On this day in 1985: Simple Minds went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘(Don’t You) Forget About Me’. Written by Keith Forsey (who won an Oscar for “Flashdance… What a Feeling”) and Steve Schiff (guitarist and songwriter from the Nina Hagen band), the track was featured in the 1985 American film The Breakfast Club. The song plays during the opening (Schiff and Forsey’s demo) and closing (Simple Minds’ recording) credits of the film.
The song was written and composed by producer Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff while scoring The Breakfast Club. Both were Simple Minds fans and wrote the song with the band in mind. Forsey played a demo for the band’s label, A&M Records, which invited him to meet the band backstage after one of their “Tour du Monde” shows in the U.S. However, A&M did not notify Simple Minds that Forsey would appear, and the band declined the offer of the song despite Forsey’s enthusiasm for them.
Forsey next offered “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” to Bryan Ferry, then to Billy Idol, whom Forsey was producing at the time, but both declined. The record company suggested Corey Hart, who had a hit at the time with “Sunglasses At Night”, but Forsey did not think Hart would be the right singer for the song. Fixx lead singer Cy Curnin also passed.
According to Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr, the band was reluctant to record the song, as they felt they should only record their own material. “We are Simple Minds – we don’t do songs that sound like Simple Minds. We are Simple Minds. We do our own songs,” he recalled to the BBC in 2018. The band also were frustrated that their attempts to find success in the U.S. market had not succeeded in getting them significant radio airplay, and did not see how recording the song would turn out any better.
The band relented after persuasion from A&M and from Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Kerr’s wife at the time, and after receiving a phone call from Forsey in which he reiterated his admiration for the band. According to one account, the band “rearranged and recorded ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ in three hours in the north London studio and promptly forgot about it,” believing that it would be a throwaway song on the soundtrack to a forgettable movie.
In the process of recording, Simple Minds added parts such as Kerr’s “la lala” vocal fills. They then resumed work on ‘Once Upon A Time’, their next album. However, some of the band members had realized they had recorded something with genuine commercial potential. Continuing the rock direction recently taken on their album ‘Sparkle In The Rain’, but also reflecting their melodic synthpop past, the song caught the band at their commercial peak, and propelled by the success of The Breakfast Club, and became a #1 hit in the U.S. and Canada.
Here’s a look at the Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1985:
1 3 DON’T YOU (Forget About Me) –•– Simple Minds (A&M)-13 (1 Week at #1) (1)
2 1 CRAZY FOR YOU –•– Madonna (Geffen)-12 (1)
3 5 ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK –•– Murray Head (RCA)-13 (3)
4 8 EVERYTHING SHE WANTS –•– Wham! (Columbia)-9 (4)
5 7 SMOOTH OPERATOR –•– Sade (Portrait)-12 (5)
6 6 SOME LIKE IT HOT –•– The Power Station (Capitol)-10 (6)
7 4 RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT –•– DeBarge (Gordy)-14 (3)
8 2 WE ARE THE WORLD –•– USA For Africa (Columbia)-9 (1)
9 10 EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD –•– Tears For Fears (Mercury)-10 (9)
10 12 AXEL F –•– Harold Faltermeyer (MCA)-8 (10)
11 16 SUDDENLY –•– Billy Ocean (Jive)-9 (11)
12 9 OBSESSION –•– Animotion (Mercury)-17 (6)
13 14 DON’T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE –•– Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (MCA)-10 (13)
14 11 ALL SHE WANTS TO DO IS DANCE –•– Don Henley (Geffen)-13 (9)
15 19 THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER –•– Howard Jones (Elektra)-9 (15)
16 20 IN MY HOUSE –•– Mary Jane Girls (Gordy)-11 (16)
17 18 FRESH –•– Kool & The Gang (De-Lite)-9 (17)
18 22 JUST A GIGOLO / I AIN’T GOT NOBODY –•– David Lee Roth (Warner Brothers)-9 (18)
19 17 NEW ATTITUDE –•– Patti LaBelle (MCA)-14 (17)
20 25 HEAVEN –•– Bryan Adams (A&M)-5 (20)