Bay City Rollers frontman Les
McKeown returns with classic hits
Published Date: 29 September 2011
By RAY PHILP
FINDING Les McKeown in a nostalgic haze is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. The Bay City Rollers' oft- troubled frontman has undergone a transformation in recent years, neither burdened so heavily by the band's tumultuous past nor his own numerous personal traumas.
The prospect of a tribute show to the legacy of the Bay City Rollers at the Corn Exchange tomorrow evening - titled Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers, for legal reasons - sees McKeown in a positive mood, but he's careful to stress that it isn't all about him.
"There's a couple of local bands that I've booked who are doing some retro stuff, which will be good. Seeing young people playing old 70s music, it'll be interesting for me anyway. It's all supposed to work like bang, bang, bang, so you'll not really have time to drift back to 2011, you're kept in the past.
"It's all memories, memories, you see. Then we've got a 70s retro disco kinda thing happening after. We've got DJs and bands playing, a right party atmosphere."
McKeown has previously stated that he sought refuge from memories of a band whose immense popularity, chiefly engineered by their late manager Tam Paton, had come at a terrible cost.
Paton's corrosive relationship with the band - and McKeown in particular, whom Paton is widely reported to have sexually abused as a teenager - had bred bitter and longstanding feuds among the Rollers, and it's only recently that the acrimony has begun to subside. McKeown says that the show is a way of preserving the band as fans remember them.
"It's hard to build up something that has been involved and embroiled in so many arguments," he says. "It's difficult to keep the brand and the name in a positive light, and I've been able to do that over the years."
He adds that he was "always a team player in the Bay City Rollers, no matter what you've read or seen".
He continues, "I would've loved it if the Bay City Rollers were together and doing their thing. If they ever thought about reuniting, it'd be great for the fans, but I've had to look at the situation in real terms and think, 'Well, what's the possibility of that happening? It's pretty low, so get out there Les and do your thing'."
McKeown explains that his Bay City Rollers Hits show is a chance for him to do just that, as he showcases the Edinburgh outfit's back catalogue.
"It's a celebration of the Rollers' few years being the biggest band in the world. There's no post-fame depression or arguments involved in it at all, it's just a very positive show."
McKeown seems for the first time in a long time - if not ever - in control of his own career, a situation he is rather satisfied with. "Though I must qualify that by saying it's a bloody hassle as well.
"It keeps me on my toes," he laughs.
Given all that has passed, it's still difficult to imagine how he has managed to pluck out the positives and turn it into a 90-minute guilty pleasure. A recurring theme begins to reveal itself, one of "giving back" - proceeds from the BCR Hits show will go towards children's charity Cash For Kids, and McKeown has also organised a special ball the following day for the same charity - and it's perhaps here that we arrive at an explanation.
"There's something to be said for being innocent and naive. In those days, I would consider myself rather innocent and naive. It was great to have a load of girls running after you - it was like having hundreds of thousands of girlfriends.
"A Bay City Rollers show is not a good show if it's in front of people who are into some other kind of music. It really works its best when an audience that likes the band come for the Rollers stuff because the people get excited about when they hear the music, the words, and remember back to the times when things were perceivably simpler, and when their mums and dads were alive.
"These things bring back great, great
Collector finds smoking gun in $45 million dispute; her reward $69
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 -
Submitted by Ben Nelms
Former Fayetteville resident
Omega Lamont has a passion for collecting all kinds of things.
But one of those collectibles found in an antique shop in Florida
has landed her in the middle of multi-million-dollar lawsuit between
the 1970s Scottish band Bay City Rollers and Arista Records, their
record company at the time.
Lamont was inadvertently thrust in the cross-hairs of the litigation because what she found in the antique shop was a 1978 audit of Arista Records by then-Price Waterhouse and Company that refers to royalties, or the lack thereof, the Bay City Rollers say are owed to them.
According to a press release from Bay City Rollers attorney, Holland & Knight, LLP, it was two years ago the Bay City Rollers band members filed a lawsuit against Arista Records, Inc., claiming that Arista had failed to pay them millions of dollars in royalties over an almost 30-year period. The suit, filed on behalf of the Scottish band by Holland & Knight, alleges that Arista breached its contract with the Rollers and failed to account for or pay any royalties to the band for years, amounting to many millions of dollars in unpaid royalties, the press release said.
Arista Records was owned by Columbia Pictures Industries and later became part of the Sony Corporation of America.
In response to that lawsuit, Arista filed a motion to dismiss all of the Rollers claims, asserting that the Rollers were barred from recovery for the millions of dollars that they had generated for the company, according to Holland & Knight. In its ruling, the court supported the Rollers position, with the result that the lawsuit will now go forward without any meaningful impediment to the Rollers claims, the press release said.
And that is where Lamont comes in. As someone who buys and sells collectibles, the former Fayetteville resident had been living in Florida and, in June, had come across a lengthy Price Waterhouse financial statement from 1978 entitled Columbia Pictures Industries - Foreign Operations. She purchased the book and began researching its contents, soon linking it to the Bay City Rollers lawsuit.
It was then that she contacted Holland & Knight in Boston and began what in the month of July became a number of conversations with one of their attorneys, Lamont told The Citizen.
Lamont during those conversations offered to sell the financial statement book for $20,000, believing that price a fair one considering the millions of dollars potentially at stake.
The book says (Arista) didnt pay royalties between 1972-1978. The book proves the (Bay City Rollers) point because it was Aristas auditors saying they hadnt paid the royalties. Its a smoking gun and without it, its a he said/she said, said Lamont. Its a $45 million lawsuit so I didnt think $20,000 was unreasonable to ask because it proves their case.
But the attorneys disagreed, Lamont said, noting that their offer would be an insult to her.
Finding no buyer with Bay City Rollers attorneys, Lamont decided to auction off the book and sent it a Missouri auctioneer.
But things changed in August when Lamont received a subpoena from the U.S. District Court of New York to bring the book to the Holland & Knight office in Atlanta to have the book copied. And that is what happened on Aug. 26.
Lamont said it took four hours to copy the large book. For her time Lamont was given a check for $69 as a witness fee. Lamont said she she tore up and gave back to the attorney.
Lamont said she was told she might have to provide the original book when the matter goes to court. And that is something she does not want to do. In her mind she already did more than enough, given that she found the book in an antique shop, did the research, offered it at a reasonable price, was turned down, put it up for auction and was then instructed by the court to turn it over for copying.
I thought theres no way a firm with over 1,000 lawyers would reach down to someone like me unless it would make their case, Lamont said.
And what happens with the book and the litigation notwithstanding, the whole thing has given her a different perspective on what she was taught as a child about rights in the United States. It is a lesson that few understand unless it hits home directly, Lamont maintained. In a similar way that your home is not your home as long as you are paying rent to the mortgage company, personal property can sometimes be legally accessed or seized despite the owners objections, she added.
Bay City Rollers Allowed to Seek Millions
in Unpaid Royalties From Arista Records
Posted May 31st, 2011 by Holland and Knight
Judge's ruling allows the band's
lawsuit to move forward.
NEW YORK May 31, 2011 In a ruling that was made in March 2011, but unsealed Thursday at 6:30 p.m., a New York judge has determined that the Bay City Rollers can move forward with their four-year old lawsuit against Arista Records, Inc. The Rollers claim that Arista had failed to pay them millions of dollars in royalties for more than a thirty-year period.
The suit, filed on behalf of the Scottish band by Holland & Knight, alleges that Arista breached its contract with the Rollers and failed to account for or pay any royalties to the band for years. The contract at issue was signed in 1981.
Arista denied responsibility for the majority of the royalties, claiming that the New York statute of limitations, which limits plaintiffs from recovering damages past six years in contract disputes, bars the Rollers' claims for royalties incurred prior to 2001. However, since the Rollers were able show that Arista had continued to promise them their royalties in writing, the judge ruled that the statute was not applicable.
"This ruling is a highly significant victory for the Rollers and their efforts to recoup the millions owed to them by Arista Records in unpaid royalties. We intend to aggressively pursue this until the Rollers finally receive the millions that they are owed," said Josh Krumholz of Holland & Knight, lead counsel for the Rollers.
The Bay City Rollers, also known as the "Rollers," were one of the UK's biggest selling global acts in the 1970s, gaining massive popularity around the world with their clean-cut image, distinctive plaid outfits and upbeat pop hits. For a period of time known as "Rollermania," they enjoyed sell-out tours, hit records and even had their own weekly television series in both the U.S. and UK. At the height of their fame, comparisons to the Beatles' earlier popularity were not uncommon. In total, the Rollers released eight original albums and numerous greatest hits and compilations, including at least two platinum records, six gold records and six singles that made the Top 40 on the U.S. hit charts. Among their many hits were Saturday Night, I Only Want to Be With You and Bye Bye Baby
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS PRESS RELEASE 24TH SEPTEMBER 2010
Following extensive speculation in the media, original members of The Bay City Rollers Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood, Alan Longmuir, Derek Longmuir and Duncan Faure wish to make it clear that there is no re-union of the Bay City Rollers planned or taking place at this time, and that The Bay City Rollers will not be performing or appearing together anywhere until further notice.
Any information to the contrary
is incorrect and may not be relied upon as an accurate guide to
the activities of The Bay City Rollers, who do not want their
loyal fans to be misled about any events which may have wrongly
advertised that The Bay City Rollers would be performing or attending.
The band members responsible for this release wish to concentrate solely on the ongoing legal action in the USA against their former record label - Arista Records and any press or media enquiries should be addressed to the bands lawyers H&K Law.
Interview: Les McKeown, Bay
EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS
16 September 2010
By GINA DAVIDSON
LES McKeown is a happy man. It makes a change. The last time we spoke he was lost in a fug of alcoholism and despair, mourning the deaths of his parents and consumed with bitterness about the way his life had turned out.
It had, after all, been glorious for a few years in the Seventies when, as lead singer with the Bay City Rollers, he had the world at his tartan-trimmed feet. But thanks to drugs, band arguments, and a long-hidden secret, it fell apart, leaving him at one stage destitute and addicted to heroin.
Fittingly, perhaps, for a man whose life has played out like an episode of a soap opera, it was a reality TV show which changed his life.
As an "alcoholic celebrity", he went to the Passages rehabilitation clinic in Malibu for the Living programme Rehab.
He stayed for three months, finally facing his demons, revealing that he was bisexual after having been date-raped as a teenager.
Two years on and McKeown is a different man - mentally and physically. His own band, Les McKeown's Bay City Rollers, is about to tour the States, he's finishing his second autobiography and is planning to get back together with the original Rollers line-up to tour once again.
His theatre production Rollermania will tour the UK next year and there could well be some light at the end of the litigation tunnel when it comes to royalties the Rollers believe are owed to them by their former record label Arista.
Most of all, though, his 26-year marriage to his Japanese wife Peko is now based on complete honesty, and he and his son Jubei have rebuilt their relationship. And the 54-year-old hasn't touched a drop of alcohol in two years.
"Things really are good, really good," he says. "A lot has happened since we last spoke, and I can finally say that I am a much better, nicer person than I was then. For a long time I was somewhere else . . . way below the gutter. Now I'm up on the hill.
"Right now I'm putting the finishing touches to the US and Canada tour and I set off next Monday for that. And Peko is here with me stitching tartan trim on to a black shirt I wear on stage. How domesticated is that?" he says, laughing.
It could have turned out very differently, and McKeown seems genuinely grateful for his wife and son's support. "As a family, we all do our own thing, but we are much stronger together as a unit. I was an absent dad for a long time, in that drinking was more important to me, and they were both rightly angry with me," he says.
"We've worked it out,
though, and we are much closer.
Jubei's in Japan at the moment studying and he's writing music and has had some small parts in movies. I'm very proud of him. He's found a dad and I've found a son. Peko . . . well, she's just stuck by me."
He adds: "All the revelations
out at the Passages clinic were ultimately a good thing for all of us. You know, I can't help but keep thinking about all the people who were abused by Catholic priests, all the stories that keep coming out, how pervasive this kind of abuse is . . . I know what they're going through.
"They're living with a huge burden and a feeling of self-loathing and worthlessness because of what some b****** did to them. You know they all deserve to get help from a place like Passages too."
He pauses. "My brother Hari has helped me deal with it too . . . I had told him a while ago. The same thing had happened to him when he was in care when we were much younger. We've shared a few tears."
None were shed though when the band's former manager Tam Paton died last year.
At the time, McKeown's response was "Good". So how does he feel now? "He's not around any more and his spectre has diminished and he no longer has any psychological hold over me. I now wonder why I ever let him have that. His death . . . well it's been very liberating."
So much so that it seems McKeown and the rest of the band have finally been able to put their differences aside and work together to try to get some of the cash they feel is due to them.
"I'm fairly confident that through the course of time we will be paid our royalties. We're all working on it together now, which helps, and that has brought us all some closure over the fall-outs," he says.
"Things are even good between me and Eric (Faulkner). He's genuinely a nice guy and so are all the guys in the band. To be honest, I blame the manager for a lot of the things that went wrong between us. He was a person who liked to divide and conquer."
He adds: "Our case is back in court shortly again. Forensic accountants will say we're due over £100 million in royalties, and then there could be damages on top . . . but it's Sony we're fighting now as they took over Arista.
"It will take a long time, though, especially if there's a decision and then any appeals. So we thought while we're waiting and before we get too old and decrepit, perhaps we should get back on stage - it seems to be what our fans want.
"The people who are interested in putting the money in for that want it to be the line-up it was when I joined originally - me, Woody, Eric, Derek and Alan. We're looking at an arena tour here and in the US."
Of course, nothing's ever straightforward
with the Rollers. There's also the issue of Gordon "Nobby"
Clarke, who was the lead singer of the Rollers before Paton lured
McKeown in from another band to replace him.
Clarke, who lives in Dumbiedykes, has claimed the new Greatest Hits CD, which has just been released (and is at number 47 in the UK album charts), has his vocals on it in some of the earliest numbers.
"I can't really comment,"
says McKeown. "Nobb
y was in the Bay City Rollers and he did sing and he did have a contract with Bell Records . . . that's where he should be looking for any compensation."
Instead, McKeown is totally focused on his upcoming tour - which will include a stop-off at Passages - and then a trip to Japan in November with another group he sings with, Ego Trip. And as well as finishing his book (he wants proceeds to go to alcohol charities) there's Rollermania, the box-set anthology of their hits to promote.
Life is certainly rolling along for Les. "I spent a long time running away from the Bay City Rollers, but now I'm embracing it fully. Someone said to me that I was an icon," he says, laughing. "I don't know about that but I've definitely come to realise that our music, that period of time, means a lot to people and so we should give something back."
HAMMERING OUT THE HITS
IT'S been three decades since the Bay City Rollers last released an album, but now there are two to hit the charts at the same time.
While new releases in their heyday saw queues of hysterical girls waiting outside record stores - they had five straight gold albums in the States - these days the fans are more sedate.
However, that hasn't stopped Bay City Rollers: The Greatest Hits, which was released by Sony Music in August, reaching number 47 in the UK album chart.
Next month sees the release
of Rollermania: The Anthology - a four CD Bay City Rollers box
set - by Salvo/Union Square Music. Both contain the Rollers hits
such as Shang-a-lang, Bye Bye Baby and
Give a Little love.
I cant imagine one person
will mourn Tam Paton
The SUN UK, 10 April 2009
BAY City Roller rape victim Les McKeown last night told of his joy at Tam Patons death, and said: I cant imagine a man nor beast who will be mourning his passing. Recovering alcoholic Les, 53 sent to the brink after the sex attack by Paton as a lad added: Im delighted hes dead. He decided to reveal everything about his dark secret after pervert Paton, 70, was found dead in his bath on Wednesday.
Last night Les claimed his former boss had threatened to KILL him if he spoke out before. And he said: It might sound a bit off celebrating a mans death, but he ruined a lot of peoples lives including mine. In a harrowing account Les former lead singer of the Rollers, who sold 120million records in the 70s told how Paton, who in the past was jailed for sex offences on boys: SENT Les to the brink of SUICIDE after the attack when he was aged just 18 or 19
MANIPULATED young men, including
former Bay City members, using power and drugs which he
SURROUNDED himself with unsavoury ned henchmen whod issue threats on his behalf, and:
MADE Les fear for his life and that of his family with terrifying calls every time he moved house.
Last night Les, a married dad-of-one, said: I almost feel guilty for being so happy but I cant imagine a man nor beast who will be mourning the passing of Tam Paton. He brought great shame to Scotland and damaged hundreds of peoples lives, creating havoc and chaos and misery wherever he went. He was a drug dealer and rapist beast. He has ruined years of my life and thats affected a lot of the people around me, including my wife and son. Im sure all the Rollers were damaged by knowing Tam. Les recently confessed hed been attacked. He spoke out while filming a TV show called Rehab earlier this year following a stint in a US clinic. But he only decided to reveal WHO the evil perpetrator was after Paton was found dead at his sprawling Edinburgh mansion after a suspected heart attack. The pervert was thought to have been sharing his hot tub with two male pals when he collapsed. They tried to pull heavyweight Paton from the bath but failed. He was dead by the time paramedics arrived. Last night bitter Les blasted: It couldnt have happened to a worse piece of s***. I hate him. Im glad hes dead. I was just a young boy. I was only 18, 19 when he raped me. Tam was an evil manipulator of young men. He used his power and drugs. Tam was great for plying the band with drugs to keep us working and under his control.
He was always experimenting with new drugs. I dabbled with a bit of opium and it suited him you dont understand whats happening to you. He was a really intimidating, big man. If he wanted something he forcibly got it. Les shame over the rape led him into a psychological spiral of confused despair. He admitted he became bisexual, went on secret gay trysts, and turned to the bottle to blot out the painful memories.
He carried the burden of his dark secret for over twenty years after being too SCARED to speak out. He was put off telling police after Paton was cleared of raping band-mate Pat McGlynn, 48, in October 2007. Les said: What happened with Pat put me off going to the police. I did think about it but all the recent court cases Tam seemed to get away with any allegation thrown at him. He was caught red handed with lots of cannabis in his house but just got a slap on the wrist.
He was involved in a lot of seedy stuff in Edinburgh but he got away. It was almost like he was protected.
Paton was embroiled in a vicious row with Les and other former band members, who claim they are owed a fortune in missed royalties. And Les added: There was also a fear factor because I was thinking I could be putting my wife and family in danger. I was that scared of him. He literally threatened to kill me if I didnt shut my face and that was just over the money.
He knew a lot of unsavoury
people. People that are involved in drugs arent very nice
people. They shoot people, knife people and I just didnt
want that around my front door. I have more or less been living
in fear all these years. Every year he would send you a
Christmas card and the whole purpose was him pointing out he knew
where I lived. "Any time I got a new telephone number hed
have someone ring up saying Oh, sorry, I was trying to get
a hold of Tam yet Id only had the number three days.
Les feels Patons death means he can get on and enjoy the
rest of his life. He said: Ive planned a nice day
of celebration with my wife and mates. We will rejoice. Its
been a long time coming and its closure for me. Tam Paton
is dead, long live the future, the futures bright.
And he told how it may pave the way to the Rollers to REFORM.
He said: It would be great if something good happened and
we could perform without the giant, fat shadow of Tam Paton hanging
over us. We could get back together Former Rollers Nobby
Clark, 58 and Ian Mitchell have paid tribute to Paton. But Les
rapped: I had to laugh because someone told me Ian Mitchell
was running a little tribute to Tam on his web page. Hes
in denial. The man was a monster and everyone knows it.
Paton was jailed for three years for sex offences against two
boys aged 16 and 17 in 1982. In 2004 he was fined £200,000
for supplying cannabis, later quashed on appeal.
Tam Paton, Former manager of the Bay City Rollers
Published Date: 10 April 2009,
Born: 10 August, 1938, in Prestonpans, East Lothian. Died: 8 April, 2009, in Edinburgh, aged 70.
WHILE he was pushing his band's mythical image as the clean-cut, milk-drinking boys-next-door, manager Tam Paton openly lived the full rock 'n' roll lifestyle the (gay) sex, the drugs and the, well, he was more a "roller" than a rocker. The tartan-
trimmed band from Edinburgh, who created "Rollermania" in the 1970s, claimed he and their record labels got rich while they got skint. One of them, guitarist Pat McGlynn, claimed the manager had tried to rape him in a Melbourne hotel room while on tour. Those charges were dropped for insufficient evidence but Paton served three years in jail in the early 1980s for "gross indecency" involving two teenage boys.
"These were laddies in their late teens," he said two years ago, "and the age of consent at the time was 21. They didn't want to make a complaint against me, they were made to. Then a word entered our language: paedophile."
In recent years, the multi- millionaire's mansion in Gogar, Edinburgh, was raided five times and he was charged and heavily fined twice for drug-taking and, allegedly, dealing. He said he took cannabis in his yoghurt to lower his blood pressure. Three Liverpool-based men were jailed in 2007 for breaking into his mansion and forcing him to leave at knifepoint after a business deal turned sour.
Paton also claimed he had suffered three assassination attempts and that he once tried to commit suicide by choking himself on a £1 coin in a Berwick jail cell. Until Sir Fred Goodwin came along to challenge for the title, Paton was convinced he was the most hated man in Scotland.
In his mansion, shut in behind barbed wire and steel shutters and surrounded by rottweilers and Staffordshire bull terriers, he once told the Edinburgh Evening News he expected a baying crowd to show up at his cremation and cheer as they pushed his coffin through the doors. On hearing of his death, former band member McGlynn said: "Great news. Hope he roasts in hell."
The band's original lead singer, Les McKeown, once said Paton was "a dirty bastard" and that he'd like to have poured bleach down his throat. Paton blamed all the hostility on the fact that he was openly gay and lived in his mansion, called Little Kellerstain but nicknamed "Paton Place", in Gogar on the western fringe of Edinburgh, with a group of young male "tenant guests".
"I am gay, and if you are gay in this country, you are considered to be a pervert," he said at the time. In a 2007 interview in the Evening News, he elaborated: "I've been spat at in the street it's because I'm a peculiarity I don't live the normal life. I was never meant to be normal. I went to a restaurant recently. The owner came up and asked 'are you Tam Paton? Then you'll have to leave. We don't want your type in here.' That hurts me, it really does."
Thomas Dougal Paton was born in Prestonpans in 1938, son of a local potato merchant. Musically inclined himself, he eventually led a dance band at the Palais de Dance in Edinburgh's Fountainbridge district, where he first met the young Edinburgh boys he would turn into the Rollers. Their popularity would come to rival that of the Beatles and the Stones in the 1970s.
With the Beatles having gone druggy and psychedelic, Paton saw the young boys' potential as a (supposedly) clean-cut band that would win over young teenagers and their mums and dads. Paton himself delivered sacks of potatoes on a lorry to help finance the Rollers when they started out.
Singer McKeown once recalled signing the band's first contract in Paton's car in Edinburgh "signing my life away", he later said. The Rollers sold more than 100 million records during the 1970s, which should have generated up to £5 billion in revenue but the band members ended up with virtually nothing.
Paton took the idea of tartan trimmings from another band he managed, Bilbo Baggins, and the rest was soon to become history, with hits such as Bye, Bye, Baby and Shang-a-Lang, and massive success in the United States, even though the band members did not play on most of the early recordings. "It was me and session players," claimed McKeown. "Those guys were just muppets at the back."
After the band sacked Paton in 1979, he developed a multi-million-pound property empire based in Edinburgh, TDP Investments, which allowed him to live in style for the rest of his life. He said the company would be taken over by trustees after his death and that he would leave considerable sums to numerous charities, including a children's hospice in Kinross, Perthshire, the National Canine Defence League and the Seafield cat and dog home in Edinburgh.
"It'll be then that people will turn around and say, 'oh, he was OK after all'," he told the Evening News interviewer with a chuckle. "'He wasn't the dirty old bugger we thought he was'."
Tam Paton, who died of cardiac
arrest in his plunge bath on Wednesday night, is not known to
have any family survivors
Bay City Rollers Strike First In Their Battle To Recover Unpaid Royalties From Arista Records
March 30, 2009
Joshua Krumholz - Boston
Ruling Supports Band's Right To Claims for Millions in Unpaid Royalties
NEW YORK Two years ago, the Bay City Rollers filed a lawsuit against Arista Records, Inc., claiming that Arista had failed to pay them millions of dollars in royalties over an almost thirty-year period. The suit, filed on behalf of the Scottish band by Holland & Knight, alleges that Arista breached its contract with the Rollers and failed to account for or pay any royalties to the band for years, amounting to many millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.
In response to that lawsuit, Arista filed a motion to dismiss all of the Rollers' claims, asserting that the Rollers were barred from recovery for the millions of dollars that they had generated for the company. In its ruling, the court supported the Rollers' position, with the result that the lawsuit will now go forward without any meaningful impediment to the Rollers' claims.
"Although we are delighted, we are not surprised that the Court denied Aristas efforts to dismiss the Rollers' claims," said Josh Krumholz of Holland & Knight, lead counsel for the Rollers. "This ruling is a highly significant victory for the Rollers and their efforts to recoup the millions owed to them by Arista Records in unpaid royalties. We now look forward to recovering in full the royalties that they have earned, but have been wrongly withheld from them, together with the interest and damages that is due to them for the many years that their money has been wrongfully withheld.
The Bay City Rollers, also
known as the "Rollers," were the UK's biggest selling
global act in the 1970s, gaining massive popularity around the
world with their clean-cut image, distinctive plaid outfits and
upbeat pop hits. For a period of time known as "Rollermania,"
they enjoyed sell-out tours, hit records and even had their own
weekly television series in both the U.S. and UK. At the height
of their fame, comparisons to the Beatles' earlier popularity
were not uncommon. In total, the Rollers released eight original
albums and numerous greatest hits and compilations, including
five straight gold records and six singles that made the Top 40
on the U.S. hit charts. Among their many hits were Saturday Night,
I Only Want to Be With You and Bye Bye Baby. As proof of their
ongoing popularity, Arista's most recent compilation, called Absolute
Rollers -- the Very Best of, hit the Top 10 on the UK charts within
the last year, and a new Collections CD is due to be released
Former Bay City Rollers front man, Les McKeown, is ready finally to leave the past behind
Published Date: 15 February
By Catherine Deveney
Feature Writer of the Year
THE first time I interviewed Les McKeown there were a lot of double bourbons consumed (his) and a lot of tears shed (mainly his too, though he'd have brought tears to a glass eye that day).
All the cuttings about the former lead singer with the Bay City Rollers suggested he was cocky and cheeky and a bit sexist, and I suppose he was all of those. But what you think of someone depends on what time of their life you meet them, really. At that point, he was an alcoholic and he wasn't in control: he was simply stripped naked by his vulnerabilities. Come to think of it, McKeown would probably make a dirty joke at that phrase, but all that stuff is a bit of a front for a man who gets very stressed and is simultaneously chippy and sensitive. He had lost both his parents the year before we met, and it had triggered a kind of mourning that felt simply infinite to him. He was in bits: talking and crying and laughing, and crying some more.
Five years later, he responds within ten minutes to an e-mail, and we talk on the phone. I've read that he has given up drink. It's true, he says. We agree to meet at his local Italian restaurant but come the day a few cryptic calls lead eventually to scanning the crowds for him at Canary Wharf shopping centre (I think he always has some scheme on the go.) He looks physically better than the last time I saw him, though perhaps a bit pale still. Before he went into rehab, his doctor had told him he shouldn't expect to live beyond six months. Not that he listened to her. "I didn't really care. I thought, 'So what. The world's shit, I'm shit, you're shit, f*** off. F***, f***, f*** '"
I remember that anger mixed in with the tears, the bit of him that wanted to tell the rest of the world to love him unconditionally or get lost. The bit that loved and loathed himself all at once. He was in denial when told he was killing himself. "The day she told me, I reckon I got more drunk than I'd ever got. Just to somehow prove her wrong Or prove her right Whatever. I thought, 'What do you know? I'll drink half a bottle less and last longer than six months.'" At that point, he drank a bottle and a half a day of Wild Turkey, a superstrong bourbon. He almost lived in the pub, seeing his Japanese wife Peko and son Jubei only when he came home to sleep off the alcohol between sessions. It was complete self-destruction.
Six months after that first meeting, he agreed to another interview, television this time. I wondered if the intensity of his grief about his parents would have abated. Clearly, the grief was genuine; McKeown adored his mum and dad. But it was also abundantly clear that bereavement had become a dumping ground into which he had thrown every other grief and disappointment of his life too. The bitter jealousies of his relationship with the other members of the Rollers, particularly Eric Faulkner. His hatred and fear of their manager, Tam Paton. His fury at the "missing millions" that he claimed Arista Records owed the band. The death of his parents became the focus for everything bad in his life.
Within minutes of the camera rolling, he was again on the verge of tears. It had the potential for car-crash TV, and yet there was an emotional honesty, a kind of desperate bravery, that made it poignant. "I just want to be a better person," he said. And he meant it. At the end, he hugged me in the middle of the set while the cameramen wrapped up uneasily. I think we all wished we could pull him from the wreckage his life had obviously become, but it was like viewing him from behind glass. Nobody could reach him; he was going to have to walk clear for himself.
WE FIND THE quietest spot in Canary Wharf, which means an unimposing sandwich bar. McKeown doesn't mind; he has no demands. He is very well mannered that way. The honesty is still there too. It's startling to listen to someone saying searingly awful things about themselves and continuing to eat a sandwich. Then you realise that he has already done his crying, his denial, in rehab; what he is saying now is what he has been forced to come to terms with. "I have been a complete shit. A bad husband, a bad father. I was in complete denial about that, the damage I have done to my own family My wife, she has been unhappy for years. My son has had an absent alcoholic, you could say abusive, father. Abusive in the way of neglect. I've had no time for him. 'Oh, f*** off, I'm too busy Ask your mum Piss off I'm away for a drink.' That kind of thing is abuse. You're not being a father; you're being a complete twat. So I had to face up to that, and it was f***ing hard to face up to it. But that was then, and this is now."
He went to Passages, a rehab centre in Malibu, California, the result of a request from a television company that wanted to follow celebrities through their various addictions. McKeown knew how expensive Passages was, and what a rare chance it offered him to change his life. He has no memory of the first few days. His body responded badly to alcohol-withdrawal and he needed medication to help him adjust.
During the subsequent therapy, Peko and Jubei were asked to fly out to visit. Jubei had his own issues with addiction, and was asked to stay. "You're sitting there and the guy says, 'Okay Jubei, what would you like to say to your father?' And that's when you find out," McKeown says sombrely. What did he say? "That for all the years he just wanted my love That he wanted me to be a proper father He didn't want to see me killing myself. It all came out. My wife said similar things, and I suddenly realised, 'I don't want to be here. I need a drink now because I don't want to think about how shitty I have been.' You con yourself into thinking, 'I'm all right. This is the way people behave, and it's the way I behave and it's perfectly all right.' But in the real world it's not."
Once he had faced that fact, therapists helped him find the root cause by discussing the major traumas of his life. When was the first time he had felt fear? He was five or six year old, the baby of his family, and his brothers objected to him being the pampered kid. "One of my brothers in particular didn't like it. I just remember being threatened with a knife, and being terrified and trying to fight back."
The therapist asked him to stop at that memory, to forgive his brother and forgive his parents for not being there to protect him. The idea of forgiveness was to become central to his recovery as was the idea that his subconscious was causing his drinking by harbouring traumas. "I don't sit around thinking, 'Oh, I was nearly stabbed to death when I was five,' but it was obviously there." By forgiving everyone in his life who had hurt him including Paton and the Rollers he found they no longer had any power over him.
Most of the Rollers were just boys. Paton was more than 20 years older. In our first interview, McKeown had claimed Paton made passes at band members, and admitted that despite his own streetwise quality, his self-confessed problem with anger-management, he was frightened of Paton. In therapy, he finally admitted his fear stemmed partly from a sexual encounter with the manager. When asked if force was used, he acknowledges that it wasn't. "There wasn't force, as such. There were drugs involved, and the next minute it was all going on. I kind of think I was cajoled into it." The drugs were Quaaludes, a form of methaqualone taken recreationally to enhance sexual desire sometimes indiscriminately. Did he know he was taking them? "I knew I was taking the drugs, but I didn't know what that was going to do."
The whole incident involves a lot of guilt. "I wasn't going to tell anyone in the whole of my f***ing life. I felt guilty about being in that situation, about playing a part in my own seduction. I felt violated, and then guilty for enjoying it. I enjoyed the sexual feelings and that's what makes me feel ashamed. I still think to myself, 'I did that ' I have to stick with it, the reality. I can't turn back the clock. It's hard to deal with that or it was. Now I've dealt with it, it's not hard any more. There's a certain freedom in that. I am what I am. Take me or leave me."
He seems to see Paton as some kind of trigger, but was he aware of being attracted to men before that incident? Yes, he acknowledges. And there were more later. He does consider himself bisexual, though sometimes he thinks it's emotional attraction as much as sexual attraction. How does he feel about Paton now? "I kind of feel Not a lot, really. I did absolutely hate him, and the mere mention of his name would make me think, 'F***ing Tam Paton ' but I suppose he's inconsequential now. I even say daft things to my wife like, 'Maybe I should phone Tam up and go for a meal and talk about things. Maybe I should just see him as a human being who makes mistakes too. Something has obviously happened in his life to make him the way he is.'"
The list of his grievances against Paton was endless. "I said to the psychiatrist, 'Can't I just give him blanket forgiveness?'" To forgive, he had to face up to reality first. Part of that was acknowledging his heavy drinking hadn't started with the loss of his parents, as he'd convinced himself. It had been going on a lot longer. Weeks after we meet, he sends a long e-mail. "I can see that most of my life I have lived in a constant state of extremes, all of the good tragically poisoned by all of the bad," he writes.
Bereavement did, though, cause a breaking point. "I've come to terms with the loss now. I still get a little bit choked up but I can talk about them, whereas before, even the mention of their names had me in bits. It was one of the things I looked at in rehab." He laughs. "I've forgiven them for dying. How f***ing dare they! I know it sounds like a joke but I was angry. Now when I think of my mum and dad, I think of all the good things and think what a lucky boy I was to be brought up by two beautiful people."
PEOPLE WHO HAVE visited Paton's Edinburgh mansion paint a slightly debauched picture of a beautiful place gone to seed, a dovecot in the garden and rottweilers prowling the territory. "The worst bachelor pad imaginable," one tells me. "Filthy towels in the mouldy, smelly Jacuzzi Clutter Smell." And always full of troubled, vulnerable young men. Paton usually says he offers lodgings and help with their troubles. When I say I'd like to talk to Paton, McKeown is unperturbed. "You're just doing your job." Paton may have a reputation for being intimidating, but on the phone his voice is light, high and affable, punctuated with giggles. The affability does not extend to McKeown. "Truthfully, the band's problems were created by Les," he says. "I feel quite bitter. I worked hard to build up the Rollers, and he worked hard to destroy them. He wanted to be the centre of attraction. There was horrendous jealousy between him and Eric Faulkner. I think Les has got terrible problems with himself."
