STAR INTERVIEW: Jim’s focussed on his music ... and getting even better

Jim Kerr
Jim Kerr

As a teenager in the 1970s, Simple Minds’ front man, Jim Kerr, said music was the most important thing in his life. Nearly 40 years on, it remains his main focus as the rock giants head to Northampton later this month.

While currently working on his next solo album, he said his performance at Alive @ Delapre on Friday, July 18, will be about making fans happy with the band’s biggest hits.

Jim grew up in Glasgow where, as a teenager, he enjoyed watching live bands because, he said, “there wasn’t much else going on”.

“When a band came to town it was always exciting,” he said. “Then my friend [Simple Minds co-founder, Charlie Burchill] was the first kid in school to own a guitar so we started a band and it all grew from there.

“We put our blood and sweat into getting good and we gambled everything we had on our music. We travelled, invested and we did get lots of support from people we met along the way, but we had to make it the most important thing in our lives.”

Formed in 1977, the pair were originally part of punk rock band with Mr Kerr taking up the stage name, Pripton Weird.

The following year, the pair joined Tony Donald, Alan McNeil, Duncan Barnwell and Mick MacNeil to form Simple Minds, who went on to find worldwide success. Which came as a surprise because, he recalled: “The only other thing I ever considered doing was journalism.”

Now aged 54 and years away from “trying to impress girls” with his after-school gigs (which, he added, “never worked”), Jim is still touring with Simple Minds.

The band experienced a revival in the early 2000s and are due to release their new album, Big Music, later this year.

He said: “We are still ambitious and share the same goal of becoming better performers and , for me, of becoming a better singer. We’ve had our tensions but that’s the way of the world and we have done well because we have good chemistry as a group.”

Apart from his lifelong passion for music, including his solo work which saw him launch his own album, Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr in 2010, he is a devoted traveller and now owns a hotel in his favourite country, Italy.

“I visited once when I was at school and fell in love with it,” he said. “It was also one of the first countries where Simple Minds became popular.

“I found a place there and it soon became a home from home. About 11 years ago I invested in building a hotel which is currently run by a great team. It’s like a dream come true.”

Talking about other hobbies, he added: “I also have shares in Celtic Football Club because it was a big part of my childhood and when the club was on a shakey footing, a lot of fans invested, but I’m not sure how wise that was.”

Now single, Jim has two children: 28-year-old Yasmin, from his marriage to The Pretenders singer, Chrissie Hynde, and 21-year-old James, from his marriage to actress, Patsy Kensit.

Although he said “you never know what’s around the corner,” when it comes to love, Jim is most focussed on his music.

He said: “Throughout a career of almost 40 years you are never going to have the same popularity all the time and you never know how things will pan out.

“But your fans still expect new things and they will notice if you get lazy. You have a duty to them to get even better.

“Performing when you are older also has a different sort of gravitas. When you are young you do it to establish who you are to the world, but later you do it to reflect on who you were.

“Before, people come to see you play because you are in the charts, but now it’s because they actually liked you and want to invest in you.

Mr Kerr described one of the most memorable moments of his career to be working with the late Nelson Mandela, including organising a 90th birthday concert for him in Hyde Park. But when asked who he would most like to perform with, he said: “No-one really, because if they are that good I would rather be in the audience watching.”

Simple Minds will headline the first night of Alive @ Delapre on July 18