Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye

The death of Leslie McKeown, lead singer of the Bay City Rollers, was announced without fanfare

The Bay City Rollers, 1976. Photo Wikipedia.

The middle-aged hearts of women around the globe sagged when it was announced without fanfare that Leslie McKeown, lead singer of the Bay City Rollers, died suddenly at home at the age of 65 on April 20, 2021.

Unless you slept through the seventies, you know the Bay City Rollers.

When they were most popular UK journalists compared them to the Beatles. Artistically that’s a considerable reach. Although Rollermania originated in Scotland the group’s international appearances were characterized by familiar mobs of screaming, swooning and sobbing teenage girls.

Leslie was my first romantic love.

I had all the albums. Posters and Tiger Beat centrefolds covered my walls. I prized my Bay City Roller slippers, and pencil case.

In 1976, the Bay City Rollers camped in Toronto, recording their top five album Dedication.

They made an appearance at Nathan Phillips Square where they were greeted by 65,000 fans, 400 of which required medical attention due to fainting.

The following year they appeared at the Canadian National Exhibition in the same city.

I begged. I cried. I promised to throw myself out the bedroom window and splat all over the running beans in the garden below, if I wasn’t allowed to go.

Unreasonable parents. Just because a person is 10 doesn’t mean she can’t buy a ticket, take a bus, and find her way to the stage at the CNE.

With McKeown as front man the Bay City Rollers recorded number one hits in the UK, Canada, the USA, Japan and Australia.

Those song titles will resonate: Bye Bye Baby, Give a Little Love, Summer Love Sensation, Remember. To this day there isn’t a buck and doe, wedding or street dance that is complete until the deejay plays Saturday Night.

Fame wasn’t especially kind to Leslie. He developed an addiction to alcohol, and wrote that he was raped by the band’s manager, then fed drugs to sustain his ability to perform.

In 1975 he killed an elderly neighbour as a result of reckless driving. In 2005 he was fined, and his license suspended, for impaired driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

He was a husband, and father.

McKeown left the Bay City Rollers in 1978 and pursued a solo career with moderate success.

In 2014 he toured with a group of musicians, and played in Orillia, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.

My daughter and I went, with her just old enough for admittance to the casino venue.

When I arrived downstairs, ready to go, she expressed alarm.

‘Mom, you aren’t going out in public like that!’

I’d a tartan scarf and belt, and tartan sewn onto the cuffs of my bell-bottom jeans.

She would get it when we got there. And she did.

It was a night touched by bliss and magic, and the memory comforts my sagging heart.

“As time goes by, don’t let the music die.” – Bay City Rollers, from the album It’s a Game, 1977.

Andrea DeMeer is the publisher and editor of the Similkameen Spotlight.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read