“Derek Forbes, the Big Dan himself, shotos straight from the hip and never regrets it. On a British Airways Tristar flying from Toronto to London recently, he caused considerable confusion by barging into the First Class section and asking if this was where the disco was happening. On being told to return to “the third class section”, he retorted that he was worth more than “all these bald-c**** put together” and threatended to sue the snooty stewardess for assault.”
“Derek hates class segregation. Anything else? Midge Ure perhaps? “I don’t really even hate Midge Ure,” he admitted.”
“Derek loves music, women, animals and history. He’s also an expert on names. “I’ve told you before, probably, how the name ‘Forbes’ was derived.” Well, no actually. “Well, the Forbes clan used to rule all around Aberdeen, a big section up in the north-east of Scotland, and ‘Forbes’ was a toast for Bess, Queen Elizabeth the First – For-Bess.” See?”
“(‘Kerr’, by the way, is a completely Scottish name meaning sheep-thief from the border lands.)”
“We digress. Derek, of course, is responsible for those spine-rattlign bass riffs which form the core of most of Simple Minds’ songs. Equally adept on either freless or fretted bass, Derek started his muscial career as a wild and flashy lead guitarist, and at one time or another playing in groups with such names as Moby Dick and Big Dick And The Four Skins (“I was Big Dick but it was only a rumour”).”
“Luckily he found a new home with Simple Minds and has never looked back. “It was great for me playing with them ‘cos it was totally different. I used to have an old white bass speaker called ‘The Fridge’, ‘cos that’s what it looked like.””
“”Simple Minds in the old days was pretty magical, to look back on it – maybe it wasn’t if I’d been able to watch us from the audience, but it was just a small pub in Glasgow and you’d never seen bands with lights and all that and taking the time to put on a show.””
“”That’s how we became so hip with the make-up – I looked like a panda. I used to wear girls’ sandals ‘cos I was a big New York Dolls fan. I even wore my grandmother’s lurex top one night – it was metallic blue.””
“How do you feel about Simple Minds now Derek? “Is ‘euphoric’ the right word?””
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Derek Forbes’ bass playing and resolute hooks were integral parts of early Simple Minds. He wrote, and co-wrote, many of the band’s earliest classics, including the arena-stadium cross-over Waterfront.
Reasons for his sacking during the Once Upon A Time sessions have been varied and may be irrelevant – Jim recently stating in a journal that a formal warning may have been more appropriate and expressed regret at his departure.
He went on to join Propaganda but work with Simple Minds was never far away. There were notable guest appearances at live shows and uncredited work on Live In The City Of Light. He was even offered the chance to pick up the bass again after John Giblin’s departure, but declined, feeling that Street Fighting Years was “too muso” for his liking.
He briefly rejoined the band in 1995 for two tours and the recording of Neapolis. Reuniting old comrades didn’t work and he wasn’t involved in the subsequent recording of Our Secrets Are The Same nor of the reboot of Simple Minds in 2001.