My Glasgow: Clare Grogan

Clare Grogan was a waitress at the Spaghetti Factory in the West End – where Stravaigan is now – in 1980 when she was discovered by director Bill Forsyth, who cast her alongside members of the Glasgow Youth Theatre in Gregory’s Girl. Shortly afterwards, her band, Altered Images, signed a record deal for their debut LP, Happy Birthday.

Altered Images went on to tour and release music until 1984 when Clare went solo. She has continued her acting and performing career, adding television presenting and writing a children’s novel, Tallulah and the Teenstars, about a girl who forms a pop band.

Clare remembers some of her favourite Glasgow people and places, a feature from The Best of Glasgow City Guide and Cookbook.

Glasgow Life/Damian Shields

My Glasgow

I have travelled the world and although I’m biased, I think Glasgow has an amazing amount to offer. The buildings are spectacular, the arts, music and culture scene is incredibly diverse and inclusive. And the curries are the best. 

My daughter Elle asked me when she was little if everyone in Glasgow knew each other – I explained that people in Glasgow are the friendliest people I’ve ever come across.  We try to keep that flag waving in London where we live.

My earliest memories here are of growing up in Hill Street and being afraid of the Art School building around the corner. I remember my great aunt Winnie playing the organ at St Aloysius Church and watching films sitting on my mum’s knee at the ABC cinema on Sauchiehall Street.

Our neighbours, the Capaldis, gave me and my sisters Margaret and Kathleen chewing gum – which we were not allowed. I also remember my Dad’s spag bols. And new shoes from Clarks at the start of every school term.

Kelvingrove Park

I had my first cappuccino in Cafe Gandolfi – still one of my favourite places to meet and eat.

I also love the Kelvingrove Gallery – my parents took us when we were little and I go every year. It’s particularly amazing if someone is playing the organ.

I love the Centre for Contemporary Arts and I love the Citizens Theatre – where I saw my first naked man!

I can’t leave out the No 59 bus…don’t know if it’s still a thing, but it took me everywhere I needed to go and I had the best laughs at the back of the bus on it.

When I think of Glasgow I think of crossing the Kingston Bridge and looking both ways down the Clyde.

It’s still one of my favourite places to shop and I still love running occasionally to all the corners of Bellahouston Park where I used to run when we moved to the Southside.

I love Glasgow every which way – it’s in every bit of me.

Source: My Glasgow: Clare Grogan – Glasgowist

Scottish pop princess Clare Grogan brings Altered Images to Edinburgh for first headline gig in 13 years

Clare Grogan

THEY’LL be singing Happy Birthday at the Liquid Room this week, but not that Happy Birthday, rather the 1981 Top 10 hit for Altered Images when Scotland’s very own pop princess Clare Grogan returns to the Capital with her band.

The summer she left school, Grogan not only landed a role in Bill Forsyth’s award-winning film Gregory’s Girl but also secured a deal for her band with Sony Records.


Altered Images quickly achieved worldwide success, selling millions of records and topping the charts in several countries, including three Top 10 albums and six Top 40 hits in the UK. Voted Best New Group at the NME Awards that same year, they played at The Royal Command Performance and Grogan recently received a Special Recognition Award at the Scottish Music Awards.

A woman of many talents, Grogan, who brings Altered Images to the the Liquid Room on Thursday 20 February, is also an accomplished actor and novelist. Her TV credits include Skins, which she also wrote songs for, Waterloo Road, EastEnders, Doctors, Red Dwarf and Father Ted.

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‘We like a party!’ – why is Scottish pop so potent?

Inside the National Museum of Scotland sits a vintage wooden harmonium, once dolorously played by a little man in plus fours and a fez, the late absurdist folk-poet Ivor Cutler, who was second only to the Fall in the number of sessions he recorded for John Peel. A relic abandoned in storage for years, the harmonium is now owned by trad-folk minstrels Capercaillie and proudly on loan to the Edinburgh museum as part of the first ever exhibition of Scottish pop, Rip It Up. “I’m so glad it was found,” says curator Stephen Allen. “I was agonising over how we could give Ivor Cutler his rightful place in Scottish pop music.”

Cutler’s harmonium, emblem of the tragicomic spirit so often found in the Scots, is now a kind of 20th-century equivalent of Beethoven’s clavichord, one of more than 300 objects – alongside photos, videos and music piping everywhere – telling the nation’s musical story from the 1950s onwards.

For Allen, though, the most stirringly potent artefact is the fluorescent green PVC jumpsuit that captivated his 13-year-old self, worn by Eugene Reynolds of the Rezillos: the fright-wigged Edinburgh troupe who stormed TV’s biggest chart show in 1978 with their novelty-punk caper that bellowed thrillingly: “Everybody’s on Top of the Pops!”

“The zip was a bit rusty,” says Allen, a man who had “Ian McCulloch hair” back in ’78, “and the full camo gear. I looked like a starved extra from Apocalypse Now.”

The sometime teenage Rezillos renegade is now the kind of person who shapes Britain’s heritage, his post-punk generation now all grown up into cultural gatekeepers, understanding that pop music, for many, gave you not only a life but an education.

“Pop culture was the gateway into other art forms,” he says. “If it wasn’t for Siouxsie and the Banshees I wouldn’t have got interested in Weimar Germany. This distance in history lends credence, brings perspective. There are now universities with professors of pop.”

This perspective underscores Rip It Up across several themes arrayed from global impact to Scottish voices to politics and identity. The spirit of Scotland can be traced, then, from 50s pre-rock’n’roll skiffle (Glasgow-born Lonnie Donegan) to 70s pub rock, disco and perm-haired heavy rock (the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, the Average White Band, Nazareth) to post-punk luminaries and tartan-pop tomfoolery (the Skids, Altered Images, Bay City Rollers).
In between there are the pop giants past and present – Simple Minds and Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics in the 80s, Paolo Nutini and Calvin Harristoday. But it’s the indie heroes who dominate in numbers, including the roster of Postcard Records, set up to launch bequiffed dandies Orange Juice(whose biggest hit lends the exhibition its name). Others featured include the Associates, Jesus and Mary Chain, the Blue Nile, Belle and Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand – and scandalously unsung acts such as late-90s art-rock surrealists the Beta Band.
With such a diverse spectrum, can there be such a thing as a Scottish sound? Midge Ure, born in 1953, co-architect of the Band Aid/Live Aid phenomenon and coolly wafting frontman-in-a-raincoat with Ultravox in 1981, ponders the question.

“There is something in the Scottish spirit,” he says. “A yearning, a romanticism. And this longing, this sadness, does come out in the music. It’s maybe a working-class thing. We always seem to be the underdogs. Country music has always been big in Scotland. But there’s also a feistiness. We like a party.” What are the Scots, then, yearning for? “Probably to get out of the slums of Glasgow!” he hoots.
There’s a lexicon historically associated with the Scottish character: hardy (the weather), passionate (alcohol), brave (heart), defiant (politics), romantic in the face of almost certain defeat (the national football team), dour (Frazer from Dad’s Army’s owl-eyed catchphrase, “We’re doomed!”), funny in the face of historical adversity (Renton from Trainspotting’s primal howl, “It’s shite being Scottish! We’re colonised by wankers!”). All of this, alongside the hardship endured in decimated post-industrial cities, the glorious, brutal landscape, and the isolation from London’s seat of economic power informs the collective consciousness [ . . . ]

Continue Reading at THE GUARDIAN: ‘We like a party!’ – why is Scottish pop so potent? | Music | The Guardian