Bobby Gillespie – Tenement Kid, Book Review

By Holywell Street, 25th January 2022

At long last, the charismatic Primal Scream founder member and frontman has recorded his memoirs. This book is one we have been eagerly awaiting. Bobby Gillespie has always been outspoken especially on his passions that we mirror here at Hollywell Towers. His devotions revolve around music, style, football (in particular his beloved Celtic Football Club) and left-leaning working-class politics. This autobiography is an education in music and politics, he has an astonishing depth of knowledge in such subjects which is just as much intriguing as is his life story.

From being brought up in Springburn Palermo Street then moving to Mount Florida following what he describes as “slum clearance programme” his playgrounds growing up were abandoned factories, a sprawling graveyard and ghostly streets of evacuated tenements. He describes his working-class political opinion as observing generations in a scrap heap of poverty; the general social landscape being an underfed education system as well as poor housing, bad pay and conditions. However, some critics have questioned his working-class authenticity after choosing a public school upbringing for his kids. One thing is for sure, is that he has stuck with his political opinions to this day.

Like many other Celtic supporters Bobby Gillespie hails from a Socialist upbringing. He even describes his father as a Marxist (he was trade unionist). Along with the radical left-wing literature; pictures in the living room of the family were of the Black Panthers and Che Guevara “Thank fuck” as he says in relief. Both his parents were also very much political and were members of the International Socialists (IS) a platform within the Scottish Socialist Party descended from Scottish Militant Labour.

Music and counter culture are his only way to escape the hardscrabble Glasgow upbringing. Once famously saying, we formed Primal Scream as we “were dreaming our way out of Glasgow”

As well as being politically impeccable, he is one cool chap. The story covers his first-generation punk apprenticeship and his love for elitist rock’n’roll, and then onto acid house. Certain records have had a life changing effect on Bobby Gillespie. You can feel his passion; hear the enthusiasm in his voice. One being Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hong Kong Garden is a record that is a stand-out for the staff here at HWS.

This is also a work of many cool quotes I would shamelessly take for myself, that was another big benefit I observed as I read through the book.

BG and Weatherall

I met Bobby Gillespie once through Andy Weatherall. It was weekender on Hastings pier early ‘90s. I found him to be the cool romantic. As well as doing the Primal Scream gigs, you would also see him on the dance floor lost in the moment at many good club nights.

HWS highly recommend this book. It is a much more interesting read than I was expecting.

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