Somewhere along the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow, a dream is taking shape.
The dream, simply, is to celebrate the best in Scottish music. Scotland’s Music Hall of Fame is an £8 million, privately funded project that will showcase the remarkable wealth of talent this country has nurtured in rock and pop over the decades.
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The Jesus And Mary Chain, Biffy Clyro, Alex Harvey, The Blue Nile, Texas, Paolo Nutini, Calvin Harris – the list goes on and on.
The first phase is expected to open in late 2014 or early 2015, at an estimated cost of £3 million. Once it is up and running, it will be – the organisers hope – a hugely popular tourist destination in Glasgow, which, it is worth pointing out, was named a Unesco City Of Music in 2008.
In the meantime, music fans are being encouraged, from this weekend, to nominate their top three inductees to the hall of fame.
Those behind the project are all linked by their expertise, their love of music and a passion to celebrate Scotland’s rich musical heritage as well as be part of creating its future.
Fiona White, the creative director of the project, said: “Scotland has a stunning record in rock and pop, and the hall of fame will be a fitting tribute.”
With support from Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow City Council, the team behind the project is working to secure funding to refurbish a building that will become a hub for education, events and experience.
“The venue will be one of two existing, iconic structures on the bank of the river. When we announce it in three or four months’ time, we can guarantee that no-one will be disappointed by our choice.”
“It’s important to point out that the inductees will all be chosen by the people of Scotland and by music fans from around the world,” says White. “Scottish people are hugely passionate about music and celebrating their music scene, so this will put them right at the centre of choosing the inductees and feeling like they are part of this project.”
The most famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cleveland, Ohio. It opened in September 1995 and has welcomed more than nine million visitors and, it claims, driven more than $1.7 billion into the economy. The museum’s exhibits include everything from Muddy Waters’ guitar to a leather jacket worn by John Lennon during The Beatles’ years in Hamburg.
Its list of inductees starts with Abba and ends with ZZ Top. Donovan is there, too: the Glasgow-born troubadour was inducted last year alongside The Small Faces and The Faces.
Here we ask some of the country’s biggest names in music for their thoughts on how the hall of fame should shape up – and who should be included.
SHARLEEN SPITERI, TEXAS
Scotland always has had a rich pot of musical talent. For that reason, for those great bands that came out Scotland, we need a hall of fame. Anyone that’s interested in music and history, they’re always going to look to certain places. Certain cities produce a lot of songwriters and musicians, and Glasgow is one of them.
People should walk away from visiting this building with the feeling of, “I knew there was a Scottish music scene – but Jesus, I didn’t know it was that big.” They should be blown away by how amazing and influential Scottish music has been.
It would be good to have moments of music throughout – can you imagine if you stood in a room and it was literally four walls, almost a cell, covered in band T-shirts? With the sound of those bands being played … It would almost be like you were listening to it within a studio. It would be pretty damn cool. Then, obviously you’ve got to put up all the Postcard Records seven-inch single sleeves (pictured above) – that artwork was really important. My favourite three picks for the museum would be Simple Minds, Altered Images and Orange Juice.
Scotland is a tiny country but we’ve produced an amazing amount of music. It would be great if there was some kind of interactive element. It would be about finding that connection between the energy Scotland has. I found that when I came to Glasgow to study from Aberdeenshire: there’s so much music and art everywhere, you go to pubs and you go to open mics, and everyone’s an artist. Finding the connection between that and what breaks through would be a main thing visitors should get from a hall of fame; help people realise it’s not impossible to do that.
It would give pride and make the idea of making music for a living more accessible. People in London, where I live now, have got the Brits School, and there’s a general sense that the music industry is closer to them. Bringing that close to kids in Scotland would be a good thing. As a teenager, if I’d gone down to Glasgow and seen an exhibit telling me how Annie Lennox – someone from the city I was in – and her music were heard all over the world … Well, that would be really inspiring.
CRAIG REID, THE PROCLAIMERS
The organisers should take a lot of time and be very careful to really represent the characters of the individual acts, rather than just be a procession of clothes and artefacts. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland is good but it’s a little bit overwhelming.
