The Scotland rugby squad warmed up with a difference today for next month’s Autumn Tests against Japan, South Africa and Australia.
Instead of muscles and limbs it was tonsils and vocal chords that were being exercised as the squad unveiled a charity single – Bottle of Whisky.
The squad have always been renowned for their singing of Flower of Scotland, especially in the amazing atmosphere of a packed house at Murrayfield Stadium. Now their vocal talents are being tested on a new stage.
Today's launch took place at The Garage in Glasgow and featured an icon of rock music and a renowned frontman, as well as Scotland head coach Scott Johnson and two Scotland internationalists, Duncan Weir and Ryan Wilson of Glasgow Warriors.
Frankie Miller, Glasgow-born, is regarded as one of the living legends of the British music scene and his recording of Dougie MacLean’s “Caledonia” in 1992 has been a huge favourite of Scottish rugby fans for many years.
Frankie suffered a brain haemorrhage in New York in 1994 which cut short his singing career, but with great good humour, did not affect his song-writing and determination to recover.
Scotland’s head coach, Scott Johnson, takes up the story.
“I was watching a film late one night, Johnny Depp’s ‘The Rum Diary’, when I heard a song on the soundtrack.
“It was ‘After all (I live my life)’ and the song was really moving and got me thinking.
“I did a bit of research and found it was written and performed by Frankie.
“As a rugby coach you’re always thinking of ideas on how to do things outside the box if you like.
“I started to listen to other songs by Frankie and then came across ‘Bottle of Whisky’.
“It struck me that that would be a great song for the international squad to have a bit fun with during their down time. And the boys really took to it.
“To cut a long story short, our team manager Gav Scott, managed to make contact with Frankie and his wife Annette and, before we knew it, we were in a recording studio in Edinburgh with the squad, meeting Frankie and Annette and recording the song.”
Frankie’s song “Baby it’s You” had been covered by the group The Quireboys on their album “Halfpenny Dancer” and when it came to lead vocals for this version of “Bottle of Whisky”, Frankie knew who he wanted.
Step forward, Spike, frontman, song-writer and lead vocalist for The Quireboys.
Spike, a Geordie, said: "It was a real honour to work with the players on the single. We had a great laugh and it was brilliant to hear so many of them in such grand voice.
"I know how much the song means to Scott and the squad and I hope we've all done Frankie, and Scotland, proud."
Frankie told www.scottishrugby.org : “What a fantastic night we had with Scott and the boys from the Scotland squad, who were just down to earth guys with some pretty good voices.
“It means a lot to me that my music can bring folk together like this.”
Scotland back-row forward, Kelly Brown, whose reputation as a crooner has seen him record a charity single “Highland Cathedral”, said: “‘Bottle of Whisky’ started out for us as a bit of fun within the squad but the fact that we’ve ended up recording a charity single and that proceeds will benefit our own injured players charity, the Murrayfield Centenary Fund, is just terrific.
“As a youngster I can remember hearing Frankie Miller sing ‘Caledonia’. It was a real honour to meet him and we had a lot of banter too with Spike.”
Three charities are benefiting from the single: Scottish Rugby’s own injured players’ charity, The Murrayfield Centenary Fund: and two charities that are close to Frankie’s heart, ENABLE and Equalsay, who both work with the learning disabled in Glasgow.
Annette added: "Many thanks to Graham Young at Chamber Studios in Edinburgh and Donald MacLeod at The Garage for their amazing generosity in allowing us to use their premises and Donald and his staff especially for everything they've done to put today's launch together."
You can download the single at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bottle-of-whiskey-single/id720901789.
Frankie, Annette and Spike will be invited as Scottish Rugby’s guests to one of our Autumn Tests.
The games, all at Murrayfield, are v Japan (Saturday 9 November); v South Africa (Sunday 17 November); and v Australia (Saturday 23 November).
Tickets are available now on this website or on the 24-hour credit card hotline: 0844 335 3933. There are special group offers for children and major reductions when buying passes for more than one game.