Scottish identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid formed their two man band, The Proclaimers, in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1986 that they would hit the big time. A fan sent a demo tape of theirs to English band The Housemartins, who were so impressed they invited them to tour with them. This led to an appearance on Channel 4 music show The Tube, which gave them their first UK hit single, Letter From America.
Instantly recognisable from their glasses, jeans and thick Scottish accent when singing, Letter From America made them household names when it shot to number 3 in the charts. They had a unique style at the time, being both pop and almost folk music at the same time, the folk influence coming from the warbling sections of the song which is probably why the song was so popular, as everyone loved joining in with that particular bit.
They followed up with I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) which reached number 11 and has now become something of an anthem for Scottish football fans. This song also featured further strange voice work, and I can imagine that going down very well when sung by a stadium of football supporters!
Sadly these were the only two big hits the band achieved, with the rest of their eighties songs, including Sunshine on Leith and I’m On My Way both not quite making it into the UK Top 40.
The band have continued to record though, proving popular at music festivals and they also finally scored a number one with the re-recording of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) for Comic Relief in 2001, which featured Peter Kay in his guise as wheelchair bound Brian Potter and Matt Lucas’s similarly wheelchair bound Andy Pipkin from Little Britain.