70s pop star in reinvention drama – circa 1979/80


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A nice plungline number
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Starlight Express???

Les McKeown was the lead singer of the Bay City Rollers – a teen sensation that in the mid-70s had pubescent girls screaming their heads off and fainting in public. The same girls might have been rooting for Donny Osmond a couple of years before but their loyalties now shifted – fickle as these teenyboppers were.

The Rollers look was all about the Tartan as the lads hailed from north of the border. Flared trousers with a tartan trim that stopped just below the knees – sounds awful because indeed it was. Just another sartorial atrocity from the early and mid 1970s.

Then punk came along and blew them and a load of other bands out of the proverbial water. Or maybe they’d just had their best times and the rot was inevitably setting in. There was also the little question of dubious management and missing millions. Les McKeown peeled off to try a solo career.

The result was a ditching of the Tartan and an attempt to embrace the end of the decade zeitgeist. Well, he was very popular in Japan. But the fame of just a few years before was to elude Mr McKeown. Here are two images that might shed some light on why UK audiences decided to move on.

Should mention in passing that I had a good mate at university in the early 80s who had gelled up blonde hair and when we wanted to insult him, we’d say he had a Rollers haircut. It was deemed to be the most offensive comment you could make about somebody’s barnet back then.

TRIVIA POINT: The Ramones were to eventually credit the Rollers song “Saturday Night” with inspiring the laddish chant in their hit “Blitzkrieg Bop”. ┬áListen to the chant in the Ramones song then compare with the Rollers below.