Alan McGee (born 29 September 1960) is a Scottish businessman and music industry executive. He has been a record label owner, musician, manager, and music blogger for The Guardian. He co-founded the independent Creation Records label, running it from 1983 until its closure in 1999. He subsequently founded the Poptones label, running it from 1999 to 2007. He has managed or championed acts such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Oasis, and The Libertines. He was also the lead singer and guitarist for the indie pop group Biff Bang Pow!, who were active from 1983 to 1991.
|Born||29 September 1960|
East Kilbride, Scotland
|Occupation(s)||Record label owner, film producer, singer, songwriter, guitarist, DJ, music blogger|
|Years active||1981–1991, 1997–1998 (as musician) |
1983–2007 (as record label owner)
|Labels||Creation, Poptones, 359 Music|
|Associated acts||The Laughing Apple|
Biff Bang Pow!
The Chemical Pilot
McGee was born in East Kilbride on 29 September 1960. He grew up in Glasgow and attended King's Park Secondary School, where he met future Primal Scream founder Bobby Gillespie. McGee left school at 16 with one O Grade. McGee and Gillespie were heavily into punk rock, and they joined a local punk band, The Drains, in 1978. The band's guitarist was Andrew Innes.
After the breakup of The Drains, McGee and Innes moved to London and formed the band The Laughing Apple with Mark Jardim, a drummer from Croydon. They recorded three singles in 1981 and 1982, two of which were released on Autonomy, and the third was put out on their own Essential record label. In 1983, quitting his job at British Rail, he co-founded Creation Records (named after cult 1960s band The Creation) with Dick Green and Joe Foster.
McGee said that his intention with Creation "was to merge psychedelia with punk rock". He also formed the band Biff Bang Pow! (named after The Creation's song), which would continue until 1991, and began running a club night called "The Living Room" at The Adams Arms in Central London. He also began managing then-unknown The Jesus and Mary Chain, whose first single was issued on McGee's label in November 1984.
Music industry career
Creation Records was one of the key labels in the mid-80s indie movement, with early releases featuring artists such as Primal Scream, The Jasmine Minks, and The Loft. When The Jesus And Mary Chain moved to Warner Brothers in 1985, Creation was able to use McGee's profits as their manager to release singles by acts including Primal Scream, Felt, and The Weather Prophets. While these records were not commercially successful, McGee's enthusiasm and ability to promote Creation releases in the weekly music media ensured a healthy following. Following an unsuccessful attempt to run an offshoot label for Warner Brothers, McGee regrouped Creation and immersed himself in the burgeoning dance and acid house scene, the legacy of which saw him release era-defining albums from Creation mainstays Primal Scream and new arrivals like My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub.
During this time Creation had run up considerable debts, which forced McGee to sell half of the label to Sony Music in 1992. McGee calls the Sony years as the beginning of the end of the real Creation Records, which was driven by Joe Foster, Tim Abbot, Dick Green and McGee himself, and not by Sony accountants and marketing managers. At the point it seemed Creation would collapse into receivership, the recently signed Manchester band Oasis began selling albums in huge quantities, as one of the leading lights of the Britpop movement of the mid-1990s. The success of Oasis was unprecedented for an act on an independent label, and their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? became the biggest selling British album of the decade.
This brought McGee substantial exposure, and his position was noted by the revitalized Labour Party, who considered him a figurehead of youth culture and courted his influence to spearhead a media campaign prior to the 1997 General Election. McGee was largely responsible for changing government legislation in relation to musicians being able to go on the New Deal which gave musicians three years to develop and be funded by the government instead of having to take other jobs to survive. In 1998, Omnibus made a documentary about McGee and Creation for BBC One.
McGee was awarded by the NME 'Godlike Genius' award in February 1996 and Creation Records was awarded "independent label of the year" every year between 1995 and 1998 by Music Week. McGee returned to making music in 1997, collaborating with Ed Ball under the name The Chemical Pilot, releasing the album Journey to the Centre of the Mind in 1998.
While Oasis went on to sell nearly 54 million records by 2008, Creation continued issuing albums by other artists, none of which came near the success of the Manchester band. Rumours began to circulate of McGee's dissatisfaction with the direction Creation had gone. In late 1999 it was announced that Creation Records would cease operations. The final album released by the label was Primal Scream's 2000 release XTRMNTR, which went gold in the UK. The final single was the third released from the album itself.
Two books were written in the wake of Creation Records: One, by David Cavanagh, which McGee calls "the accountant's tale" and one by Paulo Hewitt. McGee closed Creation Records for good, selling the rest of the shares to Sony in 2000 for an overall price that was staggered through the 1990s of around $30,000,000 (USD). Following Creation's closure, McGee became a property developer, buying houses, flats, a farm in Wales and even an office block in Primrose Hill.
