We were a bit immature and perhaps didn’t realise about people being different and respecting each other.

We drifted apart and I regret that."

Having hit the heights so soon, Bill didn’t have the appetite for going back to starting up another band.

"I thought ‘I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame’ and moved on."

He turned his attention to property – rather than anarchy – in the UK and now has a successful career in Edinburgh but still lives in Dunfermline with his fiancee Tracy.

Over the years, his music background sometimes came up during conversations at work but Bill said colleagues "showed no great sign of interest".

There was a one-off appearance on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ but it was when U2’s The Edge chose ‘The Saints Are Coming’, a favourite of his, to raise money for New Orleans hurricane victims, that a new generation of music fans started asking about The Skids.

"It’s humbling really for two of the world’s biggest groups to cover one of your songs. I think we now realise more than before that we inspired people with our music.

"I look back with pride on those great times. Stuart was a musical genius and it took the tragedy of his death to bring us back together to play in tribute."

Thirty years on, Bill admits his memories are "getting a bit hazy" and certainly not up to the standard of the band’s fans who beat him in quizzes in The Skids conventions.Tom Kellichan now runs a music bar in Tenerife and Bill paid him a surprise visit last year.

"I hadn’t seen him for years and when I called in at the bar he wasn’t there. I called him on his phone and said ‘Is that Tom Bomb, it’s Alex Plode here’. He didn’t believe it at first."

EMI have responded to the renewed interest by releasing a 21-track ‘Best of’ compilation and a live album ‘Masquerade Masquerade’ recorded at the Glasgow Apollo and Hammersmith Odeon.

Their first ever gig was at Dunfermline’s Belleville Hotel in August 1977 and they played the Kinema Ballroom eleven times.

They had 10 British hits and their biggest chart success was ‘Into the Valley’ in February 1979.

Richard Jobson writes in the notes to the live album.

"During the halcyon days of 1979 and 1980, The Skids had arrived at a special place as a live band. "For me it was what we were about, the rush, the energy, the audience, the sound of Stuart Adamson’s guitar and the two of us flying through the air on stage passing each other mid-flight, smiling with joy."

April 1st 2007

New wave icons The Skids are to reform for a one off T in The Park spectacular. The legendary Dunfermline outfit will play main stage at Balado, Perthshire, on July 7th.

The sensational move follows weeks of top secret talks between the band, who spit in 1981, and festival bosses. And last night T in The Park supremo Geoff Ellis told us: “It’s a great compliment that they’ve agreed to play. It’s not something many people expected to happen, but I think the timing is perfect.”

The new comes just months after rock giants U2 and Green Day scored a worldwide smash with Skids’ favourite The Saints are Coming.

Frontman Richard Jobson, now a successful film director, had resisted growing pressure to put the band back together for one last gig. But he relented after learning a new generation of fans are eager to see their live explosive live show.

Many of them were too young to have seen the band in their late 1970’s heyday when they were chart regulars with hits like Into The Valley and Masquerade.

Richard, 46, confirmed: “There’s been an overwhelming response from Skids fans old and new who want to see us play live. In other words, momentum took the decision out of my hands.”

The former hellraiser will be joined on stage by bass player Bill Simpson and drummer Mike Baillie. They insist their set at Balado will be a tribute to guitarist Stuart Adamson, who died in 2001.

He formed the band with Richard, Bill and original sticksman Tom Kellichan in 1977 but left in 1980. His place will be taken at T in The Park by friend and former Big Country bandmate Bruce Watson, who was himself a teenage Skids fan.

He told us; “As a 16 year old in 1977, for me there were two truly great new wave bands. One was The Clash, the other was The Skids. They were complete originals. It’s a great honour to be part of this.”

We told last month how the Fife punk rockers went on to influence a string of rock legends including Joy Division and U2. But it seems they also had a hand in influencing the course of T too.

Festival boss Geoff confided: “I’m a bit too young to have seen them first time round but at the school disco The Skids would always get my crew up on the dancefloor. I’d forgotten how many strong songs they had and they still sound fresh even now. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed they play The Saints are Coming.”

