Artist Details

Jim Kerr

If David Bowie's rich baritone had melded with Bryan Ferry's velvety croon, the result would be virtually identical to Jim Kerr's distinct voice. However, that comparison isn't justified if only Kerr's punk beginnings in the late '70s with Johnny and the Self-Abusers were slipped under a microscope. Back then, Kerr and his raw combo were an energetic yet dull facsimile of the Damned; Kerr's angry, unpolished vocals weren't distinguishable from the raucous screams of numerous spiky-haired youths. However, when Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill formed Simple Minds in 1978 with Tony Donald (bass), Brian McGee (drums), and Mick McNeil (keyboards), Kerr altered his singing style, smoothing its rough edges while retaining a brooding, enigmatic quality. Panned by some critics as being derivative of Bowie and Ferry, Kerr became influential himself, inspiring artists like Icehouse, the Blue Nile, and the Mission. In May 1984, Kerr married Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders; they eventually divorced. In 1985, Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)," recorded for The Breakfast Club soundtrack, ignited the American charts, and the band even performed at Live Aid. Kerr also contributed vocals to the Call's Reconciled album. When Simple Minds released the single "See the Lights" in 1991, many radio listeners, anxiously awaiting a new U2 LP, mistook Kerr's voice for Bono's. But while U2 were able to toy with their signature sound to suit contemporary tastes, Simple Minds were dismissed as '80s artifacts.
Michael Sutton, Rovi

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