There’s been a lot of very varied characters that have come from Scotland, and they should bring that out a wee bit, everything from Middle Of The Road to Bert Jansch to The Exploited to The Blue Nile to Glasvegas to Rod Stewart and AC/DC. But not have it dominated by the biggest acts – there are a lot of interesting half-forgotten acts that should be brought out.
My pick would be Average White Band. The best group ever to come from Scotland by quite a long way. Totally authentic-sounding, fantastic grooves.
CHARLIE REID, THE PROCLAIMERS
Visitors should get a sense of the background of Scotland in the rock ’n’ roll era, and how popular music developed here. Someone like Jackie Dennis, he would be lost on people now. But the Bay City Rollers, as much as I loathed them, they sold more records than anybody else, so they shouldn’t be overlooked.
I would hope there would be background on musicians who have slipped through the net – bands like The Skids who were very innovative but have been a bit overlooked in the last 20 years.
Everyone has their favourite artist. If you were a fan of The Jesus And Mary Chain and it was all Wet Wet Wet, probably you would be disappointed!
Whoever’s in it, you have to make it dynamic. It has to reflect the dynamism of the music and the people, rather than just be like visiting Robert Burns’s cottage.
SIMON NEIL, BIFFY CLYRO
Why are there so many great musicians from our country? Well, the shitty weather for one thing – we hang out in our mates’ bedrooms, we listen to music all night. We’re not out running on the beach, we’re not up at six going surfing. The way people socialise here is, we go and visit and play music with our friends. You’re not distracted by all the opportunities you can have outside when the weather’s good.
It’s not the posturing aspect that appeals – people bond with music in Scotland in a really sincere way. That’s why we hold it so close to heart, whereas in some other places it’s a bit more about the aesthetic of it all.
So this building needs to be something that’s living and breathing. It can’t just be a bunch of stuff to look at. There should be bands playing, a studio. It should be a place for people to make their own dreams come true.
It should highlight just how successful and influential a lot of Scottish music’s been – thinking back to Donovan being in that DA Pennebaker Dylan movie, or to how Mogwai really reshaped what guys with guitars could do in the late nineties with that post-rock thing, or Franz Ferdinand, who globally took indie music to a different level. Then you’ve got my personal favourites, like Aereogramme – a band that perhaps got overlooked at the time but over the years people will come to realise how important they are.
I’d love it to be quite eccentric. So we need the Ivor Cutler Hall! I think that sensibility has been continued partly by the output of some of the Fence Collective. There’s always going to be a strong folk stream, whether it’s rock or pop music.
I went to the Cleveland Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and it wasn’t something I thought I’d massively enjoy – but it was great. There was an exhibition of Jim Morrison’s notebooks, and it was amazing seeing his handwriting and reading the mad gubbins he was going on about. It’s got Robert Johnson’s guitar, a Howlin’ Wolf guitar, the outfits from famous appearances on album covers. It’s great to see that stuff in the flesh – “he was teeny!”
But Cleveland is the world’s most famous hub of rock paraphernalia, and there’s no point in trying to compete with that. Better to go for what you’ve got that other people haven’t got. Scotland is able to have a laugh so there should be a tongue-in-cheek, fun element. I want to go into a room where you can pose by a green screen and put yourself in the artwork of any Scottish album. Or have a karaoke room! Or have a couple of pairs of glasses so you can do a Proclaimers sleeve! There is a lot of fun to be had. I’d also want to learn about bands like Teenage Fanclub and their links to Nirvana.
As 15-year-old I would really have appreciated going to a place like this and learning about this stuff. Where I grew up, in Fife, I wasn’t going to gigs. But I would imagine this is somewhere schools could go, so kids could learn about the breadth of music, not just what they’re getting on telly. My nominations would be Ivor Cutler, King Creosote and Cocteau Twins.
Does Scotland need a hall of fame? I don’t know. We know what we’ve done, you know? But does it deserve it – yeah! More than anything else we need somewhere we can celebrate the country’s diverse musical history, going right back to the traditional roots, and including cult figures like Alex Harvey. I’d love to see a big shrine for him. And this will provide jobs, and it will attract tourists.
