On March 23rd 1965, in Clydebank, Glasgow, John & Margaret McLachlan brought their second son into the world. He was named Mark - a younger brother for John. By all accounts, their home was a ‘simple, working class environment’ in a ‘scheme’-the local name for a housing estate.
As a child, Mark enjoyed being on his own at times, to discover things in his locality and often spent time with his Mum, watching black & white films and musicals on TV on rainy afternoons. His Mum enjoyed listening to music written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and soul music by singers such as Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. Mark was deeply influenced by the rhythm and melody of these songs and these top-notch vocalists.
When Mark attended Clydebank High school, he was a fairly quiet pupil, though sometimes described as cheeky and a bit of a joker. More than that, though, he was noticed by his schoolmates as someone who sang songs old and new, during break times. When he later saw live acts performing, he realised this was something he wanted to do. His father couldn't understand it, expecting that Mark would follow his line of work, as a builder or a ship builder, like his grand father.
When it became time for Mark to leave school, however, the shipyards were losing jobs and taking on very few apprentices. Mark took part in a YTS scheme, building walls and knocking them down again! He also trained as a painter and decorator. Some of his school friends were in a similar situation. As a form of escapism, Graeme Clark & Tommy Cunningham had got together with a cheap guitar and a set of drums. Neil Mitchell joined them and they wondered who they could get as a singer to make up a band. Graeme remembered Mark and asked him to come along and give it a try. They rehearsed in Graeme’s house- Graeme, Tommy and Neil in the living room and Mark ‘singing to the gas cooker’ in the kitchen! There was another member of the band in the early days, too - Lyndsay McAulay, but Lyndsay decided this wasn’t for him.
The lads called themselves Vortex Motion and performed at their old school and a local club or two and they wanted to model themselves on bands like The Clash and Magazine. Around that time, Mark took on the name Marti Pellow, using his Mum’s maiden name and the band changed their name to Wet Wet Wet. They drew from the line ‘His face was wet, wet with tears’, from the song ‘Getting Having and Holding’, by Scritti Politti As there were other bands with double barrelled names at that time, they decided to add a third ‘Wet’. They always felt they could write their own material and after writing and performing a number of songs, they met Elliot Davis, who became their manager and organised a record deal. When asked who they would like to produce them, they looked at their own record collection and managed to arrange a visit to Willie Mitchell in Memphis.
Willie was particularly impressed by Marti’s vocals and helped the band to record The Memphis Sessions album in 1985. This was the start of a strong friendship between Marti and Willie. Unfortunately, Wet Wet Wet’s record company didn’t feel that the album projected the image that they had envisaged for the band and some of the songs were re-recorded for the album Popped In Souled Out, released in 1987.
This was the beginning of a very successful career for Wet Wet Wet. Graeme Duffin had come on board as guitarist, although he never officially joined the band. Albums and singles continually made a big mark on the world of pop music, with numerous No1s in both the album and single charts. Wet Wet Wet hold the record for a British Band having a single at number 1 in the UK charts for the longest period of time-Love Is All Around being at the top spot for 15 consecutive weeks, in 1994. They toured throughout the world during this time, including performing a free concert at Glasgow Green, The Nelson Mandela concert and at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the Wren Orchestra, in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. However, the pressures of this type of fame became a continual intrusion into his personal life. Tensions grew within the band and Tommy left in 1997. Marti, Graeme and Neil tried to continue for a while but Marti eventually called it a day in 1999.Back To Home