Saturday, 25 September 2010


Time to whip the old air guitar out from it's invisible case!
Colossus were a prog-rock heavy metal band, on the go in Dundee in the late 70's. Played locally around venues such as the Bowling Alley, Laings, Queens Sunday Club and even the Caird Hall.
As with this kind of music, good musicianship is pretty fundamental and they were all very talented chaps who could do the biz live.
Can't recall all of their names now but I remember Pete Caithness had a cool Gibson Les Paul (gold? red?). The drummer was technically very good too and was rather partial to dropping in little fancy flourishes when in full flow.
They were all rather clean cut guys, not quite the hairy rockers associated with this music back then. In fact, a common opinion around 78/79 was that this style of music was on it's last legs because of punk, however, just as this viewpoint was taking hold, along came a counter movement called the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and injected some fresh energy into the scene. As a consequence, Colossus were one of the bands who appeared on an album released in 1980 called "New Electric Warriors" showcasing some of the NWOBHM acts that were springing up around the UK.
I don't know what happened to Colossus after that, they just seemed to have vanished! Perhaps they opted for a life of domestic bliss rather than risk the rock 'n' roll rollercoaster ride!
Anyway, here below is a track of theirs taken from a demo tape they made in the late 70's. A composition called "Magnificent 13 Subway Patrol" - a song about New York's Guardian Angels.
If anyone can help fill in a few details about the band, feel free to drop the info in the comments.
Thanks to Bowling Alley DJ Brian Wilson


  1. Never got the chance to see them,but was Ronnie Boyd the bass player?

  2. Rush ????????????

  3. .
    Colossus were a fine band. Sort of proggie rock; I really liked their keyboard and drums sound.
    The only name I remember is Pete Caithness, who was the guitarist. Always wore a leather jacket, I recall.
    I liked the drummer's style. He had a row of toms spread round in front of him, ranging from tiny to floor. I guess there must have been around 8 to 10 of them. He seemed to take great delight in doing rolls from smallest to biggest! He always stuck in a wee roll(?) on the cowbells as well!

    I really liked the keyboard sounds that they got. When you listen to their demos, you can hear the sounds that became ubiquitous in 80's rock stuff.

    A series of gigs called the "Marketgait Marvels Talent Contest" was organised in the first term of the 1979 / '80 year, when Martin Webster was VP Ents. There were heats on Wednesday nights, leading up to the final, in which 5 bands took part, on a Friday evening towards the end of the term. It was won by Legal Ade, who came from somewhere around the Falkirk / Alloa / Grangemouth area. Dundee band Friction came second. Colossus were third, Distorts fourth and Lipstick fifth.

    I recall that the original Colossus vocalist was replaced at some point. Vocals were then done by a brown skinned guy. I want to say "Steevo" but I think Steevo was drummer with Sons of the Shaking Earth / Lixx and some subsequent bands.

    I may be wrong but I understand the band split up because Pete Caithness was getting married and his wife-to-be had told him in no uncertain terms that it was either her or the band so Colossus died. I think she had the impression that all other women automatically put temptation in the way of musicians... 8=)

    The guy that did the "Poparound Tayside" column for the Peoples Journal as "Tony Scott" was a big fan. He was always giving them a mention. Can't remember his name though; guy with fair/reddishy hair. I think Ann Adair followed him in that job as "Toni Scott". She was more of a 'dance' fan than a rock fan. Or maybe she preceded him...

    Onnyhoo, I repeat, they were a fine band.

  4. Ronnie Boyd, Pete Caithness, Dec Connor/Franny Docherty (singers) and Gavin Gowans, was the first lineup I remember then we all left school or at least I did. The last time I saw them was at a pub off the Lochee road byepass when they had added keyboard and sound/PA engineer probably had lighting too. Rocktastic times ;p
    the bear

  5. I have a poster for Iron Maiden`s gig at The Caird hall with support from Colossus and dj Neal kay from londons heavy metal soundhouse june 12 1980, preying mantis were main support , happy days, also have programme,tour badge............Anyone remember Satans Empire?

  6. Help me out Craig M. did they not play College of Ed. Freshers circa 1978 in the Gardyne Theatre?

  7. Yes, anon, I think you might be right.

  8. Hi Pete Caithness here. Someone passed this to me a couple of days ago. Great to see we were not forgotten. Thought I would firm up some facts for anyone interested.
    Original line up was centered around Ronnie Boyd on Bass, Gavin Gowans on Drums, who was replaced by Mike McIntosh and me on Guitar. The band at that time went under the name of STAX. We had several singers but in the main there was Fran Docherty (Who did not have brown skin, maybe underwear!)Steve Hart and Gordon Band (Featured on the attached track)We went out to and played in Iran in 1977. When we came back Drew Scobbie joined on keyboards and the band's name then change to Colossus.
    We enjoyed considerable support and success but our downfall was not some fictitious wife of mine, but in my opinion, the new fashion/fad called Punk. You know the one, where you had to be fairly average on your instrument to be one.
    I had a red sunburst Les Paul and never wore a leather jacket on stage, off stage and in bed maybe.
    Domestic bliss didn't happen to most of us for some time. Ronnie Boyd joined No Fixed Abode with Lloyd Anderson and Lyall Osborne, Drew joined Sweden through the Ages with Steve Knight, Chris Marra, Brian McDearmott and Lloyd Anderson and I formed a new band a few years later called Bedlum with Ronnie Boyd and Alan Brightenbach.
    We all reformed what was Colossus in the mid nineties, mainly for a bit of fun and we played two gigs under a new name Walk - Don't Walk, with Steve Hart on Vocals.
    Most of us are still playing in some shape or form. I am in a band called Stealer with Steve Hart, Drew does a lot of recording from his studio at home and Ronnie lives in America but has recently taken up the 6 stringed guitar sending me recordings of his progress from time to time.
    None of us have managed to keep any of our old demo's and we would really appreciate it if anyone has a copy of anything else we recorded. Being old men now it would be nice to be re-aquainted with out youth. Please get in touch with me through this site.

