Departures — September 24, 2012 at 8:21 am

Tony Butler quits Big Country, band promises ‘new adventure’ with Simple Minds’ Derek Forbes

Bassist Tony Butler — who joined Big Country prior to the recording of its 1982 debut single “Harvest Home” — announced this past weekend that he’s leaving the recently reunited band, writing in a message to fans that “after 32 years of incredible highs and a very tragic low, I feel that now is the time to look to new horizons.”

The band, with The Alarm’s Mike Peters filling in for the late Stuart Adamson, already has revealed Butler’s replacement — original Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes — and announced it will embark on “a new adventure,” beginning with the close of its ongoing 30th anniversary celebration with a concert Dec. 30, 2012, at the Glen Pavilion in Dunfermline, Scotland.

That venue was the site of the band’s first concert, on Feb. 2, 1982, and it was also the site of the first show after founding members Adamson and Bruce Watson were joined by Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, the lineup that recorded the classic debut The Crossing.

Butler’s retirement also coincides with the departure of manager Ian Grant after 30 years; Butler, who initially took over on lead vocals when Big Country first reunited in 2007, has said he’ll retain Grant as his personal manager.

On Facebook, Forbes — who left Simple Minds after the recording of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” — wrote of his long friendship with Adamson, saying, ” I feel in my heart, that he would be happy that I have agreed to fill the incredible Tony Butler’s shoes. I love this band, and I love the guys who I will be playing with onstage on this incredible adventure”

You can read Butler’s full statement below as well as Forbes’ message to fans:


Tony Butler statement

There comes a time when a big decision has to be made, and I’ve made one. I feel that after 32 years of dedicated service to Big Country, I need to dedicate some time to myself, so I am announcing my retirement from the band as of now. I have no wish to declare any reasons other than my time with the group has come to an end. After 32 years of incredible highs and a very tragic low, I feel that now is the time to look to new horizons.

My deepest love and thanks go to: Ian, Stuart, Bruce, Mark, and the many associated families and friends (and not forgetting my own family that have been an inspiration and massive support) that have so enriched my life. Many thanks to Mike and Jamie for the past two years. Also, a big thank you to you, the fans, that have supported us throughout this incredible life experience; without you, this group would not have achieved anything.
Time to move on. Good luck one and all.

TB 2012


Hello everyone,

I first met Stuart Adamson in 1977, when I played gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh with my band the Subhumans,(Subs). We became friends then, along with Richard Jobson, Will Simpson and Tam Kellichan. I joined Simple Minds in 1978, and we would bump into the Skids on many an evening in London. I was at loads of the Skids performances in the early days, and loved every minute of the shows. Richard asked me to join the band on one occasion, but I stuck with Simple Minds. One day in the Townhouse Studios , after the Skids split up, Stuart and I were talking over a cup of tea, as we were both working there, me with Simple Minds, and Stuart with Big Country, his new band! He told me later that he wanted me to record some bass tracks on the recordings, but was too shy to ask…This was pre Tony and Mark…..Stuart , now it has happened , old friend.

I met Stuart , on and off, many a time, including a gig at the Barrowland with Simple Minds, where we shared a taxi to the Hilton Hotel after a U2 gig…The last time I spoke to Stuart was at the ‘Kosovo gig’ at the SECC in Glasgow. He was one of Scotlands greatest guitar heroes, a marvellous talent , and a wonderful man… I feel in my heart, that he would be happy that I have agreed to fill the incredible Tony Butler’s shoes.

I love this band, and I love the guys who I will be playing with onstage on this incredible adventure…You all know Bruce…but I can honestly say that I have never laughed so much in my life, as when I shared a room with him across America and Canada in 2006 with fourgoodmen, and also Touring with Mike Peters with the Alarm and Los Mondo Bongo. He is an inspiration to anyone who knows him, and is a fitting friend and frontman for Big Country…Jamie is an incredible talent in the mold of his father Bruce…I am looking forward , so much, to playing with one of the Worlds greatest drummers….even my old compatriot Mel Gaynor is in awe of this man’s talent..and rightly so… I can’t wait Mark!

I hope I do not disappoint any of the Big Country family, and I will endeavour to do my best in this amazing new adventure….thanks for all your flattering comments, and please put your doubts to the side, and continue to support the band

Derek Forbes






  1. Interesting news! Kudos to Tony Butler for taking the high road and not bickering in the statement. With their long-time manager Ian Grant also leaving after 30+ years (and him continuing to manage Tony), it sounds like it came down to most of the band wanting a change in management.

    I saw Derek and Bruce when they toured America with FourGoodMen. Looking forward to hearing some new tunes!

    Speaking of Big Country, I was planning on seeing From the Jam with Mark on drums next month, but the band canceled!

  2. Wow!, one great bassist replaces another. Sad to see Butler go for now, but Derek with Big Country sounds exciting.

  3. Love all the lads involved, but it hasn’t been Big Country since Stuart left us. Never take your place…

  4. I like a lot of Big Country’s material but its like the INXS situation, any band that loses its lead singer/frontman should either call it quits or at least change its name. Thats just the way i feel about it.

  5. In other news Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman are touring as The Rolling Stones with Steve Perry on vocals and Billy Duffy on guitar.

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