Their first hit was 1983's "Fields of Fire", which reached the UK's Top Ten and was rapidly followed by the album The Crossing. The album was a crossover hit in the United States, powered by the single "In a Big Country". The song featured heavily engineered guitar playing strongly reminiscent of bagpipes, and the band have spent every day of the next two decades answering the question "How did you make your guitars sound like bagpipes?" with slowly eroding patience.
Their second album Steeltown appeared in 1984, and was a hit out of the gate, but soon faded as fans and critics turned away from Big Country's bombastic sound. One more hit followed with "Look Away" from 1986's The Seer, but since then Big Country have been a minor act, popping up in the lower echelons of the charts in the UK and Europe every now and then while churning out mild-selling album after album.
Of some concern, however, was the mental health of lead singer Adamson. In 1999 he disappeared for a time before resurfacing stating that he had needed some time off. There were also reports of battles with alcohol. In November 2001 he disappeared once again; this time he did not return, and was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii on December 16, 2001.