    Thanks for the memories!!

  9. Thanks a lot for getting in touch Pete. Great to know you're still all alive and kicking!
    Appreciate the lowdown on the band line-up and other background info.
    Your red sunburst Les Paul must have looked "gold" to me as a consequence of watching you through many pint glasses of lager! Either that or it was because of your dazzling guitar skills!!
    Good to know you're all still involved in music these days. Not quite time for the baffies yet!
    There are more Colossus tracks available - demo and live!
    I don't put the Retro Dundee email address in the comments because I get bombarded with spam. So to contact me, scroll down the Retro Archives on the left side of the main layout and click onto JULY, there you will see the Retro Dundee contact address on the top item. I can also pass on Brian Wilsons to you to.
    cheers GG

  10. .
    Hi Pete.

    Sorry for any duff info I posted. Memory can be a tad misplaced with age...
    Re: you imaginary wife - that was the story that went round the Bowlin' Alley after the band's demise.
    Re: your leather jacket or not - I think I may have been confusing a visual memory of a guy who was on the exec committee at the Union with you and got my wires crossed.

    Who was the vocalist on the "New Electric Warriors" track, "Holding Back Your Love"? Did that vocalist take over from Gordon Band?

    Onnyhoo, If you contact Retro Dundee, he'll pass on my email address and I'll let you know what I've got, recording-wise.

    Brian Wilson.

  11. Brian, i have lost faith in you, i took everything you wrote as perfecto, now i find out you were just haverin' oh well , back to jock methinks ;)

  12. .

    Woe is me! (But I have a cunning plan...)


  13. By the way - since when did Iran become a haven for heavy metal?

  14. .
    Never heard of Iran Maiden?


  15. I think the guy who was writing as "Tony Scott" in the People's Journal and who was a big fan of Colossus was Alan Grant - who did have long red hair. He came back to Dundee about 20 years ago and was a reporter on BBC news. I think he retired rcently.

  16. Tony Scott was Alan Rae who worked at Dundee College.

  17. Colossus were an excellent band with the drummer Mike McIntosh one of the technically best drummers around, he was a big fan of N Peart of Rush an this showed in his playing.
    Ronnie played bass and PC was on guitar, often ribbed by the band for never leaving his wah-wah pedal. Drew Scobbie on keyboards was a gifted guy and the hwole sound was superb. I had a great time as one of the road crew. Big Dave (Christened Tootall by Saxon - sound/driver, everything else) Me (Ewen 'onion' Allardyce -drums/PA and lighting - if we had any) The Man (keyboards and photos). Their best stuff was with Fran 'Doc' Docherty on vocals and the last demo was a belter. The track that appears on the abysmal New Electric Warriors featured Fran and even charted down South in a heavy metal chart, reaching number 5 I think!

  18. "colossus" were good the first time i saw them,but after a few gigs they became rather boring and predictable,the caird hall gig was an absolute yawn,and it showed them for what they were,--very average.

  19. I would like to contact Pete Caithness just to ask him one question: Has our package of books ever reached you at the "Golden Bell" (Caspian Sea)? It took us almost 2 hours to mail it from the main post-office in Teheran.
    The couple from Germany...

  20. Peter Caithness the guitarist is my dad :) so cool to see an article like this if anyone would like any more info on this I'm sure I could eek it out of him and some of the rest of the guys

  21. I think Drew Scobie played keyboards in another Dundee band just before joining Colossus. I think they were called Lynx, a good band but I can only ever remember them playing locally a couple of times.

  22. I remember Ronnie Boyd from our days working together at the now defunct Kestrel Marine in Dundee. Ronnie's brother Steve also worked there and the 3 of us hung about from time to time in Dundee.

    Another memory of the brothers was me suggesting to them to try wind surfing and one evening we did just that at the lochs at Monikie whereby poor Stevie broke his leg falling in at the shallow end !

    Went to see Ronnie and the band when they supported UFO at Caird hall - magic night.

    Many happy memories of our time together. Would be great to catch up with Ronnie again, though I see from above that he is now in USA - maybe through the power of social media ??!!

    Ralph Watson

  23. Colossus interview now on Youtube...Type in The Megazones and Colossus interviews on Radio Tay 1980.