White Light prove that rock n roll dreams do come true

From l-r: Drummer Alex Smith, bass player Dave McRoberts, keyboard player David Murdoch and lead guitarist Doug McRoberts with their rare and valuable 'Parable'.' ''Picture:  John Young � Young Media 2016.
From l-r: Drummer Alex Smith, bass player Dave McRoberts, keyboard player David Murdoch and lead guitarist Doug McRoberts with their rare and valuable 'Parable'.' ''Picture: John Young � Young Media 2016.

It is every rock stars dream come true – to still be in your 60s and not be a distant memory in the minds of music fans.

And for a retired Church of Scotland minister, a computer programmer, a property valuer and a mortgage advisor, it’s become a reality as they enjoy newfound fame after an album they made as young rockers has become a collector’s item and been re-released.

The band is White Light, a quartet of committed Christians – Doug McRoberts, now 66 from Inverness, his brother, bassist Dave, 62 from Newton Mearns, drummer Alex Smith, 65, from Glasgow, and keyboard player David Murdoch, 65, from West Kilbride, sharing the Christian message.

The recording came to the attention of Guerssen record company after music blogger Hans Pakora listed it as an ultra-rare collector’s item and a vinyl LP exchanged hands in the US for $950.

Now Doug and his fellow band members are amazed to find their music back in demand.

He said: “I never thought that days after I retired, the band would make it big. And now we find ourselves on a record label’s listings right beside The Who, The Rolling Stones and Nirvana.”

It was back in the 1970s, that the band found themselves propelled to rock star status.

“We entered Melody Maker’s national rock contest in 1972, and we really didn’t expect to get very far, but we won our region’s final,” Doug said. “It’s funny because you would expect the competition heats to be held in Edinburgh or Glasgow – a big city at least, but no, they were held in Grangemouth! It was like someone just stuck a pin in a map and decided that was the centre of Scotland!

“Following on the success of that, we issued a vinyl LP ‘Parable’. It was recorded in a garage in Paisley and only a few thousand was made at the time. We used to sell them at our gigs. This was all before we became adults and went off to have more conventional careers.”

White Light was a band that broke new ground. Their musical influences ranged from The Who and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers to Deep Purple and even Black Sabbath. Their live performances across the country featured heavy metal sounds, feedback howling, phased lighting effects to the real enjoyment of music fans.

After splitting in 1975, the band went their separate ways. Doug had a career in communications before returning to ministry in Moray. From there he helped create the Out of Africa into Malta refugee project: His brother Dave became a bank employee and mortgage advisor; Alex pursued a career in computer programming while David became a commercial property valuer.

But they never stopped playing music. In 2005 they were asked to perform at KeithChaosLive, a 12-hour charity rock festival headlined by chart toppers The Bluetones.

“Three practice sessions were all it took to convince us we could do this. It was like riding a bike,” continued Doug, who still practices regularly on his six guitars.

“We did five numbers including the rock classics ‘Spirit in the Sky’ and ‘The Seeker’ as well as our own songs ‘Now I Realise and Mighty Big God’. It wasn’t exactly the Scottish equivalent of Status Quo launching Live Aid – but it was great to play with the guys again.”

The event seemed to spur even more interest in White Light. The band had created a limited CD version of ‘Parable’ for the gig, which eventually sold out as orders poured in from as far a field as Australia, Finland, Russia and the USA.

Now their music is being heard again by a new generation of spiritual seekers and rockers. So could a White Light tour be on the cards? “Never say never!” laughed Doug.

You can listen to White Light’s music on the record company website here: {|https://guerssenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/parable|guerssen records.bandcamp|here|}