Stuart Adamson – In A Big Country
I have just finished reading Allan Glen’s good biography of Stuart Adamson. With no new interviews with band members granted to the author, official biographies of The Skids and Big Country are due though no one knows when, he has relied on a series of interviews with people close to Stuart and extracts from past band interviews.
In such circumstances it is a credit that the book provides enough to allow the reader to gain some insight into the man himself who thrived on his music, his family and his love for Dunfermline Athletic FC.
From his initial success with The Skids through Big Country to his relocation to Nashville and subsequent projects it is obvious that he always retained a passion for his music, however, he was less comfortable of being “famous” yet craved recognition as a good songwriter and performer.
Whilst it is never easy to determine what may drive any individual towards total alcohol dependency and thereafter a tragic suicide it is certain that the above conflict and an increasing remoteness from his family played a part.
Adamson was married twice. He also had two children, born to his first wife Sandra in 1982 and 1985. In 1996, Adamson split with Sandra and moved to Nashville.
There he remarried, and founded his final band, the alternative country band The Raphaels, a duo of Adamson and Nashville songwriter Marcus Hummon.
On 16 December 2001 he was found dead, after committing suicide by hanging in a room at the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time of death he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.279%.
Musically for me he peaked early via two great debut albums via The Skids “Scared To Dance” and Big Country’s “The Crossing”.
Their second album was a disappointment for me, however, as a band they hit a commercial high with their third album “The Seer” which sold well all around the world making them a headline attraction in the US where I saw them live in San Diego in 1986.
There were two big hits from this album “One Great Thing” which was used in a television advertising campaign for Tennents Lager and the world wide hit “Look Away”
My favourite Big Country music is their soundtrack for the film “Restless Natives” which was the ideal medium for their sound.
As the 80’s merged into the 90’s record sales for Big Country diminished, however, they remained a sought after live attraction both as headliners and support acts for many including on two ocassions The Rolling Stones.
If you only want to own one Big Country album then make it the 2005 expanded 2 disc version of “Without The Aid Of A Safety Net” which is a part acoustic part electric live recording from their 1993 Barrowland concerts.
The last chapter of Big Country’s recording career was spent across a series of record labels with limited success, however, these two songs alone were good enough proof that inspiration was never far away.
“The One I Love” – Big Country (!993)
“Fragile Thing” – Big Country (1999 featuring Eddi Reader)
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