Was McKeown insecure? "I don't see why he would be insecure. He came from the most wonderful mother and father. His father was deaf and a lovely man, and his mother, Florence, couldn't have been any nicer. I sent flowers to the ward she was in not long before she died, but he never mentioned that."
There were some good lads in the Rollers. "Woody was a nice guy. The Longmuir brothers were perfect." Hardly. Derek Longmuir, the band's drummer, pled guilty to possessing child pornography in 2000. But McKeown? "He's one of the most bitter, twisted liars I've ever met in my life."
When I tell Paton that McKeown claims they had a sexual encounter, his laughter trills down the line. "I have never had a sexual encounter with Les. I wouldn't take him in a prize draw. I would say that I think Les is confused about his sexuality." They didn't have sex while under the influence of Quaaludes? "Quaaludes," he exclaims. "I think he would need more than Quaaludes." Minutes later he says, "I don't even know what Quaaludes are." Then he says he thinks they're mentioned in a David Bowie song, and Les was a fanatical Bowie fan. So does it bother him to have this accusation made? "Not at all," he says. "As long as you print that I think he's deranged."
Paton says he's going off to Portugal to write his book about the Rollers years. When I say McKeown thinks he could sit down with him these days and talk, he says, "I wouldn't want him anywhere near me." At the end of the call he says suddenly that he's had a very sad day today. His little red Staffie had a brain tumour and had to be put to down. The dog is there with him; he has let it lie for a few hours before burying it. "I'll tell you something," he says. "The more I know about human beings, the more I love my dogs. You get wonderful love from them and never get anything nasty."
McKEOWN COULD DO with a cigarette. He'll get round to giving those up when he's sure he has finished with the drink. We leave the sandwich bar to find another café outside the mall. He returned from rehab in November, but has a respectful wariness of his own sobriety still. It's too fragile to take for granted. My heart sinks when he says he had a tipple at New Year. He didn't get drunk, he insists. How does that work, then? He's the only alcoholic I've ever heard say it's possible to have an occasional drink and stay sober. "I did think, 'This is nice,'" he admits. "'I could do this until I'm really f***ed up, but then I'm going to wake up tomorrow and have a hangover and I don't want that.'"
His therapists didn't call him an alcoholic. They said he had an addiction problem. Certainly, he told me before that he'd stuck a fortune up his nose in the course of his life, but he finished with drugs some years ago. He thinks if it's somebody's birthday he can maybe have a glass of champagne. "I can't say I'm perfect. I can't say that I won't have a drink again, but I hope No, not hope I will only choose to drink in a social situation, and won't drink to get drunk. But I'm not going to make a habit of that."
The temptation to drink comes from stress, the voice in his head that tells him to escape into alcohol. But at least now he also has a different voice giving a contradictory message. It sounds risky. Shouldn't he just stay out of pubs? On the whole he does, but there are a couple of old guys he used to drink with, and he worries about them. He checks on them occasionally. But only for half an hour, and he drinks Pepsi or non-alcoholic beer. One of the guys is drinking too much. McKeown thinks he's having a good influence on him, being off the booze.
The incentive is that he likes the way his life has changed. When I go to get coffees, he ends up on the phone to Jubei. They do things together these days, share a work space in the house. "My son's relationship with me is coming on great. It's not something that gets fixed overnight, but he sends me texts now 'I believe in you, Dad', 'Don't drink, Dad', 'We love you', stuff like that. It almost brings me to tears when I read it. He has been able to forgive me for the last 20-odd years."
Life could change even more in the future. The Rollers' "missing millions" have been the subject of speculation for many years. The band claim Arista Records failed to pay full royalties on the 100 million-plus records they sold worldwide. The band members should have been set up for life, but McKeown left with only a credit-card debt and several of the others returned to their old day jobs. The animosity between them, the fact that McKeown was an alcoholic, meant years of disunity in the fight for the money. But now they have joined forces to take legal action. Four members of the band are represented by one person, McKeown by another. It was always that way: McKeown against the rest.
But one company represents them all in America. Holland & Knight has 1,100 attorneys and offices all over the US. It is not the kind of company to take a punt because the Rollers are a bunch of nice boys. A return is expected. "This is very serious litigation, involving many tens of millions of dollars, against Arista Records," says a legal representative for McKeown. "The claim is sub judice but we have certainly filed pleadings, and we wouldn't have done that unless we fully believed in our cause."
The wheels of American justice are squeaking just as loudly as British ones under the weight of cases. The end of pleadings in the proceedings against Arista was in June 2007, and given that most cases are heard within two years, a preliminary hearing is finally expected this summer. The judge may find for the Rollers, or for Arista Records (now owned by Sony BMG), with the possibility of appeal on either side. But the case may also be sent for full trial, which would inevitably mean at least another two-year wait. "This may be the first chapter in a lengthy War and Peace-type book, but we hope it's the final chapter in a long story of fighting for justice for the Bay City Rollers," says McKeown's representative.
Paton, who insists he can prove that all he received from the Rollers was £70,000 (his money has come from property deals, he claims), insists there are no missing millions. The Rollers spent it like you wouldn't believe. Hiring David Bowie's studio in Switzerland, buying limousine firms So Paton's not making a claim, then? Well, he has lawyers in the US too. And if it looks like the Rollers are getting anything, "We are just going to go in and freeze the whole lot."
Arista's defence is based mainly on legal arguments about the time taken to claim the money, rather than moral arguments about whether it's owed. In fact, the Rollers have fought for the money behind the scenes for many years. McKeown believes if there's justice they will get it. But he's not banking on it. His life has to be based on something more stable.
He's still working with his version of life with the Bay City Rollers, and would continue working even if he got rich. Looking back, he seems a bit ashamed of the acrimony in the original band. "It was pretty egotistical, petty stuff. I held on desperately, loyally, to my hatred for years. 'I've got a reason to hate him' what was it again?"
He wears a wrist band that says, "It's Perfect", to remind him to live now and not in the past. "I've never been happier," he says. There's nothing to be ashamed of in genuine tears, and it's sometimes a sign of an honest interview. But I can't help thinking, as we say our farewells, that it's significant this is the first time I've met McKeown and he hasn't cried. r
Rehab is shown on Wednesdays at 9pm on Living TV
Bay City Rollers: Alan Longmuir at 60
Published Date: 04 July 2008
By SANDRA DICK
From pop stardom to blocked loos, seventies superstar has only memories left from his 60-year rollercoaster ride
IT'S been a long day. Alan Longmuir, ex-Bay City Roller, one-time superstar and boy band idol for a generation of over- excited schoolgirls, finally flops on to the leather couch in his living room and takes a long sip from a cool glass of lager.
He's been up since 5.30am, he explains, home at around 7pm the same shift he packs in every single working day even though he's endured two heart attacks, a debilitating stroke and more recently a 60th birthday. It's a tough gig and there's not even a guitar, a hysterical tartan-clad fan or a bowl of Colombia's finest in sight.
It turns out one of the founder members of Scotland's biggest ever pop groups, the Bay City Rollers, is back plying his trade as a plumber, trekking daily by train from his home in Stirling to Dundee, still hoping that one day the 20-year legal battle for money he and his fellow Rollers say they are owed from their days of international stardom just might come good.
"Aye, a million pounds, that'd be nice, but I wouldn't mind if it was more," he says with a lopsided grin. "I'm not being greedy but I think it would be nice to have something to show for it all."
In fact, there's not much to show for a meteoric rise through the charts that saw the Edinburgh-based boy band become global superstars on a scale unseen since The Beatles; catapulted from playing at Rosewell Miners' club to rubbing shoulders with Hollywood royalty. They fled hordes of Japanese fans intent on ripping the clothes from their backs, shed their boy-next-door images to party with The Who wildman Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin's infamous drummer John Bonham accompanied by naked blondes and bowls of drugs presented for consumption like party snacks.
Not that the drugs were to Alan's taste. "Och I tried them, of course, everyone did. But to be honest, me and Woody (Stuart Wood] preferred a pint."
At the peak of their international fame 1976 saw the Rollers break the American charts they decamped to Hollywood for Sunday lunch at sex kitten Brit Ekland's mansion.
"We were there one day and that Ryan O'Neal came to the door," remembers Alan. "It was quite funny she got up, threw open the door and yelled at him to 'F-off, the Rollers are here'."
Hard to imagine all that now as he sits in his pleasant Stirling home, reflecting on his recent birthday bash an occasion marked with a return to the stage, albeit at a local pub where he brought the house down with a self-proclaimed nervy rendition of Shangalang, during which he forgot the words.
If he had a flashback to the gig in Canada when the five Edinburgh lads played to 200,000 fans for all of 15 minutes before security cut the gig for safety reasons, it wouldn't be a surprise. After all, memories, it transpires, are all the man dubbed "the reluctant Roller" has left.
"Everything's gone," he admits. "I used to have gold discs, clothes, guitars but it's all away. I keep hearing about things being sold on eBay and I think 'was that mine and how did it end up there?'.
"I had a lot of stuff in storage then I found that people were pretty much helping themselves there were folk taking stuff and going off to fancy dress parties dressed in my gear.
"Then I was told the roof had fallen in on the place where it was being stored and that everything was destroyed."
His wife Eileen rolls her eyes and sighs with disbelief. There may have been a time when she dreamt of being married to a pop star, wed into a life of luxurious cars and holidays in Las Vegas with movie stars for friends.
The reality, however, is rather different. "It's ridiculous he hasn't anything to show for those years," she complains. "Just think of all that merchandise for a start I remember Marks & Spencer selling bra and knicker sets with the Bay City Rollers on them.
"Where did all the money for that go?"
The couple wed ten years ago after Alan had suffered two heart attacks brought on, he says, from overwork, the collapse of his hotel business and a messy divorce. Eileen certainly didn't marry him for his pop star wealth when they met he didn't even have a roof over his head.
"I preferred David Cassidy anyway," she laughs only for Alan to shatter a million fantasies by pitching in: "He had rotten skin, he was all spots." Alan, the oldest Roller, with a passion for music and unfortunately given the fame that would come his way a dislike of the spotlight, never really imagined it would pan out the way it did.
He was just a boy in the fifties when he performed for the first time entertaining guests at his parents' Caledonia Street home dressed in the top hat and coat his father wore in his job as St Cuthbert's Co-op undertaker.
"He used to come along the street with the hearse and people would wonder who had died, but it was just him coming home for his lunch," he smiles.
By the time the young Alan left Dalry Primary bound for Tynecastle High, he had already witnessed the adulation that would one day become his. "I went to the Scotia picture house in Dalry Road and Jailhouse Rock was on," he recalls. "I saw the way the girls were jumping up and down over Elvis I thought, 'Aye, this will do me'.
"That film had a huge influence on me, Jailhouse Rock was the thing that got me, Elvis was the guy everyone wanted to be."
Eventually Alan, brother Derek, Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood and frontman Les McKeown would taste something of the same fan adoration as The King.
Alan's first band, The Ambassadors, had morphed into The Saxons, gigs had come thick and fast around the Capital and down to the Borders when Alan approached local bandleader Tam Paton for advice. "We'd changed our name," he remembers. "There was a band called Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and we liked the sound of that. We started talking about wheels and came up with Rollers. Someone stuck in pin in a map of America. It came up with Arkansas but the Arkansas Rollers didn't have the right ring. We did it again and hit Bay City so that was the name."
The rest is history. Paton's skill for publicity combined with a series of catchy songs, boy-next-door looks and a unique take on fashion tartan trousers, bomber jackets, skin tight v-neck jumpers and it wasn't long before Alan's face was plastered over almost every young girl's bedroom wall.
"Those platforms, they were murder," he groans, remembering attempting to walk along Morrison Street in ridiculously-high heels.
Soon walking down the street would become a distant memory as the Rollers became swamped by teenage hysteria their success, says Alan, as much a factor in their eventual demise as the personality clashes and excessive behaviour of some of its members.
"We were prisoners of our own success," he remembers. "My sister was getting married in 1975 and I remember leaving my parents' house to go to the wedding and being mobbed by girls pulling my hair and ripping at my clothes. They even tore off my flower.
"It was insane, it got scary. I used to try to get out by myself to go for a pint sometimes they didn't recognise you if you were wearing ordinary clothes. They didn't seem to realise that we didn't walk around all the time in baggy tartan trousers and platform shoes! I'd go fishing down at the Water of Leith when I was back at home, put on my wellies and disappear for an afternoon.
"But for most of the time all I ever saw was inside a hotel room."
The band eventually imploded under the intense pressure, character clashes and disputes. "The music business really stinks," says Alan. "We were just getting on with it, but there were people conning us left, right and centre.
"It's not surprising money has gone missing. We'd be getting ready to go on stage and someone would shove a contract in front of us and say 'sign it '. We didn't know half of what we were signing for."
While money squabbles continue, so have the attempts at reviving the original line-up, most recently in 2000 when the band were scheduled to follow up a successful appearance at Edinburgh's Hogmanay with a tour.
"I couldn't be bothered with it," shrugs Alan. "We're sitting around and one doesn't want that and someone else wants this. I just picked up my bag and said 'bye'. Who needs all that?"
Music's loss means the world of blocked pipes and clogged loos has gained a plumber. Although he'd rather be taking it easy, the 60-year-old pin up has something to show for his longevity.
"I've got my bus pass," he grins. "So it's not all bad, is it?"
'Les was just this wee guy from Broomhouse'
Derek relives the highs and lows of life as a Roller. . .
ON TAM PATON
He was good guy gone bad. He had a band that at one point supported The Beatles I think he was living through his own craving for fame through us. He was clever and he got our name out there. But I don't like the man.
ON JOHN LENNON
He wrote me a note. It said something like: 'Dear Alan, sorry I can't make it along to the Rollers' gig but Yoko is about to have our baby.' I wish I'd kept it, but back then you didn't really appreciate these things. I was in New York, just a few hundred yards away, the day he was shot. That really affected me badly."
ON LES McKEOWN
Les was thrown in at the deep end. At first they wanted me to be the frontman and I said it wasn't for me. Les came on board and first time on stage he was so nervous he was shaking he was just this wee guy from Broomhouse.
ON BAND FEUDS
There was a huge clash of egos between Les and Eric, they just couldn't sort things out. There were a lot of arguments. There were a lot of drugs going about too and we were working under intense pressure.
It was hard to take in. I remember sitting at the bar of the Beverly Hills Hotel, there was Patrick Magee, Barbra Streisand, Susan George, Eric Estrada from TV show Chips, David Soul and Alan Longmuir, the plumber from Edinburgh.
The best bits were probably being in make-up in Top of the Pops, sitting next to Olivia Newton John and then seeing one of Pan's People without a stitch on.
March 30, 2007
Former Roller ready to sue
ex-bandmates over royalties claims
JOHN GIBSON AND GARETH ROSE (edinburghnews.com)
FORMER Bay City Rollers singer Nobby Clark has threatened to sue his old bandmates if a legal claim they have launched against Arista Records is successful.Today, in the latest instalment of an increasingly bitter row over the missing millions generated by the band's commercial success, he hit out at his one-time friends.
Six former band members have launched a writ in the US for unpaid royalties for hits such as Bye Bye Baby appearing on compilation albums. But Mr Clark, 56, claims he was the creative force behind their chart-topping success and should receive a substantial share. He is even prepared to take legal action to scupper the bid of the six former Rollers, including other original members bassist Alan Longmuir and his brother, drummer Derek, and Les McKeown, Mr Clark's replacement in the band. Mr Clark said: "I've appointed a lawyer to look into this. It's my intention to make sure those guys don't get a penny. "Or I will wait until they come back to this country and then I will sue every single one of them the minute they step off the plane. "I started the band with the brothers when I was 15 years old. I created the name. The whole image was created by the three of us." Mr Clark left the band in 1973, but it was not until eight years ago that he fell out with the other former members, when they launched their first bid for unpaid royalties. Believing he had been. frozen out of the claim Mr Clark launched a rival writ, but neither side ever reached the courtroom.
However, this week the six former members filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in New York, claiming Arista Records had failed to pay them huge sums in royalties over 25 years. "There is no money they could ever get that they could say I am not entitled to," said Mr Clark. "Every single album has my performances on it, all except for the ones in the latter stages of the band which did not sell well. "There were six or seven hit singles that have been released on compilation albums all around the world, and I've not received a single penny. "I wrote Because I Love You, which sold 800,000 copies." Mr Clark, who now lives in Holyrood Road and relaunched his singing career in 2002, added: "As far as I know all the royalties were paid to Bay City Music Publishing, in London. "Now I read the Rollers are suing Arista for fortunes. I just wish the whole story would go away but, be assured, I will not go away."
Mr McKeown has confirmed he was involved in a lawsuit but he said that they had all agreed not to comment on the case. Their lawyer was unavailable to comment on Mr Clark's claims. The band says Arista has continued to profit as a result of selling albums, merchandise and rights to commercials, films and even telephone ringtones. In the lawsuit, the Rollers claim a contract states Arista must account for and pay royalties to them twice a year, with obligations dating back to the 1970s. The lawsuit alleges a payment of £133,000 in September 1997 was the only one made to the band, well short of the millions the musicians believe they are owed. Joshua Krumholtz, of US law firm Holland and Knight, the lead counsel for the group, said on Tuesday: "Through this lawsuit, we intend to secure the royalties owed to the Rollers for the huge commercial success of their music. They have waited long enough."
BBC News, March 21, 2007
Bay City Rollers sue record label
Hit 1970s pop band The Bay City Rollers are suing their record company, claiming they are owed millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.
The Scottish group says Arista Records has withheld payments from album sales, merchandise, commercials, film rights and ringtones during the last 25 years. A spokesman for Arista, now a part of Sony BMG, declined to comment. The act were hugely popular among teen fans in the UK, the US, Australia, Japan and elsewhere from 1971-77. They enjoyed 10 top 10 hits in the UK including Bye Bye Baby and Give a Little Love, and also made it big in the US when their single Saturday Night went to number one in 1976. The legal action, filed in the US District Court in New York, does not specify how much the group are seeking from Arista.
But one of their lawyers, Joshua Krumholz, said: "We know it's in the millions." In the documents, the group said they had sold at least 70 million albums around the world but received only a single royalty payment of about $254,000 (£129,000) in more than 25 years. The documents said Arista had promised to pay royalties over the years but claimed not to know who to pay. This was a "pretext intended to deprive the Rollers of the royalties to which they are entitled", the group said. The legal action has been brought by band members Les McKeown, Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood, Alan Longmuir, Derek Longmuir and Duncan Faure. Singer McKeown now tours small venues, while Derek Longmuir is a nurse and another former member is a plumber, Mr Krumholz said.
9 September 2006
EXCLUSIVE: BANK ROLLERS
Band's financial documents found in a box of crockery bought at an auction
By Amy Devine ( Daily Record UK)
A BARGAIN-HUNTER was stunned to find legal papers belonging to 1970s superstars The Bay City Rollers in a box of crockery.
The woman discovered confidential documents signed by the tartan-clad rockers as she unpacked cut-price kitchenware.
The papers, including a number relating to the Rollers' controversial finances, show how the relationship between band members deteriorated before they split in the late 1970s.
Their new owner last night spoke of her shock at uncovering the find as she rummaged in a box a friend had bought for just £3 at a house clearance auction.
The 50-year-old woman, who asked to remain unnamed, said: "I was gobsmacked when I realised who these papers belonged to."
The first of several sheets is a legal letter to the Royal Bank of Scotland from the band dated September 8 1977.
It asks that the bank give manager Tam Paton and band member Derek Longmuir permission to sign cheques and make withdrawals from the band's accounts.
The letter - sent a year before cracks began to appear in the band - also states that if anyone "ceases to be a member of the firm" the continuing partners can carry on as normal. The document was signed by all five Rollers - Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood, Derek and Alan Longmuir and Les McKeown, as well as Paton. But in November 1979, a letter from the group's lawyers requests McKeown and Paton's names be removed as signatories from the account. By then, McKeown had left and the remaining members had sacked Paton as their manager.The band - famed for hits including Shang-A-Lang - also asked that two of the remaining members' signatures be requested for any withdrawals. The woman who found the papers said: "I couldn't believe someone had left these documents at the bottom of a box of crockery.
"A friend of mine paid £3 for the box at a house clearance sale and gave it to me for a rummage."There were several items, including a potato masher, and these papers tucked away with some newspapers at the bottom.
"I was never a Rollers fan myself, but this gives an insight into their lives, and might be worth something. "The signatures alone sell for £50 a pop on the internet."It's obviously been in a house that the auction company has cleared out."None of the Rollers has been paid royalties for more than 25 years and persistent questions have been asked about the fate of their millions. McKeown has confronted Paton, who was jailed for three years in 1982 for sex offences involving teenage boys, but he denies any knowledge of the lost fortune.
After Paton was sacked by the band, he became a property tycoon and is said to be worth around £5million.He said last night: "The Rollers were in control of their own money. Derek Longmuir was kind of the main man and signed things on behalf of the band. "When it comes to the question of the Rollers' money, I think they spent it."
Mitchell brings retro show
Saturday, August 13, 2005
By DONNIE MOORHOUSE
SPRINGFIELD When Ian Mitchell was just 17 years old, he was a member of the world famous Bay City Rollers for all of seven months.
Thirty years later, Mitchell is still trying to rake in a few bucks off of the name. Ian Mitchell's Bay City Rollers (there are several touring versions apparently) came to the Stearns Square Block Party, a.k.a CityBlock, on Thursday night, performing a 70 minute set of early rock covers and a few Bay City Roller hits.
It was a relatively light crowd for a CityBlock show. While many have argued that the bands are secondary to the festive atmosphere in the Club Quarter, the audiences have become quite music-savvy over the last few years getting glimpses of great bands like Cracker, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Shemekia Copeland, and NRBQ. Perhaps one of the half dozen or so ex-Rollers showing up with a band he never played with before just doesn't cut it anymore.
Mitchell wore his tartan kilt for the
event, and kicked things off with a cover of the Beatles' "Back
in the U.S.S.R."
He introduced the hit "I Only Want to Be With You," as a song that made it to No. 4 on the Billboard Music charts.
The group continued to cover rock chestnuts like "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," and "Rock Around The Clock," the guitar player delivering the lead vocal.
Mitchell took the opportunity to sort of slide into the background while the band worked up "La Bamba," and they initially emerged again to cover "Bad Case of Loving You."
While bands are contracted to play at least 90 minutes at CityBlock (and most stretch it closer to two hours), Mitchell had enough after 60 minutes and called for the big finish.
The rendition of "Saturday Night," was just as you'd expect, with the crowd chanting along and getting into the retro-spirit of the evening.
Mitchell did not return for an encore,
and there really didn't seem to be much call for one anyway.
If you're an ex-Bay City Roller, what is there after you've spilled out (and spelled out) "Saturday Night?"
CityBlock continues on Thursday night with legendary blues outfit Roomful of Blues. The concerts are free and begin at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday June 18, 2005
The Roller coaster
Since they split in the late-1970s, the one-time superstars who were the Bay City Rollers have been riven by bitter squabbles over a fortune in unpaid royalties - though that should be the least of their worries. One is battling drugs and depression; another was caught downloading child porn; a third has suffered a stress-induced stroke. But are things finally looking up? Simon Hattenstone investigates
When the Bay City Rollers were big, they were the biggest. For two years, everything they touched turned to gold, then platinum. There was a national Rollers uniform - up and down the land, kids wore tartan culottes, scarves dangling from the wrist and Doc Martens boots. "We want the Rollers!" was the only cry heard in the 1974 the Top Of The Pops studio, whoever was playing. The band sold 120m records, generating income worth £5bn in today's money and conquering the UK, US, Australia, Japan - everywhere. They were the world's biggest band since the Beatles.
When the Rollers failed, they failed like nobody else. Suddenly no one wanted to know. By 1976, the Rollers were twee and trite, yesterday's teen icons. Horror story piled up on horror story: apocalyptic fallings-out, a fatal car crash, drug and alcohol addiction, heart attacks, strokes, poverty, child porn convictions and suicide attempts. The story of the Bay City Rollers became an awful cautionary tale of fame and its fallout.
Fewer have fallen more spectacularly than Les McKeown. He was the Scottish band's second lead singer, hired after Nobby Clarke quit in 1973. Before McKeown, the band looked destined to be a one-hit wonder, with the Jonathan King-produced Keep On Dancing. But by 1974 Rollermania was in full flow. McKeown, aged 18, was the biggest heart-throb in a band stuffed with boy-next-door heart-throbs, a magnet for millions of screaming teenage girls.
It's hard to track down McKeown and his fellow Rollers these days. Not because they live in splendid isolation on their country retreats - they don't. It's because they don't want to talk about their Roller days. The memories are still too bitter and, a quarter of a century on, too fresh. At the same time, it becomes apparent that Rollerdom is ever-present in their middle-aged lives - not least because they are still fighting for the royalties they are owed.
I speak to former agents and bookers. None can lead me to the Rollers. They have heard all the stories over the years, and recount how Alan Longmuir has had a heart attack and how Derek Longmuir has been convicted for downloading child pornography, how Eric Faulkner has disappeared, how Stuart "Woody" Wood has made a new start for himself, and how Les is apparently in a very bad way. One former agent tells me he has heard that Les has passed away.
A contact of a contact of a contact leads, eventually, to Les McKeown. He agrees to an interview so long as he can mention the missing money.
We met in a restaurant in London's Camden last summer. He is still handsome, though a little bloated and pasty, like somebody who has taken more drugs in his time than is sensible. He is wearing black jeans, black T-shirt and shades, his hair is largely black with streaks of silver, and his teeth are flecked with black. We talk about the old days - how he had dreamed of being in a serious rock band when he was a kid, how he was offered the job of lead singer in the Rollers and his best friend told him he'd be mad to turn it down because if the group did take off, then he could go on to be anybody; how he could have anything he wanted - women, hotel rooms, alcohol, drugs. Anything, that is, except for his own space and time.
I ask McKeown, now 49, when he was happiest. He ums and ahs, and mentions a time just after he left the Rollers, when he was signed as a solo artist by a Japanese label. Really? He muses before giving an answer that could have come straight out of a 12-steps programme. "My happiest days are here and in the future." I'm not sure even he thinks this is true.
What is certain is that he doesn't mention the Rollers when asked about his happiest times. Yes, he tells stories about groupies and international travel and selling out venues, but there is a weariness to his voice. It is the downside that comes readily to mind - the rows, the exhaustion, the exploitation by manager Tam Paton. Having to jump out of the back window of his house and into a waiting van to get away from fans, never sleeping, not having Christmas off, the band being given speed to keep themselves going.
What about the adulation, the luxury, the lovely house he could buy for himself and his parents, the car he treated himself to when he was 19 - a turbo-charged Ford Mustang 351? But even as I say it, I feel slightly sick in my stomach.
In a way, this car tells the story of Les and the Rollers perfectly. The Mustang 351 represented everything he had aspired to, the dream realised, and the subsequent nightmare. In 1975, he was driving in Edinburgh when he hit 76-year-old Euphemia Clunie and killed her. It's still clear in his head. He describes the road's four lanes, how she had crossed the first two lanes, and there was no traffic coming on that side of the road, and how she just continued walking till the car hit her. "She only lived across the road from me, and I wanted to knock on her family's door and say, 'I'm really, really sorry', but I wasn't allowed to do that. I wasn't allowed to go to her funeral."
At the time, he was told to try to put it to the back of his mind for his own sake and for the sake of the band. "They didn't see it from a helpful, human way. It wasn't like, 'We're going to get through this together', it was more like, 'We need you on stage tomorrow, you wee cunt, so you better stop fucking crying.' "
McKeown has always insisted he was driving at 40mph, but witnesses claimed the true speed was 70mph, and he was charged with causing death by dangerous driving. Another witness came forward, though, and McKeown was found guilty of the lesser charge of driving recklessly, fined £150 and banned for a year. He says it still upsets him that he has never gone to make peace with the family and tell them that he was neither drinking nor speeding. "I won't say that I think about it every night, but there's elements of what happened then that have something to do with head trips today."
McKeown was never the same again. The band continued to dominate the charts for another few months, but by 1977 punk was on its angry march, and the Rollers were no-hopers in the UK. In 1978, they left for Los Angeles to try to reinvent themselves, but McKeown was more interested in taking cocaine with his rock'n'roll heroes such as Led Zeppelin's John Bonham and the Who's Keith Moon than playing with the Rollers. It didn't last long - Moon died that year, Bonham was dead by 1980, both drummers barely into their 30s, legendary rock casualties.
It was in 1978 that McKeown told fellow Rollers that he wasn't happy with their plan to make an American TV series for little kids and they should all leave the band. They wrote back saying, "Fuck you, you're fired." In the end, he left by mutual agreement. By the age of 22, he was a has-been. "It was horrible. I was fucked, basically." He orders another glass of white wine. "I was looking after my mum and dad in a hotel in Edinburgh because the house had been repossessed. It was really ... I can't tell you ..."
Even now, after all these years, he breaks up when he thinks about it. Because he was thrown out of the band before they split up, he was the only one to have his house repossessed. "It was shite. Thank God I wasn't as worldly as I am now, because I probably would have topped myself then, but I still had loads and loads of enthusiasm about my potential. I was convinced that, if I could get myself a deal, I'd crack it as a solo artist."
There's a sweetness to Les McKeown, alongside a burning intensity, a heaviness, an anger, a desperate sense of dejection. I keep thinking, please, Les, tell me something good. What about the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll? Yes, he says, there was all of that, but it wasn't how he had envisaged it - he was a teeny idol, not a rock'n'roll star; he wasn't allowed to admit that he had sex or girlfriends in case it made him damaged goods, and initially he was given drugs as a controlling mechanism.
"Tam started us on drugs. Well, he started me on drugs. When we got a wee bit tired, he'd give us amphetamines. He'd keep us awake with speed, black bombers, and then it becomes a little culture, doesn't it? 'I've got this great stuff from a chauffeur', mandrax, whatever, so you end up almost showing off to each other what stupid drugs you've taken."
Tam Paton is probably the key to understanding the Rollers. While it is indisputable that Paton made the Rollers, McKeown would argue that he was also largely responsible for destroying them. He compares the band's relationship with Paton to that of a child with an abusive parent.
Last year, Paton, now a property dealer, suffered a stroke after being cleared of child sex abuse allegations and being fined £200,000 for supplying cannabis. He was sacked by the Rollers in 1978. In 2003, former guitarist Pat McGlynn accused him of trying to rape him in 1975 - Paton dismissed it as a cynical attempt to whip up publicity for McKeown's autobiography, Shang-A-Lang, which was just about to be published (McKeown accompanied McGlynn when he went to Howdenhall police station in Edinburgh to lodge his allegation against Paton). In a separate case, Paton was given a three-year jail sentence in 1982 for gross indecency against two teenage boys.
Paton has always claimed he was unfairly convicted. "All I am guilty of is being gay, and enjoying the company of young people. I have been made an outcast and have been living like a recluse. I have even grown a moustache so people won't recognise me," he said in 2003.
McKeown calls Paton's interest in young boys diseased, and says people like him can pass their disease down the generations and fill people with hate. Was he sexually abused by Paton? No. But, he claims, Paton's bullying and misogyny infected the band. "Tam Paton was constantly, constantly, constantly ramming the concept that women were dirty fish, dirty, smelly fish, you don't want any of them, you want to be one of the boys, look at all these people who are successful and gay, and he'd say, that's how you do it in this business blah blah blah, that's how you get good proper friends ... In one way what he said was kind of true; if you toe the line you reap the benefits."
But he didn't reap the benefits. Today, McKeown has still not seen his Rollers royalties. In 1978, it was estimated that he was owed £1.8m. The most recent estimates suggest that the band as a whole are owed up to £50m. Often, McKeown walks into record shops and comes across new compilations featuring Rollers hits - between 1996 and 1998 Bay City Rollers hits were released on 118 albums worldwide. So what happened to the money? The answer is complex, messy and uncertain. At various times, band members have accused Paton of making off with the cash. But Paton says he signed a dodgy record deal and was as much a victim as the musicians were.
Certainly, accountants, lawyers and acolytes have taken more than their fair share. But, bizarrely, most of the money appears to be held in trust for the band by the record company Sony-BMG, which bought out Arista in 1976. Sony-BMG has told the Guardian that it has been unable to pay royalties because there is no copy of the initial contract and the band have been feuding so long that they are unable to agree who is owed what. The company says progress has been made recently, the money is being held in an escrow account and that Sony-BMG has no interest in holding on to it. "The company continues to work in good faith with representatives of the Bay City Rollers to resolve this matter," a spokesperson says.
McKeown passes on my request for an interview with other band members he is in touch with, and a few weeks later Alan Longmuir emails me. Alan, the band's bassist, is in his mid-50s. He and his drummer brother Derek started the Rollers in Edinburgh in 1967, and he was still working as a plumber when they cracked the charts in 1971. He tells me he wants to set the record straight. "People thought we were a manufactured band like Take That; no disrespect to them, but we weren't. We started off at school and built up."
What he loved about the early days was that the Rollers were a hobby. "You'd finish work and then go and rehearse and look forward to playing live all over Scotland." Through the years, the line-up continued to change. Alan reckoned there were 27 members in all. Before long, he says, the band became a prisoner of their own success. When he looks back on those years, all he thinks of is hotel rooms, and running away from fans to have a drink in peace. "You couldn't walk the street. There were 100 girls outside my house every day. You never had your own time. In 1974, I had one day off, and that was to go to a wedding."
He says he wasn't exactly a rebel, but he did stand up to Paton, whom he refers to as a control freak. He talks about how Paton would work them to the bone, and how he'd bring in young men, in their early 20s, to manage them in Europe even though they had no experience in the business. "There was a 24-year-old boy supposed to be managing us in Germany, and he didn't have a clue. But Tam was coming on to him, and he was more interested in that."
Did Paton come on to members of the band? "Aye, but I was too old. I'd say, go fuck yourself. I liked to go for a pint, I was like a man's man, so he didn't really bother me, to tell the truth." I ask him if there is anything to be said in defence of Paton. "I think Tam was a good guy who went wrong." The thing is, he says, Paton always wanted to be a star himself. "Tam was a very good musician. I remember seeing him at the local Palais - he played the accordion and the piano. We used to call him the one-handed piano player because, when people walked in, he'd wave with one hand and continue playing."
