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

Traffic will be diverted through Radium along highways 93 and 95 as a part of the closures. (Claire Palmer photo)
Extended closures to Trans-Canada Highway announced east of Golden this fall

It’s the second round of extended closures as a part of Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

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

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Most Read