Alan Rankine: The Musical Journey of a Scottish Icon
Alan Rankine (May 17, 1958 – January 2, 2023) was a celebrated Scottish musician and record producer whose indelible mark on the music industry is cherished by fans around the world. Best known as the keyboardist and guitarist for the rock band the Associates, Alan Rankine co-founded this iconic group alongside lead vocalist Billy Mackenzie in the late 1970s.
Early Life and Passion for Music
Alan Rankine’s musical odyssey began in the charming town of Bridge of Allan, located in Stirlingshire, Scotland. His formative years were spent in various locales, including the “posh part of Dundee,” followed by residences in Glasgow and Linlithgow. Born to parents Jim Rankine, a school inspector, and a secretary mother, Rankine’s upbringing was rooted in a nurturing environment.
As a youth, Alan Rankine was a promising national-level tennis player. However, as technology transformed the sport’s equipment, he realized that his stature (standing at 5ft 8in/1.73 m) would pose a challenge. A pivotal moment occurred when he heard the distinctive guitar sound in Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 hit, “Spirit in the Sky.” Inspired, he decided, “I want that.” This turning point led him to abandon tennis and devote himself to mastering the guitar, practicing diligently for up to five or six hours each day.
A Remarkable Career Unfolds
Alan Rankine’s professional journey commenced with the cabaret band Caspian, which would eventually metamorphose into the renowned Associates. Together, they embarked on a creative journey that produced three albums: “The Affectionate Punch” (1980), the singles compilation “Fourth Drawer Down” (1981), and “Sulk” (1982). In 1982, Alan Rankine departed from the band on the cusp of the anticipated “Sulk” tour, citing Billy MacKenzie’s aversion to travel as the reason.
While Billy Mackenzie continued his musical pursuits with other associates, Alan Rankine transitioned into a prolific career as a music producer. He lent his expertise to artists such as Paul Haig, Cocteau Twins, and the Pale Fountains.
In 1986, Rankine signed a recording contract with the Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule, embarking on a solo adventure. Over the years, he released three solo studio albums: “The World Begins to Look Her Age” (1986), “She Loves Me Not” (1987), and the entirely instrumental “The Big Picture Sucks” (1989).
Beyond his artistic endeavors, Rankine also dedicated a substantial portion of his life to education. He served as a lecturer at Stow College in Glasgow, where his impact extended far beyond the classroom. His guidance and mentorship played a pivotal role in the establishment of the college’s in-house record label, Electric Honey, which would later serve as a launchpad for the careers of prominent bands like Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol, and Biffy Clyro.
A Fond Farewell
On January 2, 2023, Alan Rankine’s remarkable journey came to a close at the age of 64. He peacefully passed away in the comfort of his home after spending a heartfelt Christmas with his family. It was later revealed that heart disease was the cause of his demise.
Alan Rankine’s legacy as a pioneering musician and influential producer endures in the annals of music history. His passion for creativity, dedication to education, and musical contributions have left an indelible mark that will continue to inspire generations of artists and music enthusiasts alike.