Alan says he enjoyed the initial success; it's just a pity that they were so thoroughly exploited. "For 30 years, I have been asking questions and I'm still awaiting answers." I tell him that Paton claims not to have made much money out of the band. Alan laughs. "Why has he got so many flats and houses and cars, then?" He's not seen Paton for 15 years, since he visited him at his home. "I was in his house once and I thought, 'Ach ...' There were all these young guys hanging about and I thought it was pretty pathetic. He seems lonely."
Alan brings me up to date with members of the band he is in regular touch with. "Woody is producing a lot of Scottish stuff, and Derek is still doing his nursing thing - he went to the Open University and got a BA." As for himself, after some health problems, he is back working as a plumber in Bannockburn. "I had a slight heart attack and a slight stroke. Just stress and worry and everything."
"Big stroke," his wife mutters in the background. Alan laughs. "Aye, big stroke. I lost the power of my left side. I got the fright of my life. It's OK now. I still get twitches, but I'm all right."
Does he think the stress was Rollers-related? "Definitely." He speaks to so many people who assume he must be living the life of Riley, a former Roller running around in a Roller, and they are amazed when he puts them right. "I don't feel bitter because I'm quite happy. I've got a lot of friends." Would he do it all over again? "Yes, if I knew what I know now." Sometimes he misses the music and he'd like to go back into a studio - but really, he says, he's too old for that now. A more realistic goal is to get the money they're due.
To do that, I point out, you'll have to stop arguing and get your act together. "That's right, yeah. Let's get a business head on us. I've always said that." He dreams about what he will do with the money when it finally comes through. "I could get a boat or something and do a bit of fishing."
Another few weeks pass before I receive an email from Derek Longmuir, Alan's younger brother. Derek, who is now 50, has had an eventful and troubled post-Rollers life. In 2000, he was convicted of downloading child pornography from the internet and sentenced to 300 hours community service. He was subsequently sacked from his job at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he worked as a psychiatric nurse, but in October 2001 was allowed to resume his nursing career.
There is much I want to ask him, not least the influence of Paton on his subsequent life. I wonder if there isn't almost a twisted inevitability about former teenybop idols being attracted to teenagers. After all, such kids are the very people the band appealed to in their early adulthood and, in a weird inversion of normal rules, teenyboppers were their paymasters - they bought the records and determined how successful the band were. But Derek isn't interested in being interviewed, further than answering a few questions on email. Asked if fame is traumatising, Derek replies, "I don't think it's the fame, but some of the experiences of just how ruthless the business can be. It is definitely something you have to recover from."
Woody, who played guitar in the band, has written several successful "Celtic mood" albums in recent years. He doesn't even want to answer email questions. Nobody knows where Eric is.
After McKeown left, the Bay City Rollers officially changed their name to the Rollers and struggled on for another few years. Members joined, quit and rejoined, to little avail - they never had another hit single. Meanwhile, McKeown called his new band Leslie McKeown's Ego Trip (it was one - they were very much his backing band) and his first post-Rollers album, All Washed Up, topped the charts in Japan. He was the only one to have a sniff of a successful solo career. For the first time McKeown found himself with money in his pocket. The Japanese label that signed him paid him a total of £300,000 for three records, but he spent a fortune on production and design, changing his mind time and again. He overspent, the records didn't make their money back, and once again he found himself broke and unwanted.
What difference would the outstanding royalties have made to McKeown's life? It depends what mood you find him in, and that can change by the minute. "I wouldn't be here talking to you, that's for sure, because I'd be dead," he says at first. So perhaps it's worked out for the best? "Maybe it has ... " He stops and this time imagines all the good things he could have done with the money. "If I close my eyes, I can imagine a beautiful, two-storey white cottage with a thatched roof and a little river running by, just what anybody would imagine - idyllic, the type of thing they give away in the Daily Mirror."
Today, McKeown lives in a flat in Hackney, east London, with his Japanese wife Peko and their 20-year-old son, Richard. He is the Roller most ready to talk about the toll that fame and its aftermath have taken. "The bit I don't like is that it's brought a darkness that sometimes I can't get rid of." Is it there often? "Yeah." He looks away. "It's definitely some sort of depression. It's kind of relentless." He points to his head. "In a visual sense, it's sitting there right on your shoulder, just waiting. And it's like talking to me, saying the world's shite, you know the world is shite."
McKeown says matter-of-factly that he had a bit of therapy when he was suicidal. When was that? "Various times in my life. That particular time could have been 1984. There were some family problems and money problems - just stupid stuff that everybody else has to deal with. I've never actually been bothered about dying. I can't think I would ever really miss being alive." Did he tell his family? "Nah." He stops. "Nah. They do worry if I just go off, because sometimes I do that. But I'm not going to remortgage my flat to go into one of those rehabilitation centres for three grand a day and find out at the end of it that I'm more depressed. I tried it with the smoking. I used to smoke about 10 fags a day, went to a counsellor and came out smoking 20 a day ... The only person who can fix you is yourself."
What does he mean when he says he "goes off"? Well, just that, he says - disappears for a while, to sort himself out, or mess himself up more. It's usually a couple of days, but it has lasted longer. One incident lasted several months. "I went over to Thailand, smoked opium for three months and just sat like that." He does an impression of an automaton.
Sometimes, he says, when you feel bad, you can just make yourself sleep and you wake up feeling better with a wee glimmer of hope, and "sometimes I think, 'You're such a weak little shite. You're on the wagon, you're off the wagon.' It's always been with me. One day I might be able to beat it."
Things haven't gone as well for McKeown over the past year as he would have hoped. Soon after we first met he was charged with drink-driving - he pleaded not guilty, and the case is upcoming.
When Paton eventually gets in touch, he apologises for not returning my calls until now. He says he's not been the same since his two heart attacks and stroke. His voice is strong, though, and he's lost none of his old belligerence. He talks about the early days managing the Rollers - the good old days, before they really hit it big, when he used to drive them all over Britain for a gig and a few quid. All along, he says, he knew he was flogging an image and little else.
"They were five young inaccessible men, untouchables. I tried to form a total mystery about the band in the same way Elvis Presley and the Beatles were put together. You could hear them but, by God, you couldn't get near them. The difference, of course, was that Elvis and the Beatles had great talent."
Paton says it was his dream to be a big star, and when he realised it was unlikely to happen he settled for second best - becoming a famous svengali. He claims that most of the band couldn't play their instruments properly and performed on few of their records. "They had absolutely no musical ability, but people went crazy for them. I took a drummer friend to see them one night, and he came away and said, 'What the fuck was that? How did that lot get such a reaction?' I said to him, 'They are five pairs of tight jeans and big hairy bollocks hanging out at the front', and he said, 'Thank Christ for that, because you'd never give them a contract on musical ability.'"
I tell him what McKeown has said. He laughs at the suggestion that he introduced him to drugs, and says if McKeown really believes he robbed the band, he should take him to court. "I'm reckoned to be worth about £7m; come and get it. I know how I got my money. My money can be accounted for."
All the accusations have destroyed his health, he says - not least the allegation of attempted rape. "The police investigated Pat McGlynn's claim and found it was rubbish." What Paton does admit to is financial naivety. "I wasn't the brightest spark on the block at the time. The straw was coming out of my ears. Or was it potatoes? Hehehehehe!" Paton's father ran a potato business. Yes, he says, if he had been wiser, he would have driven a harder and better deal with the record company. If he had his time over, would he manage the Rollers again? "I wouldn't even go near them with a bargepole if they were all standing with their knickers round their ankles. I wouldn't even think about it. Honest to God. It was nothing to do with sex. I didn't even fancy any of them."
So if he didn't think they were any good, and he didn't fancy them, and he didn't like them, why did he take them on? "I was just determined to make something that had nothing famous." Anyway, he says it's not true that he didn't like any of them - he's always had a lot of time for the Longmuir brothers, especially Derek, "a very caring person".
As for the money, he says, most of the band had plenty by the time they quit, but they didn't know how to look after it. He has little sympathy for them. "I think they should get their heads out of their arseholes and start growing up. They are desperate men clutching at straws at the side of the river. Look what it's done to them - they have become bitter and twisted old men." And what about him? He sighs. "I would say I've become slightly bitter and twisted."
Through most of the 1990s, there were two Bay City Rollers bands. They were rarely active and more like tribute bands to their original selves. Even here, there was a bitter dispute over the right for McKeown, the latecomer, to call his band the Rollers. It cost the original members £208,000 in legal fees to ensure his Rollers would be called Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers, so that they were not confused with the original Rollers; now only McKeown's version survives.
Occasionally, however, the Rollers have risen above their differences. The most famous line-up, the fab five, last reunited for a millennium concert on New Year's Eve 1999. Now the band have come together again - this time not to perform, but to mount a sustained campaign to get the royalties they are owed. They are meeting regularly in Scotland - even guitarist Eric Faulkner has re-emerged, though where he disappeared to and where he now lives remain something of a mystery.
McKeown is still fighting his demons, but there are little things that give him pleasure. "Just the other night, a friend of mine who is going through a divorce came down to rehearsals, and he plays a good lead guitar, and next morning he left me a message. 'We're gonna play fuckin' Wembley next year, and I am the new member of the Bay fuckin' City Rollers! Hi Les, it's Tony.' And that's the effect music can have, and that gave me such a buzz just listening to his message on the machine. It's nice to think you can make somebody's dreams, and they don't have to be drug-influenced."
McKeown himself is preparing for a Rollers tour - alongside the Osmonds and David Cassidy as part of a 1970s nostalgiafest - that will take in venues as grand as Wembley Arena. I ask if any other one of the fab five will be joining him. "No, it's just me," he says, "the only one who matters." At times he can't help himself. When he leads Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers, he improvises and reinterprets some of the old jingly-jangly tunes with samples and big Japanese drums. "I do a really good ballad of Bye Bye Baby. I'm fed up with all that happy shit because I always thought those words were very sad." He sings the chorus slowly and quietly to me. "Especially if you've been through my life, they are extremely painful."
But what gives him his biggest kick, he says, is playing in his new band, where he is just a guitarist who does a bit of singing. I ask him what the band is called. "Damaged," he says.
Scotsman online, June 3, 2005
Ex-Roller in drugs arrest
FORMER Bay City Roller Les McKeown has
been arrested for allegedly supplying cocaine. Drug squad officers
went to the home of the 49-year-old lead singer in Dalston, East
London, earlier this week. It is claimed a small quantity of cocaine
was found and the singer was detained by police on suspicion of
supplying Class A drugs and possessing a Class A drug.
McKeown was released on bail pending further inquiries by the police, and instructed to return to an East London police station in July.
A police spokesman said: "We can confirm a man was arrested on June 1 on suspicion of being concerned with the supply of a Class A drug and possession of a Class A drug." The move comes after another former Roller, Pat McGlynn, was arrested along with three other men in a drugs bust last month.
The 47-year-old guitarist from Liberton Brae, Edinburgh, was due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court today. They were held after officers from Scotland Yard's Middle Market Drugs Project staged a swoop in the car park of the Marriott Hotel, close to junction 26 on the M25 in Essex. Half a kilo of high-grade cocaine, with a street value of £50,000, was recovered with a large sum of cash outside the hotel in Waltham Abbey, Essex, on May 17. Two addresses in London and two in Edinburgh were also searched as part of the operation. The three others charged with supplying a class A drug along with McGlynn are Jason Abbott, 33, an engineer, of Hamilton Avenue, Barkingside; Raymond Burt 47, an auctioneer, of Sexton Court, Newport Avenue, London, and Alistair Murray, 36, a senior financial systems analyst, of Somerset Place, Edinburgh. Burt has also been charged with possession of amphetamine. The Middle Market Drugs Project was set up in November to tackle the supply of Class A drugs. It is made up of officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, Customs, City of London Police and the National Criminal Intelligence Service.
Mr McKeown, is already facing a trial over alleged drink-driving offences. He was charged with failing to stop, drink-driving and driving without insurance after his Volvo hit a Honda Civic in north London last July. Mr McKeown has denied drink-driving and fleeing the scene of an accident.
The Bay City Rollers sold more than 120
million records in the 1970s with hits such as Bye Bye baby and
Shang-a-Lang. But McKeown, McGlynn and fellow band members Eric
Faulkner, Stuart Wood and brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir were
left penniless when the band split up in 1977. The rockers
claim they were ripped off by manager Tam Paton
May 7 2005
He was rockin' .. he was rollin' .. now Roller Les McKeown has been banned for drink-drivin
By Natalie Walker - daily record
BAY City Rollers singer Les McKeown yesterday admitted drink-driving and fleeing the scene of a crash.
A court was told McKeown, 49, was more than double the limit when he twice crashed his silver Volvo - first into a car, then into a traffic island.
But when police caught up with him , the 70s teen idol, whose hits included Shang-a-lang and Bye, Bye Baby, claimed he was in a meeting with Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood at the time.
Yesterday, his lawyer Michael Atkinson told Thames Magistrates Court in London the singer lied because of a crash in which an elderly woman died after being hit by his sports car in Edinburgh in 1975.
He was convicted of dangerous driving and banned for a year.
Mr Atkinson said: 'The reason why Mr McKeown did not delay himself at the scene of the incident was because he effectively panicked, having recalled the previous driving accident.'
But district judge Jackie Comyns, who had heard how McKeown fled, ignoring the pleas of passers-by, told him: 'It doesn't sound like someone who panicked.'
She passed an interim driving ban before bailing him to await sentence next week.
The former Roller had admitted driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and driving without insurance.
Mark Parker, prosecuting, said the accident happened in Dalston, east London, at 5pmon July 8 last year.
McKeown smashed into a Honda Civic, then drove on and crashed into a raised concrete traffic island.
Mr Parker said: 'Mr McKeown and the lady passenger got out of the vehicle and walked offA passer-by followed McKeown and begged him to stay and wait for police but McKeown ignored him, saying: 'Stay away, just leave me alone,' before trying to hail a cab at the roadside.
When the police caught up with him, McKeown said: 'It was not me. I just got out of a taxi after a meeting with Ronnie Wood.'
He failed a roadside breath test and his blood alcohol was found to be 75 microgrammes per 100 ml - more than twice the legal limit of 35.
Edinburgh-born McKeown, who now lives in east London, refused to comment as he left court
How a roller began his career
Scotsman, Oct 2, 2003
He was to become an international pop idol as lead singer of the Bay City Rollers, but Les McKeowns road to global stardom began in Broomhouse. In this, the first extract from his autobiography Shang-a-Lang, he tells of growing up on a city council estate, his early brushes with the law and why he was expelled from Forrester High School.
We were a typical working-class Edinburgh family. The parents worked hard and the kids played hard - making our own entertainment when there was none to be found, which was often. We were a musical family in the sense that there was always music to be heard in our house.
My earliest memory of music is of my mothers lovely voice. Mum had sung with the Womens Royal Army Corps and was always singing. If ever I was upset, she would sing traditional Irish folk songs to send me to sleep. My dad was deaf, so he was never able to appreciate his wifes beautiful voice.
It was at work that mum met my dad. He was a tailor, born in Ballymena, Co Antrim, in 1911. Some time after they met she spotted an advert in a paper placed by the Edinburgh textile firm, Manclarks. They were desperate for skilled tailors and seamstresses so they decided to leave for Scotland as soon as possible.
When they arrived in 1949 they got married, and it wasnae long before their first son, Ronald, was born, soon followed by Harold, then Brian and, finally, me. It was November 12, 1955.
My dads loss of hearing had been caused by a bike accident when he was four that severed the nerves in the back of his neck. From that point on he didnae learn any more speech and soon stopped talking, so we had to develop other means of communicating with him - our own form of sign language. Mum and dad had moved to the Broomhouse area of Edinburgh, aka the Irish ghetto, soon after they married. The estate was fairly new and was brilliant compared to the high-rise blocks in other schemes. Our bit consisted of three tenement blocks, bordered on one side by government buildings and on the other side by an industrial estate. Beyond that there was miles of hayfields.
We used to climb over the walls to taunt the security guards. There was money to be made by acquiring Golden Wonder crisps by the boxload and empty Schweppes soda bottles. If you bought a bottle you could take it back to the shop and get money back. A crate of them would keep us rich for weeks.
Family life was also rich, as you would expect it to be when there are four young boys living in one small house. As the baby of the family, I got special attention from my mum - at least thats what my brothers seemed to think.
But when I was nine I contracted meningococcal meningitis, probably from drinking dirty water at school summer camp.
A few days after I came home I didnae feel right. Mum wasnae taking any chances and called our GP and I was rushed to hospital. They said that if Id arrived there half an hour later, I would have been dead.
I was held down by four doctors so that they could stick a needle in my spine. The slightest movement could have paralysed me. I had never been so scared in my life. Mum said that I was never the same again after the meningitis. She said I became "high strung" and tense, and stayed that way until quite recently.
Like all of my brothers, I went to Broomhouse Primary. I loved going and had a fantastic teacher called Mrs Simmons. But I worried about moving to the "big" school. Bad things seemed to happen to everyone I knew who went to Forrester High.
Roni was OK there for the most part but got into some kind of trouble and ended up in a special school for a while. Hari was there only a few weeks when his friends raided the school tuck shop and he was the one stopped by the police.
A few days later, he walked to school along the railway embankment unaware that it was private property. The police caught him. Then they caught him mucking about on a friends scooter. He was nicked and banned from driving for 25 years. At the age of 11 and a half.
The social services were notified. They convinced mum it would be best for Hari if she handed him to them. He was taken off to a home for young offenders and on his first night was raped by the night-duty officer. He was then moved to the Mossbank Approved School in Glasgow where he stayed for the next three years.
He ended up in a dorm with 36 Glaswegian gang members. If you delve into the most sordid realms of your imagination and multiply it a hundred times, youll get the picture of what happened to him.
There was no-one to help him and there was no escape. He sank into despair and a downward spiral that reached an all-time low when a contract was put out on him in the late 90s.
He suffered a broken jaw, fractured skull, permanent damage to the spinal chord and loss of feeling in his face. I wish I could have done something and I still do, but I dinnae know what.
So it was no wonder that I was nervous as I walked through Forresters gates for the first time. At first I got picked on for being small and also because of my dad. But after a year or two, I eventually found a way to discourage this unwanted attention - by misbehaving and gaining respect.
As far as lessons went, I wasnae interested. I developed a healthy dislike of teachers with one exception - Mr Cunningham. As a result, I enjoyed my art lessons, but he was by far the scariest teacher in school. In those days, it was acceptable to discipline a child with a belt. Getting belted by him would scare you s***less.
IT was when I was 15 that things got out of hand. There was a posh kid in my year who wound people up and I did my fair share of hassling the lad. One afternoon he was sitting in an open-top car with his brother, who jumped out, spat in my face and told me to leave his little brother alone.
I found some bricks and other missiles and proceeded to smash the car to pieces. He called the police. Logic deserted me. I was a bit overzealous and the posh kid ended up in hospital. The next day, Mr Cunningham and another teacher beat the living s*** out of me in a classroom.
I decided to get them back by vandalising the teachers lift. It was easy to recruit co-conspirators and they were happy to contribute the requisite ammunition.
My scheme was carried out like a military exercise and timed to perfection. Seven years later, the IRA used similar "dirty protests" in the Maze to demonstrate their anger.
I was expelled, but it was worth it because operation "make the f*****s walk up the stairs" was successful. I also ended up in court being done for malicious damage to the convertible and grievous bodily harm to the boy. Mum paid out £10 or so in fines.
Outside of school, my brothers and I were all into scooters, on which I used to follow Roni to discos. After a while hed let me go with him. It was brilliant. The girls wanted to look after the wee brother and there were lots of slow dances to be had. Because I was small, I usually found my head nestled in their chests.
Mostly, though, wed sit in playing records. Wed whack up the volume and argue about whose turn it was to pick the track. Id always choose Bowie, Roxy Music and Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin. We werent hanging around the streets like lots of the other kids, getting into far more trouble than we did.
In 1971, aged 15, I had to think about finding a job, and having been cast out of the education system before my time, the prospects werent good. I didnae like what I could see coming my way. I began to work on an escape plan.
My friend Jimmy Redpaths dad was a captain in the Merchant Navy. To a forlorn, puberty-ridden 15-year-old, the idea of sailing the high seas, far and away from Edinburgh, was very, very attractive.
I filled in the forms and fell asleep each night imagining the exotic places I would go to. I was absolutely devastated when my application was rejected because Id been expelled from school. I cried for ages. I wanted to see the world and now I couldnae have the job to let me do that.
Eventually, when the disappointment died down, I began to work on another escape plan.
For as long as I can remember, Ive loved music, not just listening to it, but singing it especially. People used to say I had a good voice.
My first public performances were at the local community centre. Thered be bingo and a band and when they finished they would invite members of the audience up on stage to sing.
"I was always the first to volunteer and when Id finished, everyone would stand up and applaud. One day it dawned on me that this was something that could be developed. I began to take a more serious interest in music and the industry as a whole.
So I decided, if I couldnae be a sailor, Id be a pop star. Getting into music was definitely the only route open to me and I went full steam ahead towards that door.
At weekends, I began visiting the Radio Edinburgh Studios, just to find out what went on and how things worked. Radio Edinburgh was a recording studio run by a guy called Neil Ross. I used to hang out there, just to soak up the atmosphere. I made cups of tea for Neil and the technicians and constantly bombarded them with questions.
I was in awe of the bands that recorded there and wanted more than anything else in the world to have one of my own. That would, of course, require money and as I didnae earn any money at the studios there was no alternative but to get a job to finance my dream.
I had a girlfriend whose dad was a foreman at the S&N breweries and they were looking for a lab assistant. The interview was a formality. I got the job and started on my 16th birthday, in the winter of 1971. I was given a proper lab assistants white coat and an access-all-areas pass - it didnae take long for me to catch on that the access rights were a highly exploitable perk. I could go where the beer was brewed and siphon off the unpasteurised beer, an elixir to my fellow workers. I remember often cycling home, off my wee head, which seriously worried my poor mum. Sadly, though, one day I was discovered and got fired.
I got a new job at a soft drinks factory. My new truck was a nifty little number, and one day I whizzed out of the warehouse into the car park and drove straight through the MDs Merc. I didnae see any point in hanging around, waiting to get fired!
I had God knows how many different jobs after that - delivering bread, working in a laundry and then a chemical factory. There was also a stint as an electricians apprentice.
All the time I was dreaming of the day when I would have my own band. I decided to seize the initiative and set about finding other members for my band by advertising in the Edinburgh Evening News and Bruces Records, in Rose Street.
BRUCES Records was the hub of the music world in Edinburgh, because its owner, Bruce Findlay, had his own music charts which all the radio stations in Scotland used. He went on to manage Simple Minds.
My brother Hari was also on the case. He knew a lassie called Pamela Cormack, who ran the fan club for a well-known Scottish band, the Bay City Rollers. The club was run from the Prestonpans home of their manager, Tam Paton.
As Tam was an important, if not the only, music industry figure in Edinburgh, Hari felt I should meet Pamela, so off we went.
While we were there a phone call came through from a guy called Alan Wright. He was putting together a band called Threshold with his friend, Alex Valente, and said they were looking for a lead singer. Within seconds I was on the line and my "brass neck" got me the job.
I went along to meet Alan, who was the bass player, and Alex, the lead guitarist. Also in the band were John Walker on rhythm guitar and Jon Gillam on drums. We began rehearsing together at each others houses. By the time we started to get gigs, my brother Roni was a DJ of note in Edinburgh, and we hit on the idea of selling Threshold and Roni as a package. It worked really well and the gigs rolled in.
Threshold were your typical long-haired rockers - we wore mainly jeans and T-shirts to start with, but I did invest in a black crushed velvet jacket that I was particularly fond of.
Then my dad started to make some stage gear for us. Having watched Top of the Pops in forced silence, he concentrated on how the bands looked and decided he could make us stand out from our contemporaries. He gave us a visual edge and, with the music and the look established, we started to attract quite a substantial following of young lassies. Within a matter of weeks, they were coming from as far away as Aberdeen to camp outside Alans mums house in sleeping bags.
I was in my element - part of the Edinburgh "scene" and on the receiving end of a lot of very attractive offers from those lassies that it would have been rude to decline. Alan also increased my appreciation of music with marijuana.
Id only ever smoked tobacco and remember thinking the first time I tried a spliff that it wasnae having any effect. Then I started to laugh a lot and it seemed like I was thinking on another dimension. I loved it.
As our reputation spread, we started to get booked for gigs farther afield. We started to travel all over Scotland to perform. Those were great times. Threshold was a surreal, enjoyable apprenticeship and I was living the dream.
But while Threshold was going from strength to strength and shagging for Scotland, I was being fired from countless jobs for being too tired to show up. Eventually, I landed a job at a paper mill for the princely sum of £70 a week - a hell of a wage in 1972.
My big salary meant that I could help to buy more stuff for Threshold, like a PA and our own van. That meant we actually started to realise a bit of a profit.
Our bookings were still increasing, and managers were starting to inquire about signing us up. Although I dinnae recall the event, some of the guys reckon we approached Tam Paton.
Jon Gillam says that he can remember going to see him.
Apparently, Threshold were told that they would have to change their image, be generally more clean-cut to make any serious progress. He also wanted us to stop playing rock and move to pop. Obviously no-one liked the idea, so we carried on as we were.
In November of 1973, we had a gig in Dunbar. As usual I was wearing really cool gear that my dad had made for me - on this occasion, a pair of bright-yellow flares, made of stretch nylon fabric.
I was following the Scottish tradition of not wearing underwear. Yellow stretch flares looked much better without a visible panty line. At the time, I thought I looked the dogs b******s. I didnae much care that most people were finding it hard not to look at mine.
I didnae know, on stage that night, that one member of the audience in particular was especially drawn to those tight trousers. After the show, Tam Paton and Eric Faulkner came to see me backstage.
Shang-a-Lang: Life as an International Pop Idol (£15.99 hardback) by Les McKeown with Lynne Elliot, foreword by Irvine Welsh, is published by Mainstream on October 20. To receive your copy (p&p free) call The Book Service on 01206 255800 or visit www.mainstreampublishing.com
Les McKeown will be launching his book
in conjunction with Ottakers at Acanthus on Waverley Bridge
on October 8 at 7pm. To purchase tickets, priced £3, call
Ottakers on 0131-225 4495. Les will be
signing copies of his book at WH Smiths at the Gyle shopping mall on October 9 at 1pm
Inside story of a rock and Roller legend
Edinburgh Evening News... October 2nd, 2003
FORMER Bay City Rollers lead singer Les McKeown has revealed how he would give the rest of the band - including manager Tam Paton - strong sleeping pills so he could sneak out to meet female fans alone.
He also revealed he used to smuggle drugs on tours by concealing them in the turn-ups of the groups trademark tartan trousers.
McKeown, who makes the revelations in a sensational new autobiography, says Paton had banned the group from fraternising with fans in case it damaged their clean-cut image.
But McKeown was determined to take advantage of his global pop star status and would try various tricks to sneak past Paton.
Then he hit on the sleeping pills plan. "A new way of evading Tam presented itself soon after arriving in Australia," he writes.
After suffering from jetlag while on tour on 1975 he had been prescribed Mandrax which had knocked him out like a light. He says: "It occurred to me that if I could get Tam and the others to take them, I would be free to explore the local delights without fear of being discovered. So, I got them all taking the tablets and off I went."
It is only one of countless revelations in McKeowns startling book, Shang-a-Lang: Life of an international pop idol, which the News is serialising, starting today and through all next week.
The book charts the amazing life of McKeown as he went from an Edinburgh council estate to superstardom - only to end up with nothing. It tells of his fall-outs with the manager and other band members and details the bizarre life of the Rollers on tour.
He also lifts the lid on Rollermania and tells of his countless sexual exploits with female fans desperate for a Bay City Roller.
The girls, McKeown says, used devious means to get at him including being taken on as chambermaids at hotels, waiting in lifts and chasing him down corridors.
McKeown also writes about two of the most famous incidents in his life - when he accidentally knocked down and killed an Edinburgh pensioner and when he was accused of shooting a 15-year-old fan with an air rifle.
The youngest of four boys he was brought up on the deprived Edinburgh council estate of Broomhouse . He reveals his brother Hari was raped after being taken away from the family and put in a young offenders home.
He also documents how his relationship with Eric Faulkner went from bad to worse because, he believes, of the guitarists jealousy of his front man image - and how this was at its worse when it was revealed the Rollers didnt play on their first album. He also tells how he believes Tam Paton had a strange hold over the other band members, and claims Paton tried to rape another band member.
McKeown finally split from the Rollers after five years at the top with hit singles, hit albums, world tours and even an American TV series, under his belt. They were in Japan when he left - but not after hed bugged the other Rollers rooms to discover what they were saying about him. He also reveals how once he left the band he discovered he had no money and was £24,000 in debt.
McKeown says he finally decided to spill the beans on being a Roller because it would be cathartic and he hopes youngsters aiming to be pop idols of the future might learn from his story.
The News serialisation begins today with his early life - but the full story will appear throughout this week and all of next.
Sunday Herald, March 28, 2003
Sushi and Shang-A-Lang:
The Rollers are still the UK's biggest boy band in Japan
Robbie and Blue just can't
compete with the allure of tartan trousers
By Mike Merrit
It's been 30 years since they
had teenagers swooning and the nation drowning in tartan, but
the Bay City Rollers still tower above today's superstars ...
Scotland's most famous boy band have topped the British artists playlist in the land of the rising sun with a song that was recorded in 1973 but went unnot iced when released in Britain.
Saturday Night was played more often during 2002 than any song by a British artist ... more than Robbie Williams, more than Travis and more than Blue.
But it's unlikely to cause mass celebrations in the Rollers camp. Saturday Night was not written by the band -- it was penned by Phil Coulter, who also wrote Shang-A-Lang -- so they won't get any songwriting royalties.
It seems a fitting twist for a band who sold almost 100 million records worldwide but claim they never made any money.
'It is incredible to think that with all our success we never made a penny,' said the group's bass player Alan Longmuir, 54, who worked as a plumber after the band split in 1979.
'We were just five working class lads who knew nothing about the music business. We sold 97 million records and made no money -- it seems impossible to do, but we did it.
'I am surprised and delighted by its success in Japan. The Rollers still have a huge fan base. The websites have thousands of hits each week. It is incredible.
'The fans are still there -- they are just in their 30s and 40s now. They are incredibly loyal but if we ever reformed we would not expect to see them in those short trousers -- the fans have grown-up now.'
JASRAC -- the Japanese equiv alent of the Performing Rights Society -- compiled the chart. The only other British artist in the top 10 was Point Break who took sixth place with Do We Rock.
A spokesman for PRS said that he was 'amazed' at the Rollers' success in Japan.
'Saturday Night was the fifth most performed work by an overseas artist in Japan this year and the best by a British artist,' he said. 'It is quite a surprise. We don't know why, although we suspect Saturday Night has been used as a theme tune for a television series or for an advert. The Japanese market is one of the world's major music markets and the Rollers must be delighted with their unexpected success.'
The Bay City Rollers notched up a string of No1 hits in the 1970s including Bye Bye Baby, Shang-A-Lang and Give a Little Love. The band are now chasing £160 million they claim they are owed in royalties through the US courts. Nobody is expecting an early settlement.
The court case has at least brought the classic line-up back together as friends, after a bitter fall out in the mid-1980s. The Rollers, all now in their 50s, have found very different lives after fame.
Derek Longmuir studied for a nursing degree and is now a NHS nurse in Edinburgh looking after dementia patients. He received 300 hours community service in March 2000 for a child porn conviction but was allowed to continue working as a nurse. His brother, Alan, suffered a minor heart attack and a stroke two years ago and is now semi-retired.
Guitarist Eric Faulkner, who runs a small studio in Sussex, singer Les McKeown, who heads his own Rollers tribute band, and Wood, who now produces traditional Scottish music, are still in the music business. Former manager Tam Paton, who was jailed in 1982 for sex offences against teenage youths, is now a property millionaire in Edinburgh with a fortune worth more than £5m.
All admit they are surprised by Saturday Night's success 30 years on. The song was given to the band by their record company Arista, who they are currently suing. It went to number one in America, Germany and Japan but was never released in the UK.
Certainly, the band have always been ... erm ... big in Japan. 'It was the wildest place for hysteria,' said Alan Longmuir. 'We toured there many times and released nearly 30 records. If we ever got together again it would be to tour America and Japan.
'The tartan image had a lot to do with our success in Japan and being in the right place at the right time. Even in our reunion tour in the 1980s we were still playing at Japanese concerts with more than 10,000 fans.'
The reunion tour in the 1980s ended in bitter acrimony with band members not talking to each other for years, although the class line-up reunited for a one-off television special for a Japanese broadcaster in December 1998.
Now there are even whispers that the band may reform for a nostalgia tour in Japan.
Alan's brother Derek would certainly be up for a reunion tour now -- in the right circumstances. 'I still get fan mail from Japan,' he said.
'People forget how big the records were in other countries. It was bizarre to see all these Japanese kids dressed in tartan.
'We are pals now. We went through a bad time but we are older and more mature. A reunion tour or gig is doubtful but no longer out of the question.'
The band's former manager Tam Paton, who recently won a 25-year-fight for £500,000 of unpaid royalties from all the Rollers' years, has rather different memories about the song which has raised the Rollers' Japanese profile. 'It went straight to number one in the US, but I thought it was awful,' he said.
Fri 13 Sep 2002
70s rockers bid to roll out the hits again
By JOHN GIBSON and STEPHANIE TODD
FORMER Bay City Roller Nobby Clark has revealed he is to relaunch his music career at the age of 49.
The ex-glam rocker, who shot to fame with the tartan-clad teen sensations in the early 1970s, has already written more than a dozen songs for a new album.
Nobby - whose real name is Gordon - plans to team up with another ageing pop star, Edinburgh-based musician Dave Paton, who also enjoyed songwriting and vocal chart success with local band Pilot in the 70s.
The ex-Roller is no stranger to solo projects. After leaving the band shortly before the height of their fame, he produced an album and three singles on his own before going on to work in the Capital as a property surveyor.
But he says he always wanted to return to his musical roots and has now set his sights firmly on future songwriting success.
A 12-track album has already been co-produced with help from Paton, who was previously Elton Johns bass guitarist on a world tour.
And the pair are hopeful that the rock-pop albums title track If Only . . . could soon be sung by chart toppers Will Young or Gareth Gates.
Nobby, of West Craigs, Edinburgh, said: "The album is all done and dusted, and one of the tracks has been requested by 19 Management who look after both Will and Gareth.
"Its a mid-tempo, catchy number and we are just waiting to hear whether they plan to use it or not."
The songwriter also said he was keeping an open mind over whether his album would be a success.
"In recent years I was close to being down and out.
