The Bay City Rollers were one of the most screamed at teeny-bopper acts of the 1970s, with Rollermania taking hold to a level that recalled the hysterical popularity of both the Beatles and the Osmonds. Hailing from Edinburgh and often decked out in tartan, they blazed a path to fame with a string of glam rock and power pop hits, including Keep On Dancing, Saturday Night, Shang-a-Lang, and Summerlove Sensation.
By early 1975, they were one of the highest-selling acts in the UK. A cover of the Four Seasons’ Bye, Bye, Baby stayed at number one in the UK for six weeks in March and April 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 in July 1975, the band’s second number one hit.
Frontman Les McKeown - the only original member of the group’s new line up - remembers the heyday of Rollermania when hordes of screaming girls greeted the band at concert venues and they lived in the full glare of the limelight as world-wide teen idols, even achieving fame in the US, Australia and Japan.
“There were almost too many highlights to mention,” says Les. “We were just a bunch of scruffy kids from Edinburgh - the wrong side of Edinburgh, I might add. We were on a big adventure. I joined the group in 1973 and soon I was singing a song called Remember written by Northern Ireland’s Phil Coulter. We first hit the charts in 1974 and from that point on we were playing gigs back to back and flying all around the world.
“It was a pretty gruelling schedule performing constantly, but we were young and fit and we had fun. When we weren’t playing concerts we were in the studio recording or filming TV shows, radio shows and doing promo, catching planes, up early every morning. It was a hectic pace of life.”
The Bay City Rollers in their latest incarnation with Les front and centre are poised to play May in the Marquee at Glenarm Castle, topping the bill alongside Belfast singer/songwriter Brian Kennedy and an 80-strong youth orchestra. “Shang-a-Lang and Bye Bye Baby are still two of my favourite songs to perform, they go down so well at concerts those are two people go ape about,” adds Les. “The fans cherish those songs. We’re happy to transport everybody back to the 1970s.” The Bay City Rollers perform at Glenarm Castle on May 25 at 7pm. For tickets call 02828 841 203 or visit www.glenarmcastle.com/.