The Bay City Rollers named the best Edinburgher of all time, chosen by our readers

The best Edinburgher of all time has been decided by our readersThe best Edinburgher of all time has been decided by our readers
The best Edinburgher of all time has been decided by our readers
The greatest person from Edinburgh of all time has been decided

The people of Edinburgh have spoken, and named their favourite Edinburgher of all time.

Thousands of readers took part in our vote as part of the Edinburgh Evening News’ 150th birthday celebrations. From Sean Connery to Elsie Inglis, we asked people to choose their favourite representative of our fair city. And the resounding winner is...Bay City Rollers!

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The pop-rock band scooped a tremendous landslide of 15,516 votes from readers, with second place going to Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who received a fraction of that at 1,867 votes. In third place is the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell with 214 votes, with James Bond icon Sean Connery close behind in fourth with 204 votes.

The Bay City Rollers famous fiveThe Bay City Rollers famous five
The Bay City Rollers famous five

What was to become the Bay City Rollers formed in Edinburgh in 1964 with teenage brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir on guitar and drums, and their cousin Neil Porteous also playing guitar. Originally called the Saxons, the band eventually decided to change its name to ‘Rollers’ but wanted to appeal to American audiences. The story goes that Derek Longmuir threw a dart at a map of the USA and it landed on Bay City, Michigan. And so Bay City Rollers was born.

The band’s first big hit was a cover of Gentrys song Keep On Dancing, which got to #9 on the UK chart in 1971. But it wasn’t until they released Remember (Sha-La-La-La) in 1974 that Bay City Rollers’ success exploded with a series of hit singles – including Shang-A-Lang and Summerlove Sensation. What was dubbed ‘Rollermania’ swept the UK as the band saw comparisons to The Beatles. A cover of Four Seasons song Bye, Bye, Baby went stratospheric, staying at number one for weeks.

The Rollers’ superstardom soon spread across the Atlantic as the band built international acclaim. But the teen band’s popularity was to wane by the 1980s, after a name change to The Rollers and multiple members joining and leaving. Throughout their more than half a century, the band sold more than 120 million records and would go through 27 members – more than noughties girlband The Sugababes. Despite their success, in 2007 six former band members took legal action against Arista Records for around £70 million of unpaid royalties. It was eventually settled 10 years later, with parent company Sony forking out a rumoured £70,000 for each band member.

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Sadly, bass player and founding member Alan Longmuir Bay passed away aged 70 in 2018. Les McKeown, the lead singer throughout the band’s most successful period in the ‘70s, died in 2021 at the age of 65. Despite ups and downs, the band is still together with a current lineup of guitarist Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood, lead singer Ian Thomson, drummer Jamie McGrory, and bassist Mikey Smith.

Arguably Scotland's greatest ever musical export, Edinburgh band The Bay City Rollers took over the pop world in the 1970s with a string of chart hits including Saturday Night, Bye Bye Baby and Shang-A-Lang. Fronted by singer Les McKeown (pictured left), the pop rock band were often called the "tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh" and one of many acts heralded as the "biggest group since the Beatles". The Bay City Rollers have sold 120 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling artists of all time. Sadly, the band never got to properly enjoy the fruits of their labour with all band members left penniless due to a long-running financial dispute  which eventually saw the band members receive £70,000 each in 2016.Arguably Scotland's greatest ever musical export, Edinburgh band The Bay City Rollers took over the pop world in the 1970s with a string of chart hits including Saturday Night, Bye Bye Baby and Shang-A-Lang. Fronted by singer Les McKeown (pictured left), the pop rock band were often called the "tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh" and one of many acts heralded as the "biggest group since the Beatles". The Bay City Rollers have sold 120 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling artists of all time. Sadly, the band never got to properly enjoy the fruits of their labour with all band members left penniless due to a long-running financial dispute  which eventually saw the band members receive £70,000 each in 2016.
Arguably Scotland's greatest ever musical export, Edinburgh band The Bay City Rollers took over the pop world in the 1970s with a string of chart hits including Saturday Night, Bye Bye Baby and Shang-A-Lang. Fronted by singer Les McKeown (pictured left), the pop rock band were often called the "tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh" and one of many acts heralded as the "biggest group since the Beatles". The Bay City Rollers have sold 120 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling artists of all time. Sadly, the band never got to properly enjoy the fruits of their labour with all band members left penniless due to a long-running financial dispute which eventually saw the band members receive £70,000 each in 2016.

The best Edinburgher of all time – full result of public vote

  1. Bay City Rollers 15, 516 votes
  2. JK Rowling 1,867 votes
  3. Alexander Graham Bell 214 votes
  4. Sean Connery 204 votes
  5. Elsie Inglis 164 votes
  6. Doddie Weir 87 votes
  7. Robert Louis Stephenson 85 votes
  8. Irvine Welsh 85 votes
  9. Chris Hoy 68 votes
  10. Sir Walter Scott 66 votes
  11. Ken Buchanan 62 votes
  12. Muriel Spark 44 votes
  13. Arthur Conan Doyle 44 votes
  14. Ronnie Corbett 41 votes
  15. Ian Rankin 37 votes