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Sunday 4 December 2016

Bay City Rollers spark new era of 'Rollermania' with comeback tour

Published 22/09/2015 | 14:45

Bay City Rollers Stuart Wood, left, Les McKeown and Alan Longmuir
Bay City Rollers Stuart Wood, left, Les McKeown and Alan Longmuir
Wood, left, McKeown and Longmuir toast with milk as they make the announcement of their reunion at Central Hotel in Glasgow
The Bay City Rollers at the height of their fame

"Rollermania" is set to return to the UK after the Bay City Rollers announced a comeback tour almost 40 years on from the height of their fame.

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Formed at the end of the 1960s, the then Scots boyband enjoyed huge success at home and abroad with their distinctive tartan outfits and upbeat pop tunes like Bye Bye Baby and Shang-a-Lang.

They had a massive teen following, sold more than 100 million records and have been described as the "One Direction of their day".

Of the original line-up, singer Les McKeown, Alan Longmuir and Stuart Wood revealed a reunion today and promised "a very special Christmas present to all the fans that have kept the faith with the band over the years" with a gig at Glasgow's Barrowland on December 20.

At a press conference in Glasgow with family and fans in attendance, frontman McKeown said: "I'm feeling great, I'm feeling fabulous.

"It's been hard work on everyone's part, maybe I instigated it a couple of years ago when I mentioned on TV that I'd love to get back with the guys and that put a little seed in everyone's head.

"Slowly but surely we started to gravitate towards each other again."

The original line-up also included Eric Faulkner and Derek Longmuir, and the band said Faulkner may join them in the next few weeks.

McKeown said: "We're quite happy to get on with and the door's always open if Eric wants to come and join us, which could happen sooner rather than later."

He added: "Derek is just not interested, he's been a cardiology nurse for 28 years, he's changed his career completely."

The band rose to fame producing numerous top 10 hits, sell-outs tours and their own TV show before splitting in 1978, with bitter battles over money between band members and managers dragging on for decades.

There were also a number of line-up changes in the band over the years and an infamous on-stage fight between Wood and McKeown.

The frontman said: "Stuff happened but we've put it in the past and will leave it in the past, and we've had time to talk to each other as grown ups.

"There were important emotional scars but it's not something that you can't get over.

"We came up with the idea to add the fight as part of the show, everybody would expect to see it so I'll be at the front and Woody will kick me off and that'll be it."

Wood said: "We were bigger than One Direction, they haven't had a mania.

"It's been a long process and I'm just glad that we're all sitting here and we'll just have to see where it goes, but we're mega excited with the gig coming up at the Barrowlands. Be there and bring your tartan.

"The curse has been lifted, we're writing the last chapter."

Court cases are still continuing to resolve a dispute over royalties owed to the group and McKeown said money has been a factor in the reunion.

"I think the three of us have made (fans') dreams come true and the fans are the reason that we're doing it - that and the money of course."

He joked: "We'll probably never see a penny, it'll be a repeat of the last 40 years.

"I don't think it was down to luck I think it was awful, terrible management and a lot of thieves around us taking advantage of us. That's in the past now and we've got good people with us."

The band are expected to play a number of shows at the Barrowland with plans for a larger tour to be announced later. They have also been working on a new single, titled Boomerang, with producer John McLaughlin.

He said: "At an awards ceremony I was asked about the records I'd made in the past and said the Bay City Rollers were the reason why I got into pop music.

"From there Les contacted me and we started talking and it transpired that we went into the studio and started writing and talking to the others. It became quite natural and became apparent everybody wanted to do this."

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