Liam Rudden: Ryrie’s, Bay City Rollers and recognition

Bay City Rollers blue plaque unveiling
Bay City Rollers blue plaque unveiling

I DOUBT Ryrie’s had ever witnessed the like. More than 100 tartan clad Bay City Rollers fans chanting and singing as they awaited the arrival of their heroes, well two of them anyway.

The atmosphere on Wednesday afternoon had started building hours before with die-hard followers of the band flying into the Capital from all over the world.

The occasion? The unveiling of a silver plaque in recognition of their achievements and consequently as ambassadors for the Capital.

After all, back in the seventies, no one put the Edinburgh on the map more than the Rollers, one of the few British bands to break not just Europe and Japan but America too.

As the excitement built, even the local bobbies got in on the act. Donning borrowed scarves, they posed for photos with fans - one even took a selfie or two.

A French rock journalist, on holidays in the city, enquired what was happening and quickly found himself welcomed into the fold, as bemused as he was pleased to suddenly find himself suddenly on duty.

The Rollers, it seems, were big in France too.

The arrival of an squad of TV cameras and photographers demonstrated the respect the Rollers still command, but then for a generation of fans who have grown old with them, nothing has changed.

Within seconds the chants had started all over again.

When Derek and Alan Longmuir, the brothers who started the band back in the sixties, did arrive, they rolled up in, well, what else, a Rolls Royce. Then the Rollermania really kicked in.

Cameras flashed, the crowd surged and a good old-fashioned media scrum ensued.

Inside the bar, the Lord Provost waited to do the honours, while the smart fans who had eschewed braving the cold, secured the best spots to view the unveiling.

The reception the 70’s heart-throbs received as they entered the pub was astounding. It still amazes me the reaction the Rollers get from their fans some 40 years on from that first No 1.

Ahead of the big moment Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, the Rt Hon Donald Wilson, revealed that as a local lad himself, he had memories of the mayhem whenever the Longmuirs came home to 5 Caledonian Road after a world tour or appearance on Top of the Pops.

Indeed the location of the plaque is a testament to band’s Dalry origins. Not only was Ryrie’s Bar Alan’s local as he did his apprenticeship to become a plumber, it was his dad’s too.

That family connection was further strengthened on Wednesday by the arrival of the Longmuir sisters, making it a real family celebration.

That celebration really kicked off as the plaque was unveiled and an impromptu sing-along erupted.

Scarves were waved, lyrics were belted out, and tears were wiped from eyes.

The love in the room for the Bay City Rollers was palpable, but then, for this moment, band and fans alike had waited 40 years.