The Skids were an art-punk/punk rock and new wave band from Dunfermline, Scotland, founded in 1977 by Stuart Adamson (1958 - 2001, guitars / backing vocals / keyboards / percussion), William Simpson (bass guitar / backing vocals), Thomas Kellichan (drums) and Richard Jobson (vocals / guitar / keyboards). Their biggest success was the single "Into the Valley" in 1979. It is still used as a theme song for fans of Dunfermline Athletic F.C. in the Scottish First Division and Charlton Athletic F.C. in the (English) Football League Championship. "The Saints Are Coming" was formerly heard before Southampton F.C.'s home games.
They played their first gig
on 19 August 1977, at the Bellville Hotel in Pilmuir Street, Dunfermline, Scotland.
Within six months they had issued the "Charles" EP on the No Bad record label
, created by Sandy Muir, a Dunfermline music shop
owner and then manager
. The record
brought them to the attention of national BBC Radio 1 DJ
, John Peel
. This led to a local support slot for The Clash
. Virgin Records
then signed up The Skids in April 1978. The singles
"Sweet Suburbia" and "The Saints Are Coming
" both made commercial inroads, before "Into the Valley" reached the UK Top 10
in early 1979. The band also released their debut album Scared to Dance
in 1979. It was recorded
at Air Studios
by David Batchelor
. Adamson walked out towards the end of sessions before all the guitar overdubs were completed, but the album does showcase his unique guitar
style which was later to come to prominence in the band Big Country
guitarist Chris Jenkins was brought in to complete it. In the meantime Adamson returned to Scotland while the recording was finished. He rejoined the band for the live concert tour promotion of the album. The record also featured the song "The Saints are Coming", it was also later recorded as a charity
single by U2
and Green Day
Despite criticism of Jobson's lyrics as pretentious, the Skids enjoyed a further year of chart success as "Masquerade" and "Working For The Yankee Dollar" reached the Top 20. Both came from their second album, also released in 1979, Days in Europa, with the record's production and keyboards by Bill Nelson (Be-Bop Deluxe, Red Noise, Channel Light Vessel and solo artist). Nelson played an important role in polishing the Skids sound and in encouraging the development of Jobson's lyrics. Just before recording of the album commenced, Kellichan left the band and was temporarily replaced on drums by Rusty Egan (ex-Rich Kids, later with the band Visage, and a New Romantic 1980s dance DJ at the Blitz club). Egan played on the album, and later on the live concert tour. Keyboard player Alistair Moore also temporarily joined the band to perform live with them. He had been recruited to play Bill Nelson's keyboard parts from the record. Some of Jobson's lyrics, and the album cover caused controversy. It showed an 'Olympian' being crowned with laurels, by an Aryan-looking woman, and the lettering was in Gothic script. Some felt that this glorified Nazi ideology and it was presumed that the imagery was copied from the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Germany. After the original version of the album had already been released, Canadian record producer Bruce Fairbairn was brought into the project. The original cover and the track "Pros and the Cons" were removed. The sleeve was completely redesigned and the song "Masquerade" added. The album was also remixed and the tracks re-sequenced. This second version was released in 1980.
Simpson and Egan were replaced by Russell Webb (bass guitar / backing vocals / keyboards / percussion / guitar) (Slik, PVC2 and The Zones) and Mike Baillie (drums / backing vocals / percussion) (ex Insect Bites) respectively for the recording of the third album. The Absolute Game, released in 1980, and produced by Mick Glossop, proved to be the band's most commercial release. It reached the Top 10 of the UK Albums Chart and contained the minor hit "Circus Games". A few of the tracks on the album also included a collection of fourteen adult and child backing vocalists, along with a lone didgeridoo player. Initial copies of The Absolute Game came with a free limited edition second album entitled Strength Through Joy, echoing the band's previous controversial themes. Jobson claims to have got the title from Dirk Bogarde's autobiography.
Soon after the release and live concert tour of The Absolute Game Baillie left the band and was followed soon after by Adamson (although Adamson did stay around long enough to play on one more song for the next album Joy, called "Iona"). Baillie moved back to Scotland to live and Adamson went on to launch his new band, Big Country. This left Jobson and Webb to write and record the band's fourth and final album Joy, which Russell Webb also produced. The pair played multiple instruments on the album, and also invited a collection of seventeen musical friends to perform on various tracks with them. The Skids dissolved in 1982, with the album Fanfare posthumously issued by Virgin. It was a mixture of greatest hits and unreleased tracks.
Jobson and Webb then went on to form a new band called The Armoury Show. The group recorded just one album, Waiting for the Floods in 1985 before splitting up. Jobson went on to pursue a solo career as a poet, songwriter, television presenter and most recently a film director, He released albums on the Belgian record label Les Disques du Crepuscule, and the UK's own Parlophone Records. Webb proposed a solo career, according to Armoury Show fan page, later joined Public Image Ltd. in 1992, but playing their last tour, and is now a videogame designer.
In 2007 Richard Jobson, William Simpson and Mike Baillie, along with Bruce Watson (guitar / backing vocals), Jamie Watson (guitar), Brian Jobson (backing vocals) and Jane Button (backing vocals), got together to play three gigs. They were to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the group's formation, and as a final tribute to Stuart Adamson, who died in 2001. The shows on 4 July and 5 July were at Dunfermline's Glen Pavilion (where they were supported by Rosyth band, The Draymin), outside of which The Skids had previously played only their second gig, according to Jobson, and on 7 July, at the T in the Park festival.
Line up changes
A considerable number of musicians have played for, or with, the Skids. The official website only lists eleven "Original and Main Members of the Skids". (Their contributions and others are detailed below). According to information from the original first edition vinyl record album sleeves, there were only ever six permanent band members: Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, William Simpson, Thomas Kellichan, Russell Webb and Mike Baillie.
