Top 20 Famous Scottish Singers and Solo Artists (With Videos)
Top 20 Scottish Singers and Solo Artists (with videos)
For your consideration a list of what I regard as the most important 20 singers/solo artists in the pop and rock scene to have come out of Scotland in the past 50 years.
It's a personal take on who the people I think would be at the top of my list based on many factors such as quality, influence, popularity and success but not necessarily all of the above.
I also haven't rated them in preference or chose an absolute No.1 as everyone has their own favourites I'm sure. So here they are in alphabetical order.
Best known for being the front man with Progressive Rock legends Jethro Tull from the late 1960s till the present day.
Ian Anderson was instantly recognisable with his trademark flute playing whilst standing on one leg on stage.
The band are highly eclectic experimenting with blues, folk, jazz, hard rock classical and in later years electronics to produce both complex and simple tunes.
Tull had three hit singles in the UK in the 70's 'Living in the Past', 'Sweet Dream' and 'Witches Promise'. In the USA 'LIving in the Past' was a hit as well as 'Bungle in the Jungle'.
However they are regarded as more of an album band selling over 60 million worldwide with their most famous being 'Aqualung' in 1971. Throughout the 1970s their albums sold better in the USA than in the UK, a trend that was reversed in the 80's and 90's. In 1988 they released the popular song 'Said She Was a Dancer' which perhaps surprisingly was not a major hit. Despite multiple personnel changes Jethro Tull are still active and have always had Anderson leading the line.
He has released 5 solo albums since 1983 with the second '12 Dances With God' a major success in the USA. He is a successful businessman owning salmon farms and also a committed environmentalist working to protect the wildcat in Scotland.
Comparisons with Janis Joplin were flattering but certainly valid for this lady from Glasgow.
A full-throated powerhouse of a voice that lent passion to any song she sang whether her own music or her interpretations of others.
She broke through in 1969 singing with the band 'Stone the Crows' with songs like 'Danger Zone', 'Sunset Cowboy' and 'Touch of Your Loving Hand'.
They were handled by future Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant and the Zep connection continued when she signed to their 'Swansong' label with Jimmy Page guesting on her studio work.
Some of her best songs include 'We Had it All', 'As the Years Go Passing By', 'I Was in Chains' and a funky cover of Free's 'Wishing Well'. She also sang backing vocals on the Rod Stewart album 'Every Picture Tells a Story' in 1971. Her biggest hit was a duet with fellow Scot B.A. Robertson on a cover version of the song 'Hold Me' in 1981 reaching No.11 in the UK charts.
She also sang the theme tune for private detective series 'Hazell' and the song 'No Mean City' for the Scottish Cop series 'Taggart'. She herself has occasionally appeared in acting roles. In 2006 she joined the 'British Blues Quintet' and still appears live throughout the UK and Europe.
One of the greatest Scottish musical artists ever without a doubt is Jack Bruce who was born in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow in 1943.
He enjoyed his greatest success of course as the bass player with Rock pioneers 'Cream' where he rubbed shoulders with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.
His style of bass playing was a sensation at the time and has influenced musicians of the instrument ever since. He wrote the music for the classic songs 'I Feel Free' and 'White Room' as well as co-writing 'Sunshine of Your Love' with Clapton and lyricist Pete Brown.
Nevertheless he also carved out a respectable solo career releasing many albums in the past 40 years. He teamed up with other notables such as the great Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower and Gary Moore. In 2003 he was diagnosed with liver cancer and almost died after a transplant operation.
Slowly coming back to health he reunited with Clapton and Ginger Baker in 2005 for a series of concerts as Cream at the London Albert Hall and New York's Madison Square Garden.
Sadly however Jack passsed away in October 2014.
Born in Edinburgh and originally the singer with the band Orange Juice whose first and only hit was 'Rip It Up' in 1982 but which is still popular today.
After the band split he seemed destined to relative obscurity as an underground act with cult status.
However in 1994 he released the critically acclaimed album 'Gorgeous George' and the best-selling single 'A Girl Like You' which reached No.4 in the UK and was a modest hit in the USA too.
Although never reaching similar heights commercially since then he remains a respected artists for his innovative songwriting and variety of styles. In 2005 he suffered a serious brain haemorrhage which has still left him with a physical disability. However he has recovered well, still retaining his singing voice and is still active in the music business today.
Born in Glasgow in 1945 Brian Connolly gained fame as the singer with Glam-Rock superstars 'The Sweet' in the early 1970s.