"I suffered from depression and I went into a clinic," he said. "But thats behind me now and Im very much upbeat.
"Im confident about the new album but, should nothing come of it, Ill keep writing film music and Ill get by on that from royalties from past film soundtracks Ive been involved with, and from two of my singles which were very popular on the Continent." He added: "Dave has released a Pilot album in Japan and its currently 36 in the album chart over there.
"The same distributor wants to market my album so it looks very positive. The songs will also be available on the internet and Im setting up my own website at www.nobbyclark.com."
Nobby was a 15-year-old pupil at Tynecastle Secondary when he formed the Bay City Rollers along with school pals Alan and Derek Longmuir.
He remained a Roller for nine years, by which time Eric Faulkner, Woody Wood and Les McKeown - who came in as Nobbys replacement - had joined the band.
The band enjoyed most of their success after Nobbys departure, but he still had a hand in hits such as Keep on Dancing and Remember (Sha La La).
Nobby and other former members of the Rollers are still involved in an £850,000 claim on a record company for alleged unpaid royalties.
He says a writ was served on the company in New York two years ago.
Nobby explained: "I was a director of Bay City Music which published all the Rollers songs from 1969 up to the 80s, all the songs Eric Faulkner wrote including Give a Little Love and Angelina, both massive hits.
"Ive not received cash from that company and my directorship was never annulled.
"Thats part of the
Ex-Rollers boss wins battle for royalties
By ANGIE BROWN / Edinburgh News 29.November 2002
FORMER Bay City Roller boss
Tam Paton has won a 25-year fight for unpaid royalties after being
awarded £500,000 by a US court. Now the bands former
Edinburgh manager has revealed he will use the windfall to buy
a retirement villa in Spain.
The 63-year-old, who says he will come out with just under £400,000 after lawyers fees, received the award last month in New York.
But the award has outraged ex-members of the former Scottish boy band, who are still chasing £160million in royalties through the courts. Speaking from his Edinburgh mansion, Mr Paton said he was relieved the battle was finally over. " Its been a long time coming and, to tell the truth, I never thought I would see it. "But in the end it came down to a point of principle and I knew I was in the right."
The Bay City Rollers, one of
the UKs first boy bands, sold more than 300 million records
around the world in their heyday. The band - Les McKeown, Eric
Faulkner, Stuart Wood and brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir - notched
up a string of No1 hits in the 70s including Bye Bye Baby and
Give A Little Love. Mr Paton shot to fame in the 1970s as the
Edinburgh bands manager but was sacked in 1979. In 1982
he was jailed after being convicted of sex offences against young
boys. One former band member, who wishes to remain anonymous,
said: Weve not seen a penny from all those hits.
Mr Paton claimed that if the other band members had joined forces with him, they also would have won a payout. He said: "I will never totally leave Scotland, as I still have around 40 flats here and my Edinburgh mansion, which has just been valued at £1million. "So I will only spend half the year in Spain. But its just nice to finally get what I was owed."
Last year the multi-millionaire was taken to Edinburghs Western General after complaining of chest pains. He was rushed to hospital after taking ill at his Gogarburn mansion. . A friend of Mr Paton said at the time that he had not had a heart attack, but had been ill for some time.
The Bay City Rollers was formed
in the Capital in 1970 by vocalist Nobby Clark, guitarists John
Devine and Eric Faulkner, bassist Alan Longmuir and drummer Derek
Longmuir. They named their group by pointing to a random spot
on a map of the United States and ended up on Bay City in Michigan.
Duncan Faure released
by Tashi Tagg
Like me, you may be a little young to have experienced the hype of South Africa's most famous rock group Rabbitt and thus might be a little iffy as to who Mr Four-Uh is. Well, dear readers, he is obviously a man who has committed his life to music because 25 years down the road the man has a new CD.
Let me fill you in. Duncan Faure was a member of Rabbitt, a South African rock outfit in the seventies. Rabbitt was created from a band called 'Conglomeration' (what kind of a name is that?) and Duncan gelled the band (by joining) in 1975.
Hailed as being the first completely original South African rock band Rabbitt starting getting attention from overseas. By 1976 they had released albums in Japan, US, Germany, France and more.
I was like only two but it sounds quite wild. It's weird to think of a real rock band touring SA. Which is just what Rabbitt did. After recording their second album, 'A Croak & a Grunt in the Night', they went on an extensive tour of the country and gathered fans wherever they went. Not literally "gathered" (although they actually might have ... I wonder if they had girls in caravans, long motel nights and juicy stuff like that?) but ...basically what I was originally trying to say is that they were a hit wherever they went.
But then with increasing pressures shit seemed to hit the fan for some or other reason. What I gather is that too many parties became involved and when that happens you're bound to meet The Pig of Note. That person or thing that comes falling down and squashing the whole thing. By 1977 the group was no more.
Since then Duncan has been on his own. He now has a massive discography. Take and gander when you visit his site. He has written over two hundred songs and has had the likes of George Benson and ....wait for it... Madonna sing his stuff. After the collapse of Rabbitt I understand that Duncan spent time in the US-of-A racking up the tracks.
Interestingly fellow Rabbitt member, Trevor Rabin, did the same thing, except they took different routes. Trevor got into writing soundtracks and wrote the music for the likes of 'Armageddon', 'Deep Blue Sea', 'Enemy of the State', 'Gone in 60 Seconds'. Pretty impressive hey?
Now, Duncan is back from the US and he has set up home in Pretoria [Why I don't know. Cape Town would have been a better bet, but then that's just me:)] Married to Laurie, whom he met in the States, they have two children, William and Julia. And the best part of the story is that he's just signed a deal with EMI. This is the first time Duncan has had a record deal with such a huge record company and he did it all himself.
Duncan worked for over a year compiling and arranging the songs for 'Take The Good' which was released in September 2002. He looked over his 200 songs and chose the best ones. Now I noticed that on the actual CD it says that he played bass, piano, electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards and did the lead and background vocals. Now that can't be easy. I know that they're not done all at the same time but that's still pretty "wow".
Not only was the Rabbitt of years ago famous for its talent but it seems that they all oozed sex appeal too. I must say, 25 years down the line Duncan still looks the same. Just a more messy, greasier rocker the kind that I like. Click here to visit his site and find out more.
Article supplied by TashiTagg.co.za.-->
www.oneworld.co.za album review (Nov 7, 2002)
Duncan Faure - 'Take The Good'
One of SAs most accomplished musician-songwriters is back with a new collection of pop rock treasures. On 'Take the Good' (EMI/Capitol), Duncan Faure performs 14 self-penned tunes ranging from confident rockers to vivid love songs. With his expressive tenor voice and an army of guitars and keyboards (nearly all played by Faure), the ex-Rabbitt star unleashes a barrage of upbeat lyrics, Beatlesque refrains and unforgettable hooks. You cant get these ultra-catchy tunes out of your head, and you wont want to. Simply outstanding. Includes 'Turn Me Back On Your Radio', 'Take the
good', 'Not Enough Hours'.
"The Record Deal" -- Duncan, 00:57:47 11/02/01 Fri 
As we all watch in horror at the world 30 years after "Imagine" and the Beatles, can't believe that sometimes one can't tell the difference between a History Channel re-run of World War II and the latest news on CNN. It's sad that most of these zealots don't realize the value of life and how short it really is. When will it be right in the world?
On a lighter note or notes, or as far as my music is concerned, I have been busy recording my newest, and most serious cd to date. I say this as we have a great producer and friend Kevin Kruger (who is an institution in this country), as my producer and we have South Africa's best recording engineer Mathew Fink behind the recording desk with all the latest equipment.
I am recording 14 new songs
carefully selected by the head of EMI in South Africa,,,,Irving
Schlosburg,,,, a man who has overseen more hits in this country
than anyone. He had me re-write choruses and given the songs many
a face lift. . .(Ok,, don't say it. . .)
I have been asked not to mention specifics by management for obvious reasons until we have signed the contract, which should not be too many weeks away. I am thrilled to be back on a major label. Irving has me doing very up-tempo, contemporary, guitar orientated music that I have loved all my life.
Hopefully this could be the
cd that could finally get accepted worldwide.
Thank you all, who through the years, have believed in my music and the songs that I write.
Dear Loraine and the Southernfest Committee have invited us to be at the BCR Fest next year and we are happy to accept as it gives us an opportunity to see many of our friends, and friends of Derek, Alan, Les, Ian, Eric and Woody - which still means the world to us Thank you for the invite.
Watch out for Manager Perry
Cooper's announcement when we put our paws to paper and sign the
record deal my friends have wanted me to sign for a long, long
Love to you all,
[ 08 October 2001 | 05:36 PM ] Q4music.com
But Drummer Keeps Nursing Job
Ex-Bay City Roller drummer Derek Longmuir has been cautioned by the UK Professional Conduct Comittee of the UK Central Council for Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC), following last year's conviction of possessing child pornography. He has, however, retained his right to work as a nurse.
The 50-year-old former sticksman has been working as a nurse since his days with the Scottish band, and was at risk of being removed from the nursing register. He was sentenced to 300 hours community service last March after pleading guilty to two charges of having indecent photographs and videos of children at his home in Edinburgh.
The UKCC panel listened to
evidence from witnesses and Longmuir himself for more than three
hours, before reaching a decision
Thursday, 30th August 2001
Its hi hi baby as the old act goes on US tour
THEIR flowing locks and 70s fashions may have been consigned to the dustbin but the old magic is still there .
Former Bay City Roller Les McKeown has stunned members of his first band by offering them a tour of Scotland and the United States during a reunion organised by the Evening News. .
The 46-year-old singer had returned to Edinburgh to research his autobiography, hoping band mates from his first band, Threshold, would help piece together memories from his most formative musical years.
But now the four band members, tracked down by the Evening News, have been surprised by the offer of a ten-date tour culminating with an American gig at the Sheraton Hotel, Atlanta.
Les said: "Some of my American fans have invited me to do a show for them and I have agreed, but I want the guys from Threshold to come and be my band.
"Ive put it to them and theyre all up for it."
Les explained that the American gig could be in front of a 1200-strong audience.
And the Scottish leg of the comeback tour will involve playing several dates in the Capital as well as gigs in Dunbar, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
The singer joined Threshold in 1973 after Rollers manager Tam Paton recommended him to band leaders Alan Wright and Alex Valente.
The group toured Scotland in an old Transit van as 16-year-old Les honed the voice that later launched the Bay City Rollers to international fame.
But after Threshold split in 1974 the five lost contact for nearly three decades.
Bass player Alan Wright, now a 47-year-old barber who lives in The Inch, explained that he was the first to leave the band - and fall out with Les in the process.
He said: "I left to join Bilbo Baggins, a rock band also managed by Tam Paton but totally different from the squeaky-clean image of the Rollers.
"Bilbo Baggins already had a record deal and Threshold were going nowhere so I just thought I should go for it. But Les was upset. Just weeks after that Les joined the Bay City Rollers and made it big."
Alan explained that after leaving Bilbo Baggins he worked for years as a session musician, playing with groups including the Mercury Award-winning pop group M People.
But he admitted that the upcoming comeback was an exciting prospect.
He said: "The tour was Les idea. He was very serious and everyone is really up for it. The old magic is still there too. Ive been playing in different bands and doing session work ever since.
"It was the first time Ive spoken to Les since I quit the band. But even though we havent spoken for nearly 30 years, everything just clicked and we got on like a house on fire."
Alan recalled that his mothers Abbeyhill home was the focal point of Thresholds activities in the early 1970s - because, unlike the other band members homes, it had a telephone.
It was there that Threshold rehearsed and it soon became a shrine for their female fans.
On more than one occasion girls travelled from as far away as Aberdeen, camping outside the front door in sleeping bags.
The bands lead guitarist, Alex Valente, now a 46-year-old electrician living in Port Seton, described himself as the "sensible" member of the band entrusted with driving the Transit van to gigs.
He said he now realised Tam Paton was grooming Les for stardom from an early stage.
"I started the band with Alan Wright in 1973 and Tam Paton asked us if we had heard of this wee guy called Les McKeown," he said. "Looking back I think Tam was using our band to get Les ready for the Rollers.
"But in the end Alan was the first to leave the band and that really upset Les because they were very good buddies. After that Les attitude was: Its okay if you want to do that but Im going to ignore you.
"The reunion was the first time theyve spoken since. I was always the sensible one. I didnt drink and drove the van instead."
Former drummer, Jon Gillam, admitted that, faced with the prospect of performing again, he was the most apprehensive member of the band.
The 44-year-old, who works at Joseph Bonnar Jewellers in Thistle Street, revealed that he had not played drums for two decades.
He said: "Id be lying if said I wasnt apprehensive about playing in front of an audience.
"It might take me a couple of months to remind myself what a drum kit looks like because I havent played in about 20 years.
"With a bit of practice though, hopefully I should be fine."
Rhythm guitarist John Walker, 47, has kept up his musicianship - he regularly practises new guitar chords with his son. He said: "All my family and friends are really excited about the tour.
"Its a great opportunity and I think were going to grab it with both hands."
Threshold had a harder image than the Bay City Rollers and covered rock songs such as Frees All Right Now and Deep Purples Smoke On The Water.
The pop group played at venues all over Scotland, and Les recalls one Edinburgh gig in front of 500 people in the Americana - which was later called Fat Sams and is now closed - on Fountainbridge.
Les, now a respected DJ on the London nightclub circuit, is recording an album with his new rock band Deconstruction, to be released in Japan at the end of the year.
Lynne Elliott, who set up the Les McKeown fan club and website, said: "Around 1000 people a day visit Les website so he is still very popular.
"These people will also be interested in his autobiography and in hearing about the unknown chapters in his life like Threshold."
Les made a brief return to the public eye when he sang an entry for A Song for Europe in 1990.
Ball and Chain saw him give a showstopping performance of the ballad on BBC television but he failed to win a place in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The Bay City Rollers
THEIR tartan wardrobe was hideous and even their manager, when first taking them on, acknowledged that they were musically atrocious.
But none of it seemed to matter in the 1970s Rollermania swept across the world as Edinburghs famous five attracted screaming girls wherever they went.
Despite their shortcomings, the
Bay City Rollers had hit No 1 with Bye Bye Baby by 1974 and Les
McKeown, Eric Faulkner, Alan and Derek Longmuir and Stuart Woody
Wood (clever, that) were sending fans wild wherever they played.
Despite his views on their music, manager Tam Paton knew they were destined for greatness when he heard them play in their tenement room and kitchen in Caledonian Road back in 1968 girls were already gathering at the stair entrance to listen to them.
When they did hit the big time those tartan outfits were worn by fans the world over. The Rollers outrageous wardrobe included such 70s gems as short-cut jackets, white wide-legged half-mast trousers seamed in the most lurid plaid, platform boots and, of course, the Edinburgh boys loved to bare those scrawny, hairless chests.
What really worked for them, though, were their cute, cheeky faces and brand of Scottish freshness and the girls couldnt get enough of it. Plus, their songs were incredibly catchy. In April 1975 the Rollers played two gigs in their home city at the Odeon and fans queued all night for tickets.
Riots even broke out as songs like Shang-A-Lang sent fans into wild hysteria. During a show being filmed for TV, girls stormed the stage. London Weekend Television banned the boys from ever appearing again.
At an Oxford concert Les and Eric
got in a fight after claiming St Andrews Ambulance men were
beating up a girl fan rather than restraining her.
A balcony collapsed during a gig in London, fans were crushed in Newcastle and girls crashed through the glass frontage of a Glasgow hotel.
The United States also took the lads to their hearts and they became the most successful Scottish band ever to cross the Atlantic.
Alan Longmuir recalls: It was so totally different from normal life that we could have been in space.
Leading psychologists accused the Rollers of teasing and inciting their audiences. And there were accusations later proven that seven years had been shaved off Alans age, because their manager was worried fans would think that, at 25, he was too old.
Alan says: It was all a
bit daft. Reporters were even trying to track down my birth certificate.
As the decade drew to a close the band was on the wane. Tam Paton was sacked and in 1982 they broke up, reforming four years later for a one-off tour of Japan.
Today, Les McKeown has one Rollers
memorial band while Eric, Alan and Stuart are in another.
Derek became a nurse but hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons earlier this year when he admitted downloading hundreds of pornographic images on his computer.
The present aside, no-one summed up the 1970s and all it is remembered for better than the Bay City Rollers.
Although the royalties are still in dispute, the Rollers sold 60 million records not bad for a band accused of not being able to play any instruments.
Tuesday, 31st October 2000
12 March 2001
Rock shock as Welsh teams up with Roller
Author joins pin-up to work on top-secret new album
Publication Date: Mar 11 2001
The hints were there. When the Sunday Herald
recently polled celebrities for their favourite singles, Irvine
Welsh proudly plumped for the Bay City Rollers' "classic"
Bye Bye Baby. But who could have forseen that the man once known
as the high priest of UK drugs culture would team up with the
singer from the ultimate Scottish teenybop band?
Trainspotting author Welsh has admitted that he and 1970s pin-up Les McKeown are writing songs together for a new album. How the songs sound, what they are called and when the album is appearing are closely guarded
secrets. What is known is that the tracks were written for McKeown with Johnny Brown from The Band Of Holy Joy and that both Welsh and Brown were planning to write some more with McKeown. "Les McKeown is trying to get a new album together," Welsh told the Sunday Herald. "I'm trying to do some songs for him. I've met him a
couple of times. "I always wind up my London mates by saying that the Bay City Rollers were a better rhythm and blues band than the Small Faces. It's tongue-in-cheek, but I like Les McKeown. I think he's a good guy."
Welsh remained coy about what the album would be called. "It's not completed yet, so I had better not say because we'll probably change it around."
The years have not diminished the appeal of McKeown's inimitable voice, said Welsh. He believes it has "matured well" over the years. Welsh and McKeown may not be the odd bedfellows they first appear. They
were both born into working-class families in Edinburgh and now live as Scots exiles in London.
The Bay City Rollers were formed in 1967 in Edinburgh by brothers Derek and Alan Longmuir, and were later joined by McKeown, Stuart "Woody" Wood and Eric Faulkner. They had a string of hits including Shang-A-Lang,
Summerlove Sensation and All Of Me Loves All Of You. The biggest year for the band was 1975, when they had two consecutive number ones with Bye Bye Baby and Give A Little Love. But since then the individual
musicians who made up the Rollers have had their fair share of troubles. McKeown, who split from the rest of the band, was convicted of driving offences after knocking down and killing a 75-year-old widow. Faulkner
and Alan Longmuir attempted suicide, and Tam Paton, their manager, was convicted and jailed for sex offences.
Despite their fame, the individual band members did not reap the huge financial rewards that were expected and are currently embroiled in a legal dispute over the money . But Faulkner, Alan Longmuir, McKeown and
Wood reformed in 1999 to play at Edinburgh's millennium Hogmanay celebrations.
Bye Bye Baby had girls swooning over the Tartan-clad lads as Rollermania gripped the world in 1975. In typically gritty fashion, Welsh has explained why he likes the song so much: "The greatest number one single
is obviously the Bay City Rollers' Bye Bye Baby in which Les plays the cad, saying he would marry the bird he's shagging if he wasn't already married."
Born the son of a docker and a waitress in Leith in 1958, Welsh left school with few qualifications and entered an odd-jobbing life washing dishes and working as a TV repairman. In 1993 he shot to international
fame and fortune following the success of his novel Trainspotting, later made into a film starring Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle. The book, written in Edinburgh vernacular, was set in Leith and on the
nearby deprived council scheme of Muirhouse, where Welsh grew up. Its grim story described the plight of a group of heroin addicts and hangers-on. Last month it emerged that Welsh, an avid fan of Hibernian Football
Club, would be among the 30,000 people attempt ing the London marathon this year. Asked about his preparations for the gruelling 26-mile race next month, he suggested he was planning to poke fun at supporters of
Hearts, rivals to his beloved Hibs: "I was thinking of wearing a Hearts strip with a top over it. When I start to get really out of condition and ungainly I can rip the top off and people will say, 'Who's the f***ing unfit Jambo trying to run the marathon?'"
Scots Sunday Times
November 5, 2000
Les keeps rolling
W hen I was 14 and growing up in Scotstoun, Glasgow, my best friend's sister Joanne was among the vast tartan army of Bay City Rollers fans. On winter evenings she could be found bowed over a sewing machine, transforming a pair of white denim flares into half-mast tartan loon pants to be worn with the obligatory plaid scarf tied around the wrist.
She once queued up all night outside the Apollo, Glasgow, for tickets to see her squeaky-clean heroes. Joanne did a lot of hanging about in the mid-1970s: at the entrances to five-star hotels, at chilly stage doors, on airport balconies. Why, 23 years on, do I find myself with ample time to reminisce about Joanne's obsession with the Rollers and their story of lost cash and lost innocence? Could it be because I too am waiting for the band's former lead singer Les McKeown to show up? McKeown might be middle-aged and minus a hit record for two decades but he still knows how to play the star. For an hour and a half I have been sitting in The Elbow Room, a pool hall bar in north London.
Every Tuesday McKeown, a 46-year-old father, DJs here, playing retro-cool Barry White hits for customers too young to know that the Rollers - shaggy-haired Eric Faulkner, Stuart "Woody" Wood, brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir and, of course, McKeown - sold 80m records worldwide.
As a venue The Elbow Room makes the dingy Apollo look upmarket. The ladies' toilet has a two-way mirror to let women spy on men using the urinals. When the photographer asks where McKeown is, the young girl at the ticket desk says: "Les McKeown, who's she?" Just as I begin to feel sad for the singer - the Rollers might have been a glaikit-looking bunch, but to come to this? - McKeown swaggers in the door. His square-jawed face has filled out and he's ditched the mullet for dark brown spiky locks, but there's still the same jack-the-lad grin. In black jeans, a black T-shirt and brown suede jacket with collar turned up, it's impossible to tell whether his trademark scrawny chest, flaunted naked below his Rollers jacket, is still hairless.
He is accompanied by his glamorous Japanese wife, Peko, and their 16-year-old son, Richard, whose shaved head and delicate features make him look like a cross between a Vivienne Westwood model and a Buddhist monk. While Peko embraces the PR guy, McKeown shakes my hand with a cheeky tickle of my palm. There is no apology or explanation for his lateness, just the first of a series of suggestive retorts. When I ask if there's somewhere quieter we can talk, he quips, "Well that's a bit much, we've only just met." When I later put a pen in my mouth while scrabbling for my notebook, he jokes that I'm being provocative.
But then McKeown was always the cheeky chappie of the pack, the loud-mouthed wisecracker. Being the closest the Rollers got to good-looking ensured that the lead singer was the boy band's focal point. At the height of their fame, that was a lot of adoration. Two decades before Take That, these working-class lads from Edinburgh were the first British boy band, primped and coiffured to global stardom. Screaming hordes of fans greeted their every move. They were even bigger in America and Japan than in Britain. Between 1975 and 1978 they had 18 top five hits in America, including Give a Little Love and Bye Bye Baby. They hosted their own TV series, Shang-A-Lang. But that was a lifetime ago; before the royalties disappeared, the drugs took hold and the band fell apart. Lighting up a Marlboro in the manager's office, McKeown whinges about being stuck in a time warp. "When I go into a pub with a mate and someone recognises you, it drags you back," he says."It's all, 'What are the lads doing, how's Woody, what's your favourite Rollers' records?' I'm someone from the past which, right now, is a bad thing because I want to move on."
His complaints are a tad disingenuous given that like the rest of the band, with the exception of Derek, he scrapes a living by trading on his former fame. Take his latest ploy and the reason for our interview. He has just launched a trendy training shoe with the hip designers Acupuncture - the Bay City Runner. The limited edition shoe, in the shops just in time for the Christmas rush, features - surprise, surprise - a white fabric and tartan upper and McKeown's embroidered signature. What market are they aiming for? "Maybe those terrace boys at Ibrox," says McKeown, who is wearing black boots. "Would it look nice with a bit of blood on the toe?" The manufacturers are hoping the thirtysomething editors of lads' magazines such as Loaded will regard the shoes as hilariously kitsch and just the job for the December edition. It helps that McKeown knows most of these guys by name. When not belting out his former hits with his band, Les McKeown's Seventies Bay City Rollers (he's the only member from the original line-up) McKeown is DJing at trendy parties for The Face magazine or Loaded. In the fickle world of fashion, could this be the first stirring of the return of Rollermania? Are the Rollers on the brink of becoming strangely cool again? Tartan and cropped trousers have, after all, been revived already this year. Mocked at the height of their stardom, they are about to be given the Hollywood treatment by Courtney Love, the widow of rock star Kurt Cobain.
She is raising £40m to make a film based on Caroline Sullivan's pop memoir Bye Bye Baby. It recalls a youth spent touring America on a mission to sleep with one of the band. Sullivan was successful but never names her conquest. But it's easy to spot it was Woody, and not her first choice, Les.
McKeown has yet to meet Love, a huge fan since she saw the Rollers play in San Francisco as a teenager, but he will be a consultant if the film goes ahead. "I can just see it," he muses. "I'll be saying, 'No, that wasn't the tartan I was wearing on the '74 tour'. " McKeown can be self-deprecating and engaging, but his humour just as often slips into arrogance. He tells me Cobain once insisted Nirvana's music was a cross between the Bay City Rollers and Deep Purple. I ask when that was. "Go and look it up. Just type in Kurt Cobain and Rollers. Do your research," he says, adding that Keanu Reeves could play him. And for someone anxious to leave his past behind, McKeown is reticent about discussing the present. Asked where he lives and about his family, a reasonable question given he's introduced them, he says stubbornly: "No, I don't want to do that."By all accounts, he lives modestly. He drives a Honda and, as his wife tells me later, lives near Hackney. The band never recovered financially from tax demands for cash they claim they never received. Allowing for inflation, the alleged missing royalties of £20m are now estimated at closer to £170m. The band are suing their former record company, Arista, in America.
"Initially, the blame lies with Tam," he says, referring to Tam Paton, the band's former manager, whom they sacked in 1979 after 11 years. The former potato merchant from Prestonpans was infamous for the control he exercised. He banned them from having girlfriends in public and fostered their boy-next-door image by making them drink milk at press conferences. In 1982, Paton served a year in prison for indecent acts against teenage boys. He went on to become a millionaire property developer with a ranch-style bungalow outside Edinburgh.
So what was Tam like? "Let's not go down that road," says McKeown, looking bored. But then I tell him Paton is quoted as saying the Rollers were "musically atrocious" when he first heard them. "Did he say that?" asks McKeown. "What a horrible geezer." McKeown joined the Bay City Rollers when he was 17. The son of a tailor, he was brought up in Edinburgh's working class Broomhouse. "I already had a band called Threshold that was on its way to the top," he assures me. "The singer from the Rollers left, they asked me to join. They were a one-hit wonder with Keep on Dancin'. For me, the Bay City Rollers were a stepping stone." He stayed, however, caught up in an endless rock'n'roll cycle of going from limo to aeroplane to gig. The band wanted to do more of their own material, but Arista insisted they stick with cover versions. More bitterness ensued when Alan was sacked in 1976 for being too old at 27 - they'd lopped seven years off his age when fame beckoned.
Within two years the pressure had taken its toll on McKeown. "It was mass orgies, mass drinking binges," he says, only half joking. Disaster heaped upon disaster. There were even reports of suicide attempts by Faulkner and Alan Longmuir. McKeown couldn't take any more and in 1978 quit the band to go solo, the same year he met Peko, who was managing a nightclub in London's Cambridge Circus. They married in 1984 and she is now a kung fu teacher. Richard is considering a career in acting. He's worked as an extra on Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Asked what he thinks of his father's fame, he gives a bored shrug. Is it a little embarrassing? Richard allows himself a gentle smile. But his father has no intention of hanging up his Bay City Runners. On the advice of the Rollers' new manager, Mark St John, four of the members, including Les, buried the hatchet and reformed. It was the best move to recover their lost money, according to St John. They performed in front of thousands of screaming fans for Edinburgh's millennium celebrations.
Derek Longmuir left the Rollers for good in 1984. In March this year he was convicted of possessing child pornography and sentenced to 300 hours community service. He was dismissed from his job as a nurse at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary. "I can't comment on the case but I was sad to hear he'd lost his job. That was his passion," says McKeown. Ten minutes into the interview a minder comes to ask how long it will take. When I say half an hour at the least, McKeown guffaws. "Aye right, I'm on in a few minutes," he sneers, forgetting that I have flown down from Scotland and he has kept me waiting for more than an hour. I follow him downstairs to see how the former pop legend fares behind the turntable. There's no microphone, so no cheeky patter. I can't help but feel relieved. I think Joanne would be too.
Copyright TheSunday Times
October 1, 2000
Bay City Rollers film to turn Tinseltown tartan
AS Britain's first boy band they
were famous for their bizarre shortened trousers, pick-and-mix
tartans and simplistic songs such as Sha La La La and Shang-A-Lang.
Now the Bay City Rollers, the most adored and mocked pop group of the 1970s, are about to be given the Hollywood treatment by Courtney Love, the widow of rock star Kurt Cobain. She is raising £40m to make a film based on the group's doomed attempt to conquer America in 1975 and their consequent self-destruction.
At first glance, it is an unlikely coupling: Love, 36, combines her acting career with playing guitar in Hole, the type of hard-core rock band that routinely sneers at boy bands. But, according to contemporaries, she was 11 when the Scots played in her home city of San Francisco, and she never recovered. Beneath her tough exterior is a soft spot for the pop of her childhood.
The Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, who has already played one doomed pop star in Velvet Goldmine, has ex-pressed interest in portraying the charismatic lead singer Les McKeown. Leonardo DiCaprio has, however, turned down the opportunity to portray the guitarist Stuart Wood.
Love has paid more than £30,000 for the film rights to the book Bye Bye Baby by Caroline Sullivan, a comic account of a New Jersey teenager's pursuit of the band across America and her attempts to bed at least one of the band. She was successful - but never named her conquest.
The critical success of Almost Famous, the recently released film of a similar semi-autobiograpical tale of touring with Led Zeppelin in the 1970s by the then teenage reporter Cameron Crowe, has made Bye Bye Baby a hot property in Hollywood.
A rehabilitated drug addict, Love has suffered a sticky transition from rock widow - after a depressed Cobain shot himself in 1994 - to actress. She narrowly missed out on an Oscar for her role in The People vs Larry Flynt, but went on to pick up other awards and has set up Epitome Productions to make her own projects.
The Bay City Rollers, who recently re-formed after a decade of disputes, are at the top of her list. The film will include the glory days, when throngs of teenage girls donned tartan scarves in honour of their heroes, and also the darker aftermath when the band's manager, Tam Paton, was jailed on sex charges. Band members have suffered drink, drugs, health and money problems.
The book, Bye Bye Baby, has been condemned by fans as sneering, spiteful and cruel but the band's current manager, Mark St John, who united them so that they could sue for back earnings of £150m, said he would wait and see what Love did with it.
McKeown, 44, who will be paid to advise Love during the production, has his own ideas on who should play him. "It should be someone big, like Keanu Reeves," he said.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Derek Longmuir, 47, drummer: psychiatric nurse sentenced to 300 hours community service earlier this year for possession of pornographic images, many of children, in his Edinburgh flat
Eric Faulkner, 44, guitarist: attempted suicide shortly after band split up. Still writes songs and has collaborated with Blondie. Lives in farmhouse near Eastbourne with girlfriend Kass
Alan Longmuir, 49, bass guitarist: also attempted suicide. His ill health dashed plans for a comeback tour this year. Lives in Stirling
Stuart 'Woody' Wood, 43, guitarist: records traditional Celtic music in his Edinburgh studio. Married two years ago
Les McKeown, 44, singer: cleared of shooting girl fan with an airgun but fined £1,000 for attack on two photographers. Lives in London with Japanese wife Peco. Working on new album with Wood
Copyright 2000 Scottish Daily
Record & Sunday Mail Ltd.
September 24, 2000, Sunday
ROLLER LES BACKS FILM SNUB TO SCOTS STARS
Bay City Roller Les McKeown has
backed Courtney Love's decision to snub Scots actors in her movie
about the boy band. Ewan McGregor had been expected to play lead
singer Les, but the American rock singer wants Keanu Reeves and
Leonardo DiCaprio to star in the
controversial film. It's based on US journalist Caroline Sullivan's book, Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair With The Bay City Rollers. Love is fascinated with the story of the Scots band who found fame and fortune, then became embroiled in scandal. McKeown, who is an advisor on the film, said: "Courtney bought the rights to the book so she can do what she wants with the film. "I would like to see some Scottish actors in the film and I would love it if it was made in Scotland."
"Ewan McGregor and Bobby Carlyle are international stars, but I think Keanu would give the film an even greater appeal. "Anything that would make the film a success has got to be welcomed."
