‘Rip it Up’ exhibition National Museum Edinburgh


Last night I attended the opening night of the new ‘Rip it Up’  exhibition at the Scottish National Museum. It’s features a history of Scottish Pop and I am now proud to be an official “museum piece” 🙂

I loaned the museum a number of pieces of memorabilia including my old custom made titanium mike stand, the long tartan jacket from ‘Internal Exile’ days, a few posters and the Mark Wilkinson’s original artwork from ‘Kayleigh’ for my exhibit.

I’m quite proud actually as it’s the first time I have been included in a recognised list of Scottish luminaries including Alex Harvey, Lonnie Donegan, Lulu, Big Country, Annie Lennox, Orange Juice, The Associates and a host of other artists. This may sound strange to fans across the world but ‘Marillion’ were seen as an English band up here and a Scottish heavy metal band down South. When I moved to Haddington in 1989 a lot of people were surprised to discover I was actually a native.

Having established myself as a singer in Aylesbury and spending my formative years in the London area I was never part of the scene up here and most of my Scottish musician friends I met on tours. I’ve not had a problem with it and internationally I’ve always been perceived as a Scottish ‘act’. It’s an accolade to finally be seen as part of this wee country’s vast musical heritage which is well represented in the ‘Rip it Up’ exhibition.

I went up to see it last night with my wife Simone and Steve Vantsis and it was great to catch up with a bunch of old friends. These days it sadly tends to be funerals that brings us together so it was cool to meet up with some old friends on a sparkling smiley night in the museum.

with Shirley Manson (Garbage)

One of them was Mike Heron from the ‘Incredible String Band’ who was one of the first ‘real’ musicians I met as he lives in a row of cottages on the Glen Estate in Innerleithen and I was introduced to him by Frank Usher in 1981 when I sang in my first band ‘Blewitt’. Frank was guitarist in that band and he lived in the end cottage in the row. I hadn’t seen Mike for probably over 5 years and like a lot of people I saw on the night the passing time and lacklustre memory had me searching through facial recognition programmes. Some were very obvious like Shirley Manson who had recorded at my old ‘Funny Farm Recording Studios’ in the 90’s with ‘Goodbye Mr Mackenzie’ when she was a backing singer before hooking up with ‘Garbage’. I didn’t know her well but my daughter Tara was a huge fan when she was a teenager and I had to get a photo to wind her up as she would have loved to have been there.

with Ted McKenna, Clair Grogan ( Altered Images – who I first met at Friars Aylesbury in 1981) and Justin Currie

Justin Currie from ‘Del Amitri’ had also recorded at the ‘Funny Farm’ as had Ted McKenna from the ‘Sensational Alex Harvey Band’ both with me on ‘Internal Exile’ and on the version of ‘Boston Tea Party’ I recorded in 95 for the ‘Yin/ Yang’ albums with the ‘SAHB’s’

Best one of the night was meeting Bryan Burnett who does the great ‘Get it On ‘ programme on BBC Radio Scotland that I often catch in the car on radio. The programme is centred around specific link criteria and the songs are nominated by fans. Just before my wedding last October I came out the hospital after injections to relieve my back pain with Simone in the car. We had been deliberating on our ‘wedding song’ for the first dance as a married couple and hadn’t settled on anything . On coming out the hospital I switched on the radio and Bryan introduced ‘The Luckiest’ by Ben Folds. I had never heard it before and Simone and I were in tears as the lyrics were perfect for our occasion. I came home and immediately downloaded it and bought the album. It was a truly wonderful song. Simone and I met Bryan as we were leaving and she had no idea who he was. When I told her that this was the presenter we had heard she was taken aback and gushed out praises. Bryan was also moved by the story. A perfect ending to the event.

If you can catch the exhibition please do so. It’s in the National Museum in Chambers Street which is only about 15mins walk from the Queens Hall so if you are coming to the gig on the 22nd September try and catch it.

As I said I’m proud to be a part of it all and it’s been brilliantly put together by the team there. The exhibition runs until November.



I also have an interview with Vic Galloway on my ‘heritage’ on Sunday at 2pm https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b7mnj1 on BBC Radio Scotland and there will be a TV programme later in the year with a ‘fishy’ contribution