Post Creation: Poptones Records and Death Disco
The dissolution of Creation Records led to McGee forming Poptones in 2000. The label's name is a homage to the Public Image Limited song. Although Poptones was written off by Paul Lester of Uncut after eight days of opening , McGee found platinum success within the second year with The Hives. During this period McGee also ran the international club night, Death Disco. McGee occasionally DJ's around the globe under the moniker of "Death Disco". Death Disco had branches in Glasgow, London, New York City, Budapest and Los Angeles. Death Disco had appearances from The Libertines, The Killers, BRMC, Kaiser Chiefs, Glasvegas, Razorlight, The Hives, Kasabian, The Darkness, Neils Children and The Foxes among others. McGee had no further involvement with Death Disco after 2009.
In May 2007, McGee told The Independent newspaper that he was winding down Poptones for financial reasons.
Retirement from music management and other activities
On 12 September 2008, McGee retired from band music management and being involved with record companies after 25 years. The decision was due to him wanting to concentrate on raising his daughter. After he sold Creation Records to Sony, he continued to publish songs by label acts such as Oasis, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, under Creation Songs.
In 2007, McGee was made a Companion of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, in recognition of the work that he has carried out with students. In November 2008, he was a visiting fellow on the popular music degree course at the University of Gloucestershire. In interviews with the Glasgow's Daily Record in September 2010 and the UK's The Independent in October 2010, McGee stated he had lost interest in music and was more interested in the esoteric and occult teachings of Aleister Crowley and Peter J. Carroll, particularly Carroll's book Liber Null.
In October 2012, McGee stated that he was going help curate the Japanese rock festival Tokyo Rocks in 2013 and through working with Tokyo Rocks had become interested in starting up an as yet unnamed record label in 2013. In May 2013, McGee announced the new label as a joint venture with Cherry Red Records called 359 Music. He stated he saw it as launch pad for new artists. In the ensuing month he reviewed 2500 submissions for signing, eventually signing 20 artists.
McGee announced in May 2014 he had restarted Creation Management with Simon Fletcher and signed The Jesus and Mary Chain as his first clients. The roster has rapidly expanded to include Wilko Johnson, Happy Mondays, Black Grape, Cast, Glasvegas, The Bluetones, and Shaun William Ryder solo projects. Mcgee has been quoted as saying "I want Creation Management to become as big as Creation Records was, together with my business partner we want to work with these great artists, help them reach all their full potential, as well as bringing on new young talent."
In January 2000 he likened the Labour party to Big Brother in the George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and accused Tony Blair of being a "control freak". He had previously been one of Labour's biggest financial donors, having donated £100,000 to the party.
One of McGee's last acts as Creation Records boss was to use £20,000 of Creation's money to fund Malcolm McLaren's campaign to run for Mayor of London. McLaren immediately stood down when Ken Livingstone finally decided to stand for Mayor.
In late 2009, McGee withdrew his support for the Labour Party, and wrote an article for The Sun on 1 October 2009 in which he praised Conservative leader David Cameron, saying that "at least David Cameron looks like a leader." However, he is not a Tory.
From 2006 to 2010, Alan McGee wrote for The Guardian's weekly music blog. As of September 2011, McGee blogs for The Huffington Post UK.
McGee's autobiography "Creation Stories" was scheduled to be published in Europe on 7 November 2013, by Pan MacMillan. McGee's autobiography was optioned by Burning Wheel Productions and has been adapted into a film screenplay by Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh, due to be introduced at the next Cannes Film Festival.
"Upside Down," a film on Creation Records premiered at the BFI in London on 23 and 24 October 2010. It was scheduled for worldwide release in May 2011.
In February 2012, McGee announced in the Huffington Post that he had started a new film company with writer/director Dean Cavanagh, who still works with Irvine Welsh, called Escalier 39. The film Kubricks was scheduled to be shot in 2012 on the grounds of McGee's house in Wales. In the film McGee plays himself. He appears in Svengali, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2013. According to The Hollywood Reporter, McGee "enjoys a surprising amount of screen-time and, in what is perhaps a deliberate in-joke, is never seen without his Trilby hat."
McGee features extensively in the documentary film Teenage Superstars, which focuses on the Glasgow independent music scene during the early years of Creation Records.
McGee's mid-1990s drug intake was such that he eventually suffered a breakdown. He has said he has no idea how many drugs he was taking at this point, but that he can't remember anything of the year 1993 other than the signing of Oasis. He added that Oasis were 'cool' about his cleaning up, but that his sober state made his relationship with Primal Scream difficult.
