Deacon Blue pair Ricky Ross and
Lorraine McIntosh reveal love nearly ended group
Daily Record 9th September 2012
THE songwriter and singer broke one of the sacred rules of rock ’n’ roll when their on-stage relationship developed off-stage while making When The World Knows Your Name.
THEY are the husband and wife duo whose voices blasted Madonna off the top of the album charts and went on to soundtrack the lives of generations. Deacon Blue singers Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross’s vocal sparring scored six million album sales and two No1 LPs in a career spanning three decades. Yet now, as the band prepare to launch their new album, they admit they never expected to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their landmark debut Raintown.
Ricky and Lorraine know that, by getting together, they could have forced the band apart. The songwriter and singer broke one of the sacred rules of rock ’n’ roll when their on-stage relationship developed off-stage while making Raintown’s follow-up, When The World Knows Your Name. The LP entered the chart at No1, dislodging Madonna, making both their name and their first million.
But while their harmonies were at the top of the charts, there was disharmony among the other band members Jim Prime, Graeme Kelling, Ewen Vernal and Dougie Vipond. In 1987, Lorraine was brought in as a session singer for their first album, before being made a permanent fixture on the realisation that her vocal contribution was an integral part of the band’s grassroots success. The singer-turned-actress said she remembered the early awkwardness around her relationship with Ricky, who she has now been married to for 22 years after his first marriage ended. The pair have three children.
She said: “The guys in the band found it difficult with us being a couple at one point, there’s no doubt about it. It was a really difficult dynamic for them – and for us. “They didn’t want it. Nobody in a band wants the backing singer going out with the lead singer, let’s face it.” Taking time out from rehearsals to give the Sunday Mail exclusive access, Ricky looked back on what was both the most successful and most difficult time in the band. He said: “No band wants that. It’s like in Spinal Tap when the guy brings the girlfriend in. There is this whole homoerotic thing about a band, there’s no doubt about it. That male bonding thing, brothers in arms, all guys together. Guys love all that stuff. It’s all about dynamics.
“Then you take that affection for them away and put it somewhere else. That’s what was difficult about making that second record, ironically. “Much to our surprise, it became so successful that everyone just forgot about it and got on with it.” Lorraine, 48, added: “They obviously thought, ‘Ach maybe she’s no’ that bad’. I think it worked really well for us on stage. There was almost a competition for Ricky’s attention between me and the guys. I won, obviously.”
Drummer Dougie agrees. He said: “We were just beginning to grow into our friendships in the band. Then, when Ricky and Lorraine got together, there was a worry about how it would affect us. “We felt threatened. It changed the dynamic. And they felt it too. "But it settled. It was just a bit of insecurity. It would have been stupid to throw it away over what was ultimately Ricky and Lorraine falling in love, which is a brilliant thing.”
The pair’s vocal interplay became key to their success and remains as evident on new album The Hipsters as at any point in the last 25 years. Ricky said: “Our former producer Jon Kelly described Lorraine as being our lead guitar. She wove something between the lines and made Deacon Blue unique.”
The band went on to record two more top 10 albums, Fellow Hoodlums and Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, adding to hits including Dignity and Real Gone Kid with quirky tracks such as Twist & Shout and Your Town. But the pressure of marriage played a part in the decision to split the band.
Ricky, 54, said: “There was huge pressure being married and in a band and having kids. “The phone would go as you were about to have dinner and it would be a bit of news about the band and suddenly that would be in the house, pervading everything. “I remember thinking it would be nice if whatever I did for work didn’t impact on Lorraine and vice versa. And the vision I had at the time for the band wasn’t the same as what everyone else wanted. “The mistake I made, and a lot of people in bands make, is that they think the band is their life. The record company asked me to make a solo record and come back to Deacon Blue. But I said no. “I resented the band and wanted to do so.mething else. “Now, because we all do so many different projects, it’s good. We realise what we were good at.”
Ricky presents Radio Scotland’s Another Country and writes for other artists such as Jamie Cullum, Will Young and James Blunt, whose debut album he wrote the hit High for. Lorraine has carved out a career as an actress, appearing in River City and the Ken Loach film My Name Is Joe, as well as a number of National Theatre of Scotland projects. Dougie is a TV presenter and piano player while keyboard player Jim is a music lecturer at University of West of Scotland. Bass play Ewen left after the 1999 reunion and guitarist Graeme tragically died aged 47 after a battle with cancer in 2004.
But time and other projects have given renewed perspective and the band now look back on even the bad times with fondness. Lorraine said: “Of course we argued. We got fed up with each other. We were all really bolshy characters.But now you appreciate it so much more, how lucky you are, thinking it might be the last time you do it for whatever reason. “Making The Hipsters in Glasgow was magical.”
Twenty-five years on, the band’s memories of making Raintown are as precious as the album became to many. The sense of “waiting for the world to begin” is what inspired the opening track Here I Am In London Town on the new LP – six young Scots desperate to take their chances with the record company suits. Ricky said: “When we first went down to London, we were so excited. Dougie was just a teenage boy, walking down Oxford Street backwards. “It was like a scene from Once Upon A Time In America – all these kids just excited to be there.
“People ask me if I have a favourite album of ours. It’s a difficult question to answer but I think, honestly, Raintown was hard to beat. People love it and for good reason. “When I was younger, after we split up, I compartmentalised all that time as ‘my Deacon Blue stuff’. “But it’s not that. I realise these songs have chronicled my life. And they mean something to so many other people.
“I never dreamt what would happen. It’s such a lovely thing.” Paul English