On Thursday night, Scotland’s Simple Minds — which was born the same year as Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Van Der Beek and Jon “Napoleon Dynamite” Heder (1977) — wrap up its first U.S. tour in over a decade at Roseland Ballroom.
For a lot of people, the band’s usefulness begins and ends with their 1985 megahit “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” and fair enough, it’s one of the best and most memorable tunes of the ’80s and is still a lot of fun to sing along to in the car. Still, there are many, many interesting things about Simple Minds that aren’t “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” Here are 10:
10. The band got its name from a lyric from David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie,” the fourth-best track on Aladdin Sane and a song that’s about Iggy Pop: “He’s so simple-minded he can’t drive his module/ He bites on the neon and sleeps in a capsule.”
9. Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr owns and operates one of the best hotels in the world, the Villa Angela, in one of the most beautiful places in the world — the Sicilian coastal town of Taormina, which sits on the Ionian sea, offers spectacular views of Mount Etna volcano, and has lots of very fragrant olive and lemon trees, we hear. We don’t speak Italian, but this sounds like a pretty good review of the joint: “Struttura ben manutenuta, ottima posizione facilmente raggiungibile, vista da incanto e poi… per i fan dei Simple Minds… imperdibile!!!” The Villa Angela also provides a nifty rejoinder to any U.S. journalist who rings Kerr up and asks him what it feels like to be a one-hit wonder in America: “I’m sorry, I’m sitting by the pool at my remarkable hotel in one of the most gorgeous places on the entire planet and the reception’s not that great here on top of this stunning hillside, can you repeat the question?”
8. There are several excellent anagrams for “Simple Minds” (each of which might make for a stellar band name in its own right): Mindless Imp, Slimmed Nips, I Mends Limps, Mild Men Piss and Mind Me Lisps.
7. This is a better song than “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
6. The fact that Robin Clark — the incredible vocalist who has sung with Dylan, Bowie, Springsteen, Vandross and a million others, and was featured in the recent doc 20 Feet from Stardom — was basically Simple Minds’ co-lead singer on the band’s best-selling album, Once Upon a Time.
5. Just prior to forming Simple Minds, Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill were in the short-lived but killer Johnny and the Self-Abusers (talk about a great band name) — arguably the best Scottish punk band of all time (other than maybe The Rezillos). Kerr shaved his eyebrows and went by the name “Pripton Weird,” while Burchill called himself “Charlie Argue.” The NME, “cleverly” riffing off their name, opined that this song “jerks off aimlessly into the void…while they’re keeping their hands to themselves, perhaps they should do the same to the records.” Wrong.
Alive and Kicking (Introduced by Madonna) by ghostdancer
4. In 1985, Simple Minds were the musical guest on the Season 11 premiere episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Madonna. They played “Alive and Kicking” and Kerr’s outfit was sparklier than Madonna’s. Maybe not his dance moves, however.
3. Kerr was married to The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde from 1984-1990, and since Chrissie Hynde is one of the coolest musicians/humans on earth, at least a little bit of that coolness had to have rubbed off on him. Check ’em out above, along with that Silvio dude from The Sopranos and a bunch of other famous people, fighting apartheid.
2. The time Herbie muthafuckin’ Hancock played synthesizer on a Simple Minds song.
1. OK, we cheated a tiny bit, but this is classic.