They enjoyed massive hits such as 'Wig Wam Bam', 'Blockbuster', 'Fox on the Run', 'Hellraiser', 'Love is Like Oxygen' and the legendary 'Ballroom Blitz' which has been covered by many other artists.
They were also a massive influence on the resurgent Glam-Metal bands from the USA in the following decade. The comparison with bands such as Motley Crue and Poison is obvious but even Gene Simmons admitted that The Sweet were one of the inspirations for Kiss who followed quickly in their wake. Joe Elliott was a huge fan growing up in Sheffield and it was no surprise that Def Leppard brought out their own thunderous version of 'Action' in 1995.
Unfortunately Brian was plagued by drinking problems and left the band in 1978. He began an unsuccessful solo career although could still draw crowds in Europe where the music of The Sweet was still as popular on the Glam revival circuit. But his battle with ill-health continued and he eventually died of liver failure in 1997 at the age of 51.
Very talented singer and actress who has produced some fantastic songs in a career spanning over 40 years.
Born in Dunfermline her early musical influences were in folk music before she enjoyed early success in musical theatre.
She then became a household name in the 1970s on the British TV comedy 'The Two Ronnies' by singing in a musical break in each show.
In the charts her finest moments included 'January February', and the Mike Batt penned 'Caravan Song' an evocative ballad written for the movie 'Caravan'. Her greatest success was her duet with Elaine Page on 'I Know Him So Well' from the stage show 'Chess' and was a UK No.1 in 1985. It was written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame.
She has branched out into a fruitful career as an actress on stage, radio and TV. Currently she is still recording music and playing sell-out tours across Great Britain.
Sheena became unpopular in her home country after leaving for the bright lights of the USA and apparently adopting an American accent.
This Bellshill girl was plucked from obscurity in 1980 by the BBC when she appeared in their 'wannabee' programme 'The Big Time'.
The song that was produced from that documentary 'Modern Girl' gave her a modest hit single. But the follow up single '9 to 5' became a top 10 hit in the UK and set her on her way to stardom.
It was actually released as 'Morning Train' in the USA to avoid confusion with Dolly Parton's hit of the same name. She enjoyed great success in the 1980s including the prestige of being chosen for the theme song of the James Bond movie 'For Your Eyes Only' in 1981, dueting with Prince on 'U Got the Look' in 1987 as well as acting in the TV Cop show Miami Vice.
She has never played in her homeland since 1990 when she encountered a hostile crowd at a festival in Glasgow who threw missiles at the stage. She has not released an album since 2000. However since then, in the USA, she has had a very successful career including appearances on Broadway and Las Vegas combining acting and singing in her repertoire on stage and on TV.
Born Derek Dick in 1958 in Dalkeith, Fish was best know as the front man for Progressive Rock revivalists Marillion in the 1980s.
With a style strongly reminiscent of Peter Gabriel he sang on several hit songs as the band enjoyed chart success.
He quickly established himself as an imaginative and poetic lyricist well-suited to the emotional complexity of some of the material.
The most celebrated was 'Kayleigh' in 1985 which reached No.2 in the UK and the band also had Top 10 hits with 'Lavender' and 'Incommunicado'.
After four albums he left to pursue a solo career which, although not achieving the commercial success of Marillion, still retains a strong fan base and regular live appearances.
Songs like 'Credo', 'Big Wedge', 'A Gentlemen's Excuse Me' and 'Long Cold Day' among many others have displayed the quality of his songwriting till this day. Fish has also tried his hand at acting on occasion as well as being a radio presenter on Planet Rock Radio in the UK.
Classy and highly-polished singer in the venerable mould of the legends such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett.
However Pat sang as part of a double act with his brother Greg called Hue and Cry.
They recorded sophisticated melodies in songs like 'Labour of Love' and 'Looking Out For Linda' which, in the UK charts, reached No.6 and No.15 respectively.
Long before Harry Connick Jnr and Jamie Cullum made jazz-infused pop music in the modern mass market popular Pat was a fine exponent of the genre throughout the 80's and beyond. He is also interested in politics and the arts having campaigned for Scottish self-government as well as appearing in the media as a columnist and TV presenter.
His solo work has alternated with Hue and Cry over the years with varying success. However the band played sell out shows in 2006 and 2007 and have been regular perfomers at festivals in the UK. Currently the signs are that they are enjoying a much-deserved revival in fortune.
