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Bay City Rollers
Also known as The Rollers
Origin Edinburgh, Scotland
Genres Pop
Rock
Bubblegum pop
Years active 1966–1981
Labels Bell Records
Arista Records
Epic Records
Associated acts The Saxons (1967–1968)
The Rollers (1979–1981)
Bay City Rollers featuring Ian Mitchell
Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers
Pilot
Members
Alan Longmuir (1966–1976, 1978–1981)
Derek Longmuir (1966–1981)
Gordon "Nobby" Clark (1966–1973)
Keith Norman (1969)
David Paton (1969–1970)
Billy Lyall (1969–1971)
Eric Manclark (1970–1971)
Neil Henderson (1970–1971)
Archie Marr (1971)
John Devine (1971–1974)
Eric Faulkner (1972–1981)
Stuart "Woody" Wood (1974–1981)
Les McKeown (1973–1979)
Ian Mitchell (1976)
Pat McGlynn (1976-1977)
Duncan Faure (1979–1981)
Jason Medvec (1988 - 1990)
Kyle Vincent (2007-2008)
Former members
The "classic line-up" on 1974-76 chart toppers:
Alan Longmuir
Derek Longmuir
Eric Faulkner
Stuart "Woody" Wood
Les McKeown

The Bay City Rollers were a Scottish pop/rock band of the 1970s. Their youthful, clean-cut image, distinctive styling featuring tartan-trimmed outfits, and cheery, sing-along pop hits helped the group become among the most popular musical acts of their time. For a relatively brief but fervent period (nicknamed "Rollermania"), they were worldwide teen idols. The group's line-up featured numerous changes over the years, but the classic line-up during its heyday included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir.

Since the band's quick rise to, and subsequent fall from fame, the members have endured numerous and varied struggles regarding royalty payments, substance abuse, and personal legal problems.

Contents

History

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Early days: formation-1973

Bassist Alan Longmuir, his younger brother Derek Longmuir, a drummer, along with school mate, lead singer Gordon "Nobby" Clark founded the group in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1966, as The Saxons. Shortly afterwards, seeking a less English-sounding moniker, they chose a new name allegedly by throwing a dart at a map of the United States. The dart landed on the map in the state of Arkansas, but since "Arkansas Rollers" did not sound quite right, and might also lead to problems with pronunciation, they tried again and this time the dart landed near the community of Bay City, Michigan.[citation needed]

The Bay City Rollers were managed from early on by the imposing and controversial Tam Paton, himself a former big band leader. Paton was notorious for his rigid control over all aspects of the band's career, including the shuffling in and out of group members at a very high rate. Short term members from this period include David Paton (member 1969-1970) & Billy Lyall (member 1969-1971), who went on to be founding members of another successful Edinburgh band, Pilot.

The Bay City Rollers received their first break when prominent record executive Dick Leahy caught their act by chance in an Edinburgh club. After signing with Leahy's Bell Records, the band's first hit was "Keep on Dancing" (UK #9, 1971), a cover of a 1965 Gentrys hit, recorded at the suggestion of pop impresario and producer Jonathan King who produced it. (Singer Nobby Clark was backed on vocals on "Keep on Dancing" by King himself doing multi tracked singing.) Upon this release's success, they made guest appearances on BBC-TV's Top of the Pops. The group then won a Radio Luxembourg-sponsored song contest with the tune "Mañana", which was later popular in parts of Europe and in Israel.

Several non-charting singles were released over the following two years. This period did see the addition of long term members Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody" Wood.

In mid 1973 they narrowly missed the UK chart with the 4th single, "Saturday Night", one of many songs written and produced for the band by the highly successful songwriting duo of Scotsman Bill Martin and Irishman Phil Coulter.

By the end of 1973, Nobby Clark had become disillusioned by the band's lack of success and decided to move on. He was replaced as lead singer by Leslie McKeown.

British breakthrough: 1974–75

The five members at the very end of 1973 - the Longmuir brothers, Faulkner, Wood and McKeown - are generally referred to as the "classic line-up". In early 1974 McKeown hastily re-recorded lead vocals of the group's forthcoming single, "Remember (Sha La La La)", which became a sizable hit and a lead-in to a series of UK chart hits.

Beginning with "Remember" (UK #6), the Rollers' popularity exploded, and they released a string of very successful hits on the British charts. Following in succession were "Shang-a-Lang" (UK #2), "Summerlove Sensation" (UK #3), and "All of Me Loves All of You" (UK #4).