In this climate it’s nice to see people pushing on and coming up with ambitious new things. If there are going to be opportunities for education programmes for schools, they’ll all benefit from this.
JIM KERR, SIMPLE MINDS
The organisers in Glasgow must have done a fine in job in persuading the powers that be that this hall of fame was a winner. I am all for any institution that pledges to be an advocate for Scottish music and arts. I don’t know what their criteria is for inclusion either, except to say that the Cocteau Twins better feature extensively or there will be much foaming at the mouth from yours truly!
BRUCE WATSON, BIG COUNTRY
Alex Harvey has got to be the first one in there. They broke the mould when they made Alex, definitely. The fact is, he didn’t have a hit single until he was 45 but he’d done so much, from the Fifties onwards, and all his musicals. I think the whole band were geniuses. They were just one of those bands that had that chemistry – and it worked.
The SAHB were a band I grew up listening to in the mid-seventies. Zal Cleminson was, and probably still is, a fantastic guitar player, and a huge influence on me.
The second band I’m going to nominate are the mighty Skids, all the way from Dunfermline. I was in a band with Stuart Adamson after he left the Skids. We were great friends and I had an absolute ball knowing him, and performing and playing and writing with him.
Last but not least, my number one, Nazareth. What more can one say? The greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in ... Dunfermline.
If Big Country were to be featured? Well, it would have to be, somehow, one of our Hogmanay gigs at Barrowlands. I’ve lost count how many times we’ve done that.
You know what’s under that dancefloor? What keeps it sprung? Tens of thousand of tennis balls.
That’s possibly the best gig in the world. It’s a bit of a dive, it’s a bit nasty looking, but it’s just great. That’s what a gig should be, and that should be represented somehow in this hall of fame.
SHIRLEY MANSON, GARBAGE
Scotland is a country that’s as valid as any other – and we’ve produced some seminal artists. Very memorable artists, and nobody’s ever sounded like them. I think that’s pretty incredible. There’s a bunch you could name, but to me Cocteau Twins are an absolute pearl because if you play those records today they still sound really modern. And they’re beautiful, and they influenced a lot of people, even if you listen to someone like Warpaint… or the new Garbage record!
I remember going to Niagara Falls, and allegedly there’s an Elvis Presley Museum. We went in and there was literally a flamboyant jacket – and on closer inspection it would say, “this is the kind of jacket Elvis Presley might have worn …”
So a lot of care has to go into the curation. That’s where they have to be careful, because you can go in to a Hard Rock Cafe in any big city and get your fill of guitars and gold discs. I went to a Patti Smith exhibition in Paris a few years ago and it was all films and photographs and lyric sheets. It was amazing. Multi-media is key.
And, excuse me, but The Beatles – one of the most influential bands of all time – had a Scotsman in their midst. Stuart Sutcliffe was born in Edinburgh. So that is worthy of an honourable mention in this hall of fame.
It was a singular honour to be nominated for this year’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. I think something like this Glasgow hall of fame is very important because although the Scottish musician/artist/performer may not still live in Scotland, he still feels he’s from Scotland. Also, there are others that may not have been born in Scotland but they have Scottish ancestry. The ships on the Clyde took so many of us abroad – Scots have influenced the world in all fields.
I’d like to see the great Bert Jansch featured. His influence is huge, stretching around the world, especially to the American singer-songwriters, and to myself. He was born in Scotland, like I was; he moved away later in life and I moved at 10, but that didn’t make me any less Scottish.
Strangely enough, this year I’m honouring another extraordinary singer-songwriter who has influenced everybody who has written songs in the last 70 years. He wasn’t born in Scotland but his ancestry is very clear: this is the great Woody Guthrie. His family go all the way back, and a castle still exists, called Guthrie Castle. Woody Guthrie sang Scottish songs when he was a boy.
To vote for your top three nominees into Scotland’s Music Hall of Fame, go to myhof3.co.uk. Watch more videos at http://www.youtube.com/myhof3 or follow the project on Twitter – @smhof