BMX Bandits (band)

BMX Bandits are a Scottish 1960s-influenced guitar pop band who have been making music from 1986 to the present day.[1][2] They have shared members with other Bellshill bands Teenage Fanclub and The Soup Dragons. They were a favourite band of Kurt Cobain, who said "If I could be in any other band, it would be BMX Bandits".[3]

BMX Bandits
OriginBellshill, Scotland
GenresIndie rock, indie pop
Years active1985–present
LabelsElefant Records, Creation
Associated actsTeenage Fanclub, The Soup Dragons, Eugenius, The Vaselines, The Primary 5, Superstar, The Pretty Flowers
MembersChloe Philip
Jamie Gash
Finlay MacDonald
Jim McCulloch
Stuart Kidd
Duglas T. Stewart
Paul Kelly
Past membersRachel Allison
Norman Blake
Jamie Cameron
Sushil K. Dade
Sean Dickson
John Hogarty
Gordon Keen
Eugene Kelly
Gareth Perrie
Martin Kirwan
Francis MacDonald
Joseph McAlinden
Willie McArdle
Brian McEwan
James McEwan
Eden McNulty
Billy Wood
David Scott
Gabriel Telerman


BMX Bandits were formed in Bellshill by songwriter and lead vocalist Duglas T. Stewart out of the ashes of The Pretty Flowers,[4] a group that featured Stewart alongside Frances McKee (later of The Vaselines), Sean Dickson and Norman Blake.[5] Beginning around 1982/1983, this early version of the band would perform impromptu, happening-style gigs at various locations around Bellshill including local parks, their school and the Hattonrigg Hotel. Before settling on the name The Pretty Flowers, they usually performed under various controversial and outrageous names to attract attention.[6] The material they performed was often improvised or based loosely on other songs. The group would also partake in various other activities to amuse themselves, such as making home videos interviewing themselves as well as members of the public and recording albums of music in one night on home tape recorders.[7] By 1985, McKee had left to start The Vaselines with Eugene Kelly and the group began to morph into the BMX Bandits. The style of the group as a collective of musicians has been present since its early days, with Stewart acting as the leader while the line-up constantly fluctuates.[8] Many notable independent Glasgow musicians have passed through the band over the years and often continue to contribute to BMX Bandits recordings.

The band signed to 53rd & 3rd and released their first single during the first half of 1986; "E102" / "Sad?".[8] Both songs were written by Stewart with Sean Dickson, who played guitar and keyboards on the recording alongside his Soup Dragons band mate Jim McCullough.[8] The band's cheerful and playful sound, inspired by 1960s pop music along with Duglas T. Stewart's sense of humour was unusual in rock music at the time and caused mixed responses.[8] However, Radio 1 DJ Janice Long was an early supporter of the group; regularly playing their single and asking them to record a session for her show.[9] They followed up "E102" that same year with a cover of "What a Wonderful World", backed with "The Day Before Tomorrow", which has since become a staple of their live sets. By the end of the year, Dickson left to focus on The Soup Dragons.[8] During the following year, Norman Blake and Joe McAlinden became more involved, with Blake contributing guitar, keyboards and songwriting and McAlinden primarily playing bass and violin.[8] In 1988, the band released another 4-song EP and made a television appearance on the BBC Scotland music show Full Scale Deflection on the same episode as Primal Scream. Their set included a cover of the Beastie Boys song "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)"[10] and Norman Blake dressed up as an old man with a false moustache.

In 1989, the band released their first LPs. The first to be released was the live album Totally Groovy Live Experience on Avalanche Records, which documents a show from the Hattonrigg Hotel on 4 January 1989. This was followed by their first studio album C86; titled as such in reference to the group being unfairly pigeonholed by the music press as a C86-era leftover.[8] The album features more of the band's staples, including "Disco Girl", "Your Class", "Whirlpool" and "Right Across the Street". The album was given expanded re-releases in both 1992 and 1996, each time with more bonus tracks.

