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Coldplay’s Guy Berryman says hearing Stevie Wonder in his Fife bedroom was key to ‘entire life and career’

Guy Berryman says he has "very fond memories" of growing up in Kirkcaldy.

As a founding member of Coldplay, Kirkcaldy-born Guy Berryman is the bass guitarist of one of the biggest bands of the 21st Century.

The band has become a worldwide phenomenon in the past 22 years and Berryman could be forgiven for forgetting all about the town he left aged 12.

But he retains a great affection for Kirkcaldy and cites listening to a Stevie Wonder song in his bedroom as being the catalyst for his journey to global stardom.

Berryman was born in Kirkcaldy in 1978 to engineer Rupert Berryman and his wife Elizabeth, who was from Kennoway.

“I really remember my childhood as a magical place, because me and my friends, we used to run around the high street – we were sort of let out and just did whatever we wanted from a very young age,” he told Kingdom FM in 2020.

“It’s a huge sense of freedom.

“Me and my pals would be up and down the town, up and down the high street, we would be exploring Raith Estate and the woods and just getting lost for days on end.

“It felt like a very busy, bustling little town.

“My mum’s side of my family, they were merchants in Kirkcaldy and had factories, and they were part of the industry.

“My grandfather was an entrepreneur and he made a great success of himself in Kirkcaldy.”

Guy Berryman on stage with Coldplay singer Chris Martin during the band's gig in January in California.
Guy Berryman on stage with Coldplay singer Chris Martin during the band’s gig in January in California.

Berryman said Kirkcaldy “was a very special place” growing up.

“The biggest connection I ever had with music was when I was in my house in Kirkcaldy,” he said.

“I went into my sister’s room, and figured out how to put one of the cassettes into a cassette machine and press play, and music came out of it.

“I can remember it as if it was yesterday.

“It was a Stevie Wonder song which came out the speakers, My Cherie Amour.

“I can remember being maybe six years old, having this experience.

“I had obviously heard music in the background, in the house and stuff, but that was the first moment that I ever connected with music on a personal level and since then I’ve always been a huge fan of soul music and Motown, and that’s what made me become a bass player.

“My entire life and career really revolves around that pivotal moment in my house in Kirkcaldy.”

Guy Berryman's image is projected on stage behind lead singer Chris Martin during a concert in 2017.
Guy Berryman’s image is projected on stage behind lead singer Chris Martin during a concert in 2017.

Berryman and his family left Kirkcaldy before he became a teenager.

He continued: “I think it got to a point where my dad sort of said to us, ‘I think we’re going to have to think about moving down south because this commute is killing me’, so that’s what took us away from Kirkcaldy.

“But I have some very fond memories of growing up there.

“I lived quite close to Beveridge Park so I spent most of the time in there with my pals during the summer holidays, getting up to no good, and just generally making a nuisance of ourselves.

“I loved it, I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything.”

After leaving school, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and went to study engineering in London.

That’s where Berryman met future Coldplay band-mates Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion.

However, after a year, the sole Scottish member of the band dropped out of studying to play with Coldplay full-time.

Their first album, Parachutes, was released in 2000, and took six months to record, but would eventually go to number one on the UK albums chart.

That same year, before the album had been released, the band headlined Glastonbury and released single Yellow, which reached fourth place in the UK singles chart.

But it was their second album, A Rush Of Blood To The Head, that earned the band Grammys in 2003 and 2004 – for Best Alternative Music Album and Record of the Year.

Stark’s Park concert?

Away from the recording studio, Berryman has a love of sports cars and he has also remained a devoted fan of his local team, Raith Rovers.

In 2005 the multi-award winning band announced plans for a nostalgic UK tour taking in the stadiums of their favourite football teams.

Stark's Park, home of Raith Rovers FC.
Stark’s Park, home of Raith Rovers FC.

Frontman Chris Martin said: “We think it’ll be great if we can make it happen.”

Berryman in particular was keen, as a visit to his beloved Stark’s Park would’ve brought a financial boost for Raith, who were in financial crisis at the time.

The tour never came to be and time looks like it is running out if Berryman is ever to perform with the band at the home of his footballing heroes.

In December 2021 Chris Martin told the BBC that Coldplay would only release three more albums until 2025.

After 2025, he said the band will remain active, but only to produce smaller releases.

Berryman is just one of a number of Fife musicians who have gone on to global stardom.

Stuart Adamson grew up in Crossgates, before going on to achieve global success in the 1970s and 1980s with The Skids and Fife rockers Big Country.

Stuart Adamson performing on stage in 1985.
Stuart Adamson performing on stage in 1985.

Barbara Dickson OBE, who was a member of the original cast of the West End musical Chess, grew up in Dunfermline.

Scottish musician KT Tunstall, best known for hits such as Suddenly I See, grew up in St Andrews.

More like this:

The day Raith Rovers made international headlines as the only football team to have ever been shipwrecked

Stuart Adamson: The Skids and Big Country star who inspired U2 and had ‘a heart as big as a mountain’

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