AS A record label boss he tasted global success and helped to kick-start the careers of Oasis and Primal Scream.
But Alan McGee knows what it’s like to struggle, having spent several weeks sleeping rough when he first moved to London as a teenager.
Now the 55-year-old Glaswegian has launched Musicians Against Homelessness, a new initiative that will see bands play a series of gigs to raise cash for housing charity Crisis.
McGee is calling for artists from across Scotland to back the campaign by staging their own shows from 18 September to 2 October.
“Homelessness is an issue that’s not going away,” he said. “It’s something I feel strongly about. I have a home near London Bridge, about a seven minute walk from the nearest tube station. You see so many homeless people just on that stretch alone - and this is a city with billions.
“I’m a man who’s been successful, who was able to invest in property, and even I don’t feel rich in a city like London.”
It’s a far from cry from when he first arrived in the capital in 1980 aged 19. Like many Scots of his generation, he viewed the city as being a land of opportunity. But with no where to sleep, he and a friend opted for the roof of a Covent Garden chemists.
“We were lucky as it was only for a couple of weeks during a very warm summer,” he said. “I don’t want to make it sound like I was on Desolation Row. There was no fear, no one knew we were up there. The worst that could have happened was a policeman could have moved us on.”
McGee co-founded Creation Records, the label that would make him famous, in 1983. He was by then working as a British Railways clerk but was keen to make his mark in the then thriving music industry.
Taking the name of a cult 1960s rock group, Creation struggled at first but began to make a name for itself after signing The Jesus and Mary Chain. The group’s drummer, Bobby Gillespie, was a school friend of McGee’s from the southside of Glasgow.
Gillespie is now better known as the front man of Primal Scream, who have just released their 11th studio album.
McGee closed Creation in 1999 and moved into artist management. It was through looking after the Manchester band Happy Mondays that he met Emma Rule, a PR and volunteer for Crisis.
“Emma asked me to get involved with a project of hers, if I would front it,” he said. “I think Crisis are a bit shocked at the attention the campaign has got... and to be honest, I’m a bit surprised as well.
“It looks like there could be 200-300 gigs going on. I’m just the spokesman, I won’t be at every one!”
He is keen to see as many shows in Scotland as possible, and stresses unsigned artists are welcome.
“This is not about Alan drinking champagne in Groucho’s,” he said. “It’s not elitist. You can be a band in Dumfries charging £5 on the door. It’s open to anyone getting involved, as long as they register their interest with the campaign first and then send the money to Crisis.”
Liverpool groups Cast and The Farm will play a headline show in Leeds to kick-off the campaign on September 18, but McGee hopes to add more big names in the coming months.
One band who definitely won’t be involved is Oasis. McGee famously signed the group after seeing them play a support set at Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in 1993.
The Gallagher brothers would go on to become music superstars and favourites of the tabloid press until Oasis split in 2009.
McGee still speaks to both Noel and Liam, and will DJ at an after-party for the former following his headline show at the Hyrdo in Glasgow on 21 April.
“I can’t see Oasis getting back together,” he said. “Certainly not in the immediate future.
“But, one of the great rock n’ roll stars of our generation has yet to make his reappearance, and that’s Liam Gallagher. I think at the moment he’s just licking his wounds. He’s incredible. Oasis couldn’t have made it without him. It was a double act, it was Starksy and Hutch, Lennon and McCartney, call it what you want.”
For more information on Musicians Against Homelessness, or to enquire about staging a gig, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.facebook.com/mahgigs