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Les McKeown (1955–2021), lead singer for the Bay City Rollers

by Linnea Crowther

Les McKeown was the lead singer for the Scottish band the Bay City Rollers, who had hits in the 1970s including “Saturday Night” and “Money Honey.”

Bay City Rollers

McKeown joined the Bay City Rollers in 1973 when he was still a teenager, several years after the pop rock band was formed and just as they were beginning to break through to chart success in the U.K. They rerecorded several of their early singles with McKeown on lead, released their debut album “Rollin’,” and began having hits. Playing up their Scottishness by wearing tartan-trimmed outfits, the Rollers began crossing over to U.S. Success with “Saturday Night,” which hit No. 1 in 1975. They followed it with hits including “Money Honey” and “I Only Want to Be With You” in 1976 and “You Made Me Believe in Magic” in 1977.

McKeown left the band in 1978 as their success was waning, but he came back to play with the Bay City Rollers for several reunion shows beginning in 2015. In the meantime, he formed the band Egotrip, and he released nine solo albums between 1979 and 2016.

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McKeown on Bay City Rollers style

“When we sort of started getting famous in the UK we sort of stole little bits of ideas from other bands, one of them was a band called Slade, they use to wear rolled up jeans with a Doctor Marten boot. So, we kind of copied the rolled up jeans but we wore Adidas trainers instead of those big boots and so that was part of the image done. Then of course in Scotland we were Scottish so we thought we’d put some tartan on our shirts and that became an instant success and that’s the way we were dressed for a little while.” –from a 2017 interview for Amnplify

Tributes to Les McKeown

Full obituary: BBC

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