Liam Rudden: Bring The Rollers Home

Bay City Rollers  Alan Longmuir, Les McKeown and  Stuart Wood

Bay City Rollers Alan Longmuir, Les McKeown and Stuart Wood

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LOOK out those tartan-trimmed flares and get ready to scream, ladies, it’s time to bring the Bay City Rollers home.

That was the cry from Rollers fans across the city when it was announced last week that three members of the world’s original boy band had reunited for a Christmas gig at Glasgow’s Barrowlands.

Ah, that old east coast/west coast rivalry.

One thing’s for sure, the announcement that founding member Alan Longmuir, singer Les McKeown and guitarist Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood, were to perform together again certainly proved beyond doubt that Rollermania is alive and well.

That was the nub of this column a few weeks back. Prophetic words, although even the boys themselves admit to having been surprised by just how quickly the spark of Rollermania was rekindled.

Tickets for the Barrowlands’ gig on December 20 sold out in a record three minutes; a second date was added, selling out in 20 minutes.

A third was at capacity by the end of the day, forcing promoters, Regular Music to add a fourth night. That too has now sold out.

Reuniting Alan, Les and Woody was no mean feat and down to the perseverance of one man, music producer and long time Rollers fan John McLaughlin.

It was at the Festival Theatre two and a half years ago that John first broached the idea of getting the Bay City Rollers back together.

He had supplied the guest act - another boy band, 911 - for that year’s Edinburgh’s Has Talent. Afterwards, over some fizz, we discovered a mutual admiration for the Capital’s most famous musical export, the tartan pop sensation, as they were known in the 70s.

At the time, I’d just started discussing with Alan Longmuir the idea of writing a musical about his life. A year later that would become the Fringe hit I Ran With The Gang: The Story of the Original Bay City Roller.

Anyway, having discovered we both had the Rollers Greatest Hits on our phones (I know), the conversation turned serious.

John was determined to get the boys back together, something that seemed impossible at the time. Nevertheless, I passed on Alan’s number and they spoke.

Then John contacted Les McKeown - he went onto produce a Christmas single for him last year.

Along the way, and with the help of co-producer Billy Lowe, the 2014 Fringe saw the premier of I Ran With the Gang, at Le Monde Hotel, George Street.

Selling out, it attracted fans from all over the world; to date they have travelled from Austrailia, Japan, the USA and all parts of Europe to see the play which tells the story of a plumber from Edinburgh called Alan Longmuir. Alan himself stars.

It was during that run, when Les made a surprise appearance with Alan at the end of the show one night - Les joined Alan on stage to sing Bye Bye Baby and Shangalang, much to the surprise and delight of that night’s audience - there suddenly seemed a glimmer of hope that John might see his dream come true.

It was the first time the pair had performed these Roller hits together in almost 15 years, the last being at the Capital’s Millennium Hogmanay celebrations.

A year on, John has added Woody to that mix and the Bay City Rollers are back - the man who started it all, the famous singer, and the band’s youngest member - Woody was just 16 when he first joined the Rollers.

So it was with a huge smile on my face I watched as the media call for the reunion unfolded the Tuesday before last.

A good old-fashioned media scrum ensued, film crews and an army of photographers vying for the best shot, as were the tartan-clad faithful who had gathered at Glasgow’s Central Hotel, all hoping their dreams were about to come true.

They were, to a degree.

John McLaughlin’s smile was bigger, of course. Now all we have to do is get that smile onto the faces of Rollers’ fans across the Capital, which is why I’m launching the Bring The Rollers Home Campaign.

Let Regular Music know you want Bay City Rollers to perform in their home city.

Tweeting @OfficialRollers using the hashtag #BCRBringThemHome. You can also drop a line on their Facebook page too.

Who knows, you could just be running with the gang and singing Shangalang with Alan, Les and Woody one more time.