It is not widely known internationally that Mark Knopfler was actually born in Glasgow.
His mother was English and his father Hungarian so it may not be stretching the imagination to regard him as Scotttish.
Of course his reputation stretches worldwide as the leader and main inspiration behind multi-platinum stadium rockers Dire Straits.
Their 1985 album 'Brothers in Arms' has become a timeless classic rightly regarded as one of the top albums ever made. The album spawned the hits 'Money For Nothing', 'Walk of Life' and the title track among others and became a global phenomenon. But they enjoyed great success prior to this with tunes such as 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Private Investigations' and the immortal 'Sultans of Swing' with Knopfler's trademark guitar style to the fore.
He also had some solo success and is fondly remembered in Scotland for the rousing finale of 'Going Home' on the soundtrack of the 1983 movie 'Local Hero' starring Burt Lancaster and Peter Reigert. Mark has been especially prolific as a solo artist scoring music for various movie projects and recording solo albums as well as musical partnerships with Chet Atkins, James Taylor and 'The Notting Hillbillies'
Aberdeenshire lass Annie Lennox has become a legend in her own lifetime starting out with new-wave artists The Tourists.
They enjoyed some chart success. most notably with their punked-up version of 'I Only Wanna Be With You' originally a 60's hit for Dusty Springfield.
However it was when she linked up with fellow 'Tourist' Dave Stewart that she conquered the 1980s music scene. The Eurythmics had massive success on both sides of the Atlantic and released some of the best songs of that era such as 'Sweet Dreams', 'Miracle of Love', 'Here Comes the Rain', 'Thorn in My Side' and 'By Your Side'.
They succeeded in making electronic music seem tender and graceful where many lesser rivals could only sound cold and technical. Annie went on to solo success with the album 'Diva' in 1992 and with hit singles like 'Why', 'Walking on Broken Glass', 'Little Bird' and the hauntingly beautiful but curiously titled 'Love Song for a Vampire' from the Francis Ford Coppola movie 'Dracula' starring Gary Oldman.
The Eurythmics returned in 1999 and showed they had not lost their touch with the memorable tune 'I Saved the World Today' which they sang at the Millennium celebrations in London. They have retained only an intermittent presence between solo projects but also had a hit with 'I've Got a Life' in 2005. Annie continues to record and also to conduct charity work in the Third World. She definitely has her place as one of the best ever Scottish singers in popular music.
Born Marie Lawrie in Lennoxtown in 1948 and brought up in the East-End of Glasgow, Lulu has become a major celebrity in many areas of the entertainment industry.
She had an incredible singing voice at an early age and took the charts by storm in 1964 reaching No.7 in the UK.
Her version of the Isley Brothers' 'Shout' still sounds exciting today and was even endorsed by John Lennon at the time. She was only 15 years old.
She had a string of hits in the 1960s with songs such as 'Leave a Little Love', 'The Boat that I Row', 'Me, the Peaceful Heart' and 'I'm a Tiger'. Then in 1967 she had a smash-hit No.1 in the USA with 'To Sir, With Love' from the movie of the same name in which she starred alongside Sidney Poitier.
In 1969 she had a UK and European hit with 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' the British entry into the annual Eurovision Song Contest and which became joint winner. In the same year she married Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees in London.
In 1974 she had a hit with David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World' and also sang the theme for the Bond movie 'The Man With the Golden Gun'. The hits dried up in the late 70's until a surprise Top 20 song in America with 'I Could Never Miss You(More Than I Do)' in 1981.
She had more success in the 80's when a new version of 'Shout' went Top 10 in the UK as well as some minor hit singles. But she really introduced herself to a whole new generation when she guest-starred with the boyband 'Take That' on their No.1 single 'Relight My Fire' in 1993.
Proving her versatility she has presented TV and radio programmes and acted on stage and screen as well as promoting her own beauty products.
Born in England in 1948 to an English mother and Scottish father John Martyn was brought up in Scotland by his Scottish grandmother.
His career began in the 1960s as he embarked on a musical journey combining traditional folk with jazz, blues and rock.
He had a distinctive lolling style of singing, almost opaque, which lended itself to the sublime ambience of his ballads such as 'Couldn't Love You More' and the ethereal 'Small Hours' both from his 1977 album 'One World'. However, his major album release was 'Solid Air' in 1973 containing excellents songs such as 'Man at the Station' and the classic 'May You Never' which was later covered by Eric Clapton on his album 'Slowhand'.
