The musical adventure keeps rollin’ on for 70s heartthrob

Les McKeown
Les McKeown

Back in the mid-seventies, many young female hearts were a-flutter at the mere mention of The Bay City Rollers and the various members of the band.

Perhaps the one person that was screamed at the most was singer Les McKeown – well after all, he was out front.

“It’s very difficult to describe what it was like to be a Bay City Roller. Only a few of us have had that experience, but if I had to find a word, I reckon ‘adventure’ is the best one,” he said.

Les and his band are undertaking a 49-date tour of the UK, which visits Buxton Opera House on Wednesday October 8, performing the Rollers’ greatest hits of the band.

But it very nearly didn’t happen for the band back in the 1970s.

They had a hit with Keep On Dancin’ in 1971, and that appeared to be that – it all went quiet until 1973 when Les, then aged 18, joined the band.

But all was not well in the Roller camp: “The record company was about to drop us as there hadn’t been any hits for a couple of years, but the band showed me off to the company and they gave us a chance to do one more single,” he explained.

That single was Remember and got to number six in the charts. Rollermania was born.

The next eight singles were all top-five hits, with Bye Bye Baby and Give A Little Love topping the charts in 1975.

They also had four top-five albums, again with two chart-toppers.

In 1977, however, things went wrong. The two hit singles failed to reach the top-ten and neither did their fifth album.

Les left the band a few years before it split to pursue a solo career, but admits he has some great memories: “One of the highlights of my life was getting off that plane the first time we went to America and seeing all those kids screaming for us.”

Five years ago, Les formed a new band to celebrate the music of the Bay City Rollers, which has just completed an arena tour with The Osmonds, Showaddywaddy and David Essex.

He added: “It’s a great show and we specifically do the Rollers’ hits – all the songs that you love to hear.

“I’m really enjoying it. I like to think that every night I go on stage will be the best show I’ve ever given.”

Tickets to see Les McKeown and his Legendary Bay City Rollers, priced £17.50 and £19.50, are available on 0845 127 2190 or at www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.