But Richard insisted the T set, which will also mark the bands 30th Anniversary, will be their final gig. He added, “We’ll play with a smile, a dollop of humility and charge Into The Valley for one last time.”

Thursday April 5th 2007

DUNFERMLINE punk legends the Skids are to re-unite to play T in the Park this summer.

The Balado performance will be their final send-off, 30 years to the month after they formed.

It is being billed as a one-off but it could just be that the band will also be playing ‘Into the Valley’ in their home town one last time.

Singer Richard Jobson told the Press, "It would be good if we could do something in Dunfermline maybe on the Thursday. Could it happen? Who knows?"

Their 7th July main stage appearance – on the same bill as Razorlight, The Killers and James Morrison – will complete a remarkable resurgence in interest in their music.

U2 and Green Day had a huge hit with a cover of the Skids song, ‘The Saints Are Coming’, catching the attention of a new generation of music fans.

The only other time the Skids have got back together was to play a tribute gig at the Barrowlands for founder member Stuart Adamson, after his tragic death.

This promises to be another emotional occasion, especially with the huge festival taking place on the band’s own doorstep.

Founder members Richard Jobson and Bill Simpson will be joined by drummer Mike Baillie and Bruce Watson, formerly of Big Country.

Richard, now a successful film director, said, "I had of course said I wouldn’t go back on stage but everybody else seemed to be wanting us to get back together again.I was the one stopping it going ahead and didn’t want to be seen as a killjoy.

"The previous time we played was a sad occasion in homage to Stuart. "This time it will be all about having fun and playing some of the songs people might want to hear.

"It will be a good way to finally put the full stop on the Skids, 30 years after we started. I’m looking forward to it but I don’t think I’ll be trying any high kicks this time. I’m still recovering from trying one at the Barrowlands," he laughed.

A T in the Park spokesperson said, "One of Scotland’s most influential acts, the Skids, will reform this summer to play the festival in celebration of their 30th anniversary and lucky T in the Parkers will be able to catch the band in what is a further stunning festival announcement.

New wave legends The Skids are to play a unique hometown gig before their spectacular T in The Park appearance after overwhelming demand from fans who can’t get to Balado.

We told last month that the influential rockers are reforming to play the main stage at the Perthshire festival on July 7th. They’ll now limber up for that with an extra special show at Dunfermline’s Glen Pavilion on Thursday, July 5th.

The move comes after festival organisers DF Concerts were inundated with calls by frantic Skids fans who didn’t have T tickets.

Frontman Richard Jobson told us: “We wanted to do something for all those who won’t see us at Tin The Park and we are delighted to play in Dunfermline one last time.”

It’s almost 30 years since the punk icons headlined a show at the Pavilion. In 1978, they played there as part of a Communist Party benefit for Chilean refugees. But the gig ended in a near riot after it was halted by cops when organisers objected to the song Contusion.

One overzealous bobby put his hand over the neck of Stuart Adamson’s guitar to stop him playing. Others waded in to arrest fans as they tried to stop the plug being pulled.

Richard said: “It was quite a tense situation.” Guitarist Bruce Watson, who’ll stand in for Stuart at the show, recalled: “As with every Skids gig, it was a pretty unforgettable show.”

Bassist Bill Simpson added,: “ It’s going to be great to be back at the Pavilion after all these years, maybe this time we’ll get to finish our set.”THE SKIDS turned the clock back three decades when they returned to play two sell-out hometown gigs at Dunfermline’s Glen Pavilion last week.

The re-formed band went down a storm with their fans who had waited so long to see them back in action.

Those in the crowd may have matured in the interim with receding hairlines replacing the mohicans of the punk era but the years had not diminished their boisterous enthusiasm.

Big Country’s Bruce Watson took the place of the late Stuart Adamson and Mike Baillie was on drums.

Bruce’s teenage son Jamie was also on fine form alongside his dad, while frontman Richard Jobson, who had initially been hesitant about a reunion, looked as if he loved every minute of being back in the spotlight.

