Kenny WrongChurch RIP

30 03 2020

Following hard on the heels of the death of Country megastar Kenny Rogers, news is just reaching us about the demise of local Country and WestrenIsles star Kenny WrongChurch.

Kenny was one of the leading lights in the world of Country & WestrenIsles music and had an impressive back catalogue of hit singles and albums. He was also a serial churchgoer, and enjoyed fomenting discord and schism in many local church denominations, as he was a deamhnaidh old bleigeard and could never make up his mind as to what church he should be attending. 

Kenny first found fame as a member of The New Christian Ministers, a band singing Country and Westren Psalms, but left due to a schism over whose turn it was to precent. 

His next band, formed with the crew of a Marvig herring drifter, was Kenny Wrongchurch and the Fish Edition. They had a big hit in 1967 with “I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition The Crit Was In)” which was based on a true story of a particularly boisterous session in the Criterion Bar. 

Wrongchurch and the Fish Edition were fleekeen hippies, and thus opposed to the long-running intervillage conflict over sheep grazing rights on the Arnish Moor known as the VietRam War. In 1969 they released a searing indictment of Point’s role in the conflict, told from the perspective of a Sheshader war veteran:  – “Rubha B (Don’t Take Your Love Duwn The Tuwn)”

In the early 70s, following another theological schism over the acceptable shade of black for elders’ hats on the Friday of the Tolsta òrduighean, Wrongchurch split with the Fish Edition and went solo. This turned out to be a good move, as the 1970’s were a very lucrative period for Kenny with hit after hit raising his profile all over some of Lewis. Meanwhile his former bandmates’ splinter group, “The Fish Edition (Continuing)” sank without trace.

In 1977 he wrote “Lewis Eel”, an appeal to the Stornoway Trust to do something about the increasing numbers of fresh water eels that were taking over the trout lochs and salmon rivers .

”You took a fine time to reel-in Lewis Eel 

With four angry ghillies keeping watch on the Creed

I had some tangled lines, caught up in a power line

But this time my hook’s needing freed

You took a fine time to reel-in Lewis Eel”

Perhaps his most well known song was his tribute to Stornoway’s only bookie’s shop, ”The Campbell-er”. This was a moving tribute about John Campbell’s betting shop on South Beach. WrongChurch would spend many happy hours there losing his shirt on the Newmarket nags. 

The B-side of “The Campbell-er” was “The Gambol-ler”, an alternate take of the same tune, but sponsored by the Board of Agriculture and intended to educate crofters in the basics of sheep management:

“Ewe got to know when to fleece ’em,

  Know when to freeze ’em,

  Know when to dose ’em,

  And when to get the ram,

  You never count your money,

  When the subsidy’s on the table,

  There’ll be time enough for countin’,

  When you get the cu-ram”

And of course in 1979 Wrongchurch finished off the 70s on a high note, with the international (Pairc and West Side) smash hit “Coward of the County (Public)” which went on to sell an unprecedented 4 copies in Maciver & Dart, 3 in DD Morrison’s and scored him 2 plays on Radio Ranol. 

At the start of the new decade, Wrongchurch had a successful writing partnership with Niseach precenting sensation Lional Macritchie, frontman of the Communiondores (“Easy Like Sunday Morning at the FP Òrduighean Isn’t”) which resulted in several hits including “Lady (Matheson)” and “Shear Your Love”.

Also in the early 1980’s The Highlands and Islands Development Board commissioned him to write a song promoting the new Parkend Industrial Estate. He enlisted local lass Dolly Parkend and together they had a smash hit which reached Number 1 all over Sandwick. This song was, of course ’Islands Industry’. 

WrongChurch also had huge success performing another duet in 1983 with the heartfelt ballad ‘We’ve Got The Sh*tes’,  with Sheena EastStreet. This was a cover version of a well known song by Bob Seceder and The Silver Pullet Band. 

(With thanks to Dunky, Roddy H and Innes for their help reminding us of Kenny’s many hits)


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