Bay City Rollers Fringe play heads to Canada

Les McKeown and Alan Longmuir

Les McKeown and Alan Longmuir

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FOUR decades after thousands of fans brought Toronto to a standstill, a hit Fringe show charting the rise of Rollermania is heading to the city to mark the anniversary.

I Ran With The Gang, starring original Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir, will be in Canada next year, 40 years after police formed a barrier to protect the band from hordes of screaming fans.

Fresh from the success of their US tour, they were to be presented with two platinum albums in Nathan Phillips Square on June 27, 1976.

But the event – hosted by a radio station to celebrate meteoric album sales – had to be abandoned as fans fainted or were trampled.

The Rollers were taken off stage as crowds of 40,000 surrounded the stage, with Canadian police struggling to hold them back.

Alan will be hoping for a more sedate visit when he returns to the city to perform in the show on June 26.

“I can’t wait to get back,” he said. “40 years ago it was mental. More than 40,000 fans turned up and we couldn’t do a thing. We ended up needing a police escort to get us away safely. Hopefully it won’t be as crazy this time, but you never know.”

Written by award-winning playwright and Evening News entertainment editor Liam Rudden, the play features hit songs such as Bye Bye Baby, All Of Me Loves All Of You, Saturday Night and Shang-a-Lang.

Liam said: “We have been astounded by the success of I Ran With The Gang. People have travelled from afar afield as Japan, America, Australia and all over Europe just to see Alan during our Fringe seasons. We can’t wait to take it to Toronto to share the story of the plumber from Edinburgh with all his North American fans.”

Promoters are also hoping to take the show to Broadway and possibly to London’s West End.

The Canada gig, set to be held in a Toronto hotel, comes days after the Rollers announced a reunion world tour.

Kat Connor, administrator at Bay City Rollers Fan Events and event coordinator for Move Back Toronto, said: “Our event not only acknowledges and celebrates that thrilling, fateful afternoon, where 40,000 Bay City Rollers fans shut down the city of Toronto, but we celebrate the community that was born, cultivated and still thriving all these years later.

“What better way to celebrate then with friends, honouring founding member Alan Longmuir?”