His buoyant, energetic performance was interspersed with reminiscences of the band’s early days.

The songs performed included ‘Scared to Dance’, ‘Melancholy Soldiers’, ‘Charles’, ‘The Saints Are Coming’, ‘Working for the Yankee Dollar’, ‘Of One Skin’, ‘Masquerade’, ‘Into the Valley’, ‘TV Stars’ and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s ‘Vambo’.

And there was a second Jobson on the stage with Brian on backing vocals. More than 1000 fans attended each show, with Rosyth band The Draymin providing the support.

 

It was the greatest musical reunion Scotland’s ever seen. For one brief week, The Skids brought some of 1977’s punk rock attitude and energy to 2007.

In a spectacular main stage set at T in The Park and two extraordinary hometown shows at Dunfermline’s Glen Pavilion, the new wave legends dusted off hits like Into The Valley and The Saints are Coming for a masterclass in rock n roll dynamics.

They proved that while current acts like Manic Street Preachers, The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs have drawn on the Fife outfit’s music for inspiration, they’d be hard pressed to keep up with them on stage and last night Skids frontman Richard Jobson confessed: “It was worth every bead of sweat.”

To celebrate the band’s remarkable achievement, the News of The World produced a special 30th Anniversary issue telling their own unique story, which was given away to fans at the Dunfermline shows.  At just 2000 copies, it’s the most limited edition News of The World ever.

But we’ve still got one copy, signed by the whole band up for grabs. For your chance to win, just tell us where The Skids were formed.

Richard will now return to his duties as a world renowned film maker, with work on a new thriller to be filmed in Edinburgh later this year.

Meanwhile guitarist Bruce Watson, who stood in for the late Stuart Adamson, is back out on the road with his old Big Country band mates.
 
A MESSAGE FROM RICHARD JOBSON
 
After two incredible evenings in Dunfermline where emotions ran high and happy, T-in the-Park was a wonderful way to finally put closure on The Skids story.

As we walked to the stage the rain stopped and the largest audience I have ever seen in front of me gave us an almighty generous welcome.

For me the site is in the back garden of where I spent the majority of my childhood, adding another level of emotional charge.

Our set was short and to the point: a celebration of the music: a tribute to the past: a goodbye to our fantastic loyal fans and most importantly a final farewell to the mighty Stuart Adamson.

On the stage looking out on such an enormous gathering was a thrill and something I will remember forever and I think in many ways the music still sounded relevant.

My bones were creaking but what the hell I skipped, jumped and spun in my own unique out of time kind of way and felt 16 again.

This would have been impossible without the help of a bunch of great and honourable people and I thank them for their humility and passion:

Geoff Ellis, Michael Jobson, Dave McGeachan, Bruce Watson, Bill Simpson, Mike Baillie, Jamie Watson. Jane Button, Brian Jobson, Camilla Gwilt, Andrew Thompson, Willie Tocher, John Ramsay, Kleiner Morgan, Dave Brown, Michael Wheeler, Simon McGlynn, Sean Condie, Miles Baillie, Cob, Callum Kay, Justin Smith, Billy Sloan.

A special thanks to Tim Barr for his unwavering, tireless dedication to the project.

My Best wishes to you all. Richard Jobson

THE SAINTS ARE COMING T IN THE PARK 2007

 

A MESSAGE FROM BILL SIMPSON

The three gigs in July 2007 were a fantastic experience for myself and the rest of the band, memories I will personally treasure forever.  

The atmosphere and excitement generated at both gigs in The Glen Pavilion was electric, the sense of anticipation being tangible even before we took to the stage for the first show.

The amazing reaction we received from the dedicated fans who had travelled from far and wide, as well as the mildly curious who were perhaps there to see what all the fuss was about, was inspirational in making both nights a memorable and joyous experience for us all.

I wish we could have played even longer, I was having so much fun. Before, during and after the gigs, the warmth and affection shown to us was humbling, with the enjoyment of the occasion truly being a two way thing.

The fans knowledge and love of the band is unbelievable, I thank you all and feel privileged to know some of you as good friends now.