By early 1975, they were one of the highest-selling acts in Britain. That year saw a successful UK tour (which prompted newspaper headlines about "Rollermania"), and a 20-week UK television series, Shang-a-Lang.

A cover of the Four Seasons' "Bye, Bye, Baby" stayed at #1 in the UK for six weeks in the spring of 1975, selling nearly a million copies to become the biggest seller of the year, and the subsequent single "Give a Little Love" topped the charts that summer, their second #1 hit. Two full-length LPs were produced during this period: Once Upon a Star and Wouldn't You Like It?. Each featured the full band playing on all studio sessions, which had not been the case on earlier recordings. In addition, Faulkner and Wood were tasked with the vast majority of the songwriting duties.

At the peak of their popularity in the UK, comparisons were made to even The Beatles. Also by this time, BCR fans had a completely distinctive style of dress, the main elements of which were ankle-length tartan trousers and tartan scarves, a look which had originally been sported by another Tam Paton Band, Bilbo Baggins. A popular playground chant of the time went (to the tune of "This Old Man"):

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!

World impact: 1976

As the group's popularity swelled to superstardom in the UK, a concerted effort was made by Arista Records (the record company that evolved from Bell) to launch the Rollers in America. New Arista head Clive Davis was instrumental in grooming and overseeing the project. His work paid off, as in late '75, the Rollers reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 with "Saturday Night", the song that had missed the UK chart completely two years earlier. The Rollers gave the tune its American debut via a much-hyped satellite-link performance on Saturday Night with Howard Cosell.

A second US hit came with "Money Honey", written by guitarists Faulkner and Wood, which hit #9.

The dark side of the band's unending schedule of tours and appearances was the great amount of stress the band members felt. By early '76, the strain of success (and the discomfort of being a man in his late 20s in a teen band) had taken its toll on bassist Alan Longmuir, who decided to leave the group. He was replaced for 7 months by 17-year-old Ian Mitchell - the first band member born outside of Edinburgh, Scotland (he was from Northern Ireland). With Mitchell, the group released an album titled Dedication, and hit the charts with a cover version of the Dusty Springfield song "I Only Want To Be With You", which reached US #12, as well as "Yesterday's Hero" and "Dedication". The album was a step away from the group's musical independence, however, with Davis and producer Jimmy Ienner imposing a smaller songwriting load on the band members.

1977-79

As the Rollers' popularity waned, the shuffling of personnel continued: Mitchell quit the band, telling Rolling Stone magazine that "I'm getting out before I stick my head in a gas oven." He was replaced by Pat McGlynn, who joined the band with the forlorn wish that "I just hope I can cope." McGlynn lasted only a few months before quitting in turn, complaining that the other Rollers had treated him like a servant. Further struggles around the band involved the direction of their sound, as the members wished to pursue more sophisticated styles. They settled on David Bowie's producer, Harry Maslin, and summer of 1977 saw the group put forth a heavily-orchestrated, soft-rock leaning album, It's a Game as a four-piece group - McKeown, Wood, Faulkner and Derek Longmuir. The It's a Game tour produced the live album Rollerworld, recorded in '77 at Japan's Budokan Hall, but unreleased until 2001.

On the disc, they covered an unsuccessful 1973 single by String Driven Thing, "It's a Game" to give them their final UK Top 20 hit (#16 in the spring), but "You Made Me Believe in Magic" could only make #34 in the summer. "Magic" managed to just crack the top ten in the United States, but this would be their final major success there too.

In 1978, Alan Longmuir reunited with the band for the recording of Strangers in the Wind. The release of this LP was timed to coincide with the debut of the Rollers' US Saturday morning television show "The Krofft Superstar Hour", later renamed "The Bay City Rollers Show", on the NBC network. The show was a poor match for the band. Their time in the teen-idol spotlight was slipping away and their music had matured and become more sophisticated compared to the bubblegum hits they had released in '75-'76. The show and album were each dismal failures.

New singer, new name

Following the abject failures of 1978, Les McKeown made the decision to leave for a solo career, but stuck around long enough to do a last lucrative concert tour of Japan. The tour was fraught with problems.

By 1979, the band had split with McKeown, fired Tam Paton and decided to continue in a more new-wave, rock-oriented sound. Their name was now simply The Rollers. South African-born Duncan Faure joined the band as new lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. With Faure, the lineup produced three albums: Elevator (1979), Voxx (1980), and Ricochet (1981). Despite generally inspired performances, none of the releases found an audience. They officially parted ways in late 1981.

