Joe’s Band: Retiring Fife legend looks back on his time rocking

Joe's Band at Rockore 2018. Picture: Lisa McCormack
Joe's Band at Rockore 2018. Picture: Lisa McCormack

One of Fife’s best-loved entertainers is hanging up his microphone, as Joe McCormack prepares to retire from Joe’s Band.

The Cardenden rocker has been wowing crowds across the Kingdom and beyond for decades, but now as he is set to hit 71 this year, he’s decided it’s time to call it a day.

While he’s best known for belting out classic rock covers with an astonishing range, Joe has been singing since he was a child.

A quiet man, who seems only able to fully express himself when he comes alive onstage, Joe spoke to the Press about his time rocking audiences up and down the country, and why he’s retiring.

“I love singing,” he said. “I’ll miss it. I’ll feel a bit lost for a while, but I’ll make up for it somehow.

“It gets a bit harder all the time. I don’t know if I’m coming or going sometimes after all that jumping about.

Joe's Band at Rockore 2018. Picture: Lisa McCormack

Joe's Band at Rockore 2018. Picture: Lisa McCormack

“I told the boys, I’m getting older. It’s time.

“I’ve got my daughter and my grandaughter so it’ll be good to spend more time with them.”

Joe’s gigs must number in the thousands, with a huge number of charity events among them.

His energetic performances are the stuff of legend in Fife, and crowds have often been witness to the nail biting experience of seeing Joe climb all over the stage.

It’s been great when people come up and give you good vibes and compliment the band – it’s a great feeling. I’ve had a lot of good times, and a lot of good boys who have played in the band with me. The band is absolutely brilliant.”

Joe McCormack

One memorable gig outside what is now Society in 2006 saw him get onto the roof of the building, causing a few concerns for the police nearby.

“I just love doing things that make people say ‘you’re mad’.

“I’ve done a lot of daft things, and could’ve killed myself a couple of times, like that time on the roof.

“It was a great night. The police were telling me off, shouting ‘get down!’.

A typical gig usually involves climbing something and singing from a great height.

A typical gig usually involves climbing something and singing from a great height.

“There have been a few times during gigs I’ve gone up somewhere and thought ‘what are you doing up here?’. I just love doing it.

“One gig in Kirkcaldy in what was Harlem, I went up on the bar and started going round it and someone threw a pint of lager at me.”

“I’ve had a great life with the music and seen a lot of places that I wouldn’t have seen.

“It’s been great when people come up and give you good vibes and compliment the band, it’s a great feeling.

“I’ve had a lot of good times, and a lot of good boys who have played in the band with me. The band is absolutely brilliant.”

Joe has been singing as long as he can remember, thanks to encouragement from his parents.

“It was my mum and dad who helped me along. He’d listen to me singing and teach me songs.

“When I was wee there was an old woman called Mrs Judge who used to hang out her window and say ‘come on, give us a song’ – so there was me singing ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’.

“Then she’d start asking for another one!

“I played the accordian for a bit, but singing was better. “

Joe first took to the stage at around 1967, singing with the Piece and Quiet, playing Motown style music until they split up in 1972.

After a few years away from the stage, he returned with Raw Edge, this time belting out some of the classic rock numbers he’d later become known for.

Joe’s Band formed around 1990, and soon they were busy gigging.

Joe said: “We’d play on the Thursday, the Friday, Saturday, twice on Sunday, and then the holiday Monday, and then just collapse when we came in.”

Despite having over 50 years’ worth of performances in mind, Joe is in no doubt about his favourite gig.

“Just last year at Rockore,” he said. “It was the greatest feeling I ever had, as my grandaughter was there, and I was almost crying because she came up to me at the very end and said ‘you’re good’.

“Rockore will live with me till the day I die.

“I felt like Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, and Steve Perry all rolled into one.

“It was just the crowd, about two and a half thousand. I’ll be back this year.”

Joe is close to his daughter Lisa, who says she’s proud of him.

“As far back as I can remember, he’s just sung constantly. It doesn’t matter where he is or what he’s doing.

“If he’d been out he’d come up the road just singing his heart out.

“He gets a row for jumping about now because of his knee, so I worry about him. He’s done really really well. I’m really proud of my dad.”

Joe would like to thank everyone who has come along to support him over the years and who has been a part of his gigs.

And even in retirement, Joe’s unlikely to go quietly: “I’ll be singing while I’m gardening,” he laughs.

While he’s officially retiring at the end of this year, Joe is planning on doing a couple of extra charity gigs next year.

If you want to catch him at Rockore this year, it’s on Saturday, August 17 at Lochore Meadows Country Park.

Rocking throughout the years. Picture: Lisa McCormack

Rocking throughout the years. Picture: Lisa McCormack

Joe is renowned for his vocal power and range. Picture: Lisa McCormack

Joe is renowned for his vocal power and range. Picture: Lisa McCormack

Picture: Lisa McCormack

Picture: Lisa McCormack

Joe McCormack is hanging up his mic. Picture: George McLuskie

Joe McCormack is hanging up his mic. Picture: George McLuskie