The Bay City Rollers and Tartan can make you think of Scotland

Bard of Ely wearing tartan jacket and flares

Bard of Ely as he once was wearing his tartan flares and tartan jacket.
Bard of Ely as he once was wearing his tartan flares and tartan jacket. | Source

Tartan kilts

Tartan kilts were traditionally worn by men from Scotland and can be used to show what Clan you were from. The garment is like a skirt for men and not surprisingly there have been countless jokes made asking what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.

Most of the time today though the wearer of a particular tartan has no real bloodline relationship to a Scottish family or ancestors; people wear tartan clothes to look stylish and because they like them. You don’t have to be from Scotland to appreciate tartan or to wear it.

Tartan is a great way to get noticed. It can also proclaim to the world that you support the Celtic world and might be a Scot yourself.

The Campbell Clan tartan

William Mosman portrait of John Campbell of the Bank, 1749.
William Mosman portrait of John Campbell of the Bank, 1749. | Source

Tartan and Bonnie Scotland

If you see some tartan material or even just hear the word you make the mental leap to Scotland and whatever you associate with the country. Tartan is a symbolic reference point that makes us think of the Scottish Highlands, of kilts and Scottish clans.

Tartan is that brightly coloured woven fabric that is characterized by checked patterns made with horizontal and vertical lines. It is eye-catching and says “Bonnie Scotland” to the viewer.

Not surprisingly tartan colours have often found their way into the world of fashion and the world of entertainment too. The Bay City Rollers were a pop group who enjoyed worldwide fame back in the 1970s and they used tartan clothes as part of their image (but more about them later on).

Bay City Roller Boy - 70's fan song

Buy songs by the Bay City Rollers on Amazon

Tartan in the world of Pop Music

Pop stars have often worn tartan as part of their image and to give them standout visual appeal. The Bay City Rollers were a Boy Band from back in the early 1970s that soon had legions of teenage fans and a string of hit singles to their credit. They were a Scottish Pop group that came from Edinburgh and that swiftly became known as international stars in the world of entertainment.

They were often said to be the most popular group since The Beatles. Their teenage, mainly girl fans, turned up in vast numbers to see their heroes play live and screamed in hysterical appreciation of their idols “Beatlemania” was the term coined to describe this behavior for fans of The Beatles but in the !970s “Rollermania” was a new craze.

The members of The Bay City Rollers all sported tartan in the designs of their clothes and fans too took to wearing tartan scarves and other items of clothing. Wearing tartan showed you supported the Bay City Rollers.

Pop and Rock singer Rod Stewart was another star who sometimes wore tartan as did Roy Wood the leader singer of Wizzard, who wore tartan flared trousers or loon pants as they were known. Wood was known for being very flamboyant with long hair, beard and his face painted to give him that wizardly look.

Wizzard - See My Baby Jive

Tartan Poll

Do you like Tartan?

  • Yes, love it
  • No
  • It's OK but not wouldn't wear it
See results without voting

Tartan fashions and other uses

Tartan has been incorporated into modern fashions in a big way for both men and women. There have been tartan jackets, coats and scarves, tartan gloves and leggings. Basically at some point in time somewhere or other some designer has produced a design based on tartan and manufacturers have produced clothes and other items using the pattern.

Tartan has become much more that a type of fabric or cloth. It has become a well-known pattern that appeals to the eye. Tartan has been used on biscuit tins and was once the name of a brand of Scottish beer.

Tartan will always remain associated with Scotland whatever form it takes.

Copyright © 2013 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

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6 comments

Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Steve,

Just HAD to dive in here as sadly I was ONE of the many female fans of Rollermania! Yes, I adorned the tartan scarf tied around the wrists, the roller socks and anything else I could! I still have the L.P's, cannot bare to put them into jumble! Ah the tartan armies were alive and well and the fact I have Scots blood made me feel like a true blue Scot!

I love the kilts on men, something very sexy about that! Thanks for the trip down memory lane and for showing all the different ways tartan is known globally!! Voted ++++ shared!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Suzie! I saw the band at the Ely Festival in Cardiff long after their heyday and they were brilliant - they had the crowd singing along despite the grey skies and rain and I won't forget that!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Interesting post regarding tartans and how they have come into the music scene. UUI votes and will tweet.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you too, Peggy!


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

Oh man! I remember the Bay City Rollers were hot when I was in high school. Thanks for the memories!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for commenting!

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