Belle & Sebastian’s Richard Colburn shares memories of having Alan Rankine as a teacher

Richard Colburn of Belle & Sebastian and Alan Rankine of The Associates

Belle & Sebastian‘s Richard Colburn has written about the late Alan Rankine, a musician and college lecturer who was instrumental to the band’s early days.

The drummer revealed in a post on Facebook yesterday (January 4) that the former guitarist of Scottish post-punk and pop band The Associates, who died after spending Christmas 2022 with his family, was an important mentor and advocate of their music in the mid 1990s.

Writing in a post, the Belle & Sebastian drummer said: “I first met Alan in 1995 when I was a student at Stow College. He was my lecturer on the music business course. The college had its own small record label called Electric Honey Records and because of my connection with the band, I was able to hand in an early demo of ‘Dog On Wheels’. As soon as Alan heard the demo, he made up his mind that this was the song and band that was to represent Electric Honey records that year.

“Normally, the label would release a two or three song single but Alan had the foresight (and slightly bigger budget than the year before) to ask us if we could record a whole album instead. We did, and the result was Tigermilk, which was recorded in five days at CaVa studios in Glasgow.

“I can’t emphasis enough the influence that had on Belle and Sebastian at the very beginning. He was so encouraging. Because of his knowledge and contacts, he managed to promote what we had done with Electric Honey records to the whole music industry and start a real buzz about the band.

We are so saddened to hear that Alan Rankine has died. Richard was a student of his back in 1995 – “I first met…

Posted by Belle and Sebastian on Wednesday, January 4, 2023

“He also set up the first two gigs we ever did. Stones in Edinburgh was the first gig followed by a gig in Dunkirk. Both gigs were completely shambolic, as most of us in the band didn’t have a clue what we were doing at the time, but Alan remained patient and helped us along the way. If it wasn’t for Alan, our path would’ve been very different. We owe a lot to him.

“Alan was a fantastic, generous, and talented person who will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him. He was an unbelievable musician and his musical legacy will live on forever.

“Thoughts and condolences go out to his family, from myself and all of Belle and Sebastian.”

Rankine formed The Associates in the late 1970s with singer Billy Mackenzie, going on to release three albums, ‘The Affectionate Punch’ (1980), singles compilation ‘Fourth Drawer Down’ (1981) and ‘Sulk’ (1982).

After leaving the band in 1982, Rankine became a successful producer and worked on albums by Cocteau Twins and more, before launching a solo career in 1986.

Later in life, he lectured at Glasgow’s Stow College, helping students set up the Electric Honey record, which was instrumental in launching the careers of Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol, as well as Belle & Sebastian.

Others have paid tribute to Rankine, including BMX Bandits singer Duglas T Stewart who tweeted: “Very sad news today that Alan Rankine has died,” he wrote on Twitter. I first became aware of Alan through The Associates and later got to know him a little. Sending love to his family and all who loved him.”

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