The original Run-Rig Dance Band, performed for the first time as a three piece in 1973 at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall. The line up consisted of Rory on guitar, Calum on drums and Blair Douglas on accordion. Donnie joined the band the following year to add vocal support. Later Blair left, and they were then joined by accordionist and old school friend Robert Macdonald, who sadly lost his life in 1986, after a long battle against cancer.
Up until 1978 the band had been a part time/student occupation, and it was in that format that the debut album, Play Gaelic was recorded for the Scottish based Lismor Recordings. After that tentative step they felt that they should and could set up their own independent record company to allow them the freedom, both financially and creatively to record the more ambitious second album. The musical potential of the band was strengthened with the addition of young, up and coming, local Skye guitarist, Malcolm Jones. Ridge Records was successfully formed and the band took on full time professional status. In 1979 they went into the studio and recorded The Highland Connection.
After this the rhythm section was bolstered by the addition of Iain Bayne from Fife, taking up duties on the drum stool. This was to be the line up that recorded the classic Recovery album in 1981. Once more there was the need to extend the musical parameters, this time by stepping up to a six piece, employing the services of Englishman, Richard Cherns, on keyboards. Richard left in 1986 to work in theatre and his place was duly taken by another Fifer, and former member of Big Country, Peter Wishart. And so to a classic Runrig line up, which was to endure for the next decade. 1987 was very much the breakthrough year. Highlights included a highly successful trip to Canada, a first trip behind the Iron Curtain to play a festival in East Berlin, a live concert broadcast on ITV, a support to the newly crowned champions of rock and roll, U2, at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, and the release of The Cutter and the Clan.
The time was now right to sign to one of an increasing number of major Record Companies beginning to show an interest in the band. Chrysalis Records with its ethos of independence and a roster of musical integrity, became natural bedfellows. In the summer of 1987 Runrig signed a major international recording contract, and it was to be the start of a whole new approach to the life and work of the band.
The next 10 years saw major events and the release of several albums. The Big Wheel went straight into the National Charts at Number 4. The open air concert at Balloch Country Park, Loch Lomond followed, with an audience of 50,000 people. A new video, Wheel in Motion, was released, featuring live footage from the memorable Loch Lomond concert. The album Amazing Things achieved the highest ever chart position, entering the Gallup Chart at Number 2. A high point during the year of Amazing Things was when the album won the award for being the British Environment and Media album of the year.
In 1997 Donnie left to pursue a political career and his place was taken by Canadian Bruce Guthro. The albums In Search of Angels and Stamping Ground were to cement his place in the band and with Peter being replaced by Brian Hurren in 2001, the final line up was complete. Proterra in 2003 brought a new direction for the band and helped launch the 30th anniversary concert at Stirling Castle, which lead to the band’s first DVD in 2004. The song, Running to the Light was chosen as the wake up call on the final morning of the ill-fated Columbia Space Mission by astronaut fan, Laurel Clark. Very little survived the tragedy but amongst the wreckage, scattered across Southern America was Laurel Clark’s Runrig CD. It was recovered intact from a field in Texas, and presented to the band by Laurel’s husband and son at a memorable night in Glasgow City Chambers later that year.
In Denmark the record label released a new Best Of collection to commemorate the 30 years. It went Platinum very quickly and charted at number one in the Danish National Charts. This was followed by releases in Germany and the UK.
The 13th studio album, Everything You See, was released on May 2007 and spent 3 weeks at No.1 in Denmark. Runrig celebrated what was the Highland Year of Culture with a sell out show on the banks of Loch Ness, at Drumnadrochit. 17,000 people gathered in a rain and mud soaked field to be part of one of the band’s most significant shows to date. They ended 2007 by holding on to the No 1 slot in the Scottish Charts for seven weeks with their charity single Loch Lomond, which was recorded along with the national football supporters organisation, The Tartan Army for the Children in Need charity. The single also featured in the UK Charts at No.9.
In 2009 the band went back outdoors, to play yet another spectacular concert, this time in the grounds of historic Scone Palace. In 2010 they released a highly acclaimed compilation album and DVD package 50 Great Songs. In 2011 they decided to take a break from touring, the sabbatical giving opportunity for all the members to pursue various solo projects.
They are now back together again, refreshed and invigorated and working towards 2013, when they will be celebrating 40 remarkable years in the music business.
The song An Ubhal as Airde the first Gaelic language song to enterÂ the UK Singles Top 20.
Albums Amazing Things No.2, and Big Wheel No.4 in the UK Album Charts.
Video Wheel in Motion No.1 in UK Video Chart.
Played support to U2, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Genesis amongst others.
Midsummer’s Night, 1991 played to 50,000 people at Balloch Country Park on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland.
Winners of the 2003 Nordof Robbins, Tartan Clef Award for Lifetime Achievement.
BBC award winning documentary 30 Years of Runrig.
Day of Days, 30 Year Anniversary concert DVD, No 7 in UK Chart and No 1 in Germany.
Danish Compilation album release 30 Year Journey goes Platinum reaching No 1 in the Danish National Chart.