“Our music teacher would belt us if we didn’t know all the musical signs and notes. She used to play Mussorgsky… so I love ELP’s version of Pictures At An Exhibition”: Simple Minds’ Derek Forbes names his prog heroes

Derek Forbes and ELP
(Image credit: Getty Images / Press)

“I first became aware of Emerson, Lake & Palmer at school when I was about 15 or 16. I went to see ELP play in Glasgow and watched your man Keith Emerson pull his Hammond organ all over himself, sticking knives into the keyboards and whatever.

The thing is, we had this music teacher at school and she would belt us if we didn’t know all the musical signs and notes. She used to play Mussorgsky and Purcell and Britten and that all saturated into me at that time.

So I really love ELP’s version of Pictures At An Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky, especially The Hut Of Baba Yaga. And being familiar with that music, it was really interesting to see it being performed that way on Hammond organs and stuff. That really floated my boat.

It was great to hear some stuff that was different because, before then, I was into Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. But this was so different. Greg Lake had an effect on my later playing. I first picked up a guitar around that time and I was like a sponge soaking everything up.

Steve Hillage played Tubular Bells with the Scottish National Orchestra… he flew from Germany and learned the whole thing on the plane on acid

Simple Minds working with Steve Hillage was amazing because he was a musician and a writer, too. But he couldn’t decide what to leave out of our sessions so we ended up with 22 tracks, which we put out over two albums – Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call. They came out at the same time. Steve had heart palpitations mixing the album and had to go to hospital.

He was very inspirational. One time he played the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow where he played Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells with the Scottish National Orchestra. He flew from Germany to Glasgow to play the show, and he learned the whole thing on the plane on acid.

I later worked with Peter Gabriel and that was brilliant. The thing about Gabriel, when I was at college, was that one of the other apprentices in the class had a copy of Foxtrot, and he gave me it in exchange for some other album that I had.

“I’d never really listened to Genesis before, so then I heard it and then I’d sing through the whole thing when I was a painter. Simple Minds were big Genesis fans to start with. I loved the musicality of it all.”

Julian Marszalek

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.