McGee has been married twice. His first marriage was unsuccessful but produced a son named Daniel. Due to McGee's former long-term drug habit, he had been estranged from his first wife and had not seen his son since he was a baby. Dan was adopted by his ex-wife's new husband in 1994 and his name was changed to Daniel Devine. In 2005, McGee told The Independent that his son, whom he had not seen since he was a baby, had contacted him and they had reunited, though they were later reported to be estranged again. McGee has since appeared as a guest on Devine's radio show.
Since 1998, McGee has been married to Kate Holmes, of the band Client and formerly of Frazier Chorus and Technique, who now runs the fashion label Client London. They have been together since 1994, and have one daughter.
McGee is a keen supporter of Rangers.
with The Laughing Apple
- "Ha Ha Hee Hee" 7-inch (1981), Autonomy
- "Participate!" 7-inch (1981), Autonomy
- "Precious Feeling" 7-inch (1982), Essential
- "Wouldn't You" 7-inch flexi-disc (1983), Creation - included with The Legend!'s "'73 in '83" single
with Biff Bang Pow!
with The Chemical Pilot
- "Astral Dominoes" 12-inch/CD-single (1998), Eruption
- "Move a Little Closer" 12-inch single (1998), Eruption
- Journey to the Centre of the Mind album (1998), Eruption
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate; ISBN 1-84195-335-0, pp. 409-10
- Harris, John (2003). The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of British Rock. Harper Perennial.
- Michael Bonner (November 1999). "True Adventures of Primal Scream". Uncut. Archived from the original on 23 January 2008. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
- "Top 20 Singles and Albums of the Nineties". Music Week. Miller Freeman. 18 December 1999. p. 28.
- Anderson, Sarah (19 January 2016). "22 glorious years of NME's Godlike Genius Award". NME. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- "Alan McGee: Why I'm giving up my label". The Independent. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- Martin, Dan (8 May 2013). "Creation Records' Alan McGee to launch new label - 359 Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Bazley, Lewis (22 October 2010). "Cultural Life: Alan McGee, Creation Records founder". The Independent. London, UK.
- "Here's 8 Celebrities Who Practice Chaos Magick". Ultraculture.org. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- "Alan McGee announces plans for a new record label in 2013". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Ingham, Tim (7 May 2013). "Alan McGee launches new label, 359 Music, with Cherry Red". Music Week. Archived from the original on 11 July 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
- Stanley, Carl (19 July 2013). "Louder Than War Interview: Alan McGee". Louder Than War. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- Gallagher, Paul (15 July 2013). "Alan McGee on his label's new signings, the Rolling Stones tour and if Oasis are about to reform". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- "Alan McGee announces 20 acts to sign with his new label 359 Music". Dangerous Minds. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Slingerland, Calum. "Creation Records' Alan McGee Launches New Label". Exclaim! Media. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- "Labour pop guru turns on Blair". BBC News. 21 January 2000. Retrieved 29 April 2011.]
- Eden, Tim Walker Edited by Richard (2 February 2018). "Alan McGee says musicians such as Sir Paul McCartney should retire at 40" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Jonze, Tim (21 September 2010). "Alan McGee: 'If there's one thing Creation Records wasn't, it was boring'". Retrieved 11 July 2017.
- "Alan McGee". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- "Alan McGee". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- Keegan, Simon (5 May 2016). "Irvine Welsh to write Alan McGee movie telling story of Oasis and Creation Records". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Archived 13 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Topping, Alexandra (8 January 2010). "Film to immortalise lords of Creation Records". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Wilks, Jon. "Alan McGee on Kubricks: Interview". The Autojubilator. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Young, Neil (22 June 2013). "Svengali: Edinburgh Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- "Teenage Superstars doc to receive its premiere at Edinburgh Film Festival". www.gigwise.com. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
- Wilks, Jon (22 June 2011). "Alan McGee: The Interview". Time Out Tokyo. Archived from the original on 25 June 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- Jury, Louise. Alan McGee: "I don't look anger", The Independent, 6 September 2005
- Howard, Ali. Alan McGee counts the personal cost of Creation Archived 16 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Herald, 19 April 2011.
- Carl Stanley. "Interview: Alan McGee Returns To Live4ever To Discuss Meeting His Estranged Son & Noel Gallagher's Solo Career". Retrieved 23 August 2011.
Dan got adopted at 5 by my ex wife's husband and his name was changed to Daniel Devine. I then met him when he was 16 – he texted me in Mexico so we met up. We didn't get on unfortunately after we met but I wish him all the best for the future.
- "Music Svengali turns Talgarth chapel into concert venue". BBC News. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
- Campbell, Denis (4 June 2000). "My team". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2017.