Copyright 2000 Scottish Media
Newspapers Limited The Sunday Herald
May 7, 2000
Former Roller was framed on porn charges says foster son
Derek Longmuir, the former drummer of the 1970s band the Bay City Rollers, was convicted in March of possessing child pornography in his Edinburgh flat after pleading guilty to a number of charges.Longmuir's lawyer Robbie Burnett told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that an American friend admitted ownership of the items, but while Sheriff Isobel Poole accepted the defence's argument she sentenced him to 300 hours community service. THE foster son of Bay City Rollers star Derek Longmuir has broken his silence for the first time to tell how the former drummer saved him from a life as a glue-sniffing street child in the slums of Lisbon and brought him to Scotland for a better future. Portuguese-born Jorge Loureiro is now 28 and a happily married family man. He decided to speak out after Longmuir was convicted of possessing child pornography. Loureiro believes that his foster father is innocent and was framed by an obsessed American fan whom he had befriended. The Sunday Herald has also learned that Sheriff Isobel Poole fully accepted that six videos, four films and a computer found at Longmuir's Edinburgh flat belonged to a friend now living in the United States. Sheriff Poole sentenced Longmuir, 49, to 300 hours community service at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in March. She also said she had noted significant extraneous circumstances in the case. Other floppy discs found in Longmuir's home had been sent to his house anonymously a few days before the police raid. Loureiro came to Britain with Longmuir in 1988 after being officially fostered by him in Portugal. He claimed that detectives bullied and even threatened him with arrest after he failed to give them incriminating evidence against Longmuir. "Detectives asked me at least five times in the course of two two hour interviews whether Derek and I ever had a sexual relationship. "I kept on saying no, that it was never like that, but they just kept on coming back to that question. "They got increasingly angry when I wouldn't say yes and showed no interest in how Derek had rescued me and brought me up. I told them that Derek could hardly work computers. "I told them the computer wasn't even his. But they didn't appear interested. I don't know if they even questioned the American woman I told them about." Loureiro's wife Michelle, 24, who was present at the second interview, added: "The only thing they wanted was to get Jorge to say he had slept with Derek. But it just simply wasn't true." Today Loureiro is a proud father of two children, Harris, five, and Daniela, nine months. He walks into Harris's bedroom in their home in north Edinburgh and says: "This is the room I always wanted as a child." Loureiro's own childhood was far from comfortable. At 10 he walked 200 kilometres from his mother's home in Santa Cita, northern Portugal, to Lisbon, where he believed his foster mother lived. He slept in fields and barns. But he didn't find her and for the next year he was in and out of special units for child offenders before running away to live with a group of street children in parks, squats and abandoned houses in run-down areas of Lisbon. For more than three years he was a member of a troublesome gang who broke into restaurants for food, selling left-overs to prostitutes to raise money for glue. "We used to run along the tops of moving trains, grabbing the bags of passengers through the open windows." Then Loureiro, 15, came across Longmuir, sitting in a pavement restaurant enjoying a meal while on holiday in the city. "I went up to him and asked for money," he recalled. "He spoke back to me in broken Portuguese and said that he wouldn't give me any more because he knew what I would spend it on, but he said that if I wanted to sit down and have a meal I was welcome. "He asked where I slept, where my family was. He was the first person who ever cared about me." For a year Loureiro lived with Longmuir in his Lisbon flat and Longmuir paid for him to attend a private school and helped him beat his glue addiction. Loureiro admits he was difficult teenager, often taking money and running away. In his better moments he helped Longmuir with Portuguese. The former musician was doing voluntary work for the Red Cross in Lisbon. Longmuir persuaded the boy to contact his mother and visit her. After Loureiro passed his exams Longmuir arranged to foster him with his mother' consent. "She accepted it fully because she knew that he could offer me a decent living which she never could," he explains. Soon after Loureiro flew with Longmuir to Edinburgh to start his new life. Loureiro attended Stevenson College, Edinburgh, where he completed an English course. Then he did painting and decorating at Telford College and began a four-year apprenticeship. A few years later he met Michelle in an Edinburgh nightclub and within a year they were married. He says of his delinquent past: "It all seems a lifetime away and yet it is only 12 years," "And I know that if I hadn't met Derek I wouldn't be here. In fact I'd probably be dead. I believe that one day I would have fallen off one of those trains." Loureiro explains that while he was beginning his new life Longmuir too was changing his own. "Derek started studying really hard for his nursing course. It was something he had wanted to do for a while, and it was, I believe something he had a natural flair for," he recalled. Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told Longmuir passed his BSc in health studies and nursing with distinction. He went on to carve himself out a career as a senior staff nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. But that too ended when he was dismissed from his post following his conviction. "I think losing his job is what Derek has found most hard to take. "He was a good and devoted nurse," said Michelle. "I do believe he was set up by this fan and I just can't believe he is guilty of any offences against children. "He is the only man apart from my father and Jorge who I trust to look after my children and I know he was an excellent father to Jorge." A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders police said there were strict guidelines governing interviews with witnesses and declined to comment.
Scotland on Sunday online
April 17, 2000
Roller coaster of love
Back in the Seventies crowds of 70,000 teenagers would turn out for the Bay City Rollers. Now its 75 middle-aged die-hards at the Apex hotel in Edinburgh.
Vicky Allan meets the fans who can never say bye bye baby. Photographs by Martin Hunter
SET the soundtrack in your mind. If youre old enough (and Im not). The year is 1976. Shang A Lang is playing on the radio. The Rollers are in town. Youre 14 years old and, as you gaze swooningly at the posters on your bedroom wall, theres nothing you would like more in the world than to kiss the milk-shake lips of Eric, Les, Alan, Woody, or for that matter, even Derek. Now, hold on to that feeling, and fast forward to the year 2000, the Apex International Hotel Edinburgh, and this years Bay City Roller Convention. Saturday Night is playing on the disco. A woman you never knew before but who is now your latest best friend is shaking her middle-aged tush across the dance floor. Youre screaming out the lyrics Doo-op a dooby doo-ah. Youve never felt so uncomplicatedly happy since you grew up and ditched your fan memorabilia back in 1978. But whoever said growing up was such a good thing?
Well, here goes. Im probably taking my life in my hands writing this one. That much was clear as I walked out of the Apex, passing a string of tartan clad ladies lined up along the corridor, flushed and sweaty from screaming, laughing, sobbing and jumping up and down waving scarves, each of them hoping that maybe, just maybe, the Bay City Roller in the room along the end will come out and whisper sweet nothings to them.
As I sloped by, one of them caught me: the one with the big ponytail and white jumper. "Youd better not make us sound stupid," Candace Latourelle, a day-care provider from Minnesota, warned. "Remember Ive got pictures of you dancing. I have evidence." And I was reminded. These fans are scary. Not in a Misery, number-one-fan-with-a-vengeance way but an everyday scariness: like that neighbour you know with a cranky obsession they cant stop going on about. As event organiser Jan Stevenson tells me: "Never insult the Rollers because youll just get a tirade of abuse from the fans."
Back on the dance floor, there was a palpable tension, an over-excitement. Some 75 fans, generally aged between 36 and 38, most of them women, jammed into the events room of the hotel and the corridor that led to the dressing room of Les McKeown, the one Roller present. A heady mix of oestrogen and adrenaline filled the air. Some had already met the man. Some were going weak at the knees at the thought of even just being in the same building. One American sidled by, flushed with excitement. "Oh s***, I cant talk," she stuttered. Shed just caught a glimpse of him through the open doorway.
Louise, a red-head in tartan-trimmed trousers, white polo-neck and a neck brace, had been in the lift with him earlier. "It was so awesome. Someone said: Theres Les and everyone just sat there, but I pelted up the stairs and I pushed on the lift button and the door opened and I said: Can we get in with you? I was really surprised actually, cause I got all gooey. He got out of the lift and my heart was racing and my hands were shaking and I ran over to the other girls. I mean this is a guy that well, for four or five years I completely ate, slept and breathed the Bay City Rollers."
Fans. They had come from Australia, Canada, America, the Netherlands, Denmark all over the world. Sonia Neale, for instance, a tall blonde with sugar-pink lipstick, seemed twitchy and nervous. She was due to do a presentation of gifts, including boxer shorts and socks, from Ian Mitchell (one of the eight band members regarded as genuine Bay City Rollers) to Jan Stevenson. "The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up right now. This is a childhood dream. I worked part-time to get the money to come out here. And Im going to have to get a full-time job when I get home to pay for the trip," says Neale.
Few men were present, but the ones that were were committed. As Tony Little, aka Tartan Tony, a Billy Bunter-like character sporting a Rollers tank-top, says. "You wont get a much bigger fan than me. Even my boats called Shang-A-Lang." As a kid he used to keep it quiet after all, any boy that declared a liking for the Rollers would be branded a cissy but between 1984 and 1998, he claims he never listened to any other music. "Weve been robbed of 15 years, their last record was 1985. The fans are still here and we want a new album."
Most of the fans found out about the event through the internet. That is no surprise, after all the web is the home of a million fan shrines, but this is something of a phenomenon. I hear the same story over and over again. "I thought I was the only Bay City Roller left on the planet. I thought I was alone. Then, one day, I was on the internet, and I thought why not just type it in. Bay City Rollers. And it came up with thousands of hits and I realised there were loads of people out there, other people like me."
All this bewilders me. I dont get it. Ive never been a fan. Not really. Not fully-fledged. Not posters over every inch of my wall, photos in my pencil case and name carved into my desk. The nearest I ever got was a brief flutter for A-ha around the time of Take On Me, and even then I didnt buy the album. So, I cant help thinking, why? What makes a group of mature women want to slip back into the cosy bubblegum world of childhood? Theyre bright, successful women, not stupid by any means: Louise is a clinical psychologist, Jan is a personnel manager, Lisa works in communications.
Is it a never-ending phase? Just like a Freudian stage of development, is the pre-pubescent fan stage one that you can simply find yourself stuck in? Or, do these women grasp something I havent yet grasped: that the passions of childhood are so much more satisfying than the informed tastes of later years? Theres certainly a lot to be said for nostalgia. As Liz Evans, one of the few Scots there says: "It brings back the memories, and I was saying to the girls last night, youre remembering friends, you know, that youve not seen for years, that used to be like you. Youre remembering all your young life."
Her memories are intense. Back in the Seventies Liz used to go to school dressed like the Rollers, would hang around outside their houses, skive lessons, get chased by the police, and was part of a gang of more than 30 Roller kids from her housing estate.
I wandered through to the dance floor, hoping to find some further explanation. Jan was on the microphone. "Round of applause for the committee please." Huge whoops filled the room. "Caroline Sullivan will be coming down in about 15 minutes to read from her book, but for now, enjoy yourself and lets party!" As the chords rang out for the start of Shang-A-Lang on the disco, screams filled the air. Already I could see why Jan had told me: "Roller fans have an in-built ability to scream. And it never leaves you. Roller fans can scream better than anyone I know. Roller fans can party better than anyone I know."
Is this what Boyzone and Westlife fans will be like in 20 years time? The Roller girls are quick to reject any comparisons with the latest sensations. "Were a cult. Weve got the tartan uniform, were the tartan army, were a gang. And the new boy bands dont, because they havent got an image. They havent got a gimmick."
Back in the Seventies, the tartan and the milk-shakes sold the boys. Well enough certainly, to sell 120 million records (despite this the Rollers only earned about £40,000 each) and bring crowds of 75,000 fans to Toronto airport and 120,000 to Tokyo airport. "I think the whole tartan thing brought fans together. Because you dressed up as your favourite Roller. You were a Roller fan and you could wear your badge with pride," says Lisa.
"I guess they filled an emotional need we all had going through puberty," adds Sonia. "They didnt smoke, they didnt drink. Therefore we didnt smoke, we didnt drink. It was a good thing until I saw Les with a cigarette in a magazine and I thought he was so naughty. I was disgusted and excited. He was a real person."
So, what now? What happens when their idols have grown up and revealed they werent the clean-living, milk-drinking, fresh-faced kids they were marketed as? Do the fans still love them? Yes. Warts and all. And some of their warts are fairly ugly. Most recently, Derek Longmuir admitted to possessing child pornography. He admitted to making indecent photos of children at his home in March 1998. He lost his job as a nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and was sentenced to 300 hours community service. Manager Tam Paton was jailed for three years at the High Court in 1982 after admitting to charges of sexual abuse against a 16- and a 17-year-old boy. Eric became addicted to amphetamines. Even while the band was on its high, Les McKeown was charged with reckless driving after running a woman pensioner over in his blue Mustang, killing her.
But its the issue of Derek Longmuir thats particularly troubling. Theres a silence in the party about his recent conviction. A seeming suspension of judgment. Only Candace Latourelle still confesses to holding him as her favourite. "The one who holds a special spot in my heart is Derek. Always has, always will do. Even now. Hes just special." Meanwhile, Jan explains: "It really has nothing to do with why were here you know. Thats somebody elses personal life. I mean whatever they do in their private lives is for them, not for us. The thing is youve got the poster on the wall in your head, and youve got the real person. Two totally different things. What we celebrate is the poster."
Real fans dont jump ship when the going gets tough. Chaplins didnt. Gary Glitters didnt. Michael Jacksons didnt. George Michaels didnt. Real fans arent morally discriminating in their affections. They choose to reject that inevitable disillusionment.
Caroline Sullivan, rock critic from the Guardian, understands this. Back on the floor, she was reading from her book, Bye Bye Baby, the story of the teen years she spent chasing round after the Rollers. No tartan, big, tressy hair, she looked too glamorous to be a fan, but I guess theres no accounting for taste.
The girls in the audience were roaringly hungry for details. Caroline, you see, had slept with one of the Rollers, and they wanted to know more. "How many inches?" "Did you spit or swallow?" "Who slept on the wet patch?" Most of these she neatly side-stepped in her Loyd Grossman-like accent, to dwell more on the questions about the film adaptation of her book, set to be directed by Courtney Love. "This will actually be the first time that Ill have been in the same room as any of them since I wrote the book," she confesses. "So Im not sure whether to take evasive action or just be loud and proud in front of Les."
Although Les wasnt the Roller she slept with (you can pretty much guess from her hints it was Woody), it was Les shed been infatuated with through all those years. "Leslie," she wrote in her book, "was the Robbie Williams of his day the Roller who smoked, drank and was generally a bit naughty I knew from the first time I saw McKeown, that, if the circumstances were ever right though I couldnt imagine how they ever would be Id do it. I wouldnt have to think twice."
Later when I took her aside to ask her how a major rock critic justifies loving the Rollers, she says: "It was really like love at first sight, even if you cant understand why. I was hopelessly devoted and they could do anything they wanted and I just said yes. And even though all along the whole time I liked the Rollers, I was also going to gigs by Led Zeppelin and I saw the early punk gigs of Blondie, the Ramones, and I knew which I preferred musically. Its like being in love with some guy, and you cant understand the attraction, but youre hopelessly gone."
Even so, she confesses to being, "very Rollered out", "very, very over them, after writing the book". She tips me off: "Youve got to watch a bit of Less gig. Its gonna be so tragic. You just have to be sorry for the guy because, I mean, hes about 45-years-old and hes forced to do Bay City Roller songs for the rest of his life."
I was beginning to be seduced. Who was this Les McKeown everyone kept talking about? As the disco played Bye Bye Baby for about the fifth time, I even succumbed to having a tartan scarf wrapped round my arm. Secretly I wanted to dance, wanted to stop being the boring journalist, the adult sitting on the sidelines, but I didnt, not yet. Instead, I sat beside an American woman who had been intriguing me since shed made a comment about the "weird s***" shed seen while chasing the Rollers around LA. "OK, so this is going to sound really, really rude," she says. "But there were two types of fan. There were those of us that got in the hotel rooms and there were the others that just sat on the sidewalk."
Instantly I knew that here we were entering the territory of the ever-so-slightly-scary fan. Not the sort that sat around in her bedroom listening to records, but the sort that was out there stalking, like Caroline, only better because this woman, Diane, claimed she spent most of her time in their rooms. I wondered if this was what Jan had meant, when shed said, "99% have a sense of humour about it, but there are a few odd ones."
Wearing a large jumper and jeans, with a whiny LA accent, she told me about some of her times with the band. "They did booze, they did pot, they did drugs. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. Eric, I used to watch TV with him. I had a boyfriend, so me and him were cool. I was 18. Eric was just sad and lonely. He couldnt go out. It was very weird because I had a boyfriend and he knew that Id go up, see Eric, hang out, get drunk and then come home again. They were fun guys. You know, I mean they were just fun guys. And we would laugh at them, at their face, we wouldnt kiss their ass. I never got any autographs, never got any pictures."
I ask what the "weird s***" was, shed talked about. "You know, there were some suggestions to me from some Rollers about mnages a trois, that kind of thing."
Dianes youth, if this can all be taken to be true, seemed to be one haze of bands: not just the Bay City Rollers but the Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Billy Idol. I was struck by the way some fans graduate, slide with ease out of one bands hotel rooms into another, out of one record collection into another. Now a recovering alcoholic in AA, she adds: "You know the weird thing is you try to escape it and it follows you. Because now Im in a recovery programme and a lot of these people that I used to see, Im seeing in other places."
Talking to her I felt like Id slipped from the light bubblegum world of teenage fandom into darker territories.
I decided I preferred the light. Time to hit the dance floor. Besides, Les McKeown was on. This was the moment. The girls were yelling. The scarves were trailing through the air. Doo-op a dooby doo-ah. And there was the man himself, like any other middle-aged man, slightly ordinary though quite good-looking. Dressed in black jeans and tartan-trimmed shirt, his words were slightly slurred, and for all the energy there, I couldnt help feeling, as he launched into his first number, that his heart wasnt really in it. Still, the music pounded on. Gonna keep on dancing to the rock n roll on Saturday night, Saturday night.
Die hard fans truly never die, do they? And they never stop dancing either. With tartan scarves flailing above their heads the convention organisers look like a cross between Pans People and the Bay City Rollers themselves. Dancing to the rhythm of our heart and soul, on Saturday night, Saturday night. The voice lower and coarser than in the old days, less milk-shakey and more cigarette-smoked.
Between numbers he cracks a joke. "Heres a song dedicated to Derek... Young boy. Theres a hushed gasp. It is the first time it has been openly mentioned. Then the next song starts, and he confesses that maybe he does have an odd sense of humour. Soon it is Shang-A-Lang time and the girls are joining in as the microphone is passed around. They laugh, they cry, they scream, but Les keeps on going. It is like a superior pub band running through all the old favourites. Everyone joins in.
A blonde woman starts running round and throwing herself at our photographer. Cautiously swaying from foot to foot at the back of the crowd to The Way I Feel Tonight, one of the Rollers smoochier numbers, I found myself grabbed by Tartan Tony, who thrust his arm round my shoulder to bring me in line, while singing loudly in my ear. Now, I felt, I could understand. What man wouldnt like the opportunity to sway and hug with 70 hysterical women?
Then came the last number: Bye Bye Baby and OK, yes, I was jumping up and down with a scarf in my hand, but what else can you do? The heat had risen, the hysteria had started to take over. "Before we go is there anything you want to ask of me?" said McKeown. "Will you shag me?" someone yelled. There were screams. "Can you give me a kiss?" from another. It was all too much and I was starting to wonder if the girls might eventually just jump up on stage and lynch him. Then he finally retreated, promising to emerge again for a Jack Daniels later.
Forget the Jack Daniels, though, this was my moment. I strutted past the lines of women to the object of their affection. Within seconds I was in the bands room: just as you would imagine any band dressing room to be, tables stacked with bottles, fan sitting on one of the band members knees, plenty of rude jokes. Only, of course, everyone was older.
So there I was. Les McKeown was talking to me, well slurring. If I was a fan that would have meant something, but Im not and he just seemed like any slightly drunk man in his 40s, who reminded me of the bloke in the Flash ad, but with added ego. "Are you recording me?" he asked, then grabbed hold of my microphone and stuffed it in his mouth, making a large, "Auhhh" sound. I snatched it back off him, laughing nervously, and asked him if he felt like he hadnt grown up. "Musically maybe, Ive wanted to grow up for years. Theres just not the opportunity because they always want you to play a certain number of the hits. But Ive decided to move on."
He began to trail off. His eyes slithered up and down me. "Youre a good-looking chick you are." Then, before I knew it, he had lunged at me and had his arms around my waist and was demonstrating to the photographer what he thought would be a good shot. "Were all p*****, weve had a good time. So I recommend you dont stay here because well all get very rude."
Good tip, I thought, and handed him over to the fans.
I sign off here. If I die under suspicious
circumstance in the next few weeks, think tartan.
March 11, 2000
When Lori Crabtree grooves to her stack
of Bay City Rollers CDs, it's like reliving every happy S?a?t?ur?d?a?y
night from her youth.
The clock rolls back to the mid1970s, where the Jordan Station resident was one of millions of besotted teenaged girls who turned the tartan?clad Scottish lads into pop heartthrobs.
"I remember going to Beamsville District Secondary School with full Roller gear ? the T?shirt and tartan pants," said Crabtree, who's 37. "1 guess I really got teased about it."
"But it was fun, all?around good music and it just stayed with me." She's got a roomful of memories, like a prized doll of lead singer Les McKeown sporting a mini "Canada Kicks Ass" shirt she gave him (and which McKeown eventually wore in concert).
Back, once again, to Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, shortly before the pop band's 1976 album Dedication. The Rollers caused a virtual teen?girl riot there.
"My mom and I got there at five in the morning. Close to 60,000 people showed up," said the General Motors worker.
"It was frantic. Girls were screaming, fainting, one had her leg broken. "
When the band actually displayed their baby faces, it lasted only for about four minutes. Crabtree was sent to hospital from the crush her picture later appearing on the inside cover of Dedication.
Years later, she's developed an adult acquaintance with McKeown and others associated with a band that has made headlines for recent reunion plans and endless troubles.
The Bay City Rollers came and left the world music scene like a speeding Camaro.
The band was No. 1 all over with Bye Bye Baby in 1975. Then came Saturday Night, Give a Little Love and a clutch of hits that briefly turned them into one of the world's top AM?radio bands, rivalling even ABBA.
Infighting pulled apart the original lineup in 1978 and McKeown left to pursue a solo career. He toured mostly smaller venues during the 1990s as he struggled back from drug and alcohol addiction.
Then in 1995, McKeown, her favourite Roller, played with his Legendary Bay City Rollers Band at The Viper Club (now Big Bucks) in St. Catharines. Crabtree shot pool with him and other band members and learned what they'd been up to.
About McKeown, her former dreamboat, Crabtree said he's "aged very well ... a friendly, nice guy." Last year she joked with McKeown in a London pub about those butterflies she still gets for him. "that was just the ultimate, there was still that little bit of excitement inside." Since then, Crabtree´s been to fan gatherings in Europe and helped organize a 1999 Shang?A?Lang fan convention in Toronto attended by two the band members.
There, Men in Plaid: a record of Bay City Rollers cover tunes, made its auspicious debut.
Jaimie Vernon is the president of Bullseye Records and overseer of the project. His wife Sahron is a Rollers fan and a good friend of Crabtree´s. He dubbed the Rollers Power op a direct musical descendant of 1970s Glam like Sweet and T-Rex. Vernon was amazed at the number of US bands that leaped at the opportunity to record a cover track. Though he´s no Rollers fans, in his opinion, they´ve been unfairly slagged. "They can actually play their instruments", he said - and some of their pop numbers are actually well-crafted.
There's no doubt, however, that the Bay City Rollers have had more than their share of misfortune.
Reunion tour plans are in limbo due to health concerns about Alan Longmuir the bass player, who had a heart attack in
1995 and is now partly paralysed . And a recent scandal may have scuttled plans for good, after the band´s first concert in 20 years that took place on New Years Eve in Edinburgh ?an event witnessed by Crabtree.
On March 3, founding member Derek Longmuir pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Mr. Longmuir, now a psychiatric nurse, told the Scottish court the videos and photos belonged to a friend. He has yet to be sentenced.
The catalogue of grief goes on. In recent years, McKeown was charged with reckless driving after hitting and killing a 75?year?old widow. Two members, including Alan Longmuir, have attempted suicide. Former manager Tam Patton spent time in prison for indecent acts with underage teenagers in 1982. Billy Lyall died from AIDS?related illness in 1989 and former member Ian Mitchell starred in a pornographic movie and was treated for an overdose.
it all makes for riveting Hollywood tragedy ? rock singer and actor Courtney Love recently bought the rights to music writer Caroline Sullivan's memoir Bye Bye Baby about the ill?fated band.
Vernon hinted a lot of their troubles were caused by a vicious, pursuing British press that will "never let down the fact they were pop stars."
"The fact this latest stuff has come out is really bad timing," said Vernon, who suggested the child pornography incident was the "nail in the coffin" for the band."The general conception in the industry and the media (will be) 'don't bother, guys."' Not so, said Vernon, when it comes to the undying devotion of their fans.
Loyal fans like Crabtree. "I have little Bay City Roller patches and pins I'll wear even now when I go out, I'm not embarrassed," she announced. Neither is she embarrassed about the band's last original CD, which one reporter sniffed was like listening to "Ziggy Stardust meets the Grim Reaper in a tacky hotel room."
What Crabtree's heard of the new music is "really good ... and I support the band fully in anything they do," she added.
She said she "feels sad for Derek Longmuir and his family," but that hasn't lessened her affection for the band. The jury is out, she said, about whether or not the pornography was really his own.
Meanwhile, on April 6, she's back to Edinburgh for another fan powwow ? there she'll meet Internet friends from all over the world who share in her Roller mania.
"It all still appeals to me," she explained. "It brings back the good memories.
"Growing up, when there were ups and downs in your life, you could always turn to the Bay City Rollers and it always comforted me. "I now know a lot of other girls felt the same way"
NEWS published 12.02am Saturday, March 25,
FURY AS SHAMED ROLLER ESCAPES PRISON
Child campaigners hit out over sheriff's sentence
SHAMED Bay City Rollers star Derek Longmuir escaped a jail sentence yesterday for making child porn. MPs and children's campaigners condemened the decision by a sheriff to only impose a 300-hour community service order. A senior police officer had described the sickening haul found at the 49-year-old drummer's Edinburgh flat as "the worst I have ever seen". Now Longmuir, who was found in possession of pornographic films, photos, videos and computer images mainly of children, faces a fight to hang on to his job as a nurse. The sheriff took pity on the former pop idol - a founder member of the Scots band which took the charts by storm in the 70s. What Edinburgh Sheriff Court did not hear about was his close relationship with a 15-year-old Portuguese boy who was found in Longmuir's flat when it was raided by the police. Among the obscene material recovered were pictures of Nelson Queiros - who he had met on holiday in Lisbon - naked from the waist down. Last night, Pauline Thomson, of Scottish People Against Child Abusers, described the sentence as "appalling". She said: "What appals me is there is no consistency in sentencing these people, one goes to jail and another does not."The courts are sending out the wrong message. They are saying look at child pornography and, if you get caught, plead guilty and you will get away with it. These children were victims and someone's children." Director of ChildLine Scotland Anne Houston said they were disappointed he was not jailed. She said: "To purchase or download child pornography is always an act of child abuse."
Lyndsay McIntosh, Scottish Conservative law and order spokesman, said: "If you are looking to make an example of someone having the worst kind of child pornography, 300 hours' community service does not look at it." Longmuir's lawyer had begged Sheriff Isobel Poole, QC, not to send him to prison because he would lose his job as a nurse and his house. Immediately after the decision, the ex-star was smuggled out of a back door. Longmuir had admitted possessing indecent films, videos and photos of children and to making indecent photos and computer images of children by downloading them from the Internet. His flat near Edinburgh's Holyrood Park was raided in September 1998 following a tip-off to police. Detective Sergeant Alan Eadie, who led the inquiry, said: "I've had 21 years in the job and dealt with a large number of sex-abuse inquiries but this material was extremely obscene and some of the worst I have ever seen." The haul included 73 floppy discs containing 117 sex scenes with children. Longmuir maintained the computer and porn belonged to an American friend and while studying for exams he had used the "history" option to retrieve the sites his pal had visited. Robbie Burnett, defending, told the court the law was aimed at preventing people from taking pictures or making simulated pornography. He stated: "There is no suggestion in any way that he was involved in any of those aspects of pornography." All Longmuir had done was to download material on to four discs which were then put away in a locked drawer. Mr Burnett said Longmuir was a dedicated nurse. He had been suspended from his work and his life would be destroyed if he lost his job. He added: "Despite being a celebrity for many years, he doesn't have any money. He has found his vocation caring for people and he is clearly held in high regard." Sheriff Poole told Longmuir that the courts took a serious view where children were involved in computer porn offences. But she said there were "substantial mitigatory" factors which allowed her to impose the community service order. Longmuir was placed on the sex offenders register. A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Royal Infirmary said an internal investigation, had begun.
Friday, 24 March, 2000, 14:06 GMT
Former Roller sentenced for child porn
A founding member of 70s supergroup the
Bay City Rollers has been given community service after he admitted
possessing child porn.
Derek Longmuir, drummer with the Scottish group, learned he had escaped jail when he was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday.
When police raided Longmuir's home they found child pornography on videos, photographs and computer images.
The 49-year-old, from Edinburgh, claimed that the material belonged to an American friend and that he deplored the "exploitation of children". However Longmuir, who was given 300 hours community service, admitted downloading four indecent pictures from the internet onto his computer.
The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary nurse had
initially been charged with child pornography and drugs charges
and had appeared in court in August last year. Police seized more
than 150 videos and six projector reels along with 73 floppy disks.
More than 1000 images were retrieved and from that 117 contained
sexual activity involving children. Longmuir's employers suspended
him following the allegations. They will now reconsider his position.
There appears to be no doubt that the health service can ill afford
to lose someone as well trained and caring as Mr Longmuir clearly
He added in court: "If you send him to prison you would lose that skill and care. His life would be destroyed if he lost his job and his house. "Despite being a celebrity for many years he doesn't have the money but he has found his vocation caring for people." Sentencing him, Sheriff Isobel Poole told Longmuir: "A court can only take a very serious view where children are involved and that, after all, is the reason why legislation was passed to protect them. "Because of substantial mitigating factors placed before the court and as an alternative to a custodial sentence I have concluded that community service would be an appropriate way of dealing with this."
Copyright 2000 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd.
March 5, 2000, Sunday
ROLLER RUNS OFF
LONGMUIR FLEES COUNTRY AFTER CHILD SEX SHAME
SHAMED Bay City Rollers drummer Derek Longmuir has disappeared after being convicted of child porn offences.Longmuir's brother Ian has told friends he is concerned for his safety. Sources close to his family say the 48-year-old may have fled to Portugal, where he has friends and contacts in and around Lisbon.Longmuir may have gone there to stay with the family of Nelson Queiros, a 15-year-old boy found in his Edinburgh flat when police raided it after a tip-off. Queiros, who is from Amadora near Lisbon, was in Longmuir's ground-floor flat when police confronted the former teen idol. He reportedly told officers looking for child pornography that he loved Longmuir. The boy regularly spent weeks at a time in the seedy star's flat, and Longmuir spent time in Amadora with Queiros and his family. Detectives who raided the flat in September 1998 found 73 computer discs with more than 1000 graphic images. Two computers contained another 6000 images,1700 of which related to the charges. Longmuir and his brother Alan created the Bay City Rollers and together with Les McKeown , Stuart Wood and Eric Faulkner they racked up a string of No.1 hits around the world, topping the charts with Shang A Lang and Bye Bye Baby. The band split in 1978. Sentence on Longmuir was deferred for three weeks and reports were ordered.
Now Derek's brother Alan, 50, has
told friends he fears for his brother's safety and mental welfare
after the court case. A source close to Derek said: "He has
gone to Portugal but will be back to face the music in three weeks'
time. Derek's a very quiet man. He hasn't told a soul about this,
not even his brother Alan. He won't speak to anyone about it.That's
why Alan is so concerned."Derek loves Portugal, and probably
thinks he can walk around with his head held high over there.
Even Alan can't track him down."Police officers who raided
Longmuir's flat found photos of the 14-year- old Queiros naked
from the waist down. He was sent back home to Portugal. Longmuir
has always denied anything improper took place between the two.
Ten years ago, he brought another Portugese boy to Scotland and
raised him as his son. Jorge Loureiro, now 25 and living in Edinburgh,
refused to speak about his mentor. Longmuir would be free to leave
the country and live in Portugal for the next three weeks, so
long as he
returns for sentencing.If he fails to return, the fiscal will seek a warrant for his arrest.
Friday March 3, 2000 6:33 PM ET
Former Bay City Roller Admits Child Porn Charge
By David Luhnow
EDINBURGH, Scotland (Reuters) - Derek Longmuir, a founding member of the 1970s Scottish pop sensation the Bay City Rollers, pleaded guilty Friday to possessing child pornography.The former drummer for one of Britain's most famous teeny-bopper acts admitted to having indecent photographs and videos of children in his apartment when police raided it following a tip.Longmuir, who is in his 40s, will be sentenced at a later date, court officials said. Longmuir, now a senior nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, told the court that although the material was in his possession, it belonged to an American friend. He said he had not looked at the images and had no interest in pornography. Longmuir had no comment as he left the court wearing a woolen cap pulled over his eyes.``We've got to protect our children from anything that could possibly exploit them like this,'' Alan Eadie, the police officer who led the investigation, told reporters.
The case came only weeks after Gary
Glitter, another 1970s British pop star, was released from prison
after serving two months for possessing hard-core child pornography.
The Bay City Rollers, led by singer Les McKeown, touched off a
craze for all things tartan and flew to No. 1 in the singles charts
in 1975 with ``Bye Bye Baby.'' ``Saturday Night'' topped the U.S.
charts that year and other hits such as ''Shang-a-Lang'' followed.
One of the world's most popular acts at the time, they split up
in 1979 after a series of squabbles, but still have legions of
loyal fans who meet for conventions to swap memorabilia. Longmuir's
case is the latest setback for group members. McKeown was charged
with reckless driving after hitting and killing a 75-year-old
widow. Two members, including Derek's brother Alan Longmuir, attempted
suicide, former manager Tam Patton was jailed for committing indecent
acts with underage teen-agers, former member Ian Mitchell starred
in a pornographic movie and Billy Lyall died from an AIDS-related
illness in 1989. Throughout the past two decades, band members
have feuded over royalties with their former label and one another.
Most are believed to have made little money from their hits. Four
Roller members regrouped and played at the Hogmanay millennium
celebrations in Edinburgh. But plans to go on tour were scuttled
when Alan Longmuir fell ill.
Rocker and actress Courtney Love recently bought the rights to music writer Caroline Sullivan's memoir ``Bye Bye Baby'' about her tragic teen-age affair with the Bay City Rollers. Love reportedly wants to produce the movie, starring as Sullivan, and cast Ewan McGregor as McKeown and Leonardo DiCaprio as guitarist Stuart ``Woody'' Wood. The group tried to tour again once before in 1992, but an unemployed music fan stole their guitars and hid them in a derelict house. He later told a court he was trying to ``save the world from the Bay City Rollers.''
March 3, 2000 Scotsman
Former Pop Star Admits
Child Porn Charges
One of the founding members of Seventies pop group the Bay City Rollers has admitted possessing child pornography.
Derek Longmuir, 48, who was a drummer with the Scottish band, pleaded guilty to having indecent films, videos and photos of children at his Edinburgh home on September 15, 1998.He also admitted making indecent photos of children at his home in March 1998, when he appeared before Edinburgh Sheriff Court
March 3, 2000
Ex-Roller admits child
One of the founding members of Seventies pop group the Bay City Rollers today admitted possessing child pornography.
Derek Longmuir, 48, a nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, pleaded guilty to having indecent photographs and videos of children which were found during a police raid following a tip off.Longmuir, of Queens Park Court, Edinburgh, refused to comment as he left the city's sheriff court. Sentence was deferred for three weeks. Detective Sergeant Alan Eadie, of Lothian and Borders Police, said outside court that the inquiry had been a long and difficult one which involved officers looking at hours of paedophiliac images. "It has been a difficult and arduous case because we are human beings as well and anything regarding children tends to hit home, especially if your have children yourself. "Because of the nature of the videos and computer images it took a long time to analyse them."The court had earlier heard that during the raid on September 15, 1998, police took away 73 floppy discs and sifted through them discovering a number of indecent images involving children, as well as 22 child porn videos. Longmuir claimed the material belonged to an American
friend of his.
