The Proclaimers Biography
Last updated: 04/30/2014 09:55:02 PM
Almost seven years since the release of Hit The Highway, The Proclaimers are back with their fourth album. The aptly named 'Persevere' takes its title from Leith's historical motto, and continues brothers Craig and Charlie Reids' legacy of uncompromising musicianship and assured story telling.
Craig and Charlie have spent their time writing, recording and busy with family commitments. Never concerned with chasing fame, their withdrawal from the public eye has been unequivocal. 'Persevere's' 14 tracks draw their inspiration from the brothers experiences and observations of life, love, politics, bereavement and Scotland's history. It is bursting with their characteristic conviction and an honesty that is raw and striking. Since the very beginning they have pursued a line of integrity in their writing and throughout their musical career.
The teenage twins musical passion began after a childhood spent in Edinburgh, Cornwall and Auchtermuchty in Fife. At home it was Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams and Ray Charles. At school they formed punk bands. Out of this collision of styles and attitudes came The Proclaimers in 1983. Over the next three years the duo built up a fervent following in the pubs of Edinburgh and Inverness.
People latched onto and identified with these two characters. Straight (nice jeans'n'jumpers, thick glasses, sensible haircuts) but individual (traditionalism meets radicalism inside, burning soul fired by pure adrenaline). Songs that opened your ears and hit your heart. Kevin Rowland of Dexy's Midnight Runners gave inspiration, advice and demo time. The Housemartins, then topping the UK charts, asked "Who are The Proclaimers" on Radio 1 and gave the unsigned duo the support slot on their national tour.
January 1987 saw The Proclaimers legendary television debut, playing Letter From America on The Tube. Channel 4's switchboards were jammed with curious callers. Within a month they were signed to Chrysalis Records and recording their debut album - nine days later This Is The Story was finished. Six weeks later it was in the shops. By December Letter From America was Number 3 in the UK singles chart and the album went Gold. A year of constant touring to sell-out crowds and an album of electrifying acoustic energy had paid off. A song about Scotland, its emigration, politics, industrial closures and the Highland clearances had reached the top of the pop charts.
In August 1988 the second album, Sunshine On Leith, saw The Proclaimers raw delivery complemented by the country/rock scope of a full band. Pete Wingfield, the man behind Dexy's Midnight Runners Searching For The Young Soul Rebels was brought in to produce. As ever with The Proclaimers their politics and passions were palpable, but never brow-beating. If their songs spoke of troubled soul-searching, they still bore a dignity at heart. if their songs were euphoric, it was a communal joy. These were selfless songs.
Over the next ten months they performed 145 times in 18 countries. Sunshine On Leith became a million seller, popular throughout Europe and America, platinum in the UK, Canada and New Zealand and triple platinum in Australia. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) was a worldwide hit. A lifetime's ambition was fulfilled as Craig and Charlie make their first visit to North America as I'm Gonna Be went top ten in the College/Modern Rock charts. The album and single refused to lie down well after the world tour had ended. Four years later, in summer 1993, both would be back...
Back in Edinburgh in 1990, the Reids1 break was disrupted by a crisis at Hibernian Football Club.
Diehard fans, they were to spearhead the 'Hands Off Hibs' campaign against the threatened takeover by local rivals Heart of Midlothian. After a long fight, which saw Charlie chained to railings outside the Bank of Scotland HQ, the campaign was won and The Proclaimers were free to return to the business of writing songs.
The King Of The Road EP, their seventh single, was released in November 1990 with the classic Roger Miller track used as the soundtrack to the film The Crossing. The single went Top Ten in the UK and became a hit record throughout Europe.
It was as they prepared to record their third album Hit The Highway, that The Proclaimers success in the USA was to explode. Out of the blue, via the sterling efforts of actress and Proclaimers fan Mary Stuart Masterson, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) became the theme song to the film Benny & Joon. In the summer of 1993, the song went from silver screen to small screen to airwaves to record shops. Over 28 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) climbed to number 3 nationally, sitting at number 1 in over half the States and selling a million copies. The climax of a three-week, coast-to-coast promotional tour was an appearance before 22,000 New Yorkers at Z1OO's tenth anniversary bash at Madison Square Gardens. In the summer of '93, America fell for two down-to-earth punters from Fife. The parts of the world that missed out first time around when it was a hit in '89 followed suit.
