James Prime

James Prime

Born in Kilmarnock (East Ayrshire, Scotland), James(Jim)Prime (aka Optimus) is best known as the keyboard player for rock band Deacon Blue, which was named after a Steely Dan song of the 1970s. He also lectures at the University for the West of Scotland. Well known as a Hammond/piano player, his talents have been sought after by John Martyn, Johnny Hallyday, Phil Cunningham, Eddi Reader, Little Richard and many others.

Altered Images

Jim's career began properly as a session musician on an Altered Images tour of the U.S.A in 1980. Altered Images, famous for their singer Claire Grogan's voice on such hits as 'Happy Birthday' (no 1, U.K hit), 'I could be Happy', 'See those Eyes' and finally a U.S top ten hit with ' Don't talk to me about love' completed a successful tour by splitting up. A disillusioned Claire wanted to repeat her acting success on Gregory's Girl by pursuing a role on the next Bill Forsyth film entitled Comfort and Joy. Manager Gerry McElhone and brother Johnny McElhone were ahead of the game, forming and signing (in a week) the band Hipsway. Jim considered joining but made way for his erstwhile competitor Craig Armstrong.

In Deacon Blue

The band was formed in Glasgow in 1985 by Ricky Ross (b.1957) and comprised Prime, Graeme Kelling (1957 - 2004) on guitar, vocalist Lorraine McIntosh (b.1964), bass guitarist Ewen Vernal (b.1964) and Dougie Vipond (b.1966) on drums. In 1998, all original members of the band, save Ross and Prime, found other projects to work on and subsequently left the band. This led to the development of the well-known saying, "it's just you and me, Prime!"

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).

After Deacon Blue

Jim went on to join a theatrical production of the experiences of a band of Govan boys in World war One entitled 'The Big Picnic' (staged in the Haarland and Wolff shipyard in Glasgow). Promenade productions under the direction of Bill Bryden produced a groundbreaking performance over 6 weeks. During that time Jim was also enlisted as Hammond organ player for the legendary French rocker Johnny Hallyday and departed to France for a two year stint with Hallyday's all star band (which included Robin Le Mesurier - formerly of Rod Stewart's backing band and son of John Le Mesurier of Dad's Army and Hattie Jacques - on guitar, Ian Wallace (King Crimson, Don Henley, Bob Dylan) on drums, Shane Fontayne-Guitar-(Mick Barracan) of Bruce Springsteen and Lone Justice,Phil Soussan-Bass-(Billy Idol,Ozzy Osbourne)Tim Moore-keys (Bee Gees)). The band, accompanied by various guests (Bryan Adams, Mick Jones) played a continuous sold-out 19 nights at the 12000 capacity Bercy arena in Paris. He then recorded 'Lorada' in the Guillaume Tell studios in Paris which sold nearly a million copies. He then toured the following year.The highlight of the tour was Jim and Johnny performing Edith Piaf's 'Hymne a l'amour' in front of a 50ft French flag at the end of the show www.dailymotion.com/mychannel/Films-Comiques/rated/1 - 50k

On his return, a call from Benny Gallagher of Gallagher and Lyle led to Jim developing an idea to create a School of Music and Recording Technology (SMART). This culminated in three concerts at the Ayr Gaiety theatre to raise money. Jim managed to convince Deacon Blue - minus Ewen Vernal - to reform.

Paisley University (now the University of the West of scotland) decided to pick up on the idea after Jim convinced Alan Dumbreck to write a degree course. Now in its 8th year, the Commercial Music course hosts 250 students. Lecturers include Davie Scott of the Pearlfishers, Paul McGeechan (Park Lane studios/Love and Money) Alan McCusker Thompson (The Painted Word/manager Steven Lindsay) Allan Dumbreck (the Big Dish) and Fiona Milne.

In recent years Deacon Blue have reformed for live appearances and new recordings. This year 2008 has seen DB play to 10000 people in three shows including a Year of Culture show at the new Echo Arena in Liverpool. They will also be joining Simple Minds on an arena tour of UK later in the year


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