Scottish Rock Band the Bay City Rollers
It was the 1970s and a lot of rock bands or single rock singers were springing up all over the place to the delight and adoration of many teenage girls. One band that had great voices and likeable music was The Bay City Rollers. This was a Scottish pop/rock band that had a string of hits in the 1970s and their songs became popular in the U.S. as well.
When it came to choosing a name for the band they randomly picked a spot on a map of the U.S. That spot pointed to Bay City, Michigan. The Bay City Rollers consisted of drummer Derek Longmuir, his brother Alan Longmuir on the bass, guitarist Eric Faulkner, singer Leslie McKeown and guitarist Stuart Wood. Their first hit in the U.K. was a cover of the Bobbie Gentry song “Keep On Dancing”.
The Bay City Rollers had quite a few misses in the beginning but finally in 1974 they came out with a hit “Remember”.
At this time the band’s popularity was on the rise and soon they had a string of hits on the U.K. chart among them “Shang-a-Lang”. “Summerlove Sensation” and “All of Me Loves All of You”.
In 1975 The Bay City Rollers sang a cover of a Four Seasons’ hit “Bye, Bye, Baby” and it went number one and was followed by their next number one hit “Give a Little Love”.
Teen fans everywhere were loving them and liked their onstage look dressed in calf-length tartan trousers and tartan scarves. In North America they released the album The Bay City Rollers after their song “Saturday Night” hit the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album was released in 1975 and included their number one hit and two other popular songs “Bye, Bye, Baby” and “Be My Baby”.
Their next hit in the U.S. was “Money Honey” and resulted in their next album in 1976 Rock n’ Roll Love Letter. The album included the hit song, the title song and “I Only Want to Dance With You” among other songs.
By this time Alan Longmuir was in his late 20s and decided to leave the band since it was supposed to be a teen band. He was replaced by Ian Mitchell, who was 17 and the first member born outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. He was from Northern Ireland. Along with Mitchell The Bay City Rollers released another album Dedication in 1976 and had a hit with another cover of a Dusty Springfield song “I Only Want to Be With You”. Two other songs on the album did well – the title song and “Yesterday’s Hero”.
The Bay City Rollers became less popular from 1977 to 1979 and their final U.K. hit was “It’s a Game” and a final hit in the U.S. “You Made Me Believe in Magic”. Then in 1978 Alan Longmuir returned to the band and they released the album Strangers in the Wind. The album had songs like the title song, “Another Rainy Day in New York City” and “Where Will I Be Now”. The album came out at the same time as their U.S. Saturday morning TV show made its debut The Krofft Superstar Hour, later on renamed The Bay City Rollers Show on NBC.
By now things had changed and at the end of 1978 McKeown left the band and they chose to create a more new-wave, rock-orientated sound. By now they were known as The Rollers and South-African born Duncan Faure joined the band as new lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. They released three albums Elevator in 1979, Voxx in 1980 and Ricochet in 1981. However they were no longer as successful and they stopped touring by late 1981.
In the 1980s and 1990s The Rollers did short tours and a reunion album titled Breakout was released in Australia and Japan in 1985. In the late 1980s the band was called “The New Rollers” and toured all over the U.S. and Canada as well as touring in the U.K. and Australia. They released an independent 5-song EP Party Hardy.
The last official Bay City Rollers concert was a New Year’s Eve millennium concert performed near Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. This brought about enough interest about the band to produce some TV documentaries in the U.S. and a compilation of their greatest hits Very Best of the Bay City Rollers.
On September 22, 2015 The Bay City Rollers, including McKeown, Stuart “Woody” Wood and Alan Longmuir made the announcement that they were reforming and performed at the Glasgow Barrowlands in December. They are releasing a new album and going on tour.
© 2016 Gypsy Rose Lee