A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH MUSIC IN 500 OBJECTS
The Rip It Up exhibition features
500 items linked to moments or personalities from Scottish musical history, including the mackintosh worn by Midge Ure in the video for Ultravox’s Vienna, Lulu’s trouser suit and a pair of black brothel creepers belonging to Douglas Hart of the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Gathering the objects was a challenge for the museum as it had virtually no rock and pop memorabilia in its collection. Exhibition curator Stephen Allen explained that the first nine months of the 18-month preparation process was a frantic attempt to gather the material.
One of the highlights is a Scottish football scarf worn by Bon Scott during the 1979 AC/DC gig at the Glasgow Apollo. Curators had initially been after the Scotland shirt Scott had worn, but a rumour that it was held in another museum proved to be a dead end. Undaunted, assistant curator Vicky Brown followed online clues and rumours and ended up discovering on Facebook that Scott’s cousin, who still lives in Scotland, had his scarf. It wasn’t the shirt but it was just as good.
The scarf is a significant link back to a key moment of not just musical, but sporting and social, history, when Scotland was caught up in the fever that swept the country following the 1978 Argentina World Cup. It is a physical connection to that time and place, to that bonkers ‘Ally’s Tartan Army’ stuff, to Archie Gemmill’s goal against the Netherlands.
For the organisers, one of the most satisfying aspects of having to hustle up an exhibition this way was that many of the artists got actively involved in making things happen. One of the most enthusiastic was the singer Shirley Manson who started out in the Edinburgh band Goodbye Mr Mackenzie before becoming the lead singer of the arena-filling Garbage. Rather endearingly she delivered the stuff for display to the museum store herself.
2 Orange Juice at Regent’s Canal, near Camden Town, in 1981. From left, Steven Daly, Edwyn Collins, James Kirk, David Mcclymont.