Why Scotland Hates Sheena Easton

Sheena Easton in 1990
Sheena Easton in 1990

Sheena Easton is a singer much the same age as myself. We are both Scottish.

When we were first introduced to Sheena Easton, it was on a UK TV progam called "The Big Time" that was hosted by Esther Ranzten who was big on UK TV at the time.

I didn't watch a lot of television in those days. It was 1979. I'd been married 2 years and had a mortgage round my neck. I worked a lot of hours to pay for it, but i did see one or two of the shows Sheena Easton appeared on.

We thought she had a lovely voice that needed training, but it was possible of course that she was just nervous in front of the TV cameras.

I think the second and last time I saw her on this show was at the end, because the show was about how to turn someone into a star, and the second time I saw her singing, it was like - wow!

The professionals had polished her into a real singer!

She did have the raw talent, we could all see that, but if it wasn't for this show, and the professional advice she was obviously given, I doubt if Sheena easton would ever have been anything more than a pub singer.

Sheena Easton - the beginning

Of course, this doesn't explain why Scotland hates her.

At the start, Scotland loved her!

Scots love to see other Scots doing well.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Scotland bought all the copies of her first single, which in the UK was called "9 to 5", but which was re-named "Morning train" in the US to avoid confusion with a Dolly Parton single of the same name.

Now you can go read wikipedia if you want the order of things, but basically Sheena Easton had two big hit singles in the UK - 9 to 5 and Modern Girl - before she decided her opportunities lay across the Atlantic.

Or maybe opportunities beckoned her there that weren't apparent here, but off she went.

We all wished her well, and we were proud that a wee Scots lassie, one of us, was doing well.

Or so we got told now and again.

Your must remember that (more so, in those pre-internet days) the British pop music scene and it's American counterpart had little in common.

Living in the US, but still with a Scots accent

I'm not even going to go and look up quotes about who said what or when, but over the next few years we didn't hear much about Sheena. There was the recording with Prince, if I remember correctly, and snippets here and there about how great America thought she was.

Well, fine, she seemed at this point to have turned her back on us, all her fortunes were across the Pond; there were no new releases for us, the Scottish (or indeed, UK for that matter) public, to enjoy.

Then, 10 years later, she was coming home.

She was playing an open air concert at Glasgow Green among her own folk.

Appearing at Big Day

We had:

  • Wet, Wet, Wet,
  • Big Country,
  • Deacon Blue,
  • Hue and Cry,
  • The Silencers,
  • Love and Money,
  • Kevin McDermott Orchestra,
  • Goodbye Mr McKenzie,
  • John Martyn,
  • Eddi Reader,
  • Nancy Griffith,
  • Michael Stipe of REM,
  • Billy Bragg,
  • Maria McKee
  • Hothouse Flowers
  • Texas
  • Slide
  • Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs
  • Average White Band
  • Aswad
  • Hugh Reed and the Velvet Underpants - who?
  • and Sheena Easton.

Glasgow's Big Day 1990

Glasgow Green is a huge park on the riverside in Glasgow.

Over the years it has had many uses, it's first being for washer-women to dry their clothes.

It has been widely used for political rallies, rock concerts, touring circuses, you name it.

Glasgow Green is a wide open space which I hope the council never decide to build over.

In 1990, they hosted a fantastic FREE open air concert featuring top bands from all over the place.

Called The Big Day, the concert was held in not just Glasgow Green but at three other major venues nearby.

It was the year Glasgow was the European City of Culture and we were having a ball!

Actually I missed most of the fun. I was driving a taxi on the night shift, and remember that year well.

I probably remember it better than most because of that.

Pubs that normally had to shut at 11pm were open till 2am or longer.

The night clubs that normally shut at 4am were open until 6am.

Glasgow bounced! It was so much fun, but it meant working till 7am in the morning instead of being able to finish at 4am.

Anyway, at this concert, which was held on June the 3rd, 1990, bands and singers came from all over.

250,000 people, or 500,000 depending on which news venue you listened to, turned out to greet them. It was a fantastic day!

Headlining the concert was Deacon Blue, Wet Wet Wet and Hue and Cry, all of whom were HUGE at the time in the British music industry.

Sheena Easton booed off the stage

I have watched the video below several times, and if you watch closely during her second and final number you will see something being thrown on the stage, twice.

They looked like they both could have been the fluorescent light sticks that had been handed out to the crowd before Sheena Easton came on stage.

Something I found on several pages of search when looking up details of this incident, suggests that the crowd were eagerly anticipating another act which had a single in the charts at the time, but who failed to turn up. (Adamski)

So right away, a large part of the crowd would have been disappointed. Combine that with the huge volume of alcohol the crowd had consumed, plus the fact that no-one knew Sheena's opening number - it was definitely NOT a hit in the UK - and THEN she said "It's good to be back home" in a mid -Atantic accent.

Listen to the crowd during her first number, there is none of the cheers that other bands received.

I remember gong to watch Wet, Wet, Wet. What a concert!

That said, I did not go to see Sheena Easton. Possibly she was billed for earlier or later, I cannot remember, but I would have had to go to work at some stage, because in those days, despite having a young family, I worked 7 days a week.

Oh to be young again!

