Sunday, May 22, 2016


Edwyn Collins - Gorgeous George (June 20, 1995)

This video for "A Girl Like You" was directed by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants

Fashionable, cynical, and always bluntly outspoken, Edwyn Collins had already been a working musician for 15 years (including his stint in Scottish neo-pop revolutionaries Orange Juice) when he scored his first major hit single in 1994 with "A Girl Like You."  Despite a ho-hum review from the esteemed Guardian (the critic advised Collins to give up music,) Gorgeous George unexpectedly soared up the European pop charts and then conquered America when Bar/None released the album in June, 1995.   At the time, Ken Beck was a young Bar/None employee who found himself tasked with accompanying the fussy, demanding Collins on a U.S. tour.

Ken Beck:
Bar/None had its third (or fourth?) bona fide radio hit on its hands with Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You” and it was time to get that Scotsman out on the US highways to promote the heck out of it.  I had been working for the label for almost two years at that point and I guess Glenn and Tom could sense I needed a change of scenery as I was being a pain in the ass at the office.  Things had gone alright with my prior road manager/driver gig for Epic Soundtracks on his Midwest tour promoting his masterwork Rise Above so they thought it would be good to have someone on board the bus to make sure Edwyn got to all of his interviews and those dreadful morning drive time radio performances.  A&M Records were also behind the single as it was featured on the soundtrack to Empire Records, so they had lots of things for him to do too.

The "crap" tour bus, 1995

Each city along the tour had its share of highs and lows but the stop in Minneapolis was a particularly memorable one for me.  The tour bus that had been rented for this outing was a real piece of work (by that I mean crap).  It was apparently the cheapest one available and boy did it perform as such.  The coffee and beef jerky fueled driver, Shorty, didn’t care for me particularly as I was repeatedly questioning all of the delays in getting to the next tour stops, missing in-person interviews, etc.   

Paisley Park at dawn, 1995
By the time we got to Minneapolis, Shorty evidently had had enough of this East Coast twerp and threatened to slit my throat or something similarly gruesome.   In a panic I raced to the side of the tour manager Gary Knighton who talked me off the ledge.  The show at First Avenue was a huge success and afterwards Edwyn and I were somehow coerced into a jaunt through the cornfields of Minnesota to look for Paisley Park with some random guy we met backstage who claimed to know where it was and that there would be a magical late night recording session going on when we arrived.  So Edwyn and I piled into this fella’s beat-up Honda and for the next 2-3 hours drove aimlessly around and around cornfields looking in vain for the great purple one’s magical lair.  After much yelling and begging to turn back to head back to the hotel, lo and behold the building appeared and sure enough it was glowing purple.  The parking lot however was completely empty and the building was manned by one security guard who plainly told us there was no activity going at Paisley Park that very early morning.  A complete bust.

As an aside, Shorty was later fired from the tour but somehow managed to find us and the tour bus in St. Louis and absconded with the TV set from the back lounge area.

Some Edwyn Collins Favorites:


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