HUGH “Shug” McKay can lay claim to being the oldest rocker in town – at the sprightly age of 88.
Over the past eight years, Shug has attended every gig by Edinburgh pub rockers Chil – and is first on the dancefloor at least twice a month.
The octogenarian’s love of the band began after a welcome meeting with lead singer Stuart McKay, 56, in the well-known watering hole of Clark’s Bar at the foot of Dundas Street in the city’s New Town.
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Both Leith born and bred, the duo have forged a firm friendship over the subsequent years. Hugh’s decision to visit Clark’s Bar came upon the advice of a neighbour who was worried about him following the death of his wife, Margaret.
He said: “The decision to come in on that first Wednesday was a great one.
“It’s offered me a lifeline and it’s brought something positive out of a negative. The band really does keep me going.
“I’ve made some great friends like Stuart and there’s also a real community in the bar. I’ve always been a big music fan mainly country and western and Hank Williams and coming in here and seeing the band play has reawakened that. “I don’t just go to all the band’s gigs now but various other shows around the city. Recently I went to the Queen’s Hall to watch the singer Madeleine Peyroux and was even put on the guest list.”
Chil play regular pub rock staples from the back catalogue of The Who and Rolling Stones, but it’s their Creedence Clearwater Revival covers that Shug loves most, especially the swamp rock classics Travellin’ Band and Bad Moon Rising.
Lead singer Stuart said: “I’ve made a dear friend in Shug.
“We’ve been to gigs and have even gone on holiday to Spain and France together.
“We just bonded straight away. He’s also from Leith and has a deep love of music.
“I love to hear him say that the band keeps him going, and it all came from him wandering in to the bar on that first Wednesday.
“For me it reinforces the importance of a good local bar in bringing a community together.
“It makes you think of the other elderly people out there who are lonely and feeling excluded, all it takes is for someone to make the effort.
“Shug has never looked back.”
Asked what it is that keeps him going, former marine engineer Shug said: “I’ve always been open to new things and trying to keep busy.
“I remember reading about an old guy in the paper the other day and he was looking for a job so he would have something to do and I thought ‘I’ve got lots to do’.
“Going to gigs is my job now.”
However, while his new found love of gigging has been of great benefit to his mental health, the physical side has taken a beating, a hearing test at the doctors threw up some troubling results.
He said: “The doctor asked if I had been exposed to any repeated loud noises or heavy machinery.
“I had to tell him no but I do regularly attend incredibly loud rock ’n’ roll shows.”