FP100 Fife bands 2. Big Country

Big Country in 1999
Big Country in 1999

It’s now more than 30 years since Big Country announced their arrival with the classic debut album ‘The Crossing.’

The beautiful sound created by the late Stuart Adamson combined stirring guitars, rousing melodies and a passion that burst out of his songs.

It delivered classic hits such as ‘Fields Of Fire’, ‘Chance’ and their signature song ‘In A Big Country’ and it sold over three million copies en route to sweeping three Grammy nominations in the US.

For a band conceived in Dunfermline rehearsing out of a warehouse it was heady stuff - and the start of a wonderful journey that continues to this day, albeit without Adamson whose absence continues to be felt.

He was the driving force of the band which he formed with fellow Fifer Bruce Watson after a spell in Skids, west Fife’s great band of the punk era.

Big Country rehearsed in Dunfermline before playing live at the Glen Pavilion. Those first steps led to world tours, astonishing record success and even Live Aid.

The unique sound created by Adamson and Watson was complemented by the arrival of Mark Brzezicki and bass player Tony Butler to complete the classic Big Country line-up.

The 1980s saw them flying high as they enjoyed stunning success with the albums ‘Steeltown’ in 1984 and ‘The Seer’ in ‘86.

Debut single ‘Harvest Home;’ became a band classic, but didn’t impact on the charts in the way that subsequent releases did - ’Fields Of Fire’ lit the spark that continued through ‘Wonderland’, ‘East Of Eden, ‘Just a Shadow’ and ‘Where The Rose Is Sown.’

The stats remain breath-taking to this day; 17 top 30 UK singles, five gold and platinum status albums, and a place at the music industry’s top table.

In 1984 they were part of Band Aid with the groundbreaking, charity single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ and the following year they were part of the legendary Live Aid gig at Wembley, London.

The 1990s kicked-off with a greatest hits compilation and a fifth studio album ‘No Place Like Home’ but the band’s status was truly underlined as they twice toured across Europe with the Rolling Stones - Mick Jagger hailed them one of the best opening acts they’d ever had. They also supported Queen, The Who and Led Zeppelin stars Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and played Glastonbury Festival as Ray Davies’ backing band.

By the end of the decade the band’s eighth album was released amid concerns over Adamson’s health.

He had relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, and had disappeared briefly. It was the first public sign of troubles ahead.

He returned for the 2000 farewell gigs at the Barrowlands in Glasgow and disappeared once more. This time the outcome was tragic. Adamson took his own life in a hotel room in Hawaii in December 2001.

At gig celebrating his life featured Mike Peters on guest vocals - a role he went on to fill as the band reunited in 2007 to mark its 25th anniversary, and again in 2010 as Bruce was joined by his son Jamie and Mike to mark 30 years.

With new energy the band toured once more, including an emotional homecoming gig at the Alhambra - their first back in Dunfermline since the death of Adamson - and many festivals across the UK. Butler has since retired and Peters moved on to concentrate on his role with The Alarm, and the band continues.

In a Big Country, dreams stay with you ...