Denny Oliver - Vocals, guitar
John Smith -
Lead guitar, vocals
Rab McEwan -
Vocals, (+ Bass 83 - 90)
Alan Sinclair -   Bass (80 - 83)
Tam Doyle - Drums (80 - 83)
Des Osbourne -
Drums (83 - 90)

George Wright -Saxophone/percussion

Band Line ups


Scheme must go down in Scottish history as the most successful band never to get any proper recognition from a record company, in no way was this a reflection on their ability as song writers , musicians or performers, but there was a lack of balls from any major record label to take the band on because of the lyrical content of some of their material , by today’s standards Scheme’s lyrics are quite tame in comparison. There is also the common view that Scheme refused to be changed or be moulded into anything else other than what they where, “In your face, straight to the point with attitude”, This appealed to the average guy in the street and the band had the musical know how and ability to back it up, this is also why they were known as “The peoples band”.

Originally calling themselves “Oliver’s Army” the band played in pubs and clubs in the east end of Glasgow like “The Dalriada” and “The El Paso” in Barlanark and the “Centaur bar” in Easterhouse . They built up a following playing cover versions and gradually incorporating their own material, mainly written by Denny and a couple from John.
The band changed their name to Scheme and it wasn’t long before their set was mostly self written. They started to play gigs in the centre of Glasgow in places like “The Muscular Arms” ”Toffs” and ”Maxwell Plumbs” very rapidly building a massive fan base Inspiring their song “Growing Stronger.”

In the summer of 1982 Scheme brought out an E.P. single under their own label “Schemesongs” with four tracks including ”Growing Stronger” ”All Grown Up” ”C.N.D” and “Your Eyes.”   later on that year on the 29th of December 1982, BBC Radio Scotland broadcast a full  gig live from a venue in  Largs, apart from the band's flawless performance, other highlights from that gig were the introduction of the THEN new song "Goat Fell" about a mountain on the Isle of Arran and also the use of a guitar synth with which John Smith used to great effect in songs such as CND where he ended the song by playing the open A string of his guitar to produce a loud, deep, atmospheric drone that resonated around the room giving the song a dramatic ending which sounded amazing and accentuated the seriousness of the songs lyrics and subject matter.

After a slight line up change with a new drummer in Des Osbourne and Rab taking over on bass guitar, Scheme’s popularity started to outgrow the venues they were playing and they were headlining most of the outdoor concerts in Glasgow at that time. The pinnacle of their playing career was when they sold out Glasgow’s legendary Apollo on the 8th of September 1984 the only unsigned band ever to achieve this, They carried on to play a few concerts in the Pavillion theatre, this was never heard of before and will probably never be repeated again by a local band.
T.V. appearances include, news reports on “The Peoples march for Jobs 1983” with the band singing an acoustic version of “Bow out Maggie” 
 
The band appeared on a Scottish topical discussion programme called “Talk Back” playing two songs on each show (not sure how many shows, around six I think!)
Channel four made a documentary called ”Innocent As Hell”
in 1986 dedicated to Scheme, looking at the band’s local success , with clips from a concert they played in George square in Glasgow and one of the Pavillion concerts , The documentary also had interviews with the band ,local celebrities and fans .
 
Scheme brought out their long awaited first L.P. called “Black and Whites” in 1986 with an equal mix of rock and reggae tracks recorded at The Cava studios in Glasgow, a few years later they recorded two home made albums called “Late Again” and “Non Returnable”, with some re-recordings of old standards like 'Innocent as Hell' and 'Keep your Head Up' as well as a more blues orientated selection of songs they also included a brilliant version of 'Seagull'  on 'Non Returnable' very rarely  ever played live.

Their live set had some hard hitting and “controversial” songs like “Jail for the weed” “Another Five years” “Bow out Maggie”etc...tackling subjects from legalising marijuana to getting rid of Margaret Thatcher
then there were the anti war numbers like “Young Warrior” “Self destruct” and C.N.D ….these songs all had a message but what was almost never written about was that these songs were well constructed and had ample musical content with tight three part harmonies, brilliantly executed guitar solos and their trade mark (Can’t get it out of your head ) choruses.
It was always a misconception that Scheme were just a protest band…. they had a lot of positive non political numbers in their set, like... “Keep your head up “ “Give me an up song” “Growing stronger” “ Turn on tune in” “ All Grown Up” “Time” and “Twotone” etc.. these were all good clean pop/rock songs that if ever given the chance would have stood up to anything being played on the radio at that time, In speaking to musicians for this web site Glasband80  has yet to find a musician who has done anything other than tip their hat in respect to Scheme “ The Peoples Band ".

