Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir obituary: From Dalry tenement to superstardom

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He was a man of few words. Gentle and humble. Yet there was a time when Alan Longmuir was one of the most famous faces on the planet.

A time when he couldn’t walk down the street without a phalanx of bodyguards and when he was met by screaming hoardes of tartan-clad girls where ever he went.

Alan Longmuir has died at the age of 70.

Alan Longmuir has died at the age of 70.

READ MORE: Alan Longmuir of the Bay City Rollers dies aged 70

Alan Longmuir, the original Bay City Roller who co-founded the Scottish pop band who for a time were bigger than The Beatles, has died at the age of 70 today at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert after a short illness.

READ MORE: In Pictures: The life of Alan Longmuir

Born on 20 June 1948 at the city’s Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion Hospital, Alan, the son of a Co-op Undertaker, was brought up in the family’s Dalry tenement flat at No 5 Caledonian Road in Edinburgh.

Bay City Rollers.

Bay City Rollers.

READ MORE: Alan Longmuir family issue heartfelt statement after star’s death

Surrounded by music from an early age he once recalled “it was no surprise” he became a musician as his “auntie was a great pianist” and his father “played the accordion - there was always music around as I grew up.”

READ MORE: Tributes pour in for late Bay City Roller star Alan Longmuir

At the age of 10 Alan discovered rock ‘n’ roll when he saw Jailhouse Rock at the Scotia Picture House on Dalry Road. Seeing Elvis Presley in action set him on the path that would see him become one of the biggest pop stars of his generation.

Bay City Rollers

Bay City Rollers

In 1965, at the age of 17, together with brother Derek, cousin Neil Porteous, Nobby Clarke, a classmate of Derek’s at Tynecastle High, and Dave Pettigrew, bassist Alan formed the band that would become the Bay City Rollers.

Initially known as The Saxons, they would undergo a number of name changes before settling on the moniker that would see them become an international phenomenon.

The Saxons played their first gig in 1965 becoming the Bay City Rollers a year later. When Alan convinced Tam Paton to manage them in 1967 his life changed forever.

From 1971 to 1976 the Bay City Rollers scored 10 Top hits in the UK including two No 1s, Bye Bye Baby and Give A Little Love, and one US No 1 with Saturday Night.

They also had TV series both here and in America, leading Alan to living in Hollywood for a time where he mixing with the stars of the day, from Brit Ekland to Bowie.

The hysteria caused when Alan decided to leave the band at the height of their fame in 1976 even caused questions to be asked in the House of Commons about how one pop star could have so much influence over the young people of the day.

Alan returned to the band in 1978 and last played with them in a series of reunion concerts in 2016.

A multi-instrumentalist Alan played bass guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards and piano accordion.

Outwith the Bay City Rollers he released the solo single I’m Confessing in 1977 and tried his hand at acting, appearing in the 1981 feature film Burning Rubber, in which he starred as race car driver Henry Carsten.

Throughout his life, Alan and his fellow Bay City Rollers were embroiled in legal battles to claim what is believed to have been the millions in royalties owed to them.

With the money he did receive, he bought a house with stables and indulged his love of horses. He later bought the Castle Campbell Hotel, in Dollar, but the stress and hard work took a toll on his health, including two heart attacks and a debilitating stroke, and he returned to his trade as a plumber.

In 1999 he joined the famous Rollers line-up for a one-off concert as part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.

In 2000 he retrained as a Bylaws Inspector, fitting pipes and inspecting plumbing, until he retired.

In 2014 he appeared on stage for the first time in 14 years to star in I Ran With The Gang, a play about his life, at the Edinburgh Fringe. He was due to play a fifth Fringe season in the piece, which also toured to Canada in 2015 and 2016, this August.

In 2015 and 2016 he also joined a series of Bay City Rollers reunion concerts.

Alan was on holiday in Mexico with Eileen, his devoted wife of 20 years, when he took ill.

Alan is survived by wife Eileen, step sons Nik and Kyle, sisters Betty and Alice and brother Derek. He is also survived by son Jordan from his first wife Jan.

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