During his career Martyn collaborated with Steve Winwood, Paul Kossoff and Phil Collins and counted Paul Weller as one of his long-time admirers. He continued to make albums over his 40 year career without significant commercial success. Nevertheless his haunting atmospheric music with thoughtful lyrics have been greatly admired by musicians and fans alike. His death in January 2009 from pnuemonia was a tremendous loss to the world of music.
Born in Glasgow in 1949 Frankie Miller is reknowned and admired throughout the music world as a fantastic singer of blues and rock.
He sang with Robin Trower in the 1960s before going solo in the 70's.
In 1977 he enjoyed a UK Top 40 hit with 'Be Good to Yourself' written by Andy Fraser of Free before hitting the Top 10 the following year with his most famous song 'Darlin' which reached No.6 in the UK.
The follow-up single 'When I'm Away From You' was arguably a superior song but did not have the same impact. Ironically it became a US No.1 in the Country Charts for the Bellamy Brothers in 1983.
His songs have been covered by many stars in the music business including Ray Charles, Bob Seger, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart and The Eagles. He also sang alongside lead singer Phil Lynott on the memorable Thin Lizzy ballad 'Still in Love With You' from the album 'Nightlife' in 1974. In Scotland his most popular song is undoubtedly his version of Dougie MacLean's 'Caledonia' released in 1990 in conjunction with a TV commercial for Tennents lager.
In 1994 he suffered a devastating brain haemorrhage that left him in a coma for 5 months after which he embarked on a long rehabilitation process to try and recover. Such is the high regard that he is held Joe Walsh flew over to Glasgow to make a special appearance at a tribute night to Frankie at the Barrowland venue. A 3-disc album of artists covering his songs was produced in 2002 and his own albums have since been re-released on CD.
Born in Paisley this is another singer who, throughout his long career, will always be remembered for one song.
But not for nothing is 'Baker Street' from 1978 still regarded as one of the finest songs ever written.
With Gerry's soft and understated vocals nicely contrasted with a famous soaring saxophone by Raphael Ravenscroft and a visceral guitar solo in the finale.
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, Gerry enjoyed double success with the Stealers Wheel classic 'Stuck in the Middle' originally released with partner Joe Egan in 1972 and a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It became a US hit again after it appeared in that infamous scene in 'Reservoir Dogs' in 1992.
Gerry also recorded many more fine tunes such as 'Night Owl', 'Shipyard Town', 'Moonlight and Gold' and 'Get it Right Next Time' as well as writing and recording with other artists. He produced the famous scottish anthem 'Letter From America' for The Proclaimers in 1987. Over his career Rafferty has usually shunned the limelight and there were reports that he was seriously ill in the late 2000s and struggling with alcoholism. Sadly he passed away in January 2011.
Hit the big time as lead singer with the British band Fairground Attraction who reached No.1 in the UK with the singalong classic 'Perfect' in 1988.
The band split up soon after and Eddi recorded the beautiful ballad 'Patience of Angels' from her second solo album in 1994.
The album won her a BRIT award for best female lead singer. She has remained a firm favourite on the live scene as well as having regular exposure on radio and TV. Born in Glasgow in 1959 she has also performed many wonderful musical versions of Robert Burns poetry and in 2003 released a whole album of material based on his works.
In total she has recorded nine albums throughout her solo career in the past 20 years. She has also acted on stage, radio and screen but remains a regular perfomer on stage and TV as a singer.
Born in a hospital in Forfar in 1946 and destined to become a rock legend.
Bon was actually a Kirriemuir lad before his parents decided to uproot the family.
Therefore in 1952 the young 6-year old lad sailed to a brand new life in Australia. The Scott family initially lived in Melbourne before moving to Freemantle.
Bon's musical career began in the 1960s and he sang and also played drums with bands The Spektors, The Valentines and Fraternity.
But when he joined the fledgling ACDC to replace original singer Dave Evans then history began to be written in the annals of heavy rock. The band quickly grew in stature and success with early albums 'High Voltage', 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and 'Let There Be Rock'.
Bon had a unique, easily recognisable voice that sang over raw and witty lyrics. His sly grin and cheeky eyes summed up his fun, his attitude and his charisma. He was a brilliant stage performer who lived the hard drinking rock n' roll lifestyle and was loved by fans.
