Stuart Adamson – Big Country

(1958 – 2001)

Rock musician. Although born in Manchester on 11th April 1958, Adamson grew up in Crossgates (near Dunfermline in Fife), he was introduced to folk and country music by his parents. When he first saw "The Damned" play in Edinburgh in 1976, it spurred him to abandon plans to become an environmental health inspector and form his first band, "Tattoo".

This soon evolved into punk-pop outfit "The Skids", which included extrovert vocalist, Richard Jobson, The Skids enjoyed a string of successes, including the hit singles Into The Valley and Masquerade. But even at this early stage, Adamson was struggling to cope with the pressures of success, and disappeared temporarily halfway through recording sessions for The Skids' debut album, Scared To Dance. Adamson went on to form "Big Country" ( in 1981, the band with whom he is best identified, as is the distinctive style of his guitar playing. The group had originally included Bruce Watson, Alan Wishart, Pete Wishart and Clive Parker, but the abiding nucleus of the band was to comprise Adamson (guitar and vocals), as well as Mark Brzezicki (drums and backing vocals), Tony Butler (bass and vocals) and Bruce Watson (guitar). Their albums included The Crossing (1983), Steeltown (1984), The Seer (1986), Peace In Our Time (1988), No Place like Home (1991), The Buffalo Skinners (1993), Why the Long Face (1995) and Driving to Damascus (1999).

In 1983, the band achieved world-wide notoriety and their debut album The Crossing, sold three million copies and earned two Grammy nominations and a Rolling Stone Award, among many other accolades. They followed this with a stream of successful singles, many as Top Ten chart successes. Having suffered from alcohol-related depression, Adamson disappeared from his home in Nashville (USA), to be found dead some weeks later in a hotel in Hawaii on 16 December 2001. Although the band achieved major international success during the 1980s, for a time rivalling fellow Celtic big-anthem acts "U2" and "Simple Minds", Adamson remained doggedly committed to his working class Scottish roots. At the time of his death, he still owned a public house in Dunfermline.


We are indebted to Les Raisbeck for suggesting this entry and providing much of the biographical information contained here.

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