David Bowie, the Who and Morrissey among rock big names seen in Borders over years

It’s never been a musical mecca to rival the likes of London or Nashville, or even Glasgow or Edinburgh, but the Borders has hosted its fair share of pop and rock’s big names over the years.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 6th April 2020, 8:53 am
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 10:01 am
Morrissey performing at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City in November 2018. (Photo by Claudio Cruz/AFP via Getty Images)
Morrissey performing at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City in November 2018. (Photo by Claudio Cruz/AFP via Getty Images)

Though the occasional visit by the Proclaimers to Melrose’s Battery Dyke rugby field, Big Country to Jedburgh’s Riverside Park stadium or Innerleithen Memorial Hall – though not to Melrose’s Gibson Park this Sunday, April 12, as planned due to the current coronavirus outbreak – or acts such as the Wedding Present or Goodbye Mr Mackenzie to MacArts in Galashiels is about as good as it gets these days, venues in Hawick, Kelso, Galashiels and Selkirk have been paid visits by the likes of David Bowie, the Who, the Bee Gees, Status Quo and Genesis in years gone by.

More recently, acts such former Smiths frontman Morrissey, Twin Atlantic, Ocean Colour Scene, Runrig, Idlewild, Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, Skids frontman Richard Jobson and Enter Shikari have also been seen in these parts.

Bowie is arguably the biggest star to have played in the region, but the late Londoner, 19 at the time, was anything but a household name when he played at Hawick Town Hall in April 1966 as part of his first tour north of the border, also taking in Glasgow and Dundee, as his first hit single, Space Oddity, was still three years in the future at that point.

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Who frontman Roger Daltrey in London in November 2018. (Photo by Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images)

His band at the time, called the Buzz, was made up of John Hutchinson on guitar, Derek Fearnley on bass, John Eager on drums and Derek Boyes on keyboards.

It was also in 1966, in February, that fellow rock legends the Who, still touring and due to play at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro in March next year, called in at Galashiels Volunteer Hall for their first and last date in the region.

Unlike Bowie, the group, formed in London in 1964, were already well on their way to worldwide fame by then, having three top 10 hits on their CV – My Generation, I Can’t Explain and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, all released the year before – and with another to follow the month after in the form of Substitute.

Claims that fellow rock legends the Rolling Stones played in the region in the dim and distant past appear to be just an urban myth, however, though they did enjoy a collective break to the Borders in 1963, visiting Galashiels and Selkirk.

David Bowie performing at the 2002 VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 2002. Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images.

Here is a picture gallery of 10 of the biggest names in popular music to have played in the Borders ...

If you can think of any other shows you reckon should be included in our list, let us know via our Facebook page or email [email protected]