Dougie Hunter: a lifetime in music with Lights Out By Nine
and live on Freeview channel 276
His death at the age of 70 leaves a huge gap in the line up of Lights Out By Nine, the band he helped to form in Kirkcaldy, and propel on a 36-year journey which took them to major festivals and gigs, recording studios and radio stations UK wide, and beyond.
On stage he played bass. Off stage, he was their de facto manager, spending countless hours networking and forging the personal connections that saw them share stages with great names such as the Average White Band, Maggie Bell, Paul Carrack, Martin Stephenson, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, the Blockheads, the Blues Band and Wishbone Ash. The list runs much longer.
An accomplished footballer - another lifelong passion - Dougie was born and bred in Kirkcaldy, attending St Marie’s Primary and St Andrew’s High School. It was at Kirkcaldy YM, where some of the biggest bands of the 1960s played live, that his love for music was kindled.
Together with Tom Stirling, LOBN keyboards player and lifelong friend, they formed the group Ned Ludd, then Legal Tender with Al Hughes, followed by Room Service. By that time, future LOBN members Al and Alan Klyle had started Side Effects, and when they needed a bass player, Dougie was their first choice.
“Not only could he play and sing, but he could get gigs!” said Alan. “A born fixer - the complete package!”
Around 1980/81 Dougie and Alan also set up ‘Rock At The Golf’ at the Golf Tavern, Leven, to provide a venue, not only for local bands but from further afield. Notable visitors were Marillion, The Alarm and H2O. It was a labour of love - every penny that came through the door went to the bands.
Dougie and Tom had also been talking about putting together a classic soul band to do a charity night. Al Hughes and Alan came on board, and LOBN began a journey that took them to major jazz and blues festivals across the UK, a host of BBC Radio sessions, recording albums, a live worldwide webcast concert from Princes Street Gardens, in Edinburgh and gigs across the UK.
“In all, it took over a year to put LOBN together, so it seemed crazy to do only one gig-we might as well do a few more!” said Alan. “Here we are, 36 years and 28 members later. During the band's busiest period, we travelled the length and breadth of the UK, but even on the weariest journeys, Dougie's storytelling and infectious laughter would keep everyone entertained long into the night.”
One of their greatest moments, arguably, came at the tribute concert for Scottish legend Frankie Miller, at the Barrowlands in Glasgow, headlined by Joe Walsh. The line up was the cream of Scottish music.
The band also had strong links to the Average White Band. One of its founder members, Onnie McIntyre, featured in the name of a series of podcasts Dougie recorded during lockdown – ‘From Onnie to Ozzie.’
Recalling a charity gig at King Tut’s with Onnie, he said: “Looking up at him playing that guitar riff on Pick Up the Pieces, I was almost too frightened to move my fingers! “It was a case of ‘take a deep breath - this is what you are here for’ moment.”
It was just one of many, many moments in a music career which ran in tandem with his day job in the electronics industry which took him across Europe and on to Colorado in the USA before teaming up with Tom at his Glenrothes company, Plastech. In America, he teamed up with a fellow music fan to help secure royalty payments from fledging internet radio stations that weren’t paying bands a dime.
He also still donned his boots playing five-a-side football throughout his life - a sport which saw him also turn out with the all conquering Kirkcaldy YM which saw many players go on to the senior and junior ranks.
For anyone who ever saw the band play live, they only saw a tiny part of what Dougie did to make it a good night for all; from booking the venue to planning posters, tickets, PA hire, newspaper and radio promotion- even re-arranging tables and chairs and adjusting lighting to make the room more welcoming.
That work allowed the band to perform at its very best. The line up featured many outstanding musicians which created a special sound, but it was Dougie who took LOBN to places that most local bands could only ever dream about. Their last home gig was at a packed Kings Live Lounge in Kirkcaldy - a venue where Dougie was working behind the scenes to add to its roster of gigs. It came shortly after another hugely successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe residency at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh, a venue they played many, many times.
The memories of countless hours on the road, playing gigs the length and breadth of the country are preserved in those podcasts - based on a lifetime of cuttings supplied by Alan.
“I played with Dougie for 45 years and had heard most of the stories in the back of transit vans, but when he put them together they just sounded incredible,” he said “It was amazing to listen to them again and remember the connections that he generated everywhere.”
Dougie is survived by his wife Mandy, sons Michael and Chris, as well as Mandy’s children Neil and Lisa and their grandchildren. His funeral is at Kirkcaldy Crematorium at 2:15pm on Thursday, September 28 with the request: ”In true Dougie style come as you would for a LOBN gig.”