T in the Park was certainly a day I will never forget, the sun shone and we all had a ball performing to the biggest crowd we had ever seen, possibly the biggest crowd at T for that early afternoon time slot.

Thanks to Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts and Michael Jobson of MJM Ltd for giving us the opportunity.

I would like to reiterate Richard's message and personally thank all of the wonderful people for their hard work, tireless effort and enthusiasm in contributing to the success of the project, I salute you all.

Last but by no means least I would like to thank the late great Stuart Adamson, without whom there would be no Skids.

Bill Simpson

A Very Different Into The Valley

A MOVING new version of punk classic Into The Valley has become a hit on the internet.

Singer-turned-filmmaker Richard Jobson used his old song on a video paying tribute to the 169 British soldiers killed in Iraq.

But unlike on the high-energy track he recorded with The Skids in 1979, he speaks the words backed by an acoustic guitar and two schoolgirl fans.

The track has become a must-see on video site YouTube after Richard posted it to mark Remembrance Sunday. As the song plays, it shows the faces of British army victims of the Iraq war.

Richard wrote Into The Valley - with the late Skids and Big Country guitarist Stuart Adamson - in their native Dunfermline 30 years ago.  It was inspired by their unemployed mates who joined the army to escape life on the dole.

Now Richard wants the anti-war message to reach a new generation. 

The YouTube track features Lisa McGregor and Maria Marshall, pupils from TrinityHigh School, Cambuslang, near Glasgow. 

Maria, 17, said: "We weren't even born when Into The Valley was a hit but when you say The Skids that's the song people immediately think of. 

"Richard told us he wrote it about mates from Fife who joined the army and got sent to Northern Ireland. When they came home they were completely different people." 

"At first we messed about with the track on computer, adding different effects. But we realised it sounded more powerful to strip it down."

Lisa, 17, added: "It was a great experience to take such a famous song and completely turn it around.

"We feel our version really captures the sentiment behind the lyrics - the sadness of young guys going off to war. 

"I've got a cousin serving in Iraq so this subject is very close to home."

Richard will perform Into The Valley with Maria and Lisa at a rock awards show later this month to mark the 30th anniversary of The Skids.

He said: "Into The Valley is such a masculine song I was amazed to hear it had been reinterpreted by two schoolgirls. I wondered if the lyrics would have any meaning for them.

"People have misunderstood the lyrics and taken the p*** out of them for 30 years.

"I tried to sing the track accompanied Instead, I just spoke the words and when I later heard how Lisa and Maria had reinvented the song it was a real 'wow' moment. The idea a full-on, punk rock energy rush could be transformed into something quite tender and poignant I thought would have been completely impossible." But they pulled it off."

The new version of Into The Valley was recorded by music producer Brian Docherty, the organiser of Generation X, a community schools project funded by South Lanarkshire Council. 

Pupils in the area collaborated with top acts Belle And Sebastian, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Teenage Fanclub, The Bluebells and Justin Currie of Del Amitri on new versions of their hits.

Brian said: "The artists visited each school and did music workshops with the kids - explaining to them what inspired the tracks and how they were written.

"It was great to just hand the songs to the kids to see how they'd interpret them."

Richard's YouTube film has won approval from British servicemen serving in Iraq.

He said: "At the time I made the film, 169 young Britishservicemen had been killed in Iraq. I managed to find a photograph of every one of them.I thought it was so sad these young people had lost their lives. I got an email from an airman who watched it and saw pictures of his own mates."

"He felt the girls' version of Into The Valley was incredibly powerful and sent a very poignant message.He said it gave them a little bit of dignity."

"It was good to hear encouragement from somebody who'd actually been out there."

Now, there are plans to release Into The Valley on an all-star CD featuring the other artists and schools involved in the Generation X project.
These include Stonelaw High, Rutherglen; Hamilton Grammar; Calderglen High, East Kilbride; and Larkhall Academy.

November 25th 2007

U2 guitar hero The Edge last night paid tribute to the Scots punk rockers who launched his superstar career.

