Official website the ex Nazareth guitarist and Rock Radio host


World Book Day discount

March 1 is World Book Day – and to mark the occasion my book Billy Rankin’s School of Rock will be available at a 25% discount price.

The RRP is £9 but on March 1 only you can get one for £6.75. Shipping is also discounted, so it’s the best offer you’re going to get out of that tightwad Martin Kielty at Noisewave Publishing.

Click here to buy it on March 1 only (the link will only work then) and ruin his day…


Listen to Fred and me at the BBC

If you missed my spot on Fred MacAulay’s Radio Scotland show on Monday, here it is in glorious, em, mono as we talk about how we first met, my book, the rock’n’roll lifestyle and how everything has changed since oor day.

Now, Rock Radio was a family station so the BBC are even more careful, and I couldn’t quite tell my Ozzy story the way I did in Billy Rankin’s School of Rock. So here’s that wee bit from the book, told the way I’d prefer to tell it…

Shit in the dark

Once when Nazareth played in Little Rock, Arkansas, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne were staying at our hotel, and came down to our concert.

Ozzy was meant to be on the wagon at the time, so Sharon wasn’t too happy when she caught him in our dressing room taking a swig of out of a Jack Daniel’s bottle. After a serious rammy, she stormed off back to the hotel.

Ozzy came back with us after the gig then went off to bed. Next morning at breakfast, he came down alone.

‘Where’s Sharon?’ we asked.

‘She’s gone, replied Ozzy. ‘But she was in bed when I got back last night’.

‘So how to you know she’s gone?’ we wanted to know.

‘Bit of a no-brainer really,’ he said. ‘There’s a massive great shit in my suitcase…’

Catch me on Radio Scotland

I’ll be appearing on Fred MacAulay’s BBC Radio Scotland show on Monday, January 9 around 10.30am to talk about Billy Rankin’s School of Rock. Tune in and see if I’ve still got my radio voice…

Rock Radio RIP… or, That’s What Happens When Ye Let Someone’s Faither Dae Yer Sound

For four years it was my pleasure (and job) to bring rock music to Scotland. I had a blast and so did some of you, hopefully. To wrap it all up we had the Rock Radio: A Night Oot Before Christmas gig at the Cathouse on December 16 – here’s my review of the event.

Me, finally getting to gie it laldy – thanks to Iain Freeman for the pic

Some would say it was a gig too far.

We’d had the Rock Radio Farewell Tour show at the same venue a few months ago, so when Ted Rock and Donald McLeod arranged this, I was slightly wary.

In the end, my involvement was to introduce opening act The Coffins, mingle with Rock Radio listeners (still nursing a semi for the sadly defunct station) and most importantly arranging a rendition of SAHB’s Big Louie to bring the night to a close.

This proved more difficult when headliners The Constellations (or whatever) refused my request to commandeer their guitar, bass player and drummer. Apparently their guitar used ‘Drop B tuning’ and, I quote, ‘we don’t have time to learn any new material.’

Now, I have little knowledge of ‘Drop B tuning’ but I do know how to operate things called ‘tuning pegs’ – and learning Big Louie? Gimme a break!

As luck would have it, second on the bill Estrella (Spanish for ‘Star’) were up for it and not only lent me a guitar, their bass player and drummer but also introduced me to their personal sound man who looked older than me. (No, really.)

Now it’s common knowledge to anyone who’s been to a gig with me, the bane of my life is a sound guy who doesn’t have enough guitars in the mix. From Buckcherry at the Garage, Ted Nugent at the ABC to the band at my son’s wedding, I just have to say, ‘Haw, Baws for Brains! There’s a guy smashing fuck out of that plank of wood and ah canny hear him! Turn it up or I’ll break yer fuckin’ nose!’

It worked for The Coffins. My advice resulted in Joe and the boys sounding pretty damn good. But when Estrella hit the stage, I couldn’t believe my ears.

There was no guitar in the mix. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

This was reported by me to the Cathouse sound guy who nodded sagely before adding, ‘That’s what happens when ye let someone’s faither dae yer sound.’


Up I goes to the auld bloke in a Val Doonican cardigan at the desk, who agrees there’s no guitar in the mix.

‘I can’t find the correct fader,’ says Father Time.

I look at the desk and suggest we try the one marked ‘Guitar’.

‘Tried it,’ say’s Granddad. ‘It’s not there.’

He was right. My ramming of the fader produced not a bit of difference.

Eventually the problem was fixed by the sound guy – who’d put the wrong mic in the wrong channel. Young upstart. Estrella rocked, finally.

After their set, I took the youthfully challenged bloke outside for a much needed cigarette… and guess what?

His name is Ashley Howe and he’s a world famous record producer. Uriah Heep, Billy Squier, Ted fuckin’ Nugent! He’s done the lot.

And I’d suggested he try the fader marked ‘Guitar’? Another ‘Rankin Moment’.

We finally managed Big Louie with Chris Glen on bass and then I had to run for my train.

In reflection, we probably should’ve left the Rock Radio farewell thing alone. But it was great to meet up again with the listeners who’d spent all night telling Tom Russell how ‘shite Real XS is’ and he’d spent all night reluctantly agreeing.

Move on, me-thinks…Or not? Let me know what you think.

Kiss’n’tell: Rocker’s book shines light on his crazy nights

A wee piece in Classic Rock last week and now a spread in the Daily Record… I’ll need to lose my job more often!

The big launch night

Wow, what a night! Just recovering from the launch party we had for Billy Rankin’s School of Rock at the Solid Rock Cafe, Glasgow, last night. Great to see all you Rock Radio friends, and I hope the Alex and Zal story doesn’t give you nightmares! Question is, who signed more books… me or Rock Radio’s biggest fan Ally McCoist?

Me and Ally outside the Solid

The book of the radio show

Billy Rankin’s School of Rock is available now – as featured in the national press and radio

Ex Nazareth guitarist Billy Rankin spent the last five years entertaining Rock Radio listeners with his School of Rock feature every weekday morning on the cult station.

Download a FREE excerpt

Buy it now via Noisewave Publications

Over 4000 hours of live broadcasting he shared tales of wine, women and song starring big names like Ozzy Osbourne, Guns n’Roses, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Metallica, Status Quo, Ted Nugent, the Who, REM, the Beatles and many others.

With the end of Rock Radio in October 2010 came the end of Billy’s broadcasting stint. But he decided to leave his listeners with a written memento of his audio lessons, in the shape of his book, Billy Rankin’s School of Rock, stuffed with hundreds of his favourite anecdotes. The foreword is written by award-winning Scottish rock broadcasting legend Tom Russell.

Download a FREE excerpt

Buy it now via Noisewave Publications

Billy Rankin was a member of Nazareth from 1980 to 1983 then again from 1990 to 1994. Before finding fame with the Fife rock heroes he played with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and went on to a successful solo career. He worked and/or drank with many of the stars of his book and became the host of cult station Rock Radio’s breakfast show from its launch in 2007 until its “rebrand” this week.