A gold album was to follow in the USA as sales of Sunshine on Leith passed the 2 million copy mark worldwide. Despite industry pressure, The Proclaimers refused to re-release I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) in the UK. It had been a substantial hit there already. And, anyway, there was new material on the way.
By the time of their American success, most of Hit The Highway was complete. Personal upheaval - the break-up of Charlie's marriage, subsequent new marriage and birth of second son, Craig's marriage and the birth of his first daughter - had played its part in the lengthy gestation of the third album. But more than that, it was pride in their work that caused the gap between albums. The Proclaimers exist to play live and to undertake a rigorous world tour you have to believe in the songs 100%. In the Reid book there's no crime more heinous than faking it. And you can't frog-march the truth.
Hit The Highway was recorded in six weeks in the late Autumn of 93. Producer Wingfield's Hammond playing added resonant soul. A three piece brass section gave - R'n'B punch. The band brought a solid rock drive. And above all this are the voices and the words of The Proclaimers. Spiritual, though the emphasis is on finding your own path. Romance, never dulled by soppy sentiment. Family and friends, but never blind to the humorous side of "domestic bliss". Hit The Highway is the naked truth. Stand up for what you are. Go your own way. Or hit the highway.
Hit The Highway was released in 1994 as the first single, Let's Get Married went Top 20 in the UK. The Proclaimers toured constantly, with Craig and Charlie ecstatic to be back on the road. 116 live shows followed including a coast to coast tour of the USA and Canada.
Since coming off the road in early 95 after 18 non-stop months, Craig and Charlie have kept a low profile. They made a one-off live appearance in 1996, performing from the centre circle at Murrayfield Stadium prior to a Scotland v Australia rugby encounter. They also recorded Chuck Berry's No Particular Place To Go and Buddy Holly's Maybe Baby in 1997, for long time admirer John Byrne and the film adaption of his play, The Slab Boys.
Hollywood has continued to knock on The Proclaimers door. They contributed a version of The Temptations Get Ready to the soundtrack of the hugely successful Dumb and Dumber, Over and Done With to cult movie Bottle Rocket and their version of The Everly's Bye Bye Love to the movie of the same name. Their music has also appeared on numerous advertisements worldwide, including IBM's use of a whistled Over And Done With throughout their USA and Europe 'Hot Products' summer 2000 campaign.
The Reids put music on hold for 18 months when their father became critically ill. He passed away in August 97 and Craig and Charlie returned to writing. The tunes built up though the lyrics took time. Family life had been busy, Craig now with four children, Charlie with three. Finally in early 2000, the brothers were happy that they had a collection of songs fit for an album and they headed to Minneapolis to begin recording. With EMI's closure of Chrysalis as a stand-alone label and failing to see eye to eye with the new proprietors, The Proclaimers very happily parted company with the new regime. After heading to Minneapolis in August 2000 to record their fourth album, Craig and Charlie, along with manager Kenny MacDonald, subsequently siezed the opportunity to form their own label, 'Persevere' Records.
They drafted in a wealth of international talent for their most ambitious recordings to date, headed by Chris Kimsey, legendary producer of a plethora of classic albums including seven from the Rolling Stones. Musicians included Chuck Leavell (of The Allman Brothers fame and keyboard player with The Stones for the last 20 years); drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis's Attractions) and Hutch Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt's band, and many more.) 'Persevere' was engineered by Tom Tucker Snr, Prince's house engineer at Paisley Park for the past 15 years.
The first single from Persevere (PERSREC CD 02B), A. There's A Touch, AA. A Land Fit For Zeros, B. They really Do, will be released in UK/Ireland in early May with the album 'Persevere' on Persevere Records, to follow.
UK June tour dates to be announced shortly.
Bio above is from www.proclaimers.co.uk/thestory.html, Recommended by Julia, Thanks.