From: Mark St. John, manager of the Bay City Rollers
Sent Via: Gene Foley of Hardrive Records
January 18th 2000
As you all may know, I am the current manager of "The Bay City Rollers," and I am responsible for their current "reformation" of the most well-known original band line-up. Although I don't personally use the Internet, it has been increasingly obvious recently that there has been confusion and concern regarding the band and their activities, amongst many of you do use it. Accordingly, I think that it is probably time for me to set out the position clearly and try to alleviate any concerns, which some of you may have.
Recently, there has been confusion regarding Peter Stern's unofficial BCR's Web site. And this has been centered around the post-Edinburgh Hogmanay activities of the site and certain statements subsequently made by Woody and his wife, Denise Whilst I know how deeply all of you feel for the band and how much lifelong support you have given them, their own current position is governed by their very complex legal position. Many of you will be aware that they have been trying to retrieve payments and royalities due to them from many years ago and even up to the present day. However, many of you will not be aware of just how deep that problem runs and the massive scale of the damage which it has done to the band. Simply put, the band has been financially destroyed by the failure of their old label to pay their record royalities and by their huge past losses at the hands of certain of their past advisors. In fact, I was initially approached by the band specifically to help with this legal problem, as I have an established long history of settling such disputes for unpaid artists. Along the way, I brought the boys back together and we have made some small progress in repairing old, deep wounds. However, as a result of the massive financial and personal damage that the past has wrought on all of the band, it is now absolutely essential for us to be very firm and clear about the way in which the band's image and music is offered for sale or reproduced. Indeed, as certain members of the band actually own their name as a worldwide registered trademark, they have a continued legal obligation to uphold the proper use of the name and likeness in certain areas.
Additionally, the band would be in breach of its current recording obligations if any material were offered for sale outside the terms and conditions of the band's new recording agreements. We have, therefore, to be very, very careful about the way in which anything is made available for the public which uses the band's name and likeness. This is far more important since the undertaking of the band's major U.S. lawsuit was initiated. Along the way, many of the messages and statements posted on various sites regarding these matters and others have added to the confusion. I know that many of you are upset and concerned with messages from Denise, Woody's wife, but I feel that a lot of this is being taken out of context and has been misinterpreted. Denise takes a keen interest in Woody's life and career, and is often more concerned about his future and happiness than he is himself. She sees the damage done by the years of loss and she is only interested in his welfare. Woody loves his fans, and lately he has (for the first time) made the effort to communicate with them, and that is due, in many ways, to Denise. You all have to forgive any over-reaction wives, mothers and family are allowed to care a lot - we all do, don't we? Stuart and Denise would NEVER, EVER disrespect or disregard the fans, and we all feel that the message has been misinterpreted and misunderstood. I hope that you will all be able to understand and relate to that. I also know that many of you are concerned about Peter Stern's site and you feel that there have been problems surrounding the site and the band. The truth is that we all have to accept that the band must have control of their future and destiny, and if confusion arises, as it has here, then we must all communicate properly to avoid any dispute arising, which would be of no value to anyone. It is unfortunate that matters have reached such a state of affairs, but it is absolutely fundamental to the future of the band that everyone who cares about them fully understands that they have to be in control of their music, films and images. This is far more important after all those years of rip-offs and loss. I am sure that all of you, including Peter, would accept and endorse this.
So If any of you feel that Peter Stern's site has been compromised or unfairly treated, of if you feel that either Stuart of Denise has been unduly harsh, then I hope that you will try to balance that view against the hard realities and current legalities of "being a Roller." After more than twenty-five years of pain and financial deprivation, everyone in the camp is probably a little overzealous from time to time. For myself, I would have loved to have seen Peter Stern at Hogmanay, but he wasn't introduced to me. He didn't make himself known, and we therefore didn't meet. You should all be aware that neither Peter, nor anyone else, has contacted me about the sale of anything related to the Hogmanay Gig. Indeed, I haven't been given the opportunity to see the photographs and comment on them. Likewise, the rumoured recording of the performance hasn't been made available to me, and naturally, it is necessary for me to review anything of this nature involving the band. It goes without saying that I would have loved to have seen a few more of you personally, too - but security being what it was, and the dreadfully unfair allocation of tickets by the promoters being as it was, well - it was out of my hands One more word about the Web site: After this note is posted, Peter, perhaps you will contact me and talk about this confusion. Everyone who loves this band is important to me - and to the band. But we have to "get real" about the band's future, and I personally owe it to them to insure that NOTHING interferes with their opportunity to restore their massive historic losses. And if that means a slight change in the way the "Rollerworld" operates inside (and outside) the Internet - then that's what it will take for all of us. I hope that this can include you.
So - I hope that ALL OF YOU will understand and help us support the band's current fight for "Right against Might." "The Bay City Rollers" love, respect and cherish their fans, and nothing will EVER change that. On a final note, you should all be aware that the "Definitive Collection" is yet another record for which the band will not receive a single penny in royalties. Personally, we would all be happy if you waited for the HARDRIVE RECORDS upcoming release - we know that we will get paid by those guys, because they're honest and they care!
With my fondest regards,
Mark St. John.
Copyright 1999 Scottish Daily Record
& Sunday Mail Ltd.
December 19, 1999, Sunday
TOGETHER..FOR AULD SHANG
A LANG SYNE;
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS BURY THE HATCHET (NOT IN ONE ANOTHER) FOR A MILLENNIUM COMEBACK
BYLINE: Billy Sloan Exclusive
THERE'S a picture I thought I'd never live long enough to see, and neither did The Bay City Rollers. All four original members, in the same room, at the same time, and World War III not being declared. Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it? But, as our exclusive photograph on the far right proves, Scotland's first ever pop supergroup are back together again in their trademark tartan. They've re-formed after what seems like a lifetime of bitter words and farcical legal battles, just in time for the Millennium, to headline the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh.
The classic Rollers' line-up of
Eric Faulkner, Stuart "Woody" Wood, Les McKeown and
Alan Longmuir are due to play their first concert for nearly 20
years in Princes Street. They've dusted off all the old hits,
like Shang A Lang, Bye Bye Baby and Summerlove Sensation, and
come up with a new improved tartan image. The spectacular Millennium
bash will start a new chapter in the The Bay City Rollers' amazing
success story. "We were offered opportunities to play Millennium
gigs in America, Australia and Egypt," said lead singer Les.
"But we're all Scots and this is such a historic occasion
that we thought - if we're gonna do this, then let's do it on
home soil." Guitarist Eric told me: "We're delighted
that our songs seem to have so many happy memories for so many
people. "It's a thrill for us to be asked to play in Edinburgh
at Hogmanay." A few years ago, a Bay City Rollers' reunion
would have been simply unthinkable. When they fell out, they fell
out big time. Bitter arguments about money, music, touring - and
just about everything else in between - led to the Rollers splitting
into two camps. On the one side was Les McKeown and, at loggerheads
on the other were Faulkner, Wood and Longmuir. Les said: "There
was a time when Eric and I couldn't stand being in the same country
as each other, never mind the same room." The situation became
such a farce that, after one famous court battle in 1992, two
versions of the Rollers - playing exactly the same songs - toured
the country. Alan's brother, drummer Derek Longmuir, got so fed
up he quit the group to become a registered nurse in an Edinburgh
hospital. That's all water under the bridge now. Two years ago,
Les, Eric, "Woody" and Alan took the tentative first
steps to get back on speaking terms, and they've been speaking
ever since. It was arguments over money which split the Rollers...
and in the ultimate irony, it was money which helped bring them
back together again. The group are suing their former record label,
Arista Records, in the United States for an estimated pounds 160
million in unpaid royalties and lost earnings. The Rollers claim
they've not received a penny in back royalties from Arista since
1976. Their legal team are trying to sort out the mess. Les, 44,
who is based in London with his Japanese wife, Peco, said: "Initially
we had to get back together for business reasons - to find out
what happened to our missing royalties. "We reckon there
are vast sums of money lying in bank accounts all over the world,
that we can't get our hands on. "The figure of pounds 160
million is based on what we were owed plus how much money we would
have generated over the years in terms of record sales and merchandising."
Eric, also 44, told me: "It's been great working together
again, and the reunion has been surprisingly painless. "People
think we got paid millions when Rollermania was at its peak, but
we didn't. "That's why we had to keep touring. To survive.
"The bills didn't stop coming in, but the royalties did."
In the Seventies, the group were managed by Tam Paton. He quit
his job as resident bandleader at the Palais ballroom in Edinburgh
after spotting their potential. Paton chose their name when he
stuck a pin into a map of America, and it landed on Bay City,
Michigan. Back then, only Alan and Derek Longmuir were in the
line-up. The original Rollers' singer was a bloke named Nobby
Clark. Their first hit was Keep On Dancing, which reached No.
9 in the UK charts. It wasn't until McKeown, Faulkner and Wood
joined the group that the Rollers became superstars. They sparked
off scenes of teenybop hysteria on a scale not seen since the
heady days of Beatlemania. The adulation of their fans even became
life-threatening. In 1975, more than 47,000 screaming girls swamped
a Rollers' Radio 1 Roadshow appearance in Leicestershire. It was
abandoned - and the group were airlifted to safety by helicopter,
when fans began swimming across a lake to try to reach their idols.
Paton was a brilliant scam merchant who planted stories in the
Press to keep the Rollers in the headlines. However, it is clear
that the group blame him for the mess they're now in. In 1982,
Tam Paton was convicted on a charge of gross indecency with boys
and was sentenced to three years in jail. A still-bitter Les McKeown
told me: "We got into this messy financial position through
sheer bad management by Tam.
"He may have thought he was the greatest pop manager in the world - but he was also the stupidest. We were idiots for listening to him. "Tam was too busy creating stories for the newspapers to run our affairs properly. "He employed a bunch of crooks to look after our money. It was all siphoned off into offshore accounts. "We didn't see any of it. We reckon we've sold in excess of 120 million records worldwide but we've never been paid a penny. "To say we're p***** off is an understatement." The pounds 160 million lawsuit against Arista was the catalyst for getting the members back on talking terms. They also have a renewed enthusiasm for the group on a musical level. For the last few months, they've been recording new tracks in a London studio and plan to do a full scale comeback tour in February. There are also plans to release Rollermania, a live album recorded at the Budokan in Japan in 1977. It was discovered on an old reel of tape gathering dust in Eric Faulkner's garage. Eric - who lives in a farmhouse in Eastbourne with his girlfriend Kass - said: "Seeing Les again was a very strange experience. "We went to dinner a few times and tried to sort out the problems. "The misunderstandings were stunning. It seemed almost as if our being at loggerheads seemed to make some people happy. "In a situation like that you can either carry it on for the rest of your life or sort things out. We saw a chance to solve our differences. And I'm glad we did. It's time to forget the past and move on."
Bass guitarist Stuart "Woody"
Wood, 42, agreed. He said: "We've all moved on, thank God.
Life is too short. "At the end of the day, the problems we
had weren't about us as people. It was all the outside pressures
that drove us apart. The financial mess we were in was a bit of
an unreal situation. "When I left school, I became an electrician,
then I joined the Rollers. "I had no experience of the business
side of things. We'd heard stories of bands being ripped off and
thought: 'That will never happen to us.' "Then when we were
ripped off, none of us had enough knowledge of the financial side
of things to sort it out. "Hopefully, we'll get our money
back. We worked hard for it, so we should get the rewards."
For now, Les, Eric, Stuart and Alan are fired up at the prospect
of the classic Rollers' line- up going on tour and making records
again. They have fond memories of the crazy days of Rollermania.
"Woody", who lives in Edinburgh with his wife, told
me: "It was sheer excitement being at the centre of such
hysteria. "You just had to lift your hand on stage and instantly
2000 girls would go berserk. That felt amazing. "But it used
to get real crazy when we'd be trying to escape from a venue in
our limo and hundreds of fans would be pressed against the windows
trying to get to us." However, the Rollers are determined
not to abandon their famous tartan image. Eric said: "The
tartan look is an important part of the band's background.
"So, for Hogmanay, we were keen to have an updated tartan image, with kilts and Doc Marten boots. "We wouldn't be The Bay City Rollers without tartan. I remember seeing Status Quo on TV once and they were wearing suits. It just wasn't the same seeing the band minus their denims. "That's how I feel about us. Okay, so we're not 17 any more. But maybe the fans will enjoy the music now. We just want to have some fun." "Woody" said: "I think if we were to wear tartan stripes up the side of our trousers, we'd look daft but we've had the tartan image since the early days of the group. "Any time we caused a riot, newspaper headlines always described the scene as a 'Sea of Tartan'. "It's always been with us, even though tartan itself has gone in and out of fashion. "So celebrating the new Millennium in Edinburgh - with the classic Rollers' line- up and all the hits - is going to be brilliant. "We're ack, and we're back to stay
Roller in Child Porn Inquiry
Derek Longmuir pleads not guilty to posession of indecent material.
Story: Former Bay City Rollers drummer, Derek Longmuir, appeared in court in Edinburgh on August 17, charged with posession of indecent photographs and film of children. He was also charged with making indecent photographs. Longmuir, who had been working as a nurse at the Edinburgh Sick Children's Hospital until his arrest in December 1998, denies the charges. The police are searching through 152 video tapes and a number of disks seized from his house on September 15, 1998. In 1982, the group's ex-manager, Tam Paton , was convicted and sentenced to three years on a charge of gross indecency with boys between the ages of 13 and 19.
Record Honcho Sacked
Clive Davis, president of
Arista Records since 1974, has been fired from the corporation,according to sources in Arista's public relations department.
The sacking is said to have been triggered by Davis's criticism of the songwriting of members of the Bay City Rollers, a band who helped put Arista on top of Mount Vinyl in the mid-late 1970's. Sources say it was Davis's VH-1 Behind The Music comments about the BCR songwriting deficiencies which created a venomous response from the "Still Rabid
After All These Years" Bay City Roller fans.
It was also revealed that Davis's comments were fueled by a financial agreement with former BCR manager Tam Paton, who is allegedly seeking allies in his campaign to discredit the BCR comeback. Davis's employment future is cloudy, though some sources say he may become Assistant CEO of Heinz Corporation, and will oversee marketing of the beans distribution division (BDD), where he will most certainly hire Paton to rekindle interest in the dry legume. Whether teenage girls across the globe will take an interest in consuming the newest model of Heinz beans scooped from tartan labeled cans and jars remains
to be seen.
AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR
Interview Mail on Sunday; London
Apr 4, 1999
This is a story of lost innocence and of
lost money - some GBP 120 million. It has drink, drugs, feuds,
a Svengali, and a vast tartan army of little
girls.It's a story that could only have sprung from the pop industry. There was a time in the mid-Seventies when the Bay City Rollers were bigger than the Beatles, bigger than Bowie, bigger than anyone. Between 1974 and 1977, lead singer Les McKeown, shaggy-haired guitarist Eric Faulkner, Stuart `Woody' Wood (bass) and brothers Alan (keyboard) and Derek (drums) Longmuir were blow-dried, primped and packaged to become the very first British boy band, two decades before Take That.
The working-class lads from Edinburgh estates,
who took their name from a US city, bestrode the globe in half-mast
tartan loon-pants, transforming
overnight the fortunes of Scotland's ailing textile mills, and subsequently inspiring Vivienne Westwood's tartan nappies. To most people over 20, the
Rollers were hilariously kitsch; to young girls, they were essential. Screaming tomboys in tribal tartan laid siege at every live appearance.
Between 1975 and 1978, they had 18 top five hits in America, including `Bye Bye Baby', `Give a Little Love' and `Love Me Like I Love You'. They hosted their own TV series, Shang-a-Lang. They were the first band since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to repeat their British success in America and Japan.
But by the end of the Seventies, the royalties had disappeared and the band fell apart. In 1989, their great days long over, Faulkner made the headlines again, rescuing a pensioner trying to drown himself at Bexhill-on-Sea. He reportedly said to the man: `You think you've got problems - I used to play guitar with the Bay City Rollers.'
The details of their precipitous rise and
fall are gruesome even by the rapacious standards of the rock
business. Yet it's another truism of this
industry that past success can be repeated, if there is the will - and the money. So, like weary survivors of a long war, all except Derek have been
patched up and put back on the road for another go at stardom. Faulkner has written a new single, `Automatic', for release at the end of this month - an album of new material will follow - and a warts-and-all documentary, Remember?, is screened on BBC1 tomorrow. Regrets? Well, just a few. `Some people need to be exposed,' says Faulkner. `By rights, Alan should be living in a castle in Scotland, and Les, who loves London, should own half of Mayfair. When everything finally gets unearthed, this will be seen as one of the biggest rock 'n' roll rip-offs ever. The merchandising situation alone was an absolute robbery.'
Faulkner says that he dreamed up the tartan
image as a cynical gimmick. Yet the result was explosive. One
of their ardent fans, TV presenter Lowri
Turner, says that an entire generation of women now aged between 32 and 36 -she is 34 - were fans. `But because the majority were pre-pubescent girls, they're not taken seriously - they're like the band that never was.' Meeting in the lobby of a central London hotel, Faulkner and McKeown retreat behind a Berlin Wall of cigarette smoke as they recall their tribulations. `We are living cliches right now,' admits McKeown. `People talk as if we were a cross between puppets and victims.' They have never recovered from massive tax demands for monies they claim they
never received. Unlike ex-manager Tam Paton, now a millionaire property developer in Edinburgh, they live modestly, and scrape a living by trading on their former fame. Three of them - Woody and the Longmuir brothers - are still in Edinburgh. Woody, 42, recently married for the first time; Faulkner and McKeown joke that he'll probably get divorced now the married couple's allowance has been abolished.
The eldest Roller, 49-year-old Alan (`Big
Al'), a divorced father-of-one who has a history of heavy drinking,
suffered a heart attack in 1995. He's now
recovering from a stroke that has left him paralysed down one side. His 45-year-old brother, Derek, a shy, private man, left the Rollers for good
in 1984 to train as a nurse. He now rents a small flat in Edinburgh and is working at the city's Royal Infirmary. Billy Lyall, an early member, died of
Aids in 1990. Paton, their manager, who is 60, served a year in jail in 1982 for indecent acts against 10 teenage boys, and committing an act of gross
indecency with a 14- year-old boy. Of the two strongest characters, both 43, Faulkner comes across as reflective, while McKeown is inclined to be loud-mouthed and nervy - a wisecracker. He rents a flat on the outskirts of London with his Japanese wife, Peko, and their 14-year-old son, Richard. Faulkner lives in rural Hampshire with his singer girlfriend, Kass, and wryly hopes that he may soon have the wherewithal to start a family.
Yet at the height of their success, the
Rollers were like royalty: they never carried cash; their entourage
would take care of everything. `We were the ultimate spoiled children,
and Tam was the nearest thing we had to a substitute father,'
says McKeown. One music business insider recalls Paton
opening his briefcase to show him all the boys' chequebooks he kept. Their producer, Phil Wainman, who had made his reputation with Mud and The
Sweet, would take them home for Sunday lunch and try to protect them like a big brother. But Wainman fell out with their record company, Arista, and they were gradually sucked into a fight for the right to grow up and take artistic control of their lives.
Their reputation as a `manufactured' band
obsessed them. `These days no one questions session guys playing
on Spice Girls records,' says Faulkner.
`Arista retained 50 per cent artistic control, and that damn clause came to haunt us. We wanted to write more of our own material, but they wanted more cover versions.' More rancour ensued in 1976 when Alan was sacked for being too old - at 27. `We showed no solidarity,' admits McKeown. `We should have gone on strike.' `There were vested interests that kept us at loggerheads with each other,' Faulkner explains. `I got into taking speed and sleeping pills. That was my mad period. People tried to make out it was a suicide attempt, but it was just a mistake.
`There's nothing real in that life, going
from limo to airplane to gig all the time. It's like being in
a permanent trance. You start withdrawing.
That's what happens when people resort to drugs or booze or Buddhism.' Then they started getting calls from lawyers and accountants, and they began to realise that a great deal of their money had been lost. Now the carefree image finally cracked. McKeown, hot-headed, a big spender, went off the rails. `I never consumed any drink and drugs until 1976, when all the **** started,' he says. `Then I did go into a bit of a downward spiral. I did everything except heroin. I do believe people take drugs to escape. The trouble with psychological scarring is that you can't see it.'
In November 1978, McKeown left to go solo.
Two weeks later, his house was repossessed. And it got worse.
He made an album, prophetically titled All Washed Up. In 1990,
he came only fourth out of eight British contenders in England's
Song For Europe entry. Finally, in 1992, he took the others to
court over the Bay City Rollers' name, which no one had ever bothered
to register. The judgement allowed him to perform as `Les McKeown's
Seventies Bay City Rollers'. Faulkner kept another, more plausible
version of the band going, sometimes playing R&B on the student
circuit, always condemned, like flying Dutchmen, to wander the
country, endlessly performing greatest hits. Shadowing all their
lives has been the presence of Tam Paton, whom they sacked in
the autumn of 1979 after 11 years as manager. Paton had controlled
them to the extent of banning public relationships with girlfriends.
They partly blame this for the rumours of homosexuality that have
pursued the band. `There was a time when everyone involved with
us was gay or bisexual. Nowadays, we have a big gay following,
too,' Faulkner acknowledges. There have also been questions asked
about the real nature of Paton's relationships with his young
charges. Faulkner says:`People have kept asking whether Tam abused
me, but he didn't.' But Faulkner, who was expelled from school
for insubordination, says he constantly rowed with Paton. `I was
always arguing. I sussed him out a long
time ago. He couldn't stand anyone else having a power base.' `We were used,' McKeown mutters, but declines to go into specifics. `Tam was
very scary. I used to have palpitations just talking to him on the phone.' Phil Wainman agrees. `What probably motivated Tam was working with young boys - that was his thing. Tam's biggest downfall was that his brains were in his trousers, but he paid the price for it by going to jail.' He claims that Paton even propositioned him. `But he must have been desperate. I'm very heterosexual.' In Roller days, Paton, an ex-potato merchant from Prestonpans, had dark, good looks; now he's the size of a sumo wrestler. He lives in a high-security, ranch-style bungalow near Edinburgh, with shutters, a barbed-wire fence, and an old Lee Enfield rifle mounted over the fireplace. He greets me barefoot, accompanied by his two Rottweilers, confiding that he also used to keep piranhas but got tired of feeding them meat. He's open about his year in prison. `The other prisoners expected an
out-and-out poof, with high heels and a handbag by my side,' he chuckles. `I had a couple of fights in the exercise yard and managed to leave my mark.' When discussing his conviction, he is at pains to say that `there were never any sodomy charges against me'. But as to the whereabouts of the Rollers' money, he swears he knows nothing. `The accountants totally misled me,' he claims. He claims he is still owed some GBP 400,000 in unpaid commission, and that he was left with just GBP 70,000 after his sacking. And he can't resist having a last dig: `The Rollers are finished and gone. They're just a big curiosity because of the intrigue and the squabbling.' The Rollers' new manager, Mark St John, wears black leggings and describes himself, with masterly hyperbole, as `the Robin Hood of rock 'n' roll - I'm Darth Vader meets the Grim Reaper'. He's on a mission to revive the careers and finances of obsolescent pop groups like The Pretty Things and Arthur Brown. `I bite the legs of the bigger boys,' he says. `I'm a 46-year-old man in tights who sues record companies for a living.' Two years ago, he became interested in the plight of the Rollers trying to
recover their lost money. He bluntly told McKeown and Faulkner to bury their differences and reform as one band. The group members turned up for their first meeting in years driving old Toyotas; looking at each other's cars, they realised StJohn was right. `We wasted a lot of time being angry with each other - I've been angry for 17 years longer than I needed to be,' says McKeown. `It was as traumatic as a divorce - the loss of trust and the feeling of being stabbed in the back.' The band is now engaged in `amicable' talks with their old company, Arista. Allowing for inflation, the original missing royalties of GBP 20 million are now estimated at GBP 120 million. Last year, in Japan alone, the Rollers sold half a million of their remastered hits. `It was a schizophrenic career, with much bigger hits outside Britain,' admits Faulkner. `When we looked back on Britain, all we saw was this legal nightmare.'
Yet now the mad whirligig of fashion could make them strangely cool again. With Scottish nationalism resurgent, there has never been a better time to flaunt the tartan now discreetly draped as a backdrop to their stage shows. And posterity, still in the grip of a Seventies' revival, keeps on plundering the Rollers' back catalogue. Catherine Johnson's recent stage play, Shang-a-lang, was set at a meeting of Rollers fans. The ITV comedy series, The Grimleys, gleefully features gormless characters in Roller Stroller trousers and has their old hits on its soundtrack.
Faulkner remains philosophical, as well
he might, about being stuck in a time warp. `If you only cover
your old hits, you become a parody,' he says.
`But for years we had to do old stuff to survive. Being a Bay City Roller was the only job open to me. We've got to move our careers on - we're a man band now, not a boy band. `George Michael had a second chance after Wham!, and I hope we do, too. But the music scene is all circular; sit around long enough and we'll be back in vogue. Since punk, everything has been recycled - and we're on spin wash at the moment.
`I don't regret anything except the money;
we had good times. All that tartan was great. Maybe we should
stand for the Scottish Parliament. `It's just a pity that the
Rollers never made a film like The Beatles, Elvis and the Spice
Girls. Although in our case, it would have been X-rated.'
Remember? is on BBC1 tomorrow at 9.50pm.
Copyright 1999 The Scotsman Publications
Evening News (Edinburgh)
May 18, 1999, Tuesday
ROCK AND STROLL
BYLINE: Lorna Dowie
HE was one of five spikey-haired, tartan
clad charmers who dazzled audiences on stage - the only tonic
he needed was teenage enthusiasm and a trademark pint of milk.
Stuart "Woody" Wood, renowned as the youngest and cutest
Bay City Roller, was
a picture of sheer health as he bounded about the stage, playing guitar while his fellow musicians sang along to Shang-a-Lang and Bye Bye Baby. Twelve years later it was a different story. He'd ditched his clean-cut image - as well as the white trousers with tartan trim, vest top and cropped jacket - for a life of drink and drugs. With his new band Passengers he toured South Africa spending eight hours a night in bars drinking pints and downing whiskies, the empty glasses sitting next to overflowing ashtrays as he chain-smoked the night away. He dabbled in drugs and stuffed himself with junk food. In between soundchecks and performances and to cope with the boredom of travelling he'd consume a mountain of crisps and sweets to pass the time.
These days that too is all in the past.
For Stuart, 42, is back in the studio recording. And that has
prompted him to ditch the dark and dingy corners of foreign bars
for the serenity and solitude of Edinburgh's Pentland Hills where
he regularly goes walking. In the place of booze, cigarettes and
chips are fruit and vegetable juices, fresh meat, steamed fish
and just the odd dram or two.
And the pop star image of being surrounded by women has altered too - these days Celtic musician Stuart just has one woman in his life, wife Denise whom he married two years ago. It's no wonder he feels great and why he's been prompted to tell the story of
his new clean bill of health to television sports presenter Hazel Irvine as part of the new BBC series Feeling Good. Taking a hike up the Pentlands -where he takes a two-hour walk every week - Stuart clad in jeans and a checked shirt with his dark hair blowing in the wind talks about the changes his lifestyle has gone through. "I come up here for the solitude and it's great to get outdoors. The only thing I saw for years was hotel rooms as we had to go in and out through the kitchen. I couldn't remember what a lobby looked like. This gives me a chance to reflect on the changes I've made in my life. "After the Rollers split I started a new band in Los Angeles playing run-of-the-mill rock and pop. We were together for four years and it was basically four years of drinking, gigging and clubbing," he adds. "It was a big change for me because I never really drank until I was 20 - the thing about the band only drinking milk was completely true - for me anyway." Stuart took an early dislike to alcohol after a New Year family party when he was just 14. "There was a crowd of us and unknown to the adults we were taking a slug out of everyone's drinks. We were all completely gone and I had a hangover that lasted for a week - every hour, on the hour, I was sick," he groans at the
remembrance. "I was always healthy growing up. When I was at school, at St Augustine's, I was in the swimming team and I was
in the Warrender Swimming Club. I even won a bronze medal doing back-stroke in a competition."
He smiles: "When we were on stage we were all jumping about daft. I think back in those days I had a 24 inch waist because of it all." He admits that today the waistline has increased slightly to a size 30. It was after the acrimonious split of the Bay City Rollers in 1977 -amid rumours of suicide attempts and nervous exhaustion - that squeaky clean Stuart's copybook collected was blotted.
At the age of 24 he left the States for
South Africa, where he became a member of rock band Passengers
and toured for eight years, although he tried his hand at acting
as well. "We were big fish in a very small pond and had to
live up to that pop star
image. I didn't want everyone to know I was Woody who sang Bye Bye Baby. "We would have a gig every night and would be in the bar drinking from 8pm until 5am and smoking. And I don't think there is anyone that can say they've never experimented
with drugs. "I would be stuffing myself full of rubbish every day. And there came a time, when I was 32, when I just thought I was still going to be doing the same when I was 40. I made a conscious decision to change my life, moved back to Scotland and adopted a much healthier lifestyle. I wanted to swap the darker colours in my life for much brighter ones." As well as changing his diet Stuart has embarked on a fitness regime. Running was ruled out as he suffered from knee pain, but that was substituted
by brisk walking either in the Capital's suburbs or the Pentlands. Last Sunday he spent seven hours completing his third Munro, Ben Cruach, along with wife Denise. It also influences his music - he's just completed his fourth album.
"It's like freedom - just like in Braveheart," admits Stuart. "I feel much better and fitter and am happy within myself. I don't care what happens in my life - the past four or five years have been perfect. I wouldn't have felt this way if I was back on the road."
Feeling Good producer Alison Black explains
why they decided to feature the ex-Roller. "We first met
Woody and his manager around the time that the documentary was
made about the Bay City Rollers. We heard about the changes he'd
made to his life and thought he was the ideal person to feature
on the programme. "He's perfectly content with his life and
will give others inspiration. We're not out to preach to people
that they have to go to the gym six times a week and not go to
the pub. "We just want to let them know what they can do
and thought Stuart's story would be an ideal way to do it."
Stuart is not the only Edinburgh star to tell of their fitness
regimes in the new series. Ali Paton - aka Gladiator Siren - will
also appear on the half -hour programme in training for a new
series of the show. However Stuart admits there is one thing in
his life that he'll never be able
to give up, his daily pint - of milk. "It was a symbol of the Bay City Rollers but we did all genuinely love it and I still can't do without my full fat milk - I tried the semi-skimmed stuff on my cereal and it was like water. "And it can't do you any harm. My grandparents drank a pint a day and they lived to the age of 90!" l Feeling Good, a magazine- type programme on health, fitness and living lifeto the full and featuring Stuart's story will be broadcast across Scotland tonight at 8pm.
From the Sunday Herald
Copyright 1999 Scottish Media Newspapers Limited The Sunday Herald
March 28, 1999
Exclusive By Eddie Gibb Showbiz Correspondent
Prepare to scream as the Bay City Rollers get back together to wow a new generation of baby loves. TARTAN flares are set to make a comeback as the Bay City Rollers prepare to shang-a-lang once more for an estimated seven figure sum. According to a source close to the band, new songs have been recorded, including a possible single called Gossamer Dream. "There's a lot of stuff been happening and the guys have been working together on quite a number of things," the source added. The news will delight the screaming female fans of the 1970s and make the rest of the music-loving public wonder why. From the heady days of teenage adulation to the infamous punch-up on a Japanese tour, the Rollers really did get on that roller-coaster. When bands split, it is usually put down to musical differences, but with the Bay City Rollers there was no musical difference - they were each as bad as one another. But who needs talent when you have platform shoes and tartan flares? What really destroyed the band was the personal animosity between Edinburgh pals Les McKeown and Eric Faulkner. The rest is history and legal action.That was 20 years ago, but despite one of the most acrimonious splits in pop, the Rollers, Les, Eric, Woody, Alan and Derek are rollin' again. Reforming the Rollers is not new - there has been plenty talk of it, most recently for a Dunblane fundraiser, which never materialised. The sticking point has always been Les and Eric - they couldn't stand each other. Ex-manager Tom Paton said: "The band broke up because of Eric and Les's jealousy towards each other." Competing for wall-space in a teenager's bedroom was a serious business in those days. The Bay City Rollers have played in various incarnations since Les quit in 1978 but legal battles over who actually owned the band name kept the acrimony alive. They could almost certainly have profited from the current 1970s revival, but the stumbling block has always been Eric and Les's inability to bury the hatchet. Until now, that is. A BBC documentary to be shown at Easter relives the glory days of girls screaming so hard they lost their dignity and bladder control. The film ends with footage of the band in the studio and a short interview which suggests peace has finally broken out. McKeown, sitting on a couch with his arm casually draped over Eric Faulkner's shoulder, explains: "This is something I thought I would never see. Without trying, we've just become friends like we used to be. "All the animosity has gone and I don't hold any grudges against Eric because I realise that there was no foundation to the bad things I've been thinking about him. "I thought they had nicked my money and they thought I had nicked their money, which is why we never talked for about 20 years."
As always, it comes down to money. Stuart "Woody" Wood estimates the band sold 120 million records in a seven-year career during which they had an American number one, starred in their own television show and were seriously big in Japan on a scale that rivalled Beatlemania. The band maintain they never saw a penny of the money and a long-running legal wrangle with their US label, Arista Records, drags on. This could just be the reason behind the band reforming. In music circles there is still talk of frozen bank accounts containing the spoils of Rollermania, believed to be a seven-figure sum. The thinking, according to one industry source who knows the band, is that a reformed Rollers would provide the record company with an opportunity to pay the allegedly unpaid royalties by releasing a greatest hits package, backed by a tour and new material. Famously dysfunctional bands from The Eagles to the Sex Pistols whose members never thought they could stand to be in the same room again have proved reforming can be very lucrative.
Copyright 1999 MGN Ltd.
March 11, 1999, Thursday
POLICE have seized drugs and a computer after a raid on the luxury home of former Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton. Forty officers spent six hours searching the ranch-style villa on the western outskirts of Edinburgh. The raid followed a tip-off received by Lothian and Borders drug squad that illegal substances would be found at the house. A small quantity of cannabis was recovered and other "substances" were taken away for analysis.
A computer was also taken away from the pounds 300,000 house last night for examination by police experts. A police insider said: "Around 40 officers were involved because it's a huge expanse of ground with a house in the middle and needs a lot of people to search thoroughly. "The reason for the search was that we had received intelligence that drugs might be found there. "The computer was taken as well because it could provide evidence." Mr Paton has a conviction dating back to the 1970s for indecency involving boys aged 16 and 17, for which he served three years in jail. But the 60-year-old music manager insisted last night the raid had nothing to do with his previous convictions. He said: "They did take my computer but there's nothing on it." Mr Paton said he may have been targeted because he has spoken out in favour of the decriminalisation of cannabis.
