FIVE decades on from the moment a pin was stuck in a map of America and the name Bay City Rollers was heard for the very first time, Alan Longmuir, to paraphrase Shangalang, one of the Rollers’ best known hits, is still “running with the gang”.
His hit Fringe show,I Ran With The Gang, which returns to Le Monde Hotel this August, tells the story of how a plumber from Edinburgh went on to become one of only two of the original Bay City Rollers (the other being his brother Derek) to conquer world.
However, they weren’t always known as The Rollers. Had you been on the Capital’s music scene of the Sixties you might have watched them playing without even realising it.
Alan explains: “We started off as The Saxons, then we were The Ambassadors, The Motown Goodies and The Dead Beats before reverting to The Saxons, which is what were called immediately before becoming The Bay City Rollers.”
Even after settling on the name that would make them famous, they still had to play covers, learning a song a week to keep up with the latest chart-toppers.
“It was exciting to be in Edinburgh then because up and coming bands like ourselves and The Beachcombers or The Hipple People, The Pathfinders, The Poets, and Tiny and The Titans, would all gig regularly.”
And at the end of the night, there was only one place to head if you were part of Edinburgh’s live music scene – The Metropole Cafe on Torphicen Street, Alan recalls.
“When we finished, we’d go along to The Metropole, Mrs Poletti’s cafe, where all the different bands would meet after their gigs.
“You’d never sit with your own band, you’d sit and talk to the other guys until about six in the morning.
“Even the likes of Donald Peers and Marti Wilde would be there when they were playing town.
“It was an exciting time.”
HOW MANY OF THESE CAPITAL CLUBS DO YOU REMEMBER?
“THE Edinburgh scene was brilliant for bands years ago. Before the discos came there were so many clubs,” remembers Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir.
“There was The International, on Princes Street.
“You had Frisco’s, just off the High Street, McGoo’s on the Royal Mile, The Gonk on Riego Street.
“Then there was The Place on Victoria Street and The Gamp, just across the road. There were so many of them.”
He adds, “And, of course, the Top Storey Club, an old snooker hall above Burtons Menswear on Leith Street, where they’d shave candles on to the dancefloor. The wax would make it easier to slide when you danced, like varnishing the wood really.
“The Top Storey was a great place.”
I Ran With The Gang, Le Monde Hotel, George Street, 4-18 August, 7pm, £15, 0131-226 0000