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Deacon Blue are a Scottish pop rock band formed in Glasgow during 1985. Their name was taken from the title of the Steely Dan song "Deacon Blues". The line-up of the band consists of vocalists Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, keyboard player James Prime and drummer Dougie Vipond. The original Deacon Blue band also included Ewen Vernal as bass guitarist. The original guitarist in Deacon Blue was the late Graeme Kelling; the current Deacon Blue guitarist is Gregor Philp and the current bass guitarist is Lewis Gordon. Although Kelling and Philp are the only two official Deacon Blue guitarists, a few others have played guitar for Deacon Blue albums; for their 2001 studio album Homesick (which was recorded when Kelling was ill), the guitarist was swapped around for different tracks, with Mick Slaven or Davy Scott playing when Graeme Kelling found it too difficult.
The band released their debut album, Raintown, on 1 May 1987 in the United Kingdom and in the United States on February 1988. The album has the overtones of a concept album relating to the struggles of getting by in life in the inner city of urban life - the city being unmistakably Glasgow, referenced by the roots of the band and by the images on the cover of the album, the view of a rainy day over Glasgow's West End (with the Finnieston Crane featuring prominently) and, on the rear, a long-exposure capture of the Kingston Bridge blasting through the city centre at night. Their second album, When the World Knows Your Name (1989) topped the UK Albums Chart for two weeks, and included "Real Gone Kid" which became their first UK top ten single.
Deacon Blue released their fourth album, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing in 1993. Following Vipond's decision to quit the group in favour of a career in television, they split up in 1994. Five years later, the band held a reunion gig, and this led on to a new album, Walking Back Home, with the band now working on a part-time basis. The band released another album, Homesick, in 2001. Though Graeme Kelling died from pancreatic cancer in 2004, the band has continued in his absence and 2006 saw Deacon Blue returning to the studio to record three new tracks for a Singles album - including the track "Bigger than Dynamite". Deacon Blue's next album was The Hipsters, in 2012. A new album, A New House, is due for release in September 2014.
As of 2012, Deacon Blue's total album sales stood at six million, with twelve UK Top 40 singles, along with two UK number one albums. A new album has been announced for September 2014.
1985-87: Formation and early years:
Formed in 1985 following Ricky Ross's move from Dundee to Glasgow, Deacon Blue were one of the top-selling UK bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Along with Ross, the group consisted of Lorraine McIntosh, James Prime, Dougie Vipond, Ewen Vernal and Graeme Kelling.
Ross, a former school teacher originally from Dundee, was the group's frontman, penning the majority of Deacon Blue's songs. He married vocalist Lorraine McIntosh in 1990. In 1986, the band contributed a track ("Take the Saints Away") to a compilation cassette entitled Honey at the Core, featuring then up-and-coming Glasgow bands, including Wet Wet Wet and Hue and Cry.
1987-1991: Raintown and When The World Knows Your Name:
The band's debut album, Raintown, produced by Jon Kelly was released in 1987. It spawned the singles "Dignity", "Chocolate Girl" and "Loaded". The city that the album's title refers to is Glasgow and the cover art of the album is a photograph (by the Scottish-Italian photographer Oscar Marzaroli) of the River Clyde's docks taken from Kelvingrove Park. It proved a commercial success and has to date sold around a million copies, peaking in the UK album chart at 14 and remaining in the charts for a year and a half. On 27 February 2006, Raintown was reissued as part of Columbia's Legacy Edition series. The reissue was expanded to 2 CDs. The first CD featured the original 11 track album. The second CD featured alternate cuts of all 11 album tracks, as well as the two original CD bonus tracks "Riches" and "Kings of the Western World". The new edition did not include the varied bonus cuts (remixes and b-sides) that were found on the singles from the album.
The second album, 1989's When the World Knows Your Name, was the band's most commercially successful, reaching No. 1 in the UK album charts and generating five UK top 30 hits, including "Real Gone Kid", "Wages Day", and "Fergus Sings the Blues" (all five singles from the album were top 10 hits in Ireland). The following year saw the band play in front of an estimated 250,000 fans at the free concert on Glasgow Green "The Big Day", which was held to celebrate Glasgow being named that year's European City of Culture. The band also played Glastonbury and the Roskilde festivals that summer, as well as released Ooh Las Vegas, a double album of B-sides, extra tracks, film tracks, and sessions which reached No. 3 in the UK album charts.