He hailed The Skids -- led by singer Richard Jobson and late guitarist Stuart Adamson -- as the group were awarded a top music award.

The Fife band were honoured with a lifetime achievement award at a star-studded ceremony staged by music therapy charity Nordoff-Robbins (Scotland).

The Edge, whose band covered Skids classic "The Saints Are Coming" in aid of the New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina, said: "The first Skids song I ever heard was 'Into the Valley' -- I just immediately wanted to go home and write something as good.

"Stuart Adamson's guitar playing left me feeling wholly inadequate. He had a big influence on me."

The Edge hailed The Skids as they received their Tartan Clef award -- to mark their 30th anniversary -- at the annual event in Glasgow.

The rock charity raises money to fund work done by music therapists across Scotland and their awards party last night was attended by some of Scotland's biggest stars.

Sharleen Spiteri was there to present a songwriting award to her Texas bandmate Johnny McElhone and Franz Ferdinand and other top Scots musicians were there to pick up a Tartan Clef.

The audience at the Fruitmarket enjoyed an all-star bill with performances from Skids frontman Richard Jobson, Wet Wet Wet, Biffy Clyro and Amy Macdonald.

U2 teamed up with Green Day to record "The Saints Are Coming" at London's famous Abbey Road studios.

Jobson -- who wrote the song about a school friend who joined the Army and died on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland -- donated his pounds 500,000 royalties from the 1978 song to U2's Music Rising appeal.

The Edge said: "When I first heard The Skids I was totally blown away. Their songwriting was amazing. Richard's lyrics were great -- impenetrable maybe -- but they painted an incredible picture.

"We tried as a band on numerous occasions to do something as good as 'Into the Valley.'

"But when I got the first Skids' album -- Scared to Dance -- the song I really fell in love with was 'The Saints Are Coming.'

"Again, I thought it was a really beautiful piece of songwriting and when I found out what it was written about it just really moved me."

U2 and Green Day's version of the track was a hit all over the world -- and both acts performed it in New Orleans.

When I got the call about doing something for New Orleans, for the reopening of the Superdome, I was thinking, 'What can we do?'" said The Edge.

"Within the first few minutes 'The Saints Are Coming' presented itself as the song for that moment.

"Green Day signed on principally because they could see a way it could be performed with U2. Had we suggested and 'Two Little Boys' by Rolf Harris I think they probably wouldn't have agreed. 'The Saints Are Coming' took on a whole lot of significance for New Orleans.

"We changed a few lyrics -- with Richard's blessing -- and it's become a big anthem for the people there."

Now The Edge hopes the Tartan Clef award will introduce the Fife band's sound to a new generation of music fans.

He said: "The Skids were one of the great bands. I would have loved to have seen them last a few more years. Alas they didn't. I always rated that first album as being one of the great debuts of all time."

"'With The Saints Are Coming' it was amazing to see The Skids and their material coming back into people's consciousness and getting the recognition it deserves.

"Because The Skids are a great group. It's an incredible honour to be able to say congratulations to The Skids for everything...their amazing music and for this Nordoff-Robbins award."
Spiteri flew home from London to present the songwriter award to McElhone, her music partner from Texas.

Wet Wet Wet interrupted preparations for their upcoming U.K. arena tour to wow the audience with two hit songs -- "Wishing I Was Lucky" and latest single "Too Many People." The Scots supergroup have been loyal supporters of Nordoff-Robbins for 20 years. They won the Silver Clef in 1987 and Tartan Clef nine years later.

Wets singer Mart i Pellow said: "Nordoff-Robbins music therapy is about improving the quality of life for people cut off from the usual world."

And Wets drummer Tommy Cunningham added: "Music has given us a lot in life...so it's great to be able to use music to give something back. We're proud of our association with Nordoff-Robbins, particularly here in Scotland."

Celtic boss Gordon Strachan watched his side take on Aberdeen at Parkhead then rushed across the city to attend.

Music-daft Strachan said: "We've got some of the best bands in the world...it's a great night for a great cause." 

 

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