Simple Minds is on tour with a new album “Walk Between Worlds.” (Courtesy Dean Chalkley)

Simple Minds is on tour with a new album “Walk Between Worlds.” (Courtesy Dean Chalkley)

Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, rocker and hotelier

Scottish rocker Jim Kerr often had been warned to plan early for retirement. So nearly two decades ago, he pounced on a remote property investment deal, thinking his panoramic art-rock outfit Simple Minds was winding down.

There was just one logistical problem. “The band wasn’t coming to an end, it was just a bit of a fallow period,” says the 59-year-old, who — along with founding guitarist and childhood chum Charlie Burchill — brings the rejuvenated ensemble to town this week, behind its triumphant overseas comeback, “Walk Between Worlds.” Nevertheless, he is now the owner-operator of the Villa Angela hotel in Taormina, Sicily, with a jaw-dropping view of Mount Etna.

Kerr is often on site — he has a hillside apartment nearby — and Villa Angela’s web page features his glowing personal introductory letter, explaining what first attracted him to the truly gorgeous location.

“When I bought the land, everyone said I was mental — everyone,” he says. “My accountants in Scotland wiped their hands of it, saying, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing; Italy is the worst place in Europe to invest in, and Sicily is the worst place in Europe!’ And I was like, ‘OK, OK, I’m not doing it.’ But then I turned around and the next week signed the papers. And I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Becoming a hotelier wasn’t easy. Kerr’s business partner bailed on him, taking local contractor contacts with him. Still, during Simple Minds’ down time over the past 15 years, he has transformed 29 suites into a profitable tourist destination.

“The view is just cosmic,” he says. “I’ve traveled the world and been some amazing places, but when you’re looking at Mount Etna, it’s just amazing. It got under my skin and became a part of me.”

It’s also a great retreat after even the most successful tours, like Simple Minds’ hit U.K. run this summer with Kerr’s ex-wife, Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders. The couple’s adult daughter Yasmin dropped in backstage, Kerr’s grandchildren in tow.

Simple Minds started on a punkier sound before hitting its elegiac stride with 1982’s “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” and the signature hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” But today Kerr’s voice is as sonorous, and Burchill’s guitar as majestic on sharp-hooked new songs on “Walk.”

The music doesn’t concern most of his Villa Angela guests, who rarely recognize him even when he’s lunching right next to them. But that way, he explains, “You can get into a chat with people, travelers from all over the world. And I’m much more interested in their stories than they are mine.”

IF YOU GO
Simple Minds
Where: Masonic, 1111 California St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 25
Tickets: $35 to $75
Contact: (415) 343-7582, www.ticketmaster.comCharlie BurchillDon’t You (Forget About Me)Jim KerrPop MusicSicilySimple MindsVilla AngelaWalk Between Worlds

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read