Derek Forbes (Simple Minds)

Best known for his work with the Scottish band Simple Minds,Scottish bassist, vocalist, and sometime guitarist, Derek Forbes was born 22 June 1956, in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined Simple Minds in 1978, and recorded on their early demos and 1979 debut album, Life in a Day until shortly after their 1985 hit, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”).

Simple Minds are a Scottish rock band that formed in Glasgow in 1977. The most commercially successful Scottish band of the 1980s, they have achieved five UK number one albums during their career and have sold 60 million records worldwide. Despite various personnel changes, they continue to record and tour. The band had a string of hit singles, becoming best known internationally for their 1985 hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” , from the soundtrack of the film The Breakfast Club. “Sanctify Yourself” “Alive and Kicking” and “Belfast Child” they won the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection. The core of the band is the two remaining founding members – Jim Kerr (vocals, songwriting) and Charlie Burchill (guitars, keyboards after 1990, other instruments, songwriting). The other current band members are Andy Gillespie (keyboards), drummer Mel Gaynor (who first joined the band in 1982) and Ged Grimes (bass guitar). Former members include bass guitarist Derek Forbes, drummer Brian McGee, and keyboardist Mick MacNeil.

Forbes was dismissed from Simple Minds, apparently due to petty jealousy, as cited by Jim Kerr, who stated that it was a regrettable mistake, prior to the release of the global success of Once Upon a Time. Forbes has claimed that he wrote on 60% of the album, yet remained uncredited. Assuming he would quickly be asked to re-join the band, no legal action was taken. Forbes reunited with the band for a three-year period, before and during the recording of Néapolis from 1995-1998 and, along with Mel Gaynor, were to find out a few days before the Kosovo show at Glasgow’s SECC, that they both weren’t included, much to the confusion of the fans, as they had been told that both Forbes and Gaynor were not available to play, but were onstage directly before the Minds went on. Forbes states that he has never left the band, and Forbes has cited that he wasn’t happy with the final mix of the album. Forbes and Mel Gaynor appeared at the Scotland Rocks for Kosova in 1999 performing Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, whilst Simple Minds also appeared on the bill with Mark Kerr on drums and Eddie Duffy on bass.

After Simple Minds, Forbes went on to play in number of other bands, including Propaganda (Germany) and Oblivion Dust (Japan). He also played in Fourgoodmen, a Scottish supergroup, between 2005-2007 and formed XSM, who were originally to consist of Forbes, MacNeil and McGee from the original Simple Minds line up. XSM recorded an albums worth of tracks, but Mick MacNeil didn’t want to play ‘Live’, so Forbes and McGee took the band out, along with ‘one Hit Wonder’ Owen Paul (McGee), sibling of Brian McGee. The guitar and keyboard player roles were twofold, with Steven Curley (version 1) on guitar, followed by Ant Seaman guitar (version 2) and Gary O’Hagan keyboards (version 1) and Andy Gall keyboards (version 2).

Forbes was voted ‘Best Bass Player in the World’ in 1982, and ‘Best International Bass Player’ in a music poll in Australia, the same year. Forbes was also voted ‘Best Bass Player in UK’. Forbes is highly respected by his peers and fellow musicians, including Adam Clayton, Peter Hook, Nicky Wire, Tony Butler, Pino Palladino, JJ Burnell, Bruce Foxton, John Giblin and Malcolm Foster. In 2009, Forbes was voted ‘Scotland’s Greatest Ever Bassist’ by the readers of Dear Scotland, and his life and work is the subject of a biography in both print and film by writer/director Ethan Dettenmaier. Forbes had his own Hollywood radio show on LA Talk Radio for two years, before joining Big Country which, stopped production of his show ‘May the Forbes Be With You’ and was a featured extra in the film ‘This Is Not A Love Song’. Forbes was the bass player with Scottish band Big Country, replacing the longstanding Tony Butler who retired from the band, but left the band in 2015.

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