1. A first encounter with religious bigotry and racism

I SPENT my formative years growing up in Bishopbriggs, in a new build area dubbed “Copland” as it was full of police officers and their families, of which my late father Ian was one.

Everything was OK until I went to secondary school, Bishopbriggs High, in 1972/73. That was when I became aware of the bitter religious divide between Catholics and Protestants, as well as racial intolerance towards Asians.

My school was supposedly non-denominational but as far as my classmates – and certainly a couple of the older bullies – were concerned, it was mainly Protestant and full of bigoted Rangers fans.

I had become pally with two American kids who had moved from New York after their father had died at work during the construction of the Twin Towers. Their mum had been brought up in the Gallowgate and decided to move back, and moved them to Copland for a better life.

However as they were Catholic a lot of the neighbours – many of them serving police officers – shunned them and gave them undeserved abuse and flack. Even though my father’s side of the family hailed from Govan, where at one time my great-grandad headed up the Masons and Orange Order, I stuck two fingers up at those bigots by supporting Celtic and going to their games. It was also around this time that an Indian family moved into the street and they also got targeted by the knuckle-draggers. We stuck up for them and in turn became ostracised. At school that made me even more a target for the bigots which only hardened my resolve.

It really was a wake-up call, discovering that the heart of sleepy suburbia was rotten to the core and steeped in sectarianism and racism. Not so much now, but it’s still Scotland’s secret shame and more should be done by the Scottish Government and councils to stamp it out.

2. Being a rebel

BEING the son of a policeman, and also a Celtic fan, made me a target at school. Fighting back emboldened me, made me more vocal and more at odds with authority.

I became cheekier and a lot naughtier than the rest of my classmates. I was a rebel without a cause and finally ended up being expelled in my fifth year. I was one of seven suspended, then expelled for truancy, disrupting classes, even smoking in class and throwing stones at a classroom window ... a wee story that actually made it into the Sunday Post.

Punk rock had arrived and I was playing my full part in trying to create anarchy. I ripped my clothes, pierced my ears, dyed my hair and moved seamlessly from listening to Bowie to the Sex Pistols.

However, I was allowed back to sit my exams, which I passed with ease, and got a job as an apprentice screen process technician in Kirkintilloch.

Learning to play the guitar, though, was to change my life in more ways than one. I joined a wee band called First Priority and we played our first gig in 1979, supporting The Clash at the fabled Glasgow Apollo. I was always told that I had a Scottish tongue in my head and should use it, and I did, by brass necking it on the phone to their agent, claiming that we had recorded lots of demos when we hadn’t even recorded one, and getting not one but two nights as support.

At that time, I practically lived in places like the Apollo and Shuffles (now The Garage) going to gigs, then suddenly there I was up there on the stage.

3. Going to London

WITH The Clash supports, a few shows under our belts and believing we were the dogs bollocks, we chucked our jobs in 1980, upped sticks and moved to London to try and get a record deal.

That didn’t quite go as planned but I had a ball strutting my stuff up and down Kings Road and being apprehended and strip-searched regularly by the SPG police, who were always full of kindly advice such as “why don’t you fuck off back home where you belong, you jock bastard”.

We eventually did move back, this time to Edinburgh, and I started working as a dark room processor and screen printer at a graphic design studio. It wasn’t long before the band did sign a record deal, with MCA, and also a publishing deal with Morrison and Leahy (who had two other little bands called Wham and The Jam on their books). We then hit the road supporting, amongst many others, John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd and New Model Army.

4. The Crows

AFTER a few years of touring and releasing singles with no real success, First Priority eventually called it a day and I formed another band called The Crows (right).

We signed another record deal to Sony and again toured from about 1986 to 1990. I always believed that I would be successful in the music industry – little did I know then that it wouldn’t be as a musician but as a venue operator and promoter. I learned as I booked shows for my band and my time spent as a printer and in the art studio was invaluable when it came to advertising, PR and marketing.

5. Pauline

IN 1987 after a cup final at Hampden, which Celtic won, I walked into my favourite bar in Edinburgh and noticed a beautiful, tall blonde sitting on her tod looking a bit cheesed off.

I got up and walked over and said “smile” and she did. Her name was Pauline and to this day she still doesn’t know why she did. Obviously I do. It was my striking Adonis-like body, long Gothic black hair, and my handsome, beaming and friendly fizzog that made her heart melt (ha ha!).

The National:

We’ve been together 32 years, married for 22 and have three kids, Conor (28), Lauren (25) and Rory (19). When you meet someone and fall in love, you don’t really think you will still be together 32 years later.

