Music

My Mentor: Jim Kerr

The Simple Minds singer on how his manager, Bruce Findlay, influenced him

Bruce’s family owned a chain of record shops in Scotland.

It was called Bruce’s, appropriately enough. Although we’d hang out in the shop, I never met him, but I remember hearing in 1978 he’d started his own independent label. We [Simple Minds] had a demo tape out, so I called him up to see if we could visit, play some music and get some advice. Also if perhaps he would be interested in releasing a single. 

I remember instantly getting a warm impression.

My songwriting partner Charlie Burchill and I met Bruce in the office above his record store. We played him the music and, how can I say this, he fell back and lit an exotic cigarette. His eyes were closed, smiling – he was evidently into it. He decided to see us at our next gig in Glasgow, and afterwards he gave us our first piece of advice, which was that he felt Simple Minds would go on to much bigger things than his little label could offer us. He didn’t offer us a deal, but said he’d love to manage us. 

It wasn’t just music – he was a mentor in every area of my life.

We were boys from a housing estate; Bruce had travelled the world. He helped us get a record deal, our first exposure and moulded the band. But while that was happening, we were growing up, going through those first big adult issues – getting married, getting a mortgage, going into debt. Bruce had done all that. He knew how to deal with strangers, how to get on with people, when to fight, when not to fight. He prevented us from getting into sticky situations. 

I didn’t tell the band when I decided to get married – but I told Bruce.

When any of the other guys spoke about getting married, I’d talk them out of it: “Nah, you don’t want to be doing that.” And here I was, head over heels in love. I was 23, I didn’t know anything about how marriage worked. I told Bruce and he said something like, ‘’It’s never going to work, but you should do it because this is what you want. I support your decision.’’ That shows you the magnitude of things we would go to him about. 

He was like the big brother I never had.

Bruce managed our band from 1978-1990. Many people would say he took us from scrapping around trying to get pub gigs to being one of the biggest bands in the world. Not that he imposed himself, that’s just how impressive he was.

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Simple Minds’ Big Music is out now

(Image: Rex)