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Monday, March 2, 2015

Rollermania forever! The Tartan Army lives on

I loved Les! Which Bay City Roller did you love? Remember Rollermania?

Bang! Bang! Bang! My bedroom door bends in the middle from my Mother’s fist pounding it from the other side. “Turn the music down for Jesus sakes, I can’t hear myself think!”

Inside the room Rollermania had hit hard. My friends and I were listening to the latest Bay City Roller record on my hi-fi (which is nothing like Wi-fi).  Jumping up and down till the floorboards were reaching their maximum capacity. Screaming to the top of our lungs “S.A.T.U.R.D.AY. Night”, “Keep On Dancing” and “Bye Bye Baby.” I loved Les with his dark brown curly hair and his Scottish accent! Karen loved Woody with his long straight blond hair. They were so handsome! And Scottish too. That accent drove us into a frenzy. Nancy loved Eric with the spikey hairdo.

They were the "Tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh" and the biggest thing since The Beatles. Long before Justin Bieber and One Direction, there were the Bay City Rollers, worldwide teen idols and one of the most screamed-at teeny-bopper acts of the 1970s.

My room was wallpapered with their pictures torn from Teen Beat magazine and anything else we could get our hands on. There was no internet or “Fan Pages” back then. Just an address in Scotland to write to if you wanted to join their “Official Fan Club” and I did. We all did.  

We longed to hear the announcers at CJON tell us the Bay City Rollers were going to play at Memorial Stadium. We would have lined up for days, weeks or months to get a ticket.

We were devoted Roller fans. My Mother lost her mind when she found out I cut up my new jeans, made them 4 inches shorter and sewed tartan to the cuffs and down the sides of the legs.

She nearly had a stroke when I came out of the bathroom after cutting my hair like Eric’s. A handful of Dippity-do making it spikey on top and a half a can of Final-Net keeping the sides straight and feathered.

Then one day, she came home from Woolworth’s with a blue Bay City Roller T-shirt. It had their five faces on the front and tartan on the sleeves. I cried. I couldn’t believe you could buy a Roller T-shirt in St. John’s. I wore it every day. I wore it under the white shirt I had to wear with my blue school tunic. I rolled the tartan sleeves up so Sister wouldn’t see it. But she did and told me never to wear it again with my uniform or it would become the property of the Sisters of Mercy!

The Bay City Rollers had sold an estimated 70 million records. Then in 1976 Alan Longmuir left the group. It is was the beginning of the end for Rollermania. We were heartbroken. I was 12 years old and refused to believe that Les didn’t love me as much as I loved him. It felt like he had personally broken up with me.

By that time Paul McCartney was charting with Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” Wild Cherry was telling us to “Play That Funky Music” and Disco was on the horizon. My Bay City Roller posters were replaced with Saturday Night Fever posters, pictures of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees.

There was no internet so I couldn’t find out what became of Les or the rest of the Rollers. Then a few weeks ago, my daughter asked for a record player! I know right!  A record player for her bedroom. I didn’t think they existed anymore but apparently they are making a comeback.

“Where can you buy records?” I asked her. “Everywhere” She tells me. Records are making a comeback too.

I used to have thousands in my basement. A few years ago, stretched for storage space, hubby talked me into giving them away. Some guy with a pickup truck and a few friends came and emptied my basement of all my teenaged memories. I did keep a few though: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a few Elvis (of course), Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, Bruce Springsteens’s Born in the USA, and of course, the Bay City Rollers.

I put the Rollers’ album on her new record player and they sounded just as good. The first note of “Saturday Night” send me back to when I was a 10 year old girl bouncing in my bedroom with my girlfriends screaming to the top of our lungs. Planning our weddings to the Bay City Rollers.

I had to Google them. The Tartan Army still exists! Les McKeown, the lead singer is touring under the name “Bay City Rollers.” He looks a little different now… but so do I. He has dates set for 2015 all around the UK.

I got a little flushed… this complete stranger from Edinburgh, who at 10, I swore to love till I died, was still touring. I am a little giddy.

Anyone want to go? Can you imagine being in the audience? I know you wouldn’t jump to your feet and turn into a 10 year old girl when he sang “Saturday Night.”


Love you Les!!!!