It’s been a fantastic journey. Absolutely wonderful. Pauline (above) is my best friend, my rock and support. She is also not afraid to put me in my place when I become an arse, and to tell me where to go, usually to f*** myself. She doesn’t put up with any of my shit and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

6. The Cathouse Rock Club

AROUND 1989 things were going badly with the band. We had lost our recording and publishing deals and weren’t getting many gigs ... but one in Bathgate, the rock and roll capital of West Lothian, was to change my life.

After the show the promoter, Tam Coyle, who was booking the bands, suggested I should start my own rock club. He introduced me to the owner and we did a deal then and there. I would start a rock club in two weeks’ time, keep the door money and he would keep the bar take. Truth was, I didn’t know too much about running a club, but what I did know was to be enough.

The first thing was to give it a name and I liked the name of a rock club in LA called the Cathouse, so I thought I would start a Bathgate version. I then designed a logo, printed the posters and went around in my Skoda sticking up posters in every wee town in West Lothian.

Two weeks later I turned up with the band, shitting myself, and couldn’t believe my eyes as there was a queue right up the street. Happy Days!

After eight successful months I started looking for venues in Glasgow. We eventually found a skanky three floored dive called Hollywood Studios (right), on the Clydeside, known then as The Fight Club, due to the amount of gang battles and violence that would erupt every weekend.

A Thursday night Cathouse was started and within three years we had the lease and were operating on three levels. The success lead to opening The Garage, the Shed, the Cube, Underworld and reviving The Tunnel.

7. Promoting bands

I’M NOT one of these people that likes to stick to just one thing, so when I opened the Cathouse I started promoting bands. It built it up slowly but before long CPL was promoting most of the then up and coming names, including Oasis, Pearl Jam, Fall Out Boy (below) Tool, Pavement, Reef, Prince at The Garage, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Queens of the Stone Age.

The National:

I was also part of the Bay City Roller sell outs at Barrowlands and the Usher Hall and I’m looking forward to the Lana Del Ray sell out at the Hydro in February and managing a great new act, Stephanie Cheape.

8. The banking crisis

THE banking crisis of 2008 affected every business and particularly hit businesses such as nightclubs. For me it really came to the crunch in 2014 when the Bank of Scotland moved to take the business off me by increasing their interest rates and devaluing my properties even though they were profitable. It nearly bankrupted me.

Those responsible should all be in jail for what they did to people and the lives they ruined. I am still angry about it. I think it’s a disgrace.

I’m happy to say we bounced back and we are again turning a few quid, without any help from the banks. The Garage and Cathouse are probably the two most successful clubs in the UK. Both are known and respected globally, with The Garage turning 25 this year and Cathouse about to become 29. A fact that I feel immensely proud off.

9. Writing a column

I WAS against the smoking ban because I thought it would kill the trade, which it did. It’s never fully recovered. I started writing about it and through that I started meeting newspaper editors.

One day, 15 years ago, I met the then editor of the Scottish Daily Mirror Mike Graham – now TalkRadio’s celebrated presenter and a great friend – for lunch at a Russian restaurant called Stavka that I had in Sauchiehall Street.

He said my stories were great and I should write a column for his newspaper. I agreed, but sadly it lasted about six months before the Scottish office of the Mirror was closed down.

I then met David Dinsmore, who was at the time the editor of the Scottish Sun, and I started writing a Saturday column for the Scottish Sun. That lasted for six years but stopped after a change of editor.

I was bereft ... but in 2012, Donald Martin, who was a couple of years below me at school, became editor of the Sunday Post and offered me a position as a columnist. I’m please to say that that still writing for the Sunday Post and I love it.

10. Nordoff Robbins

TWENTY-TWO years ago I was approached by the then fundraiser for the little known charity Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland and invited along to meet the Scottish chair, Stuart Hornell, and learn more about the charity.

I was immediately won over, believing as I do that music is not only inspirational but also a great healer to both body and soul, which if used correctly by trained therapists can help and inspire the most physically and mentally disadvantaged members of our community.

I signed up and set about recruiting like-minded people to the committee and organising the Tartan Clef Awards, a fundraising music awards ceremony.

Now in its 21st year and known as the Scottish Music Awards, the ceremony has become a star-studded event regarded as Scotland’s unique version of the Brits. It has raised millions over the years for NRS music therapy services.

It is only fitting that this year’s headline act at the SMAs, on St Andrew’s Night in the Fruitmarket, Glasgow, is Simple Minds (above) as they attended and were honoured at the very first awards in the City Chambers 21 years ago.

There was no live music on offer back then but now, along with 10 other big named acts – including Twin Atlantic and Tom Walker– Simple Minds will close the show with a stunning live performance.

To be honest I didn’t intend to be involved with it for so long but I’m so glad and proud that I have. In my previous roles as chair of both the management and fundraising committees and now fundraising, I have helped drive the event to something that the whole of Scotland, not just its eclectic and vibrant music industry, can be very proud of.