1991-94: Continued success and split:
Jon Kelly returned to the producer's chair in 1991 for the album Fellow Hoodlums. The album was met with more critical success and peaked at No. 2 on the UK album charts.Fellow Hoodlums was followed up by 1993's Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, a much more experimental album. The album garnered critical praise, but was not as commercially successful as the previous two albums, peaking at No. 4 on the UK album charts. Changing from producer Jon Kelly to the team of Steve Osborne and Paul Oakenfold, this album presented a change in musical style for Deacon Blue. While the band's songwriting remained based in rock and blues, many of the tracks moved into alternative rock territory in their presentation.
The band embarked on another sold out UK tour in 1994, after recording new material for their greatest hits compilation Our Town. This saw the band return to No. 1 in the UK album charts and was one of the year's top sellers, while "I Was Right and You Were Wrong" and a re-release of "Dignity" saw the band re-enter the Top 20 singles chart. The album contains the previous singles from the band, minus "Closing Time" and "Hang Your Head". The album also contained three new tracks. "I Was Right and You Were Wrong", the first single from this album, was a pulsating Alternative rock track that continued and expanded the musical direction the band had taken with Whatever You Say, Say Nothing. "Bound to Love" and "Still in the Mood" were pop songs in the tradition of Deacon Blue's earlier albums. The vinyl LP version of the album contained a fourth new track, "Beautiful Stranger". "Dignity" was released, now for the third time, as the second single from the album.
With Vipond's decision to quit the group in favour of a career in television, Deacon Blue split up in 1994.
1999-2006: Re-formation and new material:
Five years later, the band held a reunion gig in 1999, and this led on to a new album, Walking Back Home, with the band now working on a part-time basis. The Walking Back Home album combines eight songs that were brand new compositions, previously unreleased tracks, or released only with limited availability, with nine previously released Deacon Blue songs. In this sense, it is not purely a studio album nor a typical compilation album. Because, however, Walking Back Home marked the beginning of a new period of reformation and activity for the group, it is a significant album in their catalogue. The band released another album, Homesick, in 2001.
Though Graeme Kelling died from pancreatic cancer in 2004, the band has continued in his absence and 2006 saw Deacon Blue returning to the studio to record three new tracks for a Singles album - including the track "Bigger than Dynamite".
2006-2012: Touring and side projects:
The band performed at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium, as the pre-match entertainment for the Rugby League Super League Grand Final on 14 October 2006, and continued on to a full UK tour in November. They were also due to open Stirling's New Year party in 2006, but this was cancelled at the last minute due to extreme weather. A further tour followed in November 2007 and the band then provided support for Simple Minds in 2008. They also appeared at Stirling's Hogmanay in 2008.
Deacon Blue appeared at The Homecoming Live Final Fling Show, at Glasgow's SECC on 28 November 2009, and headlined Glasgow's Hogmanay on 31 December 2009. The band performed several gigs (including Glastonbury) including the Liverpool Echo Arena on 29 July 2011.
Ross, who had released a solo album before the formation of Deacon Blue, released two solo albums during the time between Deacon Blue's breakup in 1994 and reformation in 1999. Due to Deacon Blue's part-time status after reformation, Ross released additional solo albums in 2002 and 2005 and has written for and with other recording artists. In 2009 Ricky and Lorraine McIntosh recorded an album together under the name 'McIntosh Ross'.
2012-13: New record label and The Hipsters:
The album The Hipsters was released on 24 September 2012 and was produced by Paul Savage. A 25th anniversary tour, starting in October 2012, followed.
All of the band's studio albums were reissued as deluxe editions by Edsel Records in October 2012, as well as a new compilation entitled The Rest.
2013-present:A New House and 2014 Commonwealth Games:
Deacon Blue have arranged dates in 2014 for a comeback tour. It was announced in April 2014 that Deacon Blue's seventh studio album, A New House, would be released on 8 September that year. Ricky Ross later said the album had "come off the energy of getting back together, playing live", referring to their touring during 2012.
They also performed at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony on 3 August 2014, performing their hit Dignity.