Alan Longmuir: While Bay City Rollers scaled new heights, I was broke and sleeping rough
Life after The Bay City Rollers: The final instalment of our exclusive serialisation of the late Alan Longmuir's autobiography
WHILE The Bay City Rollers were scaling the heights, I was plumbing the depths.
My depression and disillusionment had returned with a vengeance.
I was deeply unhappy. I just wanted to retreat to Dollar, where I had bought a farmhouse, spend time with my old dad, drink beer in the pub with friends and take my rod down to the river and fish for trout.
I wanted to ride my horse across the fields and down the tracks, and to go to bed and sleep. I didn’t want to hear a popping camera or alarm clock ever again.
No more inane grinning for the press when answering stupid questions.
I wanted to stop pretending that I liked milk and give up the ridiculous façade of not wanting a girlfriend. Tam Paton was suffocating me.
I walked into his office and resigned. I told him that he showed no respect for me, or the band.
He was mad, ticked off that he had not sacked me first. He didn’t try and talk me out of it. Far from it. He insisted that I co-operated with the ‘transition’ as he called it.
He wanted me to tell the press I was retiring because I felt too old and it was time to make way for younger blood. That was the official line.
I was not to talk to the media or dispute his version of events. I agreed. I just wanted out and would have agreed to him telling the world I was having a sex change if that’s what it took.
He walked straight out of the office and told the others that he’d sacked me. Again, the ego took precedence. He could not bear to admit that one of ‘his’ boys had decided something for himself. That someone had defied him.
Remember, Tam Paton could not fire me. It was my band.
A campaign of misinformation ensued. Paton started painting me as unstable. It suited the narrative that only someone who was having problems in the head would want to leave the greatest group in the world.
He was briefing the press ‘off the record’ that I had made some suicide attempts. I had, supposedly, put my head in the gas oven at Caledonian Road.
Naturally, this speculation was printed. They were complete fabrications.
The kitchen at Caledonian Road was the busiest room in the house. You can picture it:
Dad: “What are you doing down there, son. Kneeling with your head in the oven.”
Me: “Aw nothing Dad. Just scraping a bit of old Shepherd’s Pie oot here.”
I didn’t get to know my replacement, Ian Mitchell, at all then. His youthfulness worried me. Now, I wonder if Tam’s pursuit of Ian was purely professional.
The Rollers, as we were now called as we fought for some credibility with new audiences, were more or less over by this time and I resumed my career as a plumber. After all, I needed to eat.
My reduced circumstances seemed to fascinate press and public alike.
I had also married Jan and had a beautiful son called Jordan. We had taken on a pub/hotel in Dollar. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the hotel work financially and it became a money pit.
This and my drinking put a lot of pressure on the marriage and it became a volatile and toxic relationship.
Eventually Jan walked, taking Jordan with her. I had neither the ability or will to carry on.
I suffered a mild heart attack. I shut up shop. My creditors queued up outside the pub.
The Sheriff’s Office became involved. We held an open sale where the fixtures, fittings and assorted crap was sold off to the public. Some turned up just to see the latest humiliation of a Bay City Roller
I was rootless now. I stayed in friends’ rooms. Today they call it sofa surfing which puts a jocular spin on what is a miserable and humiliating existence.
I eventually settled in a flat above the Dollar Arms which was not ideal, and you don’t have to imagine too hard where most of my time was spent.
I think that was 1989. I didn’t own a bean. I was drinking heavily. I had been celibate for a couple of years, such was my fear of entering a relationship.
My dear dad died on 1 February 1989. He had suffered but managed with vascular dementia for some time but oesophageal cancer finally took him.
A painful time for my brother and sisters and wider family... I felt even more sorry for myself.
I was 40 years old and an orphan. It was my lowest ebb and I feel sad now thinking about it. It makes me want to cry, almost 30 years later.
The absolute nadir, though, was when I lost the flat at the pub and had nowhere to go so for a few days I kipped down in one of the pub’s outhouses.
Only now, as I recall this, do I realise I was not only homeless but sleeping rough.
Lucky the papers never found out. They would have loved it. I can imagine the headlines now: ‘Roller Ruined’ or ‘Down and Out in Dollar’ or, best still, ‘Keep on Dossing’.
After a few days my friend, Chris Balanowski, heard where I was sleeping and came and fetched me.
He said, “You’ll not be staying here, Alan Longmuir.”
I Ran With The Gang: My Life In and Out of The Bay City Rollers by Alan Longmuir with Martin Knight is published by Luath Press in hardback, priced £14.99.