Greater band success followed, especially with the release of the 'Highway to Hell' album in 1979. Sadly Bon died after a night-out drinking in London in 1980. The band soon released the classic 'Back in Black' album with new singer Brian Johson as a memorial to a Scottish legend.
Born in Edinburgh in 1958, a vastly underrated singer-songwriter who deserves to be huge in the international scene.
Best remembered as being the leader of The Waterboys and their classic 'Whole of the Moon' and to a lesser extent 'Fisherman's Blues' in the 1980s.
They supported U2 on their North American tour of 1984. Mike Scott successfully combines soft-rock and Celtic folk in an eclectic mix that always resonates with passion and emotion such as the rousing 'This is the Sea' from the album of the same name in 1985. He has produced two solo albums 'Bring 'em All In' and 'Still Burning' in the 1990s.
He has that rare ability to fashion a brilliant tune out of nothing with the saying 'simplicity is genius' never more applicable in his touching love ballads such as 'Open', 'She is So Beautiful' and 'A Man is in Love'. Throughout his music is imbued with spirtuality and love of poetry and nature whether playing Celtic-Folk or harder Rock-influenced music. He is still recording and touring with The Waterboys.
An absolute legend in the annals of Scottish music although born in Highgate, London.
Always sporting an English accent, Rod had a Scottish father and an English mother but always flies the flag with pride, especially when it comes to his love of football.
Without a doubt the most famous Scottish singer in the world and along with Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor and Billy Connolly, one of the most famous Scotsmen.
He has had a string of international hits throughout the decades from his early days fronting The Faces and their raunchy classic 'Stay With Me' and onto a stratospheric solo career with the stalwarts of 'Maggie May', 'You Wear it Well', 'Sailing' and the disco-inspired 'D'Ya Think I'm Sexy'.
His many hits continued into the 1980s and 90's with 'Baby Jane', 'Every Beat of My Heart' and 'Downbound Train'. Always re-inventing himself and always relevant in the scene Rod has had remarkable success with his cover albums of classic crooner tunes of the 30's and 40's. He is still active in a career that has garnered over 100 million record sales throughout the world.
From busking on the streets of Burlington, Vermont and Camden Town in London to appearing in front of thousands of festival crowds throughout Europe.
The St Andrews lass KT Tunstall has underwent a slow rise to fame before finally attaining the heights.
She released her debut album 'Eye to the Telescope' in 2004 at the age of 29 years to critical and public acclaim.
It won her many fans as well as two Top 20 singles in the UK with 'Suddenly I See' and 'The Other Side of the World'. Her soft-rock and acoustic music has been accessible to many on radio and on the live circuit. She had a breakthrough in the USA when her song 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree' was covered by a contestant on the TV talent show 'American Idol' in 2005.
Her music has also been chosen for the soundtracks of various American TV shows. Her second album 'Drastic Fantastic' was another hit reaching Top 10 in both the UK and USA although single releases achieved only modest success. However she is best known for her live performances and is a regular attraction at major festivals such as Glastonbury and T-in-the-Park. She is also active in campaigning for climate change.
A Scottish legend from Cambuslang who came on to the scene in 1976 as the singer with Scots band Slik who hit the UK No.1 slot with 'Forever and Ever'.
He later replaced John Foxx as lead singer with Ultravox and his magic touch transformed them from cult status into chart superstars.
They had hits with 'Love's Great Adventure', 'Sleepwalk' and 'Dancing With Tears in My Eyes'.
He also collaborated in writing with Phil Lynott for Thin Lizzy and toured with the band in 1979. He would have been best remembered for his soaring vocal performance on the Ultravox monster hit 'Vienna' if it were not for the fact that he was a driving force in 'Band-Aid in 1984.
Along with Bob Geldolf he co-wrote and produced their ground-breaking charity song 'Do They Know It's Christmas' and was a main protagonist behind the incredible 'Live Aid' movement which culminated in two legendary concerts in London and Philaelphia in July 1985 to raise money and awareness for the victims of the Ethiopian famine.
Midge also had solo success including 'If I Was' which reached the top spot in the UK and his version of Scott Walker's 'No Regrets' was well received. He re-united with Bob Geldof in organising the 'LIve8' concerts in 2005. Ultravox reformed for a strictly one-off tour in 2009 including an appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival.
I hope you enjoyed reading this Hub on the Top 20 Famous Scottish Singers and Solo Artists and watching some of the videos. Let me know what you think if you have your own special favourites or whether this is your first introduction to some of these wonderful artists.
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