80s and beyond

During the 1980s and 1990s, there were various short-lived revivals featuring some of the original members. The classic quintet played Japan in 1982, and again in '83 with guest spots from both Mitchell and McGlynn. A slapdash reunion album of sorts, Breakout, came out in Japan in 1985, performed primarily by McKeown and McGlynn with minor contributions from Faulkner, Wood, and Mitchell.

In the late 1980s a version of the band called the "New Rollers" was formed featuring Faulkner on lead vocals, Kass (Karen Prosser) on vocals, Jason Medvec on guitar, Andy Boakes on bass, Mark Roberts on drums. The band toured extensively throughout the US and Canada as well as tours of the UK and Australia. This group also released an independent 5-song EP titled "Party Hardy".

In 1990 Stuart Wood and Alan Longmuir joined with Faulkner to tour under the BCR name, and issued several CDs of re-recordings of the old Roller tunes. These recordings still turn up frequently on iTunes and in CD bins.

The classic lineup (minus Derek) performed a one-off show at a New Year's Eve 1999 concert in Scotland. In the 2000s, interest was rekindled in Britain by various television documentaries about the group and a new TV-advertised compilation of greatest hits, Very Best of the Bay City Rollers, which entered the UK charts on release in 2004 at #11.

Currently, Mitchell, Faulkner and McKeown each regularly tour playing Rollers hits. Due to legal issues over which performers may use the band name, McKeown's group uses the name: Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers. At present there is no official Bay City Rollers.

Financial dispute

A recent Channel 4 documentary, Who Got The Rollers' Millions?, explored the speculation about what happened to the supposed financial fortune the group generated in their career, with accusations that it was defrauded from the group by their management and record company. There are claims that the group sold 100-300 million records and generated the equivalent of five billion pounds in revenue, with the band members themselves earning very little.[1] [2] [3]. According to BBC they sold 70 million records. However, even this figure has been disputed by several sources, not least their former record company.[1].

In March 2007, six former members of the group (Faure plus the "classic line-up") announced a lawsuit against Arista Records in hopes of claiming what they describe as "tens of millions of dollars" of unpaid royalties. Nobby Clark has threatened to sue the other band members if their lawsuit is successful, stating that he was the creative force behind the band's success, despite the fact that he left the group in 1973 before the bulk of their fame and fortune began.[2] [3]

Discography

Albums

Year Album UK AUS US
1974 Rollin' 1 8 -
1975 Once Upon a Star 1 4 -
1975 Bay City Rollers
(US only release)
- - 20
1975 Wouldn't You Like It? 3 3 -
1975 Souvenirs of Youth
(Japan Only)
- - -
1976 Dedication 4 3 26
1976 Rock N'Roll Love Letter
(US & Japan Only)
- - 31
1977 It's a Game 18 10 23
1978 Strangers in the Wind - 61 129
1979 Elevator - - -
1980 Voxx
- - -
1981 Ricochet - - -
1982 ...And Forever
(Japan Only)
- - -
1983 Live in Japan
(Japan Only)
- - -
1985 Breakout
(Japan Only)
- - -
2001 Rollerworld: Live at the Budokan 1977
- - -

Singles

Year Song UK AUS US Album
1971 "Keep on Dancing" 9 - - Once Upon a Star
1972 "We Can Make Music" - - - -
"Manana" - - -
1974 "Remember (Sha-La-La)" 6 67 - Rollin'
"Shang-A-Lang" 2 86 -
"Summerlove Sensation" 3 53 -
"All of Me Loves All of You" 4 - - -
1975 "Bye, Bye, Baby" 1 1 - Once Upon a Star
"Give a Little Love" 1 2 - Wouldn't You Like It?
"Don't Stop the Music"
(Released in Germany and America only)
- - -
"Love Me Like I Love You" 4 7 - -
1976 "Saturday Night" - 45 1 Rollin'
"Money Honey" 3 3 9 Dedication
"Rock n' Roll Love Letter"
(Not released as a single in the UK)
- 9 28
"I Only Wanna Be With You" 4 8 12
"Yesterday's Hero"
(Released as a single in America only)
- - 54
"Dedication"
(Released as a single in America only)
- - 60
"Don't Worry Baby"
(Released as a single in Australia only)
34
1977 "It's a Game" 16 9 - It's a Game
"You Made Me Believe in Magic" 34 36 10
"The Way I Feel Tonight" - 56 24
1978 "Where Will I Be Now?" - - - Strangers in the Wind
"All of the World is Falling in Love" - - -
"Where Will I Be Now?" - - -
"Another Rainy Day in New York City" - - -
1985 "When You Find Out" - - - -

References

External links


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