At some point during that day, and before she went on stage, Sheena Easton was interviewed by a local TV crew.

Something she said, and I can't remember what it was exactly, estranged her from her own (Scottish) folk.

She might have said that LA gave her an appreciation Scotland never did, or she might have said something to suggest that she was the star billing of the whole show.

She wasn't, Deacon Blue were.

She said something to rub people up the wrong way.

We Scots don't like people who are so far up their own arse that they think the sun shines from it.

I read about it in the papers at the time. I wasn't there. To me, the big attraction was seeing Marti Pellow live (Wet Wet Wet).

It seems that when she started speaking on stage with an American accent, the crowd booed her and later pelted her with bottles filled with urine.

This might seem disgusting, but it is more normal to pelt people you don't like with eggs.

I am left to assume it was something she said or did while on-stage that made the crowd turn. Obviously nothing was pre-planned, or loads of people would have brought eggs to her concert.

Instead people sent her a message in the only way they could.

circa 1991

Sheena Easton walked off stage

Apparently Sheena Easton left the stage shortly after that, without completing her set, and vowing never to appear on stage in Scotland again.

Well, good luck to her.

She has seen phenomenal success in the States from all accounts, but she will never see the same success in the UK.

This is entirely of her own making.

With her millions of dollars, I don't suppose she even cares.

Pity she didn't engage with her home audience as well as she did on this US TV show! She came across like a really likeable and fun person here, and while her accent started of very Bel-air, it soon reverted to something nearer a Bellshill accent. (She is from Bellshill, a small town near Glasgow).

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Comments 16 comments

PaulGoodman67 profile image

PaulGoodman67 5 years ago from Florida USA

Interesting hub, Izzy. I remember her sudden rise to fame in the UK when I was a teenager. I didn't really hear anything more by or about her until I arrived here in the USA recently, where she is a minor celebrity, it seems!


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 5 years ago from Scotland

Hi Izzy,Thanks for the memories lol. Although I wasn't at the concert at Glasgow green I remember the story on the News.

The big story of the little Scots lassie who made it big over the pond doing this concert for her home country, a hero's welcome by all accounts.

Next day after the incident with the bottles the headlines were Easton a sell out to America she sold her Scottish roots and her accent for a recording contract.

It was mainly her speaking with an American accent that sparked the crowds fury.

Scotland doesn't really hate her though we just lost our respect of her for selling her soul to the highest bidder.....jimmy

P.s The Wet Wet Wet song Love is all around us was playing in the background when my wife and I married.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Here In The U.S. Sheena Never Got Much More Than A Little Notoriety For Some Bubble Gum Pop...Here In The States You Can Be Called Famous Without Any Credibility.;)


writer20 profile image

writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

If I remember rightly she first became famous singing for James Bond movie (can't remember the name) Then she started singing for everyone.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

@Paul - yes she was very quiet in the UK while becoming huge in the US.

@Jimmy, yes she lost respect, and no we don't really hate her - hate is too strong a word - it's more that we couldn't care less and yes the American accent went down badly. We don't have a problem with born and bred Americans - we just don't like 'imposters' - that might be the word. Love is All Around Us - played it over and over! Just loved Marti Pellow!

@Mentalist, so she isn't as big as she would have us believe?

@Writer20, yes she sang For Your Eyes Only, but she had a #1 in the States before that.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

She Had A Few Minutes Of Fame But People Without Talent Like Paris Hilton Are Considered Famous...I Wouldn't Say There Are A Lot Of Sheena Fans Around Today Like There Are For Pink Floyd...Now I Would Consider Them Famous.;)


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

That's very interesting - thanks! We were under the (mistaken) belief that America thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread, which had us scratching our heads a bit because good singer she was, great singer she wasn't.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Thanks for this, the whole issue passed me by. I remember Sheena Easton but I was more into the Jam, Clash etc. I didn't realise she had made it in the states though.

A great hub and voted up and interesting.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

See that is what Sheena never realised! She was so big at one time in the States that when she came back she acted like she was the big star here too, but most of us had forgotten her, or like you , never even noticed she'd gone!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I remember her well, her initial stardom, the shows showing her training and the James Bond song 'For your eyes only' I don't think she was ever very popular here though!

An interesting hub, thank you for sharing


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

No I don't think she was either - she was just another pop singer. She seemed to think differently though!


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

Gee, I recall the name, but think it was a song for a Bond movie, as mentioned above. I am a big Ian Anderson fan, he lives in Scotland. How is he perceived at home?


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Ian Anderson is a legend!


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

Cool, I'm glad he's as loved at home as he is here. I finally got to see him last Fall, and it was a highlight in my life! I love his musical ability, his lyrics, his humor, and have had "Songs From the Wood" in my car for 25 years. They "make me feel much better"!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

Izzy, brilliant hub. I've laughed all the way through it because I always thought she was a bit of a twit really. She went to America and basically never came back. The whole 'girl next door' thing went out of the window once she was in her Hollywood pad. She was, at best, mediocre. My favourite band of all time, the Cocteau Twins were also Scottish - their lead singer, Elizabeth Fraser makes Sheena sound like a Karaoke end-of-nighter. Nuf said.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

No-one seems to like her, even on the US side, but hey she is still a multi-milionairess which isn't bad for a pub singer!

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