Copyright 1998 Scottish Media Newspapers
The Herald (Glasgow)
September 17, 1998
Former Bay City Rollers star on indecency charges
FORMER Bay City Rollers star Derek Longmuir was arrested yesterday on charges of indecency and was held in custody to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today. Mr Longmuir, 47, was the drummer with the pop group, which had a string of hits in the 1970s. A police spokesman said: "We can confirm a 47-year-old man has been arrested and charged. He will appear in court tomorrow.''
Copyright dated 9/17/98 by Alan Muir/Chief Reporter
Gay sex charges Police in raid at drummer's home
Bay City Rollers star Derek Longmuir was yesterday arrested on gay sex allegations. Police took the former drummer, 47, from his home in Northfield, Edinburgh, in the early hours morning. Officers are examining equipment and other material.
Bachelor Derek is due to appear at Edinburgh
Sheriff Court later today. Last night a Lothian and Borders Police
spokeswoman confirmed an arrest had taken place. She said, "A
47-year-old man was arrested and charged in the early hours of
Wednesday morning." Derek was a founder member of the 70s
chart-toppers with brother Alan, now 49. They had a string of
hits - including Bye Bye Baby and Give a Little Love - after teaming
up with lead singer Les McKeown and guitartists Stuart 'Woody'
Wood and Eric Faulkner. But Derek - who owned a luxury flat
and villa in Portugal - jacked in pop fame in the early 80s to
dabble in property development. Eight years ago he started training
to become a nurse after helping out voluntarily at the Sick Children's
Hospital in Edinburgh. He qualified in 1993 and works at Edinburgh
Royal Infirmary. He has said of his new career: "It's hard
Copyright 1998 The Scotsman Publications
September 18, 1998, Friday
FORMER BAY CITY ROLLER ON UNDERAGE GAY SEX CHARGES
A FORMER member of the Bay City Rollers appeared in court yesterday accused of homosexual offences involving an underage youth.
Derek Longmuir, who played drums with the
successful Scottish band before pursuing a nursing career, faced
three indecency charges involving a
youth under 18, the homosexual age of consent. Longmuir, 47, made no plea or declaration when he appeared in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was released on bail after the hearing before Sheriff John Horsburgh, QC
He was one of the original members of the Bay City Rollers, along with his older brother, Alan, the band's bass guitarist. They enjoyed international success in the 1970s and were famous for their tartan outfits and screaming fans.
The case was continued for further inquiry yesterday after Longmuir, of Queens Park Court, Edinburgh, appeared on petition and was accused of three charges of alleged indecent conduct under Section 13 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995. The charges relate to offences allegedly committed since December 1997.
In recent years, Longmuir, who qualified
as a nurse five years ago and now works at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary,
had refused to take part in a reunion of the Rollers featuring
his brother, who has suffered a number of heart attacks, and two
other former members, Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody"
The singer Les McKeown, who has not spoken to his former colleagues since the band split in acrimony in 1978, also declined to join the new line-up after failing to claim the BCR name for his own group. Sell-out tours and a series of hit singles including Bye Bye Baby, Shang-a -Lang, and Summer Love Sensation fuelled Rollermania in Britain, the United States and Japan during the 1970s.
Six of the band's former members are now mired in a long-running legal wrangle with Arista Records over profits held by the company.
Sunday Mail: June 12, 1998
Former Bay City Roller Pat McGlynn has been badly injured in a motorbike crash
Former Bay City Roller Pat McGlynn has been badly injured in a high-speed motorbike crash. The 40-year-old guitarist smashed into a tree at 70 mph on the eve of his motorbike test. Doctors say he was only inches from death. And the crash has left him in agony with a shattered collarbone, broken arm, cracked ribs and bruising. McGlynn was out with a bike instructor when he lost control of his Honda CB 500 at Longniddry, East Lothian, and hit a tree. Girlfriend Janine Andrews, 29, who is a member of McGlynn's new band, Storm, said she was horrified by his injuries."Doctors at the hospital said that an inch or two either way on impact and he could have been killed," she said. McGlynn was in too much pain to even speak on the phone yesterday. But, through Janine, he said: "I am lucky to be alive and I am grateful to the doctors and staff at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for their help, support and professionalism." He added that recording sessions for his band's debut album would now go on hold until his arm had healed and he could play guitar again. Janine added: "The last two days have been hell." He has been in so much pain, and neither of us have had any sleep at all. "But, at least, he is still with us." McGlynn is due back in hospital on Tuesday. Surgeons will then decide whether a metal plate will be needed to hold together his right arm.
1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
March 22, 1998, Sunday
I'LL BAY CITY STROLL DOWN THE AISLE....
Alan Longmuir recovers from heart attack by getting married and working on new music project
Former pop idol Alan Longmuir is bouncing
back from heartbreak - by starting up his music career again AND
getting married! The Bay City Roller who
suffered a heart attack and a stroke will walk down the aisle with long-time sweetheart Eileen Rankin who helped nurse him back to health.
The pair will jet off for their wedding on a pradise isle then host a big bash at home in Scotland. "I'm going to marry the woman I love", grinned
Alan. "I'm the happiest man alive". The 49-year-old musician's nuptial trip to St. Lucia in the Caribbean will mean a break from the recording studio. He's not revealing exactly what he's been working on. But he admits to "a few projects" with Stuart "Woody" Wood, who also played with the top 70s band. "We'll just have to see what happens", he says.
Woody and another ex-Roller, Eric Faulkner, will be guests of honour at the Scottish party after Alan says "I do" with 38-year-old civil servant, Eileen.
It's a dream ending for the couple who shared all the heartache after Alan was strickened by illness in 1995 and 1997. His brother Derek, who was also
in the band, was invaluable too. He works as a nurse in Edinburgh. Alan, who was rushed into Stirling Royal Infirmary when he suffered the stroke last year, has made an almost complete recovery. But he says: "I'm not only looking forward to the wedding, I'm hoping for sunny weather. I still have problems with my shoulder and the heat could help".
Copyright 1998 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
February 22, 1998, Sunday
Former Bay City Rollers boss Tam Paton is moving to Spain
BYLINE: Alan Crow
Former Bay City Rollers boss Tam Paton is
saying Bye-Bye Baby to Scotland. For he's moving a Shang-a-Lang
way away to Spain!
The multi-millionaire pop tycoon will leave his pounds 400,000 home on the outskirts of Edinburgh this summer. He wants to invest some of his vast fortune in a luxury villa on the Costa del Sol. Tam, 60, who raked in a fortune from the Rollers and property deals, told the Sunday Mail: "I've worked hard all my life. Perhaps it is time to take it easier. "I'm going to spend most of the year in Spain, but keep my house in Scotland.
"I want to spend my twilight years in the sunshine." Tam - who weighs in at 20 stones - added: "I've been looking at properties in the Fuengirola area."
Tam was rushed into hospital last year after collapsing at home with a heart scare. Doctors ordered him to "diet or else." Later, the eccentric pop mogul revealed he plans to leave his fortune to his pet DOGS. He has changed his will to make sure his Rottweilers Kizzie and Dusty and Staffordshire Pit Bull, Max, are kept in luxury after his death.
Copyright 1997 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
October 22, 1997, Wednesday
Pat McGlynn former Bay city Roller member sues for share of profits
A former Bay City Roller is suing for his share of profits worth pounds 34 million still owing to the 70s band. Pat McGlynn reckons he's been frozen out of a plan to carve up the cash between former members of the group. His lawyer has had the money frozen in a record company account until the row is sorted out. Pat, 39, says he's after at least pounds 2million. Pat, of Newcraighall, Edinburgh, joined the Rollers in 1975 and lasted a year before he was sacked. But in that time they recorded a top album, several hit singles and went on a world tour. Pat said yesterday: "I am still friendly with Les McKeown and he told me about the money sitting at Arista Records. "It's money from records and tours all over the world that's never been paid out."
He added: "Eight of us were in the band at one point or another. I was warned about a plan to give the money to a middle man acting for just five of us. "That would cut me, Ian Mitchell and Nobby Clark out of the picture altogether. We would not get a penny. "The reason for cutting me out is based on claims I was just a session musician. "But I wrote a lot of the songs as well as playing guitar and bass. "The funny thing is that Les stands to get more if it's divided between five but he wants me to hold out and get my share." Pat, who rejoined the Rollers in 1979 and stayed with them until 1985, still gigs with Les and has his own recording studio. He said: "I don't need the money. I had a successful career with my own band in Japan. For me it's a matter of principle. "They cut my picture out of the cover of the album, It's a Game. And I didn't get a penny while I was playing with them."
The New York lawyers representing Arista refused to comment.
Copyright 1997 MGN Ltd.
October 22, 1997, Wednesday
SONGWRITER PAT MCGLYNN TO SUE ARISTA RECORDS OVER ROYALTIES
Raging rocker Pat McGlynn claims he has been literally cut out of the picture and now plans to take his former bosses to the cleaners. The 70s songwriter who rocked and rolled with the Bay City Rollers is involved in a massive law suit against Arista Records. He reckons there is a whopping pounds 34million in bank accounts throughout the world - and he wants his share. Pat claims he was cut out of pictures taken for album covers, and says he is due millions for the hits that earned the band a fortune. He said: "The doctoring of the pictures was really the last straw. It is so infantile it almost beggars belief. "I helped make the band famous and I helped keep them at the top, and all I am looking for is my just rewards. "My lawyer thinks I have an open and shut case but it looks like being a long legal battle." Pat, 39, made his mark with the teen toy boys in 1975, when he helped kick- start the band with his songwriting and guitar playing skills. His forthcoming lawsuit - almost twelve years after his departure from the band - comes after recent reports of a Bay City Roller 'fund' containing millions in the USA.
Thursday, August 21, 1997
of surrealistic," says Kathy Page, "sitting on the bed
of one of my teen idols." And perhaps more surrealistic to
Page -- a respectable citizen who works in Rep. John Ensign's office -- would be calling from Los Angeles while attending to details of the
Bay City Rollers convention here Friday and Saturday.
The who? A what? To most people, the Bay City Rollers are a challenging trivia question. That is, until a clue is offered with the name:
"S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y -- Night!" The Scottish bubble-gum band was the toast of teen magazines and Saturday morning TV for a
couple of years in the mid-'70s, before seemingly falling off the planet. But there's something about a first crush that
never dies, and the shared objects of the grown-up girls' affections provide a strong bond for fans who will convene for "Absolute Rollerfest" at the Aladdin, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South.
"It's not about the band anymore," says Page, who isn't motivated by unrealistic prospects of a big reunion or tour. "It's a fan thing now," she says of
followers who keep in touch mainly on the Internet. Registration for this event was capped after a cozy 130 fans signed up, though walk-up fans might be
accommodated at a Saturday night concert by former band members (call 457-4433 for updates). Fans will come from as far as Australia to
socialize with Ian Mitchell and Pat McGlynn, two former Rollers who will meet fans and perform at the festivities. "(Fans will come) just to see their
reactions, their faces when they see them. They can't talk, they start snapping pictures. ... These women still act like teen-agers when they see them,"
Page says. Not a "Pre-fab Four" like the Monkees, the plaid-draped Rollers were a real band that had been kicking around England and Scotland since the late '60s, undergoing a couple of name changes before they randomly pointed to a U.S. map and named themselves after Bay City, Michigan.
They were craftily marketed in the United States as a Beatles-like phenomenon, and for a time the illusion became reality. "Saturday Night" climbed to
No. 1 in late 1975, while "Money Honey," "Rock and Roll Love Letter" and "You Made Me Believe in Magic" kept the phenomenon going through
mid-1977. By then, the Rollers had become Saturday morning kids fare, packaged by Sid and Marty Krofft for the "Krofft Super Show."
Today, Mitchell still contends that no band save the Beatles got the fan reaction generated by the Bay City Rollers: "Girls screaming until they were blue in
the face, and fainting when they saw us." And he doesn't think it could happen again. Even well-hyped British reinvasion bands such as Oasis
are still more grounded in a context of reality. "We weren't in the nightclubs every night, we weren't dating models, and `Entertainment Tonight' wasn't
talking about who we had lunch with the day before," he says. "We were totally unavailable. The only time the kids would see us was when we walked onto the stage or on television." Thus was the "total fantasy" sustained. "We were the boyfriends of so many working-class girls."
But, he says, the band also was "pulled in, chewed up and spat out" by the music business. Today he's a Los Angeles-based motivational speaker, "warning people about what can happen.So many people don't prepare for success. They prepare for everything else in life but success."
Mitchell left the group when he was 18, but pill-popping made him look like he was 40, he says. Today he's married to a former fan and is happy to
see only some of his former bandmates: "The rest of 'em I've got no time for." (A legal war erupted when one Roller, Les McKeown, formed a revival group without the others).
For fans such as Page, it's still
a bit of a shock to be in regular contact with people whose teen-magazine
pictures she fell in love with at age 14.
She's gotten used to hanging out with Mitchell and his wife -- "I haven't ripped her hair out yet," she jokes -- but for some fans it's not so easy. One is
traveling from Australia for the festivals, and the Mitchells invited her to stay at their house in Los Angeles while in transit.
"Oh no, I couldn't, " the fan told Page. "He's a Roller."
June 1, 1997, Sunday
He made them number one... but then said Bye Bye Baby to a fortune
Former Bay City Roller Gordon Nobby Clark claims he is due a fortune in unpaid royalties from the group
By Russell Findlay
Former pop star Gordon Clark doesn't have any gold discs on the walls of his modest home. The doting father's daily routine is a million miles away from the rock 'n' roll lifestyle of girls, drugs and fast cars. But Gordon "Nobby" Clark is the forgotten member of tartan teenyboppers, the Bay City Rollers. And this week the Sunday Mail can reveal that Nobby didn't receive a SINGLE PENNY for his years with one of Scotland's most successful bands. But the 45-year-old is now fighting back as big-money 1970s Rollermania revival grips fans in the US and Japan. Nobby, the original singer with the Edinburgh band, said: "I sang the lead vocals on singles that went to No. 1 around the world. "But I have never received any royalties or money from my time with the band. "I've decided enough is enough. A lot of people are trying to get a slice of the money so I should get what is rightly mine."
The Rollers had massive hits in the 1970s including Bye Bye Baby, Shang- A-Lang and Summer Love Sensation. They sold a staggering 70 million albums and caused mass hysteria wherever they went. Nobby joined brothers Derek and Alan Longmuir while still at Edinburgh's Tynecastle Secondary School in 1965. The teenagers started playing the clubs around the city and only dreamed of stardom until manager Tam Paton took them under his wing. Then in 1969 they struck gold when Keep On Dancing became their first top ten UK hit. That followed on with the world-wide smash Manana. Nobby said: "We were working very hard and playing gigs all over Europe. It was a great life but we were skint. "When Keep on Dancing was in the charts, I was living on pounds 10 a week." But Nobby was replaced by Les McKeown just when the band was about to reach the peak of Rollermania. He said: "I was sick and tired of it and just wanted out. My last appearance was supposed to be on Top of the Pops singing Remember, in 1974. "But I had left so Les did it instead and he mimed along to MY voice. "Remember had already been recorded with me singing so it was released like that even though I wasn't in the band. "Exactly the same thing happened with their next single, Saturday Night, which went to number one in the US. "But I couldn't care less at the time." He didn't want anything to do with the band and was fighting with Tam daily. With good-looking Les as the new singer the band took off ... and Nobby was soon forgotten. He said: "It was terrible. I was trying to carve out a solo career and all people wanted to ask me about was the Bay City Rollers. "
It was five years later that The Rollers' pop dream turned sour. McKeown quit after a show in Japan ended in a stand-up fight with the other band members. The split led to 20 years of back-stabbing and bitter court battles between Les and the other members. But during their years at the top of the charts they were being ROBBED by industry sharks. Tam said: "We were taken in by conmen... it's as simple as that. "But it's Nobby I feel sorry for. He got nothing and was swept under the carpet. Even when we went to No.1 in the States, it was Nobby whose voice was on the single but he got nothing for it." Now the warring Rollers have attempted to bury the hatchet in a final attempt to unlock a possible jackpot of MILLIONS of dollars being held by their former record company, Arista. Nobby said: "No-one can agree how it should be split. "But even if they are successful in their case to get the money paid out, I'm taking action to make sure that I won't be left out." The boys have said he'll be looked after, but Nobby's worried in case they don't have control. "I'd rather the cash went to charity than McKeown," he said. "There is a huge revival in Rollermania in the US and Japan and I've even been invited over to a convention in Las Vegas, in August. "Records are coming out and someone is making money out of us. But it certainly isn't me."
All Nobby has left from his time as a rock 'n' roll star are a few faded Press cuttings and photographs. Now working in the unglamourous world of dry rot and rising damp, he said: "I've carefully worked out that I should have been paid pounds 600,000. "But I would settle for pounds 200,000."
Copyright Daily Mail
March 19, 1997
At 2 Pm Alan Longmuir arrived at the Borestone Bar, a working man's pub in Stirling famed for stocking the largets selection of whiskey,,more than 1000 bottles -in Scotland.
Scotland were playing England in riugby, providing an excuse for a saturday afternoon session and as Alan walked in the regulars beckoned hin in a customary style "hey Shang a Lang", using his nickname. But after a couple of pints Alana left to go home complaining of a sore head. What happened on that day Saturday february 1 this yr was to be the latest in a long line of tragedies inthe life of a man once one of Britains most successful young stars
As the founding member of the Tartan clad Bay City Rollers pop group, Alan was at one time unable to even walk out of his without being mobbed by fans. Indeed in 1977 so popular were the Rollers that in the interest of safety they were banned from performing in London.
Sadly such adoration has brought Alan little happiness. He might have made a million pounds but it was at a price. Severe depression, a rumoured suicide attempt, drink problems and a marriage break up. He also believes he is still owed millions of pounds from work he did as a Bay City Rollers for which the band has never received.
adding to that the problem of his ill health. For on that Saturday Alana Longmuir aged just 48 suffered a stroke--only 2 years after he had recovered froma heart attack. "I went back to my fiances house and layed down on the couch" he explains "I had this awful pain above my eye and then my sight just went, my legs buckled as I went to stand up, then I just went down"
The cause of the stroke, Alan learned during his 3 week hospitol stay was ablood clot on his brain. As a result the muscles in his left eye are damahed and he is paralyzed down most of his left side.
Basically he blames his physical collapse on stress. And while he admits to enjoying a "few Pints" he insists that his drink problem was dealt with in 1995 following his coronary. Whatever caused it, its hard to imagine that his now frail and disabled body once sent teenage girls to the point of distraction.
"I've had alot on my mind" he says putting down his walking stick. "but thats me, I;ve always been a natural worrier, I've been going on stage for 30 years and each time I feel sick with nerves"
In Britain the Bay City Rollers might be a distant memory, but in Japan and America Alana and his fellow Rollers m brother Derek Longmuir, Stuart Wood, Les Mckeown and Eric Faulkner still attract audiences up to 12000 during their once a year tours.
"Theres been an American summer tour to plan plus running up and down to meet lawyers and accountants still battling to win back money whcih we were never paid during the bands real success" he explains.
" We started to realize that money was owed about 12 years ago. Thsoe dealing with our finances would look at the old audits and and say that we should have had more money for this and for that. The money somehow disapeared."
"We are owed alot : it runs into millions, its not that I haven;t any money, I'm comfortable, very comfortable but its the principle."
Here is perhaps the main cause of Alans stress. He is angry and who can blame him? After all, the Bay city Rollers ruined his life and why shoudl others line their pockets as a result of that?
Alan Longmuir never really wanted fame. A plumber by trade, he started the band in his bedroom.
All this, son of an undertaker yearned for was a home in the Scotland hillside, with a loving wife and a brood of Children fate however decreed that was never to be.
"I first became interested in music when I was ten" he explains "Elvis Presley was my hero. While were were still at school, me, my younger brother derek and my cousin Neil Porteous who committed suicide 8 years ago , started up a band. We were the originals. Others came and went over the yearsm and in all, the line up has changed over 20 times."
In the 1960's the band was called the Saxons and played dance halls wherever it could. During the day Alan completed his apprenticship in Plumbing.
"It was good fun but exhausting" he laughs "we dreamed of being successful, everybody does, but we never thought that it would happen."
" To attract more attention we decide to change our name. Because we were so into Motown, we got a map of America and Derek closed his eyes and stuck a pin in it, it landed in Arkansas but that didn;t really sound right. He had another try and it was Bay City in Michigan. So thats what it was Bay City Rollers"
Tam Paton their manager was once in a band which had suppirted the Beatles. He remembered the advice he;d been given by Brian Epstein" You need a band with an Image.
"Tam promoted this UNTOUCHABLE idea and gradually we built up a female following" says Alan : We had to sneak off somewhere if we wanted to be with a girl because if the fans knew or saw, it would damage our image."
It was around 1970 when a record producer went to see the band in Glasgow and offered them a contract.
"We couldn't belive it" says Alan "David Cassidy and Gary Glitter were in the same Label. We thought if we didn;t sign the contracte we would be throwing away our one chance. We signed and that was the beginning of the whole financial thing. Thats what really allowed us to lose so much money.
Although the first two singled died a death by the mid 70's the band was churning out hits including "Bye Bye Baby'", Shang a Lang" and :"Give a little love". By this stage the band Boy next door image had undergone a metamorphosis into Tartan.
"That all came about in 1972 " Alan explains " a girl from the fan club sent Eric a drawing of him in a Tartan shirt that gave him the idea and next thing we knew, it had taken off, I hated those Tartan short trousers."
Along with the chart success, the band's popularity sky rocketed. "crowds of girls were constantly outside the house screaming and shouting " says Alan "initially it was an ego boost but then it got silly. I coulnd't do anything. I haveed the shirt, trousers shoes , and socks literally ripped off me by crowds of girls. It was bloody frightening."
"People would go mad. We'd have to stop concerts mid flow because things got to dangerous. We thought someone would get killed. I became so fed up and frustrated. I was the oldest in theband by 3 years and I felt I had a life to lead. I had great respect for the fans as they made the band what it was but I yearned for privacy. I no longer had any control over my life, I was depressed and felt desperate."
Having already bought a small holding in the village of Dollar,at the age of 27 Alan Longmuir announced his retirement from the band. His replacement was 17 yr old Irishman Ian Mitchell--he lasted just 6 months.
Around that time Alan was reported to have tried to take his own life. But he insists there is not truth in that. Eitehr way, before very long he was playing ina teo bit country and western band, dabbling with the odd bit of plumbing and spending time ith his fiance Julie a girl from a neighboring Village. "I got my lfe back" he says "I am so greatful for those two yrs I will treasure them forever."
Still involved with the band financially., in 1978 Alan agreed to help them out with a new Album. Then a TV producer offered them their own variety show but on American television. Like it or not, Alan was back in and his dream of obscurity dissolved, along with his engagement.
Wasn't it a starnge decision to become involved with the band again? "I think it was inmy blood, the guys said come back and lend some support and I didn;t want to let them down. I only ever imagined I;d stay for twi or three weeksbut I got the bug again and , second time around I enjoyed it much better."
Apart from the elocution lessons to tone down the Scottish accents for american audiences, life in Los Angeles was one big party. "drugs wre everywhere" he says "I never had to pay for them. I haven;t touched them since but I experiimented with everything back then. At the producers house there were big bowls of coke and guys would walk sround with their noses pure white."
"But my biggest problem was drink. After each gig instead of having one or two whiskeys to calm down, we'd have to make sure the whole bottle was gone"
Then Les Mckeown, the colorful front man of the group announced that he wanted a solo career. The band never fully broke up but once all the fuss died down, they were allowed some privacy at last. While Les formed another band (later to rejoin the Rollers), Derek who owns a property company trained to become a nurse and now works at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Eric and Woody who both married recently work in record production.
As for Alan ,in 1985 he married Jan a manager of a pub resturant and the mother of his son Jordan James 11. For a time , they ran a hotel together but, Alans heavy drinking and the demands of the business took there toll onthe marriage.
Following the divorce, 1990 Alans drinking worsened, cluminating in the heart atatck two years ago.
"That made me cut back on drink which I'd been abusing" he says "Similary with the stroke, that changed me too. I am determined not to worry about things so much. Three years ago I met Eileen, a civil servant and we are engaged."
"If we're talking about regrets. yeah I regret not having a more normal life" he says. "if I had the time over again, I'd definately choose the life of a plumber, find myself a good wife and have 3 kids maybe 4. yes i think that would have made me a very happy man."
Copyright The Herald (Glasgow)
BYLINE- By Alan Hunter
THE euphoria of seventies music retumed
to Edinburgh yesterday, with a visit by two musicians from one
of its home-grown bands. Bay City who? The Rollers, as they were
also known, were as big then as Boyzone and the Spice Girls are
today. Two musicians from the original group, Alan Longmuir, its
bass player, and guitarist Stewart "Woodie" Wood visited
the Music 100 exhibition at the City Art Centre. Oldcr, and, in
thcir own words, wiser, they played down suggestions that the
Bay City Rollers would be getting back together again. Despite
the revival of interest in sixties and seven'ties music, with
a Brit award won by the Bee Gees and a comeback tour by sixties
band The Monkees, they said future appearances of their group
was only a possibility. Longmuir is recovering from a stroke,
at the age of 48, which has left him with leg movement problems
and was only released from Stirling Royal
Infirmary two weeks ago. Colleague Wood, now 40, was upbeat about his friend's forecast that he will make a full recovery. Wood married his artist girlfriend a week ago, and the two musicians have been writing and rehearsing, having completed two major tours of Japan and the USA last year. Acrimony involving their previous manager, and other members of the group saw them fall from grace. Their niost famous hit songs, Bye Bye Baby, and Give a Little Love, were number one hit singles for several wecks in the pop charts, closely followed by songs like Shang-A-Lang and Money Honey, not entirely forgotten, as they explained yesterday. Said Stewart: "Last year we played in Tokyo to an audience whose ag es ranged from 20 to 50, and in New York, we had a audience of 12,000 at Westchester, near New York." Asked about the possibility of a get-together, he said- "We are not back together yet, but it is not an impossibility. Anything is possible. "We have many legal matters to thrash out, but we are chatting to the other original members of the band, and that's good. "Who knows what may come from it?" The musicians toured the exhibition which celebrates 100 years of recorded sound at the centre, naturally taking in their own seventies era, watching a video of Abba, Gary Glitter and Boney M which includes a performance of their own.
Copyright 1997 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
Daily Record April 14, 1997
by Greggory Paul
NIGHTLIFE Magazine, March 20-27 issue
Every generation since the birth of rock and roll has had one. At least one. One band that was more than a band. A band that was a band, a television show, poseable dolls, trading cards, comic books. In short, a band that was a band and a marketing extravaganza at the same time. First, it was the Beatles; for my generation it was undoubtedly the New Kids on the Block. The in-between? Why that's easy, the Bay City Rollers!
The first time I heard of the Bay City Rollers was when I spotted a TV commercial for one of the many "70's greatest songs" compilations that are sold on TV. The song that was being advertised for those four seconds of the commercial was "Saturday Night." I raised up from the pool of my own drool that I was lying in at 2 o'clock that morning and stared at the TV like a deer caught in headlights. "Why!" I exclaimed. "That's the same song Ned's Atomic Dustbin did on the soundtrack for So I Married An Axe Murderer!" I'm so proud of that moment....
The Bay City Rollers are currently out on tour with a new album. They will be at Smil'in Jacks tonight. The show starts at ten o'clock. Tickets are only five dollars. WCIL morning man John Riley remembers full well the impact the Bay City Rollers had, an impact that is still visible today. In order to win tickets that he was giving away, people had to bring in memorabilia from the days of "Rollermania." He was shocked by how much he received. He showed me everything that was brought in to him. "If you're into pop culture at all," Riley said, "I forgot how much fun old Tiger Beat Magazines are. Most of the Bay City Rollers stuff in here are pull-outs." Mixed right in with photos of Willie Ames, Parker Stevenson, John Travolta and Donny Osmond. Advertisements abound. "Giant-sized kissable posters!" "One hundred stickers for one dollar!" The marketing blitz didn't stop there. "I've got Woody's Puzzling Puzzler right here." Riley points out. Pictures of the Bay City Rollers are all over, with the favorite of Riley's the one in which all the members are holding White Sox baseball hats. "This is awesome!" he laughs.
It was twenty years ago (1974, so that some of you don't have to count backwards) in Edinburgh, Scotland, that the Bay City Rollers that the world would come to know came together. Brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir on bass and drums, group songwriters Eric Faulkner, and Stuart "Woody" Wood on guitars and Leslie McKeown on vocals. They released their first British album Rollin'. It produced four British top ten hits. The next year they released their second album, and it gave them even more top ten hits. By the end of the year, they were Europe's top selling group for the second year in a row. Their American debut album, The Bay City Rollers, was released in September. Shortly after that, they appeared on the much publicized premiere of the short lived ABC variety show Saturday Night Live (no, not that one.) "Saturday Night" became their second U.S. and their first American number one.
Rollermania swept over North America in 1976. In the U.K., the hysteria over the band was so high, they were banned from performing. Another album did much like its predecessors, churning out hits, and adding fuel to the Rollermania fire. At the same time, Alan Longmuir, founding and oldest member at 26, quit the group citing mental and physical exhaustion. Fans mourned the loss, but also welcomed with open arms his replacement, Ian Mitchell. Mitchell left after just seven months, tired and overwhelmed. He was replaced by Scot (oops) McGlynn.
McGlynn dropped out after only 6 months
(if someone notices a theme here, let me know, I may not be catching
on) and the revolving door continued to twirl. They released more
albums, and had their third and final American top ten hit: "You
Made Me Believe In Magic." They toured the U.S. and Canada
and even enjoyed Bay City Rollers Day in Bay City, Michigan, where
Derek, Eric, Woody and Leslie were presented with keys to the
city. They released a Greatest Hits collection in time for Christmas
1977. The next year Alan Longmuir returned, restoring the Rollers
to their original line-up. They release another album, Strangers
in the Wind, which doesn't produce a single hit Stateside, due
mostly to a lack of promotion. (This despite their regularity
on the cover of 16 Magazine and on the TV show Midnight Special.)
Late that year, they became the stars of a Saturday Morning children's
TV series. It lasted from September 1978, until January 1979.
In 1979, Les McKeown quit the band. They recruited Duncan Faure
for vocals. The band released one more album that went nowhere,
and even shortened their name to "The Rollers" in order
to escape their teeny bopper past. (Remember when New Kids on
the Block did that? It didn't work for NKOTB either.) The record
was a dud. Still, they tried it once more and released one more
dud before calling it quits. Now riding the retro wave that is
sweeping the nation, the Bay City Rollers survive in two different
incarnations. Eric Faulkner, Alan Longmuir, Woody Wood and Eric's
girlfriend Kass are recording and touring as the Bay City Rollers
(also knows as Eric's Bay City Rollers).
Leslie McKeown, Ian Mitchell, and Pat McGlynn are touring as Les McKeown's 70's Bay City Rollers. (That name had to be contrived after a lawsuit from his former band mates.) It is this latter incarnation that will be performing tonight. Derek Longmuir has retired from music and Duncan is performing as a solo artist. Rollermania didn't die, it merely went into remission, as Riley witnessed first hand when it came back to life on his show over the last few weeks. "This whole thing got rollin', so to speak, pardon my pun, by Smil'in Jacks, who booked the Bay City Rollers. They gave me some tickets to give away, and the first day I started doing Bay City Rollers trivia, and people went nuts. All these middle aged women were going nuts!" Riley went on to explain some of his encounters with the first wave of Rollermania. "In between junior high and freshman year in high school, they were the thing. They had their radio friendly pop tunes, and a bunch of cute young guys that little girls went ape over every one of these magazines." he said, pointing at the Tiger Beats. Riley showed an early write-up in the Tiger Beat when they weren't established in the U.S. yet, telling the readers to write to the band if they liked them and the magazine would forward the letters to the band. "All these millions of American girls wrote to the Bay City Rollers and they had no idea about it. All these sacks full of letters start showing up and they said `Gee maybe we've got something going here." And the rest they say is history." "These guys really were a band. That was what made them different than the other bands that were `created' like New Kids on the Block. They actually were a band and played their instruments." Rollermania came in many forms, from the average to the die-hard fan. Riley remembers one die hard fan in particular. "There was a girl in my health class in high school, we'll call her Betty, she was a little left of center. One day in class we were having mouth-to-mouth with Resusci-Annie, the giant plastic mouth-to-mouth resuscitation doll. For many high school kids, it was their first kiss. She was brilliant. Anyway, Betty used to have pictures of the Bay City Rollers taped all over her notebook. I mean, full sized pictures of them. When they showed a film in health class, she would put her head down and we noticed that she would be kissing these pictures." "She went up to do Resusci-Annie and another guy drew mustaches on all the Bay City Rollers, and when she went back to her seat, she blew a gasket. I mean, she went insane. She started screaming, and crying, and sobbing. The teacher ended up taking the girl down to the nurse, and disciplined the defendants." You could probably go high school to high school during that phase and find Betty's all over, with Bay City stuff plastered to their textbooks. Giant Sized Kissable Posters! One Hundred Stickers For One Dollar! The Bay City Rollers Private Photo Album! The advertising was endless. "They were an industry, that is for sure." Riley said. "It was a marketing thing. Once they got a hold of this stuff, and America said "the little girls want them" then they went on this little girl marketing blitz, and the rest, as they say, was history." Rollermania still exists with some people. Take a look on the World Wide Web. On one website you can fill out the Second Bay City Rollers Internet Survey with questions such as "How did you become a fan again, what brought the fever back to you?" "Who is your favorite Roller?" "Do you find it hard to stay loyal to all the Rollers when it appears obvious that some of them want us to be loyal ONLY to one of them?" "Could you understand why they are fighting each other?" and many more. Another website advertises "Rollerfest 1997 in Las Vegas this August." Want to go? Check out <http://www.baycityrollers.com/fest.htm>. Still another lets you "Send a personalized Bay City Rollers postcard to a close Net Friend." All are chock full of fan clubs and information for the die hard Rollermaniak. Betty, I hope you're hooked up to the web. Les McKeown's 70's Bay City Rollers roll onto the stage at Smil'in Jacks Thursday, March 20, at 10 pm. Put on your plaid and sing along with me.
S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night! S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!
Copyright 1997 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
March 25, 1997, Tuesday
Former Bay City Rollers boss Tam Paton on a strict healthy diet after heart attack four months ago.
BYLINE: Exclusive; By Peter Laing
He used to be big in the music business - but now Tam Paton is just BIG. The former Bay City Rollers boss, believe it or not, is winning the battle of the bulge. Tam's gone on a strict healthy eating regime since a heart attack scare four months ago. He's already shed three stones of ugly flab. And to avoid stress has ruled himself out of the Rollers' reunion bid. But the roly-poly pop tycoon, who still weighs in at a hefty 20 stone, admits he has a long way to go.