Their songs mix melodic qualities and humour with, at times, raw and heartbreaking pathos. Stewart has written many of the group's works solo including "Your Class", "The Sailor's Song" and "Doorways" but also has collaborated with many of the other members. Stewart's most regular songwriting partners have been Francis MacDonald, Norman Blake and, more recently, David Scott of The Pearlfishers.

One of the group's most notable songs is the autobiographical "Serious Drugs",[8] recorded in 1991 but not released until 1993. The song featured in the movie This Year's Love and was covered by American stadium power pop group Gigolo Aunts. Oasis did their first UK tour dates supporting the Bandits as a favour from Stewart to Creation label boss Alan McGee. BMX Bandits admirers included Kurt Cobain, who was photographed wearing a BMX Bandits T-shirt. Cobain claimed on a New York radio show that if he could be in any band it would be BMX Bandits.

Stewart split with long term musical partner Francis MacDonald in 2005 but 2006 saw a new wave of live concert activity and the release of My Chain. Stewart's writing on the album was compared to Brian Wilson, Michel Legrand, Ennio Morricone and even Alan Bennett. The line up was expanded by the arrival of Stewart's friend David Scott and new female vocalist Rachel Mackenzie (now Rachel Allison).

The follow-up, 2007's Bee Stings, was influenced by classic girl group pop plus the mellow A & M sound of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bee Stings features Allison singing lead on half the tracks including "Our Secret Life" co-written by Allison and former band member Norman Blake.

A feature-length documentary called Serious Drugs – Duglas and the Music of BMX Bandits was premiered at Glasgow Film Theatre as part of Glasgow Popfest 2011. Jim Burns the producer/director is initially targeting film and music festivals before releasing a DVD/Blu-ray version of the film.

Original group member Jim McCulloch re-joined the group and was Stewart's major writing partner on the next album release. BMX Bandits in Space was released on Elefant Records in 2012. The album also featured contributions from original BMX Bandit member Sean Dickson, Argentinian multi-instrumentalist Cineplexx and Japanese rock group Plectrum. Shortly after the album's release Rachel Allison departed the group. Chloe Philip, also a member of pop group TeenCanteen[11], joined in 2013 providing vocals, flute and keyboards. "BMX Bandits Forever" the group's tenth studio album was released by Elefant Records in May 2017. Stewart's main writing partner on this album was Stuart Kidd who rejoined the group in 2014. The album also contain a collaboration with Brian Jonestown Massacre leader Anton Newcombe.

The history of the BMX Bandits from 1986 to the early 1990s forms part of the 2017 documentary Teenage Superstars.[12]


Albums [13] [14]

Year Title Record Label
1989 Totally Groovy Live Experience! Avalanche
1989 C86 Click!
1991 Star Wars Vinyl Japan
1993 Life Goes On Creation
1995 Gettin' Dirty Creation
1996 Theme Park Creation
2003 Down at the Hop Shoeshine
2006 My Chain RevOla
2007 Bee Stings Poppydisc
2012 BMX Bandits In Space Elefant
2017 BMX Bandits Forever Elefant

Singles & EPs [13] [14]

