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3 November 1960 |
Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland
|Associated acts||Deacon Blue|
|Hammond organ, piano|
James "Optimus" Prime (born 3 November 1960) is best known as the keyboard player for Deacon Blue. He also lectures at the University of the West of Scotland. Known as a Hammond/piano player, his talents have been sought after by John Martyn, Johnny Hallyday, Phil Cunningham, Eddi Reader and Little Richard..
Born in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Jim's career began properly as a session musician on an Altered Images tour of the USA in 1980. Altered Images, famous for their singer Clare Grogan's voice on such hits as "Happy Birthday" (no 2, U.K hit), "I Could Be Happy", "See Those Eyes" and latterly a smash U.S top ten with "Don't Talk to Me about Love" finished a successful tour by splitting up. A disillusioned Grogan wanted to continue her acting success on Gregory's Girl by pursuing a role on the next Bill Forsyth film named Comfort and Joy. Manager Gerry McElhone and brother Johnny McElhone were ahead of the game, forming and signing (in a week) the band Hipsway. Prime considered joining but made way for his erstwhile competitor Craig Armstrong.
In Deacon Blue
Deacon Blue was formed in Glasgow in 1985 by Ricky Ross and comprised Prime, Graeme Kelling on guitar, vocalist Lorraine McIntosh, bass guitarist Ewen Vernal and Dougie Vipond on drums. Their debut album Raintown (1987) was well received and followed by others such as When The World Knows Your Name (1989) and Whatever You Say, Say Nothing (1993), with a succession of chart-topping hits including Dignity and Real Gone Kid, which made the top-ten in the UK. The band grew to be one of Scotland's best-known acts of the 1980s, but split in 1994. They reformed to produce further albums; namely Walking Back Home (1999) and Homesick (2001). In 1998, all original members of the band, save Ross and Prime, found other projects to work on and subsequently left the band.
After Deacon Blue
Prime went on to join a theatrical production of the experiences of a band of Govan boys in World War I entitled The Big Picnic (staged in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Glasgow). During that time Prime was also enlisted as Hammond organ player for Johnny Hallyday and departed to France for a two-year stint with Hallyday's band. The band, accompanied by various guests (including Bryan Adams, Mick Jones) played a continuous sold-out 19 nights at the capacity Bercy Arena in Paris. He then worked with Hallyday on Lorada (1995) in the Guillaume Tell studios in Paris.
On his return, a call from Benny Gallagher led to Prime developing an idea to create a School of Music and Recording Technology (SMART). The University of Paisley (now the University of the West of Scotland) picked up on the idea, and now in its eleventh year, the Commercial Music course hosts 250 students to whom Prime constantly recounts his experience of Deacon Blue. Lecturers include David Scott of The Pearlfishers, Paul McGeechan (Love and Money) Alan McCusker Thompson (The Painted Word), Allan Dumbreck (The Big Dish) Jo Collinson-Scott (Jo Mango).
Prime currently has a 400 feet (120 m) yacht off the coast of Ayrshire, in which he frequently hosts the UWS I.E.G. gigs, who's previous star turns include Eminem, Duran Duran, The Electric Light Orchestra, and Toni Malyn.
In recent years Deacon Blue have reformed for live concerts and new recordings. They are scheduled to perform aboard the international space station in the later half of 2014, in promotion of their new track "Cosmic Love".