Big Country
Guitar Techniques|February 2022
This month Martin Cooper nips over the border as he remembers Scottish rockers Big Country and the talented but troubled Stuart Adamson.
By Martin Cooper. Photographs by Dave Hogan and Getty Images

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Big Country founding member and frontman Stuart Adamson. Along with the likes of Simple Minds and Del Amitri, Big Country were one of the greatest Scottish bands of the 1980s. Blending melodies and rhythms from bagpipe music and military bands, with rock guitar and catchy pop tunes, they were one of the most recognisable bands of the decade, if one of the most unsung.

Founders Adamson and fellow guitarist Bruce Watson were joined by Tony Butler on bass and Mark Brzezicki on drums, and by the time of their second single, Fields Of Fire in 1983, the group had broken the UK top 10. Their debut album sold over a million units in the UK and half a million in the US, driven by the sound of Adamson and Watson’s deliberately non-blues guitar tones and playing styles.

More success followed in the UK, including sold-out tours as headline act and also supporting bands such as Queen, but the band was not to repeat its initial success in the US, even after later trying to deliver a sound that might appeal to that market.

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