Year Title Record Label
1986 E102 / Sad? 53rd & 3rd
1986 What A Wonderful World / The Day Before Tomorrow 53rd & 3rd
1988 Figure 4 53rd & 3rd
1991 Come Clean Vinyl Japan
1991 Television Personalities / BMX Bandits - Your Class / Someone To Share My Life With Clawfist
1992 Gordon Keen And His BMX Bandits Sunflower Records
1992 Serious Drugs Creation Records
1993 Little Hands Creation Records
1993 Kylie's Got A Crush On Us Creation Records
1993 Little Hands Creation Records
1994 BMX Bandits / The Duglasettes - Islands In The Stream / Love Machine Bring On Bull Records
1995 Love, Come To Me / That Summer Feeling Creation Records
1995 Gettin' Dirty Creation Records
1995 Lost Girl Creation Records
1996 Help Me, Somebody Shoeshine Records
1996 We're Gonna Shake You Down Creation Records
2002 Whirlpool # 2 / Honey Honey (Guiding Star) Emma's House Recordings
2003 Back In Your Arms Shoeshine Records
2006 The Sailor's Song / Doorways Hungry Records
2009 The BMX Love E.P. Elefant Records
2012 Listen To Some Music Elefant Records
2013 Beautiful Friend Elefant Records
2013 All Around The World Elefant Records
2014 My Girl Midge Elefant Records
2017 It's In Her Eyes Elefant Records
2018 Way Of The Wolf Elefant Records


  • C86 Plus (1992 Vinyl Japan/Elefant) (compilation)
  • 53rd and 3rd Years (1999 Avalanche) (compilation)
  • On the Radio, 1986–1996 (2003 Vinyl Japan) (compilation)
  • Serious Drugs – the Creation Years (2005 Castle) (best of... compilation)
  • The Rise and Fall of BMX Bandits (2009 Elefant)


  • Totally Groovy Live Experience (1989 Avalanche)
  • Hidden Agenda (with Kim Fowley) (1997 Receiver) (without the group's blessing)

Solo albums

  • Duglas Stewart's Frankenstein (1996 Vinyl Japan) (solo album featuring contributions from other BMX Bandits)


Over the years the membership of the group has fluctuated. Only vocalist Duglas T. Stewart has been a permanent member.


  • Duglas T. Stewart - lead vocals
  • Finlay MacDonald - bass, guitar, keyboards
  • Jim McCulloch - guitar, percussion, vocals
  • Chloe Philip[15] - vocals, keyboards
  • Stuart Kidd - guitar, drums, vocals
  • Jamie Gash - drums
  • Paul Kelly - multiple instruments


  • Norman Blake - guitar, drums, keyboards, vocals
  • Jamie Cameron - bass
  • Sushil K. Dade
  • Sean Dickson - guitar, bass, keyboards
  • John Hogarty - guitar
  • Gordon Keen - guitar
  • Eugene Kelly - guitar, vocals
  • David Scott - keyboards
  • Martin Kirwan - guitar
  • Francis MacDonald - drums, guitar, keyboards, vocals
  • Joseph McAlinden - bass, keyboards, violin, guitar
  • Billy Woods - vocals
  • Willie McArdie - drums
  • Gareth Perrie
  • Rachel Allison - vocals, percussion
  • Willie McArdle
  • Brian McEwan - guitar
  • James McEwan
  • Gabriel Telerman


  1. "BMX Bandits – news, lyrics, pictures, reviews, biography, videos, best songs, discography, concerts, gossip, pictures and tour dates". 8 November 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  2. "Music Scotland – The Vault – Biogs". BBC. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  3. "Scots indie legends BMX Bandits to play Forever at The Crescent in York". York Press.
  4. Ankeny, Jason. "BMX Bandits". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  5. "BMX Bandits". Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  6. Tartan Features Year Zero Filmmaking (11 March 2019), Teenage Superstars - The Pretty Flowers, retrieved 10 June 2019
  7. Meighan, Nicola (14 January 2016). "Interview: BMX Bandits". Nicola Meighan. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  8. Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Nineties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 54/5. ISBN 0-7535-0427-8.
  9. Meighan, Nicola (14 January 2016). "Interview: BMX Bandits". Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  10. "BMX Bandits | Fight For Your Right [FSD]". YouTube. 7 July 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  11. "Spotlight on: Glasgow band – Teen Canteen". 11 January 2016.
  12. Film, British Council. "British Council Film: Teenage Superstars". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  13. "BMX Bandits". Discogs. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  14. "Elefant Records". Elefant Records. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  15. "BMX Bandits". BMX Bandits. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
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