A BARRHEAD musician has launched a bid to reunite a rock band he founded while serving time in a Spanish prison for drug trafficking.

Allan McCarthy formed Berlin 90 with four of his fellow inmates during a six-and-a-half year sentence at tough Sangonera Prison, in Murcia.

His band became famous after a music teacher who worked at the jail submitted a demo tape for a talent contest organised by a radio station there.

One of the band’s songs was included on the double cassette demo, along with a selection of tracks by some Spanish acts.

However, it was a song written by lead singer and guitarist Allan that got the most airplay, particularly from one of the station’s DJs, Angel Sopeña.

The prison authorities had originally given Berlin 90 a rehearsal space and instruments, as well as allowing the band members to stage performances for their fellow inmates.

They were then given special day release to record the track for the cassette, give interviews to local radio and newspapers and perform a concert at a music venue in Murcia.

Barrhead News: Music man Allan during a visit home to BarrheadMusic man Allan during a visit home to Barrhead (Image: Sourced)

However, Allan’s fledgling music career came to an abrupt halt after he was transferred to the infamous Carabanchel Prison in Madrid, more than 200 miles away from Murcia, losing all contact with his bandmates in the process.

At the time, the jail was said to be the toughest in Europe.

Now, more than three decades later, Berlin 90’s songs are being played on Spanish radio again.

And 59-year-old Allan hopes to reform the group so they can use the renewed interest in their music as a spark to perform together again.

He was brought up in Barrhead and attended St Mark’s Primary and St Luke’s High.

Allan lived in Stewart Street before moving to Cedar Place and then on to Newton Avenue.

After leaving school, he studied for an electronics degree at the old Glasgow College of Technology, now known as Glasgow Caledonian University.

During that time, he arranged for bands such as Simple Minds, Orange Juice, Wet Wet Wet, Del Amitri and Texas to play at the student union and also performed there himself.

Barrhead News: Allan spent time in prison three decades ago after he was convicted of drug offencesAllan spent time in prison three decades ago after he was convicted of drug offences (Image: Sourced)

He also helped run trendy city nightspots of the time, such as The Cotton Club, as well as The Warehouse and Mardi Gras.

After graduating, he moved to the Costa del Sol and began organising entertainment for tourists in popular resorts such as Marbella and Fuengirola.

But, in the late 1980s, the good life ended for Allan when he was arrested in Murcia and given a lengthy prison sentence for cannabis trafficking.

He told the Barrhead News: “After leaving university, I came over to Spain for a break and ended up staying on the Costa del Sol for a few years.

“I began mixing with people who were not from my walk of life but I was young and stupid at the time.”

After his release from prison in 1991, Allan was given 72 hours to leave Spain and told he could not return for another decade.

He flew back to Scotland and moved in with his parents John and Peggy at their Barrhead home until he could get back on his feet.

Barrhead News: Spanish DJ Angel Sopeña with AllanSpanish DJ Angel Sopeña with Allan (Image: Sourced)

Over the next 25 years, he forged a successful career in advertising, marketing and magazine publishing.

Allan is now back living in Murcia, although he still has a place in Barrhead.

Recently, he made contact with Angel to ask for his help in locating his old bandmates after the DJ began playing their songs again on his radio programme.

Allan added: “This guy has met Bowie, The Stones and many other top names but he said the one thing that sticks out is the prison band he was involved with at the beginning.”

After launching a search for the rest of Berlin 90, Allan learned that one of the old band members had died.

Another went to Madrid and disappeared from the music scene, while the drummer, who was French, returned to his home country.

Allan has said that, if he is unable to reunite what is left of the original line-up, he intends to start a new version of the band.

He is also looking into the possibility of returning to the prison in Murcia where he was incarcerated to stage a concert for current inmates there.

Barrhead News: Allan used to live the high life in MarbellaAllan used to live the high life in Marbella (Image: Sourced)

Recalling the success enjoyed by Berlin 90 some 30 years ago, Allan said: “Our song was the first track on a double cassette compilation, so it was played more often than the others.

“We were appearing in the newspapers every day and on the radio, not just locally but across Spain.

“The band’s name was also topical because of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

“We were singing in English, that was the novelty, plus the fact you had a Scotsman singing from a Spanish jail.

“The prison had really backed us because they believed we demonstrated how they were able to rehabilitate their prisoners.”

Angel is also hopeful that Berlin 90 can be reunited.

He said: “Allan asked us for help to find his bandmates and get back on stage.

“Hopefully they can get together again and invite us to a concert. It would be the best ending for this story.”