At his pounds 400,000 home near Edinburgh, Tam, 57, said yesterday: "I was eating myself to death. "I used to love sweets. I would have loads of sugar in tea." But now Tam's said Bye Bye Baby to all that and aims to slide down to 15 stones in the weight charts.
Copyright 1997 Caledonian Newspapers Ltd.
The Herald (Glasgow)
March 19, 1997
BYLINE: By Alan Hunter
THE euphoria of seventies music returned
to Edinburgh yesterday, with a visit by two musicians from one
of its home-grown bands. Bay City who? The Rollers, as they were
also known, were as big then as Boyzone and the Spice Girls are
today. Two musicians from the original group, Alan Longmuir, its
bass player, and guitarist Stewart "Woodie" Wood visited
the Music 100 exhibition at the City Art Centre. Older, and, in
their own words, wiser, they played down suggestions that the
Bay City Rollers would be getting back together again. Despite
the revival of interest in sixties and seventies music, with a
Brit award won by the Bee Gees and a comeback tour by sixties
band The Monkees, they said future appearances of their group
was only a possibility. Longmuir is recovering from a stroke,
at the age of 48, which has left him with leg movement problems
and was only released from Stirling Royal Infirmary two weeks
ago. Colleague Wood, now 40, was upbeat about his friend's forecast
that he will make a full recovery. Wood married his artist girlfriend
a week ago, and the two musicians have been writing and rehearsing,
having completed two major tours of Japan and the USA last year.
Acrimony involving their previous manager, and other members of
the group saw them fall from grace. Their most famous hit songs,
Bye Bye Baby, and Give a Little Love, were number one hit singles
for several weeks in the pop charts, closely followed by songs
like Shang-A-Lang and Money Honey, not entirely forgotten, as
they explained yesterday. Said Stewart: "Last year we played
in Tokyo to an audience whose ages ranged from 20 to 50, and in
New York, we had a audience of 12,000 at Westchester, near New
York." Asked about the possibility of a get-together, he
said: "We are not back together yet, but it is not an impossibility.
Anything is possible. "We have many legal matters to thrash
out, but we are chatting to the other original members of the
band, and that's good. "Who knows what may come from it?"
The musicians toured the exhibition which celebrates 100 years of recorded sound at the centre, naturally taking in their own seventies era, watching a video of Abba, Gary Glitter and Boney M - which includes a performance of their own.
Copyright 1997 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
March 19, 1997
BYLINE: Ceri Jackson
AT 2PM Alan Longmuir arrived at the Borestone Bar, a working man's pub in Stirling famed for stocking the largest selection of whisky - more than 1,000 bottles - in Scotland. Scotland were playing England at rugby, providing the ideal excuse for a Saturday afternoon session and, as Alan walked in, the regulars beckoned him in customary style, 'C'mon Shang-a-lang', using his nickname. But after a couple of pints, Alan left to go home, complaining of a sore head. What happened on that day - Saturday, February 1 this year - was to be the latest in a long line of tragedies in the life of a man once one of Britain's most successful young stars.
As the founding member of the tartan-clad Bay City Rollers pop group, Alan was at one time unable to even walk out of his house without being mobbed by fans. Indeed, so popular were the Rollers in 1977 that, in the interests of safety, they were banned from performing in London. Sadly, such adoration has brought Alan little happiness. He might have made a million pounds but it was at a price - severe depression, a rumoured suicide attempt, drink problems and a marriage break-up. He also believes he is still owed millions of pounds from work he did as a Bay City Roller, for which the band never received payment. Added to that is the problem of his ill-health. For on that Saturday afternoon, Alan Longmuir, aged just 48, suffered a stroke - only two years after he had recovered from a heart attack. 'I went back to my fiancee's flat and lay down on the couch,' he explains. 'I had this awful stinging pain above my eye and then my sight just went. My left leg buckled as I went to stand up, then I just went down.'
The cause of the stroke, Alan learned during his three-week stay in hospital, was a blood clot on the brain. As a result, the muscles in his left eye are damaged and he is paralysed down most of his left side. He blames his physical collapse on stress. And while he admits to enjoying 'a few pints', he insists his drink problem was dealt with following his coronary in 1995. Whatever caused it, it's hard to imagine that his now frail and disabled body once sent a nation of teenage girls to the point of distraction. 'I've had a lot on my mind,' he says, resting down his walking stick. 'But that's me, I've always been a natural worrier. I've been going on stage for 30 years but each time I feel sick with nerves.' In Britain, the Bay City Rollers might be a distant memory, but in Japan and the U.S., Alan and fellow Rollers Derek Longmuir, Woody, Les McKeown and Eric Faulkner still attract audiences of up to 12,000 during their once-a-year tours. 'There's been an American summer tour to plan, plus running up and down the country to meet lawyers and accountants still battling to win back money which we were never paid during the band's real success,' he explains. 'We started to realise we were owed money about 12 years ago. Those dealing with our finances would look at old audits and say that we should have had more money for this and for that. The money had somehow disappeared. 'We're owed a lot; it runs into millions. It's not that I haven't any money. I'm comfortable, very comfortable, but there's the principle.' Here is perhaps the main cause of Alan's stress. He's angry - and who can blame him? After all, the Bay City Rollers ruined his life and why should others line their pockets as a result of that?
Alan Longmuir never really wanted fame. A plumber by trade, he started up the band in his bedroom. All this son of an undertaker yearned for was a home in the Scottish countryside with a loving wife and a brood of children. Fate, however, decreed that was never to be. 'I first became interested in music when I was ten,' he explains. 'Elvis Presley was my hero. 'While we were still at school, me, my younger brother Derek and our cousin Neil Porteous, who committed suicide eight years ago, started up a band. We were the originals. Others came and went over the years and, in all, the line-up has changed over 20 times.' In the late Sixties the group was called The Saxons and played dance halls wherever it could. During the day, Alan completed his apprenticeship in plumbing. 'It was good fun but exhausting,' he laughs. 'We dreamed of being successful, everybody does, but we never thought it would happen.
'To attract a bit more attention we decided to change our name. Because we were so into Motown, we got a map of America and Derek closed his eyes and stuck a pin in it. 'It landed in Arkansas but that didn't really sound right. He had another try and it was Bay City in Michigan. And so that's what it was - the Bay City Rollers. ' Tam Paton, their manager, was once in a band which had supported the Beatles. He remembered the advice he'd been given by Brian Epstein: 'You need a band with an image.' 'Tam promoted this 'untouchable' idea and, gradually, we built up a big female following,' says Alan. 'We had to sneak off somewhere if we wanted to be with a girl because if the fans knew or saw, it would somehow damage our image. It was around 1970 when a record producer went to see the band in Glasgow and offered them a contract. 'We couldn't believe it,' says Alan. 'David Cassidy and Gary Glitter were on this same label. We thought if we didn't sign the contract we could throwing away our one chance. We signed and that was the beginning of the whole financial thing, that's what really allowed us to lose so much money.'
Although their first two singles died a
death, by the mid-Seventies the band were churning out hits including
Bye Bye Baby, Shang-A-Lang and Give A Little Love. By this stage,
the band's boy-next-door image had undergone a metamorphosis into
tartan. 'That all came about in 1972,' Alan explains. 'A girl
from the fan club sent Eric a drawing of him in a tartan shirt.
That gave him the idea and the next thing we knew, it had taken
off. Personally, I hated those tartan short trousers, but that
was our image. The minute I got a chance, I'd rip off all that
garb and put on a pair of jeans.' Along with chart success, the
band's popularity rocketed. 'Crowds of girls were constantly outside
the house screaming and shouting,' says Alan. Initially, it was
an ego boost. Then it started getting silly. I couldn't do anything.
'I've had the shirt, trousers, shoes and socks literally ripped off me by crowds of girls. It could be bloody frightening.
'People would go mad. We'd have to stop concerts mid-flow because things got too dangerous. We were frightened that someone would be killed. 'I became so fed up and frustrated. I was the oldest in the band by three years and felt I had a life to lead. I had great respect for the fans as they made the band what it was but I yearned for a bit of privacy. I no longer had any control over my life. I depressed and felt desperate.' Having already bought a smallholding in the village of Dollar, near Stirling, in 1976 at the age of 27, Alan Longmuir announced his retirement from the band. His replacement was 17-year-old Irishman Ian Mitchell - he lasted just six months. Around that time, Alan was reported to have tried to take his life. But he insists there's no truth in that. Either way, before very long he was playing in a two-bit country and western band, dabbling with the odd bit of plumbing, breaking in horses and spending time with his fiancee, Julie, a girl from a neighbouring village. 'I got my life back,' he says. 'I'm so grateful for those two years. I'll treasure them for ever.' Still involved with the band financially, in 1978 Alan agreed to help them out with a new album. Then a television producer offered them their own variety show - but on American television. Like it or not, Alan was back in and his dream of obscurity dissolved, along with his engagement to Julie.
Wasn't it a strange decision to become involved
with the band again? 'I think it was in my blood. The guys said
why don't you come back and lend some support and I didn't want
to let them down. 'I only ever imagined I'd stay for two or three
weeks, but I got the bug again and, second time around, I did
enjoy it all much more.' Apart from the elocution lessons
to tone down their Scottish accents for American audiences, life
in Los Angeles was one big party.
'Drugs were everywhere,' he says. 'I never had to pay for them. I haven't touched them since but I experimented with everything back then. At producers' houses there were big bowls of coke and guys would walk round, their noses pure white. 'But my biggest problem was drink. After each gig instead of having just one or two whiskies to calm down, we'd have to make sure the whole bottle had gone.' Then in 1978 Les McKeown, the colourful front man of the group, announced that he wanted a solo career. The band never split, but once all the fuss finally died down, they were allowed some privacy at last. While Les formed another band, (later rejoining the Rollers) Derek, who owns a property company, trained as a nurse and now works at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary; Eric and Woody, who both married recently, work in record production. As for Alan, in 1985, he married Jan, manageress of a pub restaurant and the mother of their son, Jordon James, now 11. For a time, they ran a hotel together but a combination of Alan's heavy drinking and the demands of the business took their toll on the marriage. Following his divorce in 1990, Alan's drinking worsened, culminating in a heart attack two years ago. 'That made me cut back on drink which I'd been abusing,' he says. 'Smilarly with the stroke, that's changed me too. I'm determined not to worry about things so much.
'Three years ago I met Eileen, a civil servant, and we're engaged. She really is a lovely, caring woman. 'If we're talking about regrets, yeah, I regret not having a more normal life,' he says. 'If I had the time over again, I'd definitely choose the life of a plumber, find myself a good wife and have three, maybe four kids. Yes, I think that would've made me a very happy man.'
Copyright 1997 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
March 14, 1997, Friday
Teenybop idols to reform for the Money, Honey; The Bay City Rollers are getting back together
BYLINE: Nick Britten
The Bay City Rollers are getting back together
- almost 20 years after they split up.
The former teenybop band, who are now all in their 40s, hope to bring out a new album in the summer.
The five have buried the hatchet after an on-stage punch-up led to the group's demise in 1978.
Stuart "Woody" Wood revealed yesterday: "We are currently in negotiations about reforming with the original line-up. "It looks like a very exciting time ahead." The Rollers had massive worldwide hits in the early '70s with songs like Bye Bye Baby, Money Honey, Shang-A-Lang and Summerlove Sensation.
After the split, lead singer Les McKeown lost a bitter court battle for the right to use the Rollers' name.
Les then formed his own band, while Woody, Alan Longmuir and Eric Faulkner toured the club scene as the Bay City Rollers.
The two groups never spoke - and the fifth Roller, Derek Longmuir, quit the pop scene to become a nurse.
Woody, who married Denise Murphy last weekend, said: "What happened with Les is water under the bridge. "We've been doing our own thing, but the time has come to resolve our differences."
The Evening News Edinburgh
Thursday, February 20, 1997
Former Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir told today how he has to use a walking stick after suffering a suspected stroke. But the pop hero--speaking for the first time of his health scare--has vowed to get fit for his fans. The guitarist has been overwhelmed with goodwill messages and flowers sent by fans around the world And although he has lost the feeling in his left leg and faces more threatment, he is already thinking of going back on tour with the band. The 49-year-old was struck down by a suspected stroke after a watching a rugby match. He said today: "I have lost the feeling in my leg, but I will keep working at it until I get it back." His speech was unaffected, but Alan has been left drained by his latest scare--just a couple of years after he suffered a heart attack.
AMERICA Doctors have warned him to take
it easy but the vetran rocker is already thinking of joining fellow
Rollers Stuart "Woody" Wood and Eric Faulkner on an
American tour in April. "It may be a couple of months before
I can play again, but the guys have been great to me and they
will just get a stand-in," he said. And he revealed that
the good wishes of seventies music fans have put him on the road
to recovery. Alan joked that his house is lake a funeral parlour
because of the bunches of flowers. He added: "The support's
been tremendous, there are messages from America, Australia and
Japan. People found out about it from an Internet website dedicated
to the band." Alan collapsed at home on February 1 after
watching England thrash Scotland at rugby and was taken to Stirling
Royal Infirmary. He returned to his home in the town, where he
lives with girlfriend Eileen Rankin, on Friday. "The staff
were absolutely brilliant towards me. But it's good to be back at home, though I have got to take it easy and get ore tests done." The Edinburgh born guitarist enjoyed chart success with the Rollers, with hits like Bye Bye Baby and Give a Little Love.
February 7, 1997, Friday
Alan Longmuir recovers in hospital from a suspected stroke
Former pop star Alan Longmuir was recovering
in hospital from a suspected stroke last night.
The 49-year-old bass player with the Bay City Rollers collapsed at his Stirling home.
His condition was "comfortable and stable" but he was expected to be transferred to a Glasgow hospital for specialist tests. Longmuir quit the chart-topping band in 1975.
But former manager Tam Paton, who recently suffered a heart attack, last night said he feared ex- members of the group might still have to pay the price of their rock and roll lifestyles.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10,1996
B.A.Y, B.A.Y, B.A.Y.C.I.T.Y, With an R.O,
double L, E.R.S, Bay City Rollers are the best! THOUSANDS of young
girls would stand at airports, concert halls and outside hotels
screaming the Bay city Rollers chant to
the tune of This Old Man until the band passed.
Strange to think Rollermania was all about
five young guys from Edinburgh wearing three quarter length tartan
platform shoes and cheesy grins. Derek, Alan, Eric, Woody and Leslie. Guitarist Alan Longmuir was the one who
looked a bit like Sydney Devine and stood behind the hunky ones. He formed the band way back in 1967 at Tynecastle school with brother Derek who was blonde and toothy and played the drums. Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood who,joined in the early 70s played guitars, got some screams and sang a little bit. But it was cute singer Les McKeown, the Ronan Keating of his day, who the girls yelled loudest for. Les joined the Rollers in 1973 and within a year the Scottish band were the biggest British pop group since The Beatles. On the surface the Rollers seemed to have it all ...fame, fortune, girls, limousines, the best hotels, bottles of bubbly and everything a young man could desire. The reality also included bust-ups, stage fights, court cases, prison, disputes over money, splits and undignified comebacks.
Les, 40, and living near Munich in the beautiful
village of Bad Tolz with his Japanese wife and son prefers to
remember only the good times. He said: "Of course I'd
do some things differently but believe me it was great ... all
of it. "Everybody in the world would do something different
if they could go back in time but in general it was brilliant,
a great time to be a teenager." The Bay City Rollers
was the brainchild of child molester Tam Patron. He spotted the
youngsters playing Edinburgh clubs and named them after sticking
a pin in a map of the USA and hitting Bay City. The band actually
had a minor hit with Keep On Dancing which reached No9 in 1971
but the breakthrough came in 1974. Remember (Sha-la-1a), written
by and Phil Coulter, made No6 before the never to be forgotten
a-lang bulleted to No 2 in the charts. That signalled the real arrival of Rollermania. The band chalked up monster hits with Summer Love Sensation and All Of Me Loves All Of You before the all time rollers anthem Bye Bye Baby finally took them to the top of the tree in March 1975. Bye Bye Baby was in fact an old Four Seasons song. But its history was lost in the waves of Roller hysteria. Les said: "That first Nol was a bit special. "I reckon that I was the member of the band who paid least attention to what number the songs actually got to In the charts. "It was pretty obvious from the mental concerts we used to have that we were big, really happening. "I always thought there was a danger with getting a No 1 that anything less with the follow-up would be seen as failure. "But Bye Bye Baby made me think, 'Made it ma - top of the world'." Rival heart-throbs The Osmonds had been beaten of,newsmen were investigating the Rollermania craze and there was hardly a teenage girl in the country without a tartan scarf wrapped round her wrist. During a Radio 1 fun day at Mallory Park race track, attended by 47.000 mostly girl fans, the Rollers were scheduled to make a live appearance on a boat in the middle of an ornamental lake. Their arrival caused
pandemonium as thousands teenagers took to the water to try and greet their heroes. Forty fans had to be pulled from the lake with 35 requiring medical treatment. Four more were hospitalised and the Rollers were forced to leave by helicopter without performing. The follow up to Bye Bye Baby, which stayed at No 1 for 6 weeks, was Give a Little Love. It isn't remembered as well as its predecessor but it also went to No 1 for 3 weeks. The two No 1s' marked the pinnacle of the Rollers' career. Although they went on to have a No 1 in America with Saturday Night in January 1976, the follow-up single which the band wrote themselves, failed to live up to expectations. The cracks began to appear as punk rocked on the horizon. Critics had already suggested the band didn't play their own instruments and the cutesy image was dented for good when Eric Faulkner came close to death after taking a drug overdose at Tam Patons house. FANS' FAVOURITE ... Les McKeown has fond memories of his Days Rollers heyday. Tales emerged of the group's appetite for bedding groupies and in June 1976 Alan Longmuir quit.The glory days over, the band split in 1978 after McKeown had an on-stage punch up in Japan with other members of the band. Les said: "The end of the band was just part of growing up really. "Very few teenybop bands last forever or even more than three or four years. "We'd had our moment and it was time to move on, get married and have kids." Les who married his long time Japanese girlfriend Peko in 1978 and moved to London. Les, who once lived with Swedish sex symbol Britt Ekland, hooted: "The recipe for happy marriage? Plenty of great sex. Lots of it ." He added: "We were fated to meet. I met Peko at Cambridge Circus in London when we sat at restaurant tables next to each other. "We got chatting and that was it. But apart from the sex you've got to respect each other get on and not be too bossy that's hard for a Scotsman but not when the mere sight of someone makes you go weak at the knees and you're totally in love with the person." Despite marriage and a child the couple have a son Richard,12 The Bay City Rollers have been impossible to kill off. Faulkner and McKeown both pursued brief solo careers and Les even released an album called All Washed Up after the split. But they reformed in 1982 for a tour of Britain, Australia and Japan - the same year former manager Paton was jailed for three years on indecency charges. . After the tour, the band split into two bitter camps.
Les launched Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers while Faulkner, Alan Longmuir and Woody toured the club circuit as the Bay City Rollers. Only drummer Derek, now a nurse in Edinburgh, has kept out of the bitter fray. He wisely invested his Roller money in property deals. The rest of the band are still fighting for 20 million british pound they claim record company Arista owes them in royalties.Yet according to Les, a full reunion is now on the cards again. He said: "I speak to the other guys, they keep threatening me with a reunion."And we are talking over the possibilities at the moment." Until then, Les is happy to front his Legendary Bay City Rollers and dream of moving back to Scotland Les, who speaks fluent Japanese and German, said: "We still get the odd scream in Japan. Japan and Germany are the places where most of our business is these days. Japanese fans are very well-educated and like people to play good quality music and give them a great show. "They pay more attention to the music than the ripples on my stomach. "Well they're not so much ripples as tyres." He added: "Ideally I'd love to be living back in Scotland but I can't - I've got to go where the cash is. "If I lived in Edinburgh, the cost of getting eight guys to Germany would just rocket and I can't afford that "Germany's a nice place to live but they eat a lot of sausages and I'm more of a fish tea man.
Copyright 1996 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
June 23, 1996, Sunday
Alan Longmuir back in hospital after collapsing
BYLINE: Alan Crow
Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir has been hit
by a new health scare. Longmuir, 45, collapsed in agony hours
before he was due to go on stage. He was rushed to hospital for
checks. The scare comes only 18 months after Alan suffered a heart
attack. He was helped back to fitness by his ex-Roller brother
Derek, 43, who is now a nurse.
Last night Alan was back home after being released from Stirling Royal Infirmary. He was staying tight-lipped about this latest scare. Asked if it was another heart problem, he replied: "It's similar, but not as serious as the last time. "I hope to be back on the road very soon. There isn't a problem."
But a friend, who's close to the band, claimed: "Everybody is very worried about Alan. He has not been well at all.
"He collapsed and had to pull out of a few dates. The band is very concerned."
Alan collapsed with a heart attack and was put on a life support machine last January. Brother Derek spent weeks getting him back on his feet. After his release from hospital, Alan said: "I'll be listening to Derek. From now on, he's the boss. "That means no playing for some time and I'll have to cut down on the beer."
When he was hit by the first attack, he thought that he had simple INDIGESTION.
"The pain wouldn't go away," he said. "It was really terrible. "I've never smoked in my life and I thought that I was too young for a heart attack." Bass player Alan now tours with the Official Bay City Rollers, along with fellow originals Stuart "Woody" Wood and Eric Faulkner.
Copyright 1996 The Seattle Times Company
The Seattle Times
June 11, 1996, Tuesday, Final Edition
BYLINE: BY ERIK LACITIS
It wouldn't have surprised me to meet a
burn-out case, but Les McKeown was quite the opposite.
He used to be a pop star, the kind over whom teens faint and promise their undying loyalty. But the girls grow up; the Top-40 hits stop; the money evaporates.
Pop stars - in particular, teen idols - are a disposable commodity in rock 'n' roll. When the ride is over, you end up playing a three-night gig at some bar. The first night, there were 200 paying customers at the Ballard Firehouse.
Les McKeown meets me in the lobby of a Ramada Inn, and we find an empty reception room in which to talk. Nobody takes notice. He's just another guest who goes to the nearby Denny's for a meal.
It's actually quite mindboggling how popular the Bay City Rollers were in the mid-'70s. One estimate is that they sold around 70 million records. Rock 'n' roll is not known for its bookkeeping.
It's all gone
Once, when he was 21, a teen idol with no notion about finances, he could pick up the phone and order a car. He could buy a home on nine acres outside of Edinburgh. It was all a financial quicksand, and it's all gone.
The Bay City Rollers were a Scottish quintet that sang bubble-gummish tunes, wore platform shoes and costumes with lots of tartan.They churned out hit single after hit single: at least a dozen in Great Britain, eight in the U.S.
"Rollermania" was compared to Beatlemania, and, as far as their live performances, that wasn't too far off. In 1976 or 1977, I saw the Bay City Rollers play a sold-out show at the Paramount. The audience was nearly all teen girls, and every one of them was standing on the theater seats, shrieking. Not just the seats, but the handrails of the seats, jumping up and down on them. I literally saw the floor of the Paramount roll in waves from the jumping.
The Bay City Rollers were and still are held in disdain by the critics. How can you take seriously a group singing "Shang-A-Lang"? I bet a band would have a nice hit with a punked-up version of the Rollers' biggest hit, "Saturday Night." If you don't let your preconceptions get in the way, it's an infectious chant song: "S-A-T-ROCK! T-ROCK!"
Here's a summarized history of what happened to the Bay City Rollers: split-ups, a lawsuit, huge debts.
One of their hits, "Yesterday's Hero," forebode what would happen: "When we walk down the street . . . people stop and stare and say . . . haven't I seen that face a long time before . . . We don't wanna be yesterday's heroes . . ."
It got so bad that Les McKeown, lead singer in the band for its biggest hits, was involved in a lawsuit with other band members. They got to keep the name of the band. That's why the show here was advertised as " Les McKeown's '70s Bay City Rollers, " with McKeown the only original member and the rest new additions. Not so lucrative anymore. He's now 40, married since 1983, with a 12-year-old son. He lives in a working-class neighborhood in London. If a promoter lines up the bookings - a guarantee of $ 2,000 or $ 3,000 for a night - he'll get on the jet and travel. With five band members, a stage guy, travel and motel costs, it isn't exactly lucrative.
That's all right, McKeown says. He is proud of the Bay City Rollers' music, of new tunes he has written.
"What did I miss?" he says about playing the bars again. "The big swimming pool, the mansion? I also have gained a lot. My wife, a great son, a good band, and I'm playing my music. I've gained more than most."
It is a crowd of mostly thirtysomethings who went to his show here, women such as Tiara Thomas, 32, married, mother of a 5-year-old. "I had a very nice time. He looked very good, very well kept," Thomas tells me. "I liked that they're playing some new stuff, too." Some of the women wave their arms and scream out when McKeown sings, but it's not the same, as McKeown knows too well. "They want you to be Les from the '70s. I almost feel like I'm disappointing them. I'm not Les from the '70s. I'm not the little good-looking singer in a multi-colored pop group. Maybe I want to be appreciated with what I now have to give musically," he says.
Soon, he hopes to cut some tracks at a studio. He's got good songs. Maybe some record company will pay attention. In some ways, it's like it used to be, when McKeown was a young kid working paper mill or brewery jobs.
The day after seeing a David Bowie concert, McKeown decided he wanted to be a rock 'n' roll singer. Seventy million records later, that's still what he wants to be. "You can't lose the reason you do all this. It's because you love playing the songs. Everything else gets in the way," McKeown says. It is now a few hours before the next show at the Ballard Firehouse, time for McKeown to rest up for his show, which will go past midnight. So he is yesterday's hero. So what?
Copyright: People magazine, June 1996 issue
"Every cliché you've ever heard,
we probably lived it," says McKeown "At one point you
buy Bay City Rollers panties with our picture on front."
The Bay City Rollers were prehistoric New
Kids on the Block. While the Scottish quintet's music made Sonny
and Cher seem like the Berlin Philharmonic, their cheery attitude
and dreamy looks won legions of fans. After one London performance
in 1975, 250 girls became so worked up that they had to be treated
for shock. The group's success crossed the Atlantic that same
year with their No. 1 hit "Saturday Night."
But their tartan costumes hid tensions that still rage 18 years after their bitter breakup, when Les McKeown fell out with his bandmates because he wanted to perform his own songs. He later formed a spinoff group, now called Les McKeown's '70s Bay City Rollers, rankling the others, who currently tour as the Bay City Rollers. Earlier this year the two camps refused to meet to negotiate a legal settlement for a reported £2 million in royalties owed to them by their record company. "The feeling between them is so bad you can't get them in the same room, never mind around the same table," their manager Tam Paton told The Times of London in April. "We should all be megamillionaires, and we're not," says Rollers lead guitarist Eric Faulkner. "We've had the biggest record deals, but it was nothing but trouble."
Hard times forced McKeown, 40, to sell his 60-acre country manor in Scotland. Now living with his wife,
Peko, a former Japanese rock singer, and their 12-year-old son Riki in a second-floor flat in East
London, he says, "I get by. It's not exactly hand-to-mouth. It's a little better than that." He blames
himself for his financial woes. "When you're in a band, you think you're a demigod," he says. "I never thought about money until I left. But I've got enough to eat, a car to drive, enough to pay the phone bills. Do I really need a mansion and servants? Not really. I had it all. It's just a bloody headache."
Copyright 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd.
May 22, 1996, Wednesday
Thanks to Shehot@aol.com
Les McKeown reveals why he is prepared to reform the Bay City Rollers; Former Bay City Roller Les McKeown is prepared to forgive and forget
Les McKeown wasn't exactly holding out an
olive branch. In fact, he had an Embassy filter in one hand and
a large voddie and Coke in the other. He wasn't even declaring
an end to the 18-year-old war that's divided the most successful
pop band in Scottish history. But he did say it would be good
if they could all be friends again.
And in the feuding, writ-serving, mud-slinging, back-stabbing world of the Bay City Rollers, that kind of talk could get you the Nobel Peace Prize. He says: "There's a lot of bitterness still. But we're all a lot older and wiser now.
"I'm not talking about getting together again as a band. Perhaps it's too late for that. "Do I really need it? And do the rest of the guys really need it either? "We'd have to sit down together and get it all out in the open.
"But if we could get all the crap out - and get rid of it - we'd all be better off. "And I don't mean financially. It would be better for my life if we were friends again." Les stops and has another swig of his vodka. But he's not drunk and he's not shooting his mouth off - two old friends that used to get him into a lot of trouble.
Sitting in the corner of a pub in London's Bethnal Green with Japanese wife Peko and son Riki, the jack- the-lad of teenybop is now a contented jack-the-dad. Well, almost. Some events in the roller-coaster Roller years still invite the odd F- word. And the very mention of Tam Paton invites a whole string of them. The man who founded the Bay City Rollers and guided them to great heights is loathed. But Les is still proud of what the Rollers achieved. "We sold 70 million records. We opened up Japan, which had never been done before. We had No 1 records in America."
The "we" was Les, Stuart 'Woody' Wood, Eric Faulkner and brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir.
"Some people take the mickey out the Rollers music. But I was a 17-year- old singing to 12-year-olds. What's so awful about "We sang Shang-a-lang as we ran with the gang"? "It's cool to slag us off. But we achieved so much worth remembering." It's when you ask where it all went wrong that Les snatches the fag packet and shouts at the barman for another vodka.
"We were a sick band at the end. It was like being in a bad marriage and I wanted out. "The others didn't want me to go and we had the most awful fights - real kicking and punching and swearing fights. "Eventually, I had to have my own security and stayed in a different hotel - not to protect me from the fans, but to protect me from the rest of the band! I had to get out." But when he did, Les claims the real fighting began.
"I lost my house. They repossessed it. They threw me, my parents and my brother onto the street. My bank account was closed. After all those years at the top, all I had to show for it was a dollars 24,000 credit card bill.
"Tam Paton had me all tied up. Remember, I had signed things when I was 17 and without legal advice.
"I sometimes wonder what might have been if we'd had a proper manager. Found someone like U2 or Phil Collins have now." But the real hurt came a few years later when Les went to court to fight for the Bay City Rollers name. And lost on penalties. "Eric won the BCR title. Him and his girlfriend telling me I couldn't use the name. Christ ... it's like someone saying 'you're not Bob Shields anymore, because I own your name now'. Can you believe it?
"That really hurt me then. It still hurts me now. But what the hell, it happened and that's it.
"It's the same with the money. I used to get all worked up about where it all went. A lot of folk got very rich on the back of the Rollers. But not the Rollers and certainly not me.
"Still, I have different values now. Like my wife and my son Riki. We have a nice house and Riki wants for nothing."
The Bay City Rollers logo now travels with Eric, Woody and Alan. Derek is a nurse in Edinburgh and is happy to forget his famous past. Les hands me a publicity shot of his outfit - Leslie McKeown's 70s Bay City Rollers.
He's legally entitled to use the Roller name in this format - and he's been with them longer than the original Rollers. "We're off to Germany for five days. Not huge gigs, but big enough. Then we go to America for our 20th Anniversary Tour." That's right. Twenty years. Twenty FIVE if you go back to their first hit, Keep On Dancing. Their last Top 10 hit was I Only Wanna Be With You in 1976. Any plans to play in Britain - or Scotland? "Not in the near future. But we were asked to do a fund- raiser for Dunblane. We could do that." Would he do a Dunblane fund-raiser with the original Rollers? "Yes. No problem," he said immediately. "I don't know what the others would say but, yes, that's fine by me." A recent Press report claimed the "differences" were stopping the Rollers collecting pounds 2 million in royalties waiting in an American bank account.Manager Tam Paton was quoted as saying: "You can't get them in the same room, never mind around the same table." Les says: "I don't believe there's pounds 2 million there. But if there is, what would be left for the Rollers if we tried to get it? "By the time the agents, the lawyers and everybody else get their share ... I'm not too bothered. If someone sends me a fat cheque, fine. But I'm not chasing after it. I don't need to. "I'd rather we met just to sort our relationship out. Playing for Dunblane would get us together. But after that, it's too complicated to predict." The Rollers around a table again? Even better, the Rollers on stage again? It sounded too good to be true. But one quote from Les stayed in my mind long into my flight home.
"After Lennon died, I bet McCartney wished he'd knocked on his door, hugged him and said 'I love you, man'."
I wonder if Les went home and played Lennon's War is Over?
By Bob Shields
Copyright 1995 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
Thanks to Shehot@aol.com
September 5, 1995
Plans for a Bay City Rollers reunion
have been scrapped, because the band can´t stop
slagging each other.
Record moguls wanted the former tartan teen
idols to reform so they could plug an album
of their greatest 70´s hits - including Shang a lang and Bye Bye Baby.
But a spokesman for Arista Records, who released the "Absolute Rollers" collection yesterday,
admittetd: "It would have been a nightmare to get them all together".
He added:"Three of the original Rollers seem to be close, but they have fallen out with a
rival version of the band. Former lead singer Les McKeown was originally involved in the album
release, but we soon decided against involving any of the band".
The Edinburgh heart-throbs split in 1978 after bitter rows over music and money.
And they´ve been squabbling ever since - mostly over who´s got the right to the
Les McKeown now fronts Les McKeown´s 70s Bay City Rollers. And lead guitarist
Eric Faulkner tours with the offical Bay City Rollers., with fellow originals
Stuart "Woody" Wood and Alan Longmuir.
Arista wanted to release the album and a megamix single of four tracks, backed by a major
TV advertising campaign, back in May. But the single and ads were scrapped, and the launch
date put back to September.
However, they´re still confident the album will bring a bit of Rollermania back to pop. The
spokesman added: "I think an album with every Bay City Rollers hit on it will do very well.
After all, they were the Take That of their day. There have been several collections of Rollers
songs before, but none of them have had all the greatest hits on the same album. Can you
imagine a best of the Rollers without "Bye Bye Baby""?
"Absolute Rollers" is part of
a series of Arista collections released yesterday for sale at
pounds 8.99 . It also includes albums by M People and Lisa Stansfield.
Copyright 1996 Scottish Daily Record &
Sunday Mail Ltd.
April 29, 1996, Monday
Bay City Rollers fight over pounds 2million
The Bay City Rollers have said Bye Bye Baby to a bumper pounds 2million pay day. The 70's pop sensations are still owed a fortune by an American record company. But the Edinburgh band's bitter break-up means they can't agree on who should get what. Front man Les McKeown is at odds with Alan and Derek Longmuir, Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody" Wood.
The cash is being held in a US bank account
by Arista until an agreement
can be reached. Last night their ex-manager Tam Paton said: "It is very sad because they
could do with the money."