Sound Engineer - Peter Pirrie

Above   Denny Oliver, The brains behind Scheme a prolific song writer and the musical director of the band along with John, if you where at your first Scheme gig you would think that Denny was Just the rhythm guitarist who sings some of the songs every once in a while, by the end of a gig you know better, with the odd look or nod to the rest of the band you realise he is the man in charge, a perfectionist who knows how to write and did not care if his words offended the people he was writing about, his voice was very different to Rab McEwan more Rasping and laid back but easy to the ear in songs such as “Growing Stronger” and "All grown up"

Above some of the band singing the song Bow out Maggie on The Peoples March for Jobs in 1983

Left . John Smith, lead guitarist with Scheme he was known mostly for his guitar solos and catchy guitar riffs, every once in a while he would blow you away with a last chord of the song guitar lick that would have you looking around the room for Clapton or Gilmour, the striking thing was that he always played his solos with his eyes shut,... He got the chance to let loose on songs like “Jail For The Weed”, the original version of “Bow Out Maggie” and the bands version of the Carlos Santana/ Buddy Holly song “Well Alright” full of guitar riffs and solos which where always impeccably handled. He also had a major role in the production of most of the bands studio work and helped Denny Oliver with the writing with songs such as “Only a cowboy” and “Sixteen Today

These old “Dial Inn” adverts are a good indication of how often bands played ... as you can see SCHEME are playing three times in the space of two days as did a lot of the better bands in Glasgow at that time.

Above Scheme’s E.P. single & cover from 1982

Left   Rab McEwan, Lead singer and bass player although he did not always play bass with the band he only took over on bass in 1983 when the band settled down to the five members most people know about now,  He had a very sharp voice very similar to Colin Hay from “Men At Work” a band which Scheme were always compared to in 1982/83.
 

Above, The Band recording "The Black & Whites" album in 1986
A word has to be put in for Scheme's Live Sound Engineer Mr Peter Pirrie, he broke down boundries in the live music circuit with Scheme, using (to excellent effect) Echo, Chorus or Flange effects to vocals, guitar solos and harmonies in songs such as "Young Warrior" " Inner City Kids" " The Black and Whites" or "Jail for the Weed". Peter contributed big time to the live Scheme sound, he is the guy who made it sound as if ten people were singing when the band only had  three singers singing in harmony, he produced a live sound that would take  weeks to reproduce in a studio, Peter has got to be mentioned in the same breath as Denny, Rab and John from the band.
     "All grown up"
EP single from 1982
Scheme write up and profiles written by Tommy Devlin...April 2006.
Denny Oliver
John Smith
Rab McEwan
George Wright
Des Osbourne
"Freezing cold December afternoon 1981, me and my brother sneaked into The Dial Inn, in Glasgow to see what all the fuss was about,, this Easterhouse band Called Scheme.
The band came out of the dressing room /cupboard, blowing their hands to heat them up as it was so cold, picked up their instruments......"Hello, Hello,  Hello....Were called Scheme...this song is about a Cafe in Bristol called The Black and Whites"......mid  way through taking a draw on his cigarette John Smith starts playing that ever so catchy guitar riff and the band join in. I was blown away!!
the sound/atmosphere/ style /volume and ease with which the band made it look did, has and always will stay with me and my brother forever, this was the first of many outstanding gigs I had the pleasure to witness over the next few years with Scheme getting even better with the passing years.
At that gig, Scheme had six band members, Rab on vocals, Denny on rhythm guitar and vocals, John on lead guitar and vocals, Alan Sinclair on bass, Tam Doyle on drums and George on sax and percussion.....I had never before seen a band playing such well written well worked out stuff with loud distinctive guitar work, acapella vocals (on songs such as BIGGS and a full verse on CND etc..) touching on subjects with an edge and politcal slant that blasted "this is what we think and what we are and we don't care" add to this the fact that the music was catchy as hell then it is no wonder that they packed the Apollo a few years later!
Scheme blew the roof off of the Glasgow band scene in Glasgow along with other great Bands like The Dolphins and Henry Gorman and it will always amaze me that these bands never made it BIG! but I will always be glad that I sneaked into that pub in Glasgow that cold afternoon in Glasgow in 1981."
Scheme memories by Dan B from Easterhouse
A rare photo of Scheme playing the first Auchinlea concert (Easterhouse)  from 1982
<BGSOUND SRC="_RefFiles/All grown up. EP edit(2).mp3" loop=FALSE>

Left...Denny Oliver and Tommy Devlin June 2013

I finally got to meet one of my hero's  Denny Oliver by chance in the summer of 2013 in Drumpelier Park while out walking with my kids. Denny was great,we took a couple of photos.

Above some of the "original" Scheme line up. Left to Right, Alan Sinclair, George Wright, John Smith and Tam Doyle.