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Simple Minds’ hit that was first offered to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol


Simple Minds’ hit that was first offered to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol

Back in 1985, the famous American director John Hughes was making a film called “The Breakfast Club”, which had actors like Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez and Judd Nelson. With an incredible soundtrack, the movie became a cult-classic and grossed 50 times more than it cost (more than 50 million dollars made in the box-office). One of the most famous songs in the movie is “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, first recorded by the Scottish group Simple Minds.


But before they agreed to record the track, which was written by the producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Schiff, the song was also offered to other artists. Including Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry.

“Don’t You Forget (About Me)” was offered to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol first

The movie director John Hughes and Keith Forser, who was in charge of the music for “The Breakfast Club”, were huge Simple Minds fans and wanted their sound for the song. It was written specifically for the movie, to really be part of the story. But at first Simple Minds didn’t like that, because they wanted to record only tracks that were written by themselves.

In an interview with The Guardian in 2022, the Roxy Music vocalist Bryan Ferry said that he didn’t record that song for the movie because it wasn’t the right moment for him. “It was just bad timing. We were finishing off (the solo album) Boys and Girls, which was way behind schedule, and we didn’t want the distraction. The songwriter Keith Forsey sent me a demo of the song and it sounded like a hit to me. Simple Minds did a great version of it,” Bryan Ferry said.

Billy Idol actually recorded the song later

Billy Idol also turned down the offer to record the track according to Michelle Manning, who was the movie’s co-producer. She recalled that in an interview with Spin in 2015, saying: “Oh yeah, I remember offering the song to Billy Idol. He didn’t understand. I think a lot of people that passed will never say they passed. Cause we had the movie, and that demo which was literally just like the final song with Keith. And people were just shutting us down.” Michelle Manning said.

Curiously, Keith Forsey, who was one of the writers of the song, worked a lot with Idol. He produced five of his most successful albums, including “Rebel Yell” (1983). Billy eventually covered the song, which was featured on his Greatest Hits album released in 2001.

The actress Molly Ringwald, one of the stars of the movie, didn’t think Idol’s version was really similar to the one from Simple Minds. “I heard Billy Idol’s version. He was approached to record it, I think, before the Simple Minds and turned it down. And then he recorded it later but, you know. It sounded a little too much like the Simple Minds version I think,” Molly Ringwald told Spin.

Why Simple Minds didn’t accept to record “Don’t You (Forget About Me) at first?

In an interview with AXS TV in 2020 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the band’s vocalist Jim Kerr recalled how they ended up recording the track. “It’s just one of those songs (which) has taken on its own life. We just feel very proud to be connected with the record. It was a record that we didn’t want to do initially. We were writing songs for a new album, we felt it sounded great. (Then) we heard that this guy John Hughes loved Simple Minds and really wanted (us) to be involved in his movie.”

“We were like: ‘cool, great!’. Then as we sat down (with them, they said:) ‘ok, here is the song we want you to do’. We were like: ‘Hang on a minute, we do our own songs. We just had this thing up our sleeve called ‘Alive and Kicking’ that we thought it was pretty good. I remember saying: ‘Hang on a minute, you want us in there because you love the band. You love the band because of the songs and you don’t want us to do our songs? I don’t get this’. We were young, we were radish and we weren’t really listening.”

He continued:

“He did want the sound of Simple Minds but they had the song specifically written for the script. What made us finally get on board and thank God we did, was when we met, both Keith Forsey and and indeed John (Hughes). We just loved them as people, we loved their vibe, we didn’t know them.”

“But we instantly, sometimes you meet people and you just love their vibe. Keith came up in the UK and went to a pub with us and after two days he is suddenly your best mate. (We were like): ‘Whatever happens we’re not doing the song’. Two days later we were like: ‘We should do the song!’. Thank God we did,” Jim Kerr said.

It continues to be Simples Minds’ biggest hit, being played by the band live since then. At the time, the track which was released as a single reached the first position on the charts in the United States and Canada.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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