Les McKeown, Bay City Rollers Singer, Dies at 65

by Madison Miller
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Les McKeown, the lead singer of the internationally famous 1970s band the Bay City Rollers, has unfortunately passed away.

The Scottish sensation passed away today at the age of 65. His family shared the official news. The family posted to the singer’s Twitter account. The message says, “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown. Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday.”

Les McKeown and the Bay City Rollers

The Bay City Rollers were an iconic pop music group. The “tartan teen sensations” were known for songs like “Shang-A-Lang,” “Bye, Bye, Baby,” “Give a Little Love,” and “Summerlove Sensation.” With these hits, the group had mastered a cult following.

While the group was popular for their music, the counter-culture movement adored the style the Bay City Rollers showcased. Their nickname came from the calf-length tartan trousers and tartan scarves the group used to wear.

Not only that, but the group had crafted a place on the top of pop radio. It was during a time with a lot of steep competition. Regardless, the group had drones of American, British, and other young fans lining up to buy records and tickets. Many people have compared the group to the Beatles, one of the most iconic groups of the 1960s and 1970s. The Bay City Rollers were competing against the plethora of groups dubbed as the “British Invasion.”

McKeown joined the group in 1973. He then left by mutual agreement in 1978. He was with the group during the peak of their performance. The group had many changes over the years. Some of the other members included Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood, Alan Longmuir, and Derek Longmuir.

According to CNN, the period in which Les McKeown was the lead singer was called the “Rollermania” period and lasted only a few years. Despite massive popularity, the group only hit the No.1 spot on the Billboard charts once with “Saturday Night.”

While that was their only top spot, the Bay City Rollers have managed to sell over 120 million records.

Reunion Tour for Bay City Rollers

In recent years, the group has gotten together to return to the stage and perform their hits for modern fans.

In 2015, the Bay City Rollers played at the Glasgow Barrowlands. Then in 2018, the group showed up in Japan for some performances. Unfortunately, several members of the group have since passed away.

The bassist, Alan Longmuir, died in 2018. Then in September 2020, Ian Mitchell passed away from throat cancer.

McKeown had been excited to reunite with his former bandmates. “I think we were a breath of fresh air in the 70s. There was nothing complicated about our music — although it’s amazing how many people who used to come to our concerts as teenagers are still coming back with their daughters after all these years and they’re singing our songs together. That’s pretty special,” he said to the Press and Journal before a set at a 2016 festival.

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