HE coulda been the singer in The Sex Pistols, but instead went all synthie and co-organised a massive worldwide charity event, with an associated hit record that became the second biggest song ever released in the UK.

Life. It’s all about decisions. Crossroads. Maybe even fate, which is a discombobulating thought.

Fate, chance, but not much by way of decision, saw this week’s subject, Midge Ure, born on 10 October 1953 to a decent working-class family living in a “pretty slummy” one-bedroom tenement flat in Cambuslang on the outskirts of Glasgow.

That bairn, then called James, went on to great things. The charity event mentioned above was Live Aid. This month, Just For One Day, a musical based on that seminal phenomenon, opens in yonder London. Written by John Farrell, some of the proceeds will go to the still continuing Band Aid Charitable Trust.

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Live Aid was the brainchild of Sir Bob Geldof, but Ure was the essential co-conspirator, not least in organising the musical side of things. So, shout out for the non-shouty one.

But Live Aid is just one episode in a stellar musical career. Ultravox, Visage, Slik, Rich Kids, even Thin Lizzy for a bit: Midge Ure was a one-man soundtrack to the 1970s and 1980s. Ultravox’s portentous single Vienna reached number two in 1981, kept off the number one spot by Joe Dolce’s less philosophical Shaddap You Face.

Life for Ure began, as it does for most of us, after school. Take two: life for Ure began after attending Motherwell Technical College and working as a trainee at the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride. Take three: life began for Ure when he joined a band a Glasgow band called Stumble which became Salvation.

Here, he first made his name. Bass player Jim McGinlay, believing too many Jims spoiled the rock, re-christened our James “Midge”, a phonetic inversion of Jim.

Salvation sought gigs in discotheques and, in 1974 Ure became singer as well as guitarist. In November that year, the band mutated into Slik, with songs provided by Bay City Rollers writers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter.

Edging out Abba’s Mamma Mia, Slik had a number one single in 1976 with Forever and Ever, but the rise of punk inspired the lads to ditch the boy-band baloney and rechristen themselves PVC2. Ironically, the previous year, Ure had pooh-poohed the chance to be the Sex Pistols’ singer, believing Svengali Malcolm McLaren’s priorities were “completely wrong”.

The Herald: Midge UreMidge Ure (Image: free)

In 1977, Ure left PVC2 to join former Sex Pistol bass guitarist Glen Matlock in Rich Kids, playing London venues frequented by other New Wave bands such as the Boomtown Rats (proprietor B. Geldof). German electronic music did for the Kids. Ure loved it. Matlock not so much. Midge acquired a synthesiser and plinked himself out of Rich Kids and into Visage, formed with Kids drummer Rusty Egan and singer Steve Strange, and later including Magazine members Dave Formula, John McGeoch and Barry Adamson, and Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie.

Their electronic dance pop helped define the early 1980s New Romantic movement, with a single, Fade to Grey, making the UK top 10 (and number one elsewhere), while their self-titled debut album also charted.

After a second album, The Anvil, and two more hit singles, the traditional tensions arose, and Ure left, though he remains “really proud” of these two Visage albums.

At this point, matters take an odd turn. While Currie and Ure left to join Ultravox, Midge also got a call to replace Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy on an impending US tour. Classic rockers Lizzy were a million miles from the New Romantics. But Lizzy’s Phil Lynott was a pal and, whatever his obsession with synths, Ure has always been a highly regarded guitar player.

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He found his first trip to America “a fantastic experience”, playing in front of 100,000 people on the same bill as Aerosmith and Santana.

But Ultravox remained the day job. The album, Vienna, was released in July 1980, with a subsequent single of the same name becoming a huge hit, aided by a cinematic-style video inspired by The Third Man.

Ure has acknowlegded that people thought Ultravox “po-faced” “humourless”, “bombastic” and “pompous”, judgments possibly exacerbated by citing influences such as Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimpt and fin de flippin’ siècle art. But he insists that should not detract from the music.

More hits followed Vienna but, as success slowly waned, Ure launched a solo career and left the band, later explaining: “The spark kind of went out of it … Live Aid and Band Aid had a lot to do with it, I suppose.”

Yep, Live Aid and Band Aid. Defining moments. In November 1984, Ure was rehearsing with Ultravox for Channel 4’s The Tube when host Paula Yates handed him the phone, down which her then husband, Geldof, proceeded (recalled Ure) "to rant on about the Michael Buerk BBC news report on the Ethiopian famine".

The Herald: Ure with Bob GeldofUre with Bob Geldof (Image: free)

The result was massive hit single Do They Know It's Christmas?Geldof provided the initial lyrics, with Ure working the musical theme, and a bridging chorus coming together only once the participating artists had gathered.

The single sold millions worldwide and provide the impetus for 1985’s global concert Live Aid, which raised millions more. Geldof was the campaign’s raging face, morally blackmailing artists to play and ordering the public to part with their “f***ing money”. Midge coordinated the musical side. They made a good team and, to this day, each acknowledges the other’s essential contribution.

Ure and Geldof set up the Band Aid Trust, and more good works followed, including the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute and Live 8, organised to press G8 leaders to end world poverty. Midge’s music continued, too, and more recent years have seen reunions and anniversary events, not least last October when, to mark his 70th birthday, he headlined a concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Now living near Bath with wife Sheridan, he returns frequently to Glasgow: “It always feels like coming home.” In 2001, he was the subject of TV’s This Is Your Life and, in 2005, bagged a gong (OBE). His autobiography, If I Was, openly discusses previous problems with alcohol. Elsewhere, he has confessed the downside of fame, with mansions and Jags turning his head and making him behave at times like “a twit”.

He credits family with supporting him through troubled times. To him, family is “everything” and fatherhood “a much more important role than singing in a band”.