Recordings by The Fife released by Kirkcaldy musician Art Wilson

After a lifetime in the music industry, Art Wilson has decided to share his music with the world.

Music man...Art Wilson hopes to start gigging again and has also re-recorded some of The Fife's biggest hits, which are now available to stream or purchase online.
Music man...Art Wilson hopes to start gigging again and has also re-recorded some of The Fife's biggest hits, which are now available to stream or purchase online.

The 63-year-old Kirkcaldy musician hopes it will serve as a lasting legacy for his sons Michael (33) and Daniel (26) and grandsons Dante (4) and Aybel (3).

However, it is also a tribute to the many talented musicians he’s performed with over the years who are sadly no longer with us.

Art will be well-known to older readers, both from his busking days and his time in bands such as Loose Connections and The Fife.

Pinnacle of success...The Fife in Holland in 1998 (l-r) John Pauley, Art Wilson, John Bell and Tom Annan.

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    But it all started when he picked up a guitar while living in the YMCA flats in Glenrothes at the age of 19.

    He openly admits that before then he’d been in and out of the borstal and young offenders for minor offences.

    But music turned his life around and became his saving grace.

    Indeed, even today, it is serving to help him overcome depression and anxiety which he has suffered since 2002.

    Where it all began...Art playing with his first New Wave band, Loose Connections. They opened for Johnny and the Self Abusers in Kirkcaldy in 1978 - the band were signed that night and became Simple Minds.

    It was brought on when first his dad Daniel died in 2001, then his closest sister nine months later.

    And it took 11 long years to diagnose, a time when Art became a virtual recluse in his Glenrothes home.

    However, he put that time to good use by cataloguing and digitising the many old recordings he’d kept.

    And in 2013, he was accepted at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Perth where he did a national certificate in music.

    A further course in computing gave him the know-how to digitally remaster his live recordings and some of them are now available for streaming and purchase on the likes of iTunes and Spotify.

    Now, Art is hoping to re-record even more tracks – but needs a helping hand.

    He said: “The stumbling block is the financial cost of rehearsal space, recording facilities and fees for quality musicians.

    “Wouldn’t it be great if a local recording studio was willing to sponsor maybe four hours a month for a few months to record some of my back-log of songs?

    “A lot of the songs have never been released before – they are a legacy for my sons and grandsons.

    “But it’s also a tribute to John Bell, John Pauley and Alan Cruickshanks who have all now passed on.”

    But boy did those friends have a lot of fun in their heyday, as Art recalled.

    “I helped form a New Wave band, Loose Connections, when I was 21, playing songs and music that I’d written,” he said.

    “We even supported Johnny and the Self Abusers in Kirkcaldy in 1978 – they were signed that night and became Simple Minds!

    “Unfortunately, our lead guitarist was blitzed due to taking medication to calm his nerves and the lead singer gave up half way through too, leaving me to finish the gig as the singer!”

    Loose Connections called it a day in 1979 but in 1982, Art teamed up with the bass player Jim Spence to form another New Wave group, The Robin Graves Band.

    Sadly, they were dead in the water after their first gig at the Apollo Lounge in Glenrothes when the sound engineer blew the speakers.

    Art turned to busking in Kirkcaldy and Leven, playing guitar and harmonica and singing 1960s and 70s folk and country covers.

    With his friend Gus Robertson, he also performed in local bars.

    But in 1991, he tasted real success when he formed the seven-piece folk-rock band, The Fife, based on The Pogues style of folk.

    After several members left, the band reformed in 1995 as a four piece with Art on guitar and lyrics, electric violinist John Pauley, drummer Tom Annan and bass player John Bell.

    Playing folk with a rock edge, they enjoyed much success – playing 300 gigs in three years, touring Europe and playing live on Radio Scotland.

    Sadly, after recording a much-acclaimed album Gipsy Spirit, John Pauley decided to quit and they disbanded in 2001.

    But Art is now eager to start gigging again.

    He said: “I am currently rehearsing some acoustic songs with a view to teaming up with local musicians.”

    He’d also love to re-record one track inspired by his dad.

    Art added: “My dad was a miner but was my earliest inspiration too as he was a snare drummer with Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band.

    “He used to rattle away on the hearth, much to my mum Mary’s annoyance.

    “Fishing for Coal was dedicated to him and all the other Fife miners.

    “Sheena Wellington heard The Fife singing it at Dundee Rep and asked us to perform it on Radio Tay.

    “She said she’d like to steal it from me – maybe she’d record it with me?!”

    Over to you this space!