Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star

A retired Glasgow police officer has become an unlikely album cover star – 40 years after having his picture taken.

Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star
Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star

John McDonald was 22 and on the beat in the city’s Blackhill area when he was snapped by photographer Homer Sykes in 1983.

Now the image has been used as the cover of Scottish rock band Tijuana Bibles new release Free Milk.

Mr McDonald said the album had brought back “nostalgic feelings” for him.

His connection to the record only came to light through an unlikely coincidence, as he visited a Glasgow record shop at the same time as the boss of record label Button Up Records – who released Free Milk – was in the store.

Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star
Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star

Mr McDonald, who is now 63 and still lives in Glasgow, had been alerted to his new found rock n’ roll notoriety by his son, and decided to buy a copy of the record as a result.

He explained: “The picture comes up every so often, usually from someone from Blackhill and it ends up sent on to me. My son had a friend who found it and he sent it to me going ‘Dad, you’ve made it at last!’

“It does have a lot of nostalgia for me, as Blackhill was the first place I worked. I was there four or five years, and even now I could remember the names of all the young lads in the picture.

“Blackhill had a partly founded, but partly unfounded, reputation as a really tough place. But it was a great community, and a lot of great people were there.”

Garry John Kane runs Button Up Records, and was “gob-smacked” to bump into Mr McDonald while working in the Love Music shop on Queen Street.

The image itself was taken by the documentary photographer Homer Sykes, as part of a series of pictures on poverty in Scotland in the early 1980s.

Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star
Retired Glasgow cop is unlikely album cover star

Mr Kane added: “The band were looking for an image to sum up the 1980s in Glasgow and this one really jumped out to Tony [Costello, Tijuana Bibles singer].

“Then after the album came out I was in Love Music and John came in to buy it. I was saying how good the album is, and he goes ‘I’m the bobby on the beat there!’

“It was a really nice coincidence.”

Free Milk is the first album from the North Lanarkshire post-punk quartet, who are currently planning to tour throughout 2024, and Mr McDonald added that he’d been impressed with what he’d heard.

However should they rocket to fame, they might find themselves with an unexpected bill to follow.

Mr McDonald joked: “It’s been a nice experience, but I did joke to Garry that if they make it big and become millionaires I might get a lawsuit in for using my likeness!”

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