No celebration of Glasgow’s music scene would be complete without mention of Barrowland, the city’s best loved gig venue. Only last week, Ian Astbury of The Cult was singing the east end ballroom’s praises from its stage, and he’s not alone in saluting its unique appeal – both Oasis and Metallica have cited Barrowland as their favourite venue in the world.
A roll call of the bands, artists and events which have rocked Barrowland over the past three decades can be found on the Jim Lambie-designed Album Pathway in Barrowland Park. Walking the length of the pathway, recalling some of the venue’s best or most notorious gigs, has become a highlight of our Merchant City Music Past and Present tour.
Now Billy Coyle of the Clutha Trust has set up the Barrowland Hall of Fame because, he says, he simply thought it would be a good idea to pay formal tribute to the artists who have contributed to the reputation of this most cherished venue.
“I’ve been going to Barrowland for years and I’ve heard so many bands say how much they love the venue,” Billy told us. “Barrowland has given us all good memories; I thought it would be nice to give something back.”
Inductees receive a trophy and will be marked with a plaque on the stairway which runs from the dressing room to the stage. Among the first to be honoured were The Ramones and Iggy Pop – no argument from us on the brilliance of their Barrowland performances – as well as regulars and veterans including Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene. Simple Minds, who launched Barrowland as a rock venue when they shot their Waterfront video there in 1983, are earmarked for induction. They will join existing Scottish inductees Big Country, who were the second band to play there, and the Bay City Rollers, who sold out four reunion concerts at the venue in December in record time.
But crucially, it is not just musicians whose contribution is being recognised. Behind-the-scenes inductees include Regular Music, the promoters who first spotted the rock venue potential in an old east end dancehall, and Simple Minds manager Bruce Findlay for his role in organising the Waterfront shoot, as well as sound man John Ramsay of EFX Audio, crew manager Alex Prasher and journalist Billy Sloan for championing the venue over the years.
Following this first flurry, the plan is to induct four names each year – the late, great David Bowie being the latest. Coyle, understandably, doesn’t want to reveal who might be next on the honours list, but he does drop a substantial hint when he suggests that the next induction will take place on 17th March…now, who might be celebrating 25 years of St Patrick’s Day concerts then?