Personnel for Scared to Dance (1979)
Personnel for Days in Europa (1979 & second version 1980)
- Richard Jobson — vocals
- Stuart Adamson — guitars / vocals / keyboards
- William Simpson — bass guitar / vocals
Second Version ONLY
Live concert performances ONLY
- Alistair Moore — keyboards
- Rusty Egan — drums
- Mike Baillie — drums
Personnel for The Absolute Game (1980)
- Richard Jobson — vocals / guitar
- Stuart Adamson — guitars / vocals / keyboards / percussion
- Russell Webb — bass guitar / vocals / keyboards / percussion
- Mike Baillie — drums / vocals / percussion
- Jude Nettleton — vocals
- Julius Newell — vocals
- Andrew Sigsworth — vocals
- John Sigsworth — vocals
- Alison Pipkin — vocals
- David Pipkin — vocals
- Hannah Yeadon — vocals
- Esther Marshall — vocals
- Chloe Dymott — vocals
- Marlis Dunklau — vocals
- Gracie Benson — vocals
- Sally Nettleton — vocals
- Harriet Bakewell — vocals
- Mary Volke — vocals
- Derek Wadsworth — didgeridoo
- Producer — Mick Glossop
Personnel for Joy (1981)
- Richard Jobson — vocals / guitar / keyboards
- Russell Webb — bass guitar / vocals / guitar / keyboards / percussion
- J J Johnson — drums / percussion
- Paul Wishart — saxophone / flute / keyboards / percussion / vocals
- Alan Darby — guitar
- Stuart Adamson — guitar
- Mike Oldfield — keyboards
- Dave Duncan — bodhrán
- Tim Cross — keyboards / flute
- Alan Rankine — guitar
- Billy MacKenzie — vocals
- Ken Locke — cello / vocals
- Virginia Astley — flute / vocals
- Frances Lynch — vocals
- Nicky Holland — vocals
- Debbie Mitchell — vocals
- Nick Griffiths — vocals
- Carey Taylor — percussion
- Producer — Russell Webb
All personnel for album and single recordings, live concert performances, and live radio and television performances
Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, William Simpson, Thomas Kellichan, Chris Jenkins, David Batchelor, Rusty Egan, Bill Nelson, Alistair Moore, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie, Jude Nettleton, Julius Newell, Andrew Sigsworth, John Sigsworth, Alison Pipkin, David Pipkin, Hannah Yeadon, Esther Marshall, Chloe Dymott, Marlis Dunklau, Gracie Benson, Sally Nettleton, Harriet Bakewell, Mary Volke, Derek Wadsworth, J J Johnson, Paul Wishart, Alan Darby, Mike Oldfield, Dave Duncan, Tim Cross, Alan Rankine, Billy MacKenzie, Ken Locke, Virginia Astley, Kenny Hyslop, Frances Lynch, Nicky Holland, Debbie Mitchell, Nick Griffiths, Carey Taylor, Midge Ure, Billy Currie, John Mcgeoch, Steve Severin, Kirsten Adamson, Carol Laula, Callum Adamson, Bruce Watson, Jamie Watson, Jane Button, Brian Jobson, Brian Docherty, Lisa Macgregor, Maria Marshall
- Manic Street Preachers' 1991 single "Motown Junk", samples The Skids' track, "Charles".
- In 2006, U2 and Green Day released a cover of "The Saints are Coming". It reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
- Thomas Kellichan now runs a music bar in Tenerife.
- "Into the Valley" was used in a UK TV commercial for Maxell audio tapes.
- All guitars on Skids recordings and live performances were tuned down a tone (2 frets), to accommodate Richard Jobson's voice. Many of the band's songs were played with an open string "drone" note.
- "Charles" / "Reasons" / "Test-tube Babies" (March 1978: No Bad, NB1)
- "Sweet Suburbia" / "Open Sound" (September 1978: Virgin, VS 227, also white vinyl) # 70 UK Singles Chart
- Wide Open EP featuring "The Saints Are Coming" / "Of One Skin" / "Confusion" / "Night & Day" (October 1978: Virgin, VS 232, red vinyl - also released as a 12 inch single) UK #48
- "Into the Valley" / "T.V. Stars" (February 1979: Virgin, VS 241, also white vinyl) UK #10
- "Masquerade" / "Out of Town" (May 1979: Virgin, VS 262, also released as a double single) UK #14
- "Charade" / "Grey Parade" (September 1979: Virgin, VS 288) UK #31
- "Working for the Yankee Dollar" / "Vanguard’s Crusade" (November 1979: Virgin, VS 306, also released as a double single) UK #20
- "Animation" / "Pros & Cons" (February 1980: Virgin, VS 232) UK #56
- "Circus Games" / "One Decree" (July 1980: Virgin, VS 359) UK #32
- "Goodbye Civilian" / "Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter Behind the Lochore Institute" (October 1980: Virgin, VS 373, also picture disc) UK #52
- "Women in Winter" / "Working for the Yankee Dollar (live)" (November 1980: Virgin, VSK 101) UK #49
- "Fields" / "Brave Man" (August 1981: Virgin, VS 401, also released as a 12 inch single)
- "Iona" / "Blood & Spoil" (October 1981: Virgin, VS 449)
- Fanfare (May 1982)
- Dunfermline: A Collection of The Skids' Finest Moments (July 1987)
- Sweet Suburbia: The Best of The Skids (January 1995)
- The Very Best of The Skids (2003)
- Into the Valley: The Best of The Skids (2005)
- The Saints Are Coming: The Best of The Skids (2007)
- The Great Rock Discography - 5th Edition - ISBN 1-84195-017-3