Bay City Rollers

  • Scottish glam pop band formed in 1964 from Edinburgh Scotland. There have been many members – the members during their peak 70s period were Les McKeown (lead vocals, guitars), Eric Faulkner (lead/rhythm guitars, violin, mandolin, bass guitar, backing vocals, songwriting), Stuart Wood (lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, backing vocals, songwriting), Alan Longmuir (bass guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Derek Longmuir (drums).
  • In 1964, brothers Derek and Alan Longmuir formed a band with their cousin Neil Porteous on guitar, playing at a family wedding. Originally named the Ambassadors, they added school friend Gordon Clark to be the lead singer for the group. They renamed themselves the Saxons and performed at dance halls while they completed high school. Over the next several years, members rotated in and out of the group. In the late 60s, after an audition at the Longmuir’s house, they were booked to perform at a local club manager’s venue, and more gigs followed. They played songs by the Kinks and American R&B artists.
  • Feeling that they might become successful, they decided that they needed to change their name, and they wanted something that had an appeal in America. They agreed to “Rollers” but needed something more. They decided to throw a dart at a map of America. The first dart landed in Arkansas – they rejected that. The second dart landed near Bay City Michigan, and they adopted the name Bay City Rollers.
  • In 1971, they landed a recording contract. A non-album single titled Keep On Dancing (a cover of a 1965 hit by the Gentrys) reached #9 in the UK, but two more singles failed to chart. More personnel changes occurred, with Faulkner joining in mid-1973, McKeown joining late that year, and Wood making the classic lineup complete in early 1974.
  • Their breakthrough in the UK came in 1974 with the release of their debut album, Rollin’. Over the next two years, they had six top-10 hits in the UK, including Bye, Bye Baby (a cover of the 1965 hit by the Four Seasons) and Give a Little Love, both of which topped the UK chart. Bye Bye Baby from their second album Once Upon a Star was the best selling single in the UK in 1975. Both albums topped the UK album chart, but neither were released in the U.S.
  • In September 1975, their first album for the U.S. was released, the self-titled Bay City Rollers. It contained songs from their previous UK released albums, including the song Saturday Night. While the single did not chart when released in the UK in 1973 (before McKeown was the lead vocalist), the re-recorded version for the U.S. became a bubblegum pop classic, with the catchy hook spelling of “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!” taking it to #1 on the Hot 100 chart. Two more albums quickly followed in 1976 – Rock n’ Roll Love Letter and Dedication – which had two more top 15 hits with Money Honey (peaking at #9) and I Only Want to Be With You (peaking at #12).
  • At this point, Bay City Rollers was a global phenomenon. Their fans dressed in tartan attire and the UK press raved about “Rollermania.” They also were hugely popular in Japan and Australia. Their success could not be sustained though. Their 1977 album It’s A Game reflected an attempt to achieve a more sophisticated sound. The single You Made Me Believe In Magic managed to reach #10 in the U.S. In 1978, the band had their own television show in the U.S., titled The Bay City Rollers Show which flopped and was cancelled after 13 episodes.
  • In 1978, McKeown left. Duncan Faure replaced him, and the group renamed themselves The Rollers. Three albums released from 1979 to 1981 with more of a new wave sound did not chart, nor did the five singles from the albums. They stopped touring in late 1981. The band regrouped several times in the 80s and 90s, and in 2015 Alan Longmuir, McKeown and Wood announced that the group had reformed. After a short run of shows, the band split up again. In 2018, Wood restarted the band with three other musicians. Alan Longmuir died in 2018 and McKeown died in 2021.
  • Bay City Rollers were the rage in 1976. Teenie-bop pop glam rock at its best (or worst). Here’s the band playing the ultra-catchy song, Saturday Night. Only four of them on stage here – Alan Longmuir left the group in early 1976, feeling uncomfortable being in a teen band in his late twenties. He returned to the group in 1978. Enjoy!

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