Fans around the world mourn loss of Edinburgh singer and Bay City Roller legend Les McKeown

“A friend once said to me, ‘Imagine your 39 year-old-self, tapping your 13 year-old-screaming-crying-self on the shoulder at Nathan Phillips Square and saying, ‘Wait 26 years’.”

Les McKeown and Kat Connor in Hackney, 2018
Les McKeown and Kat Connor in Hackney, 2018

Kathy ‘Kat’ Connor is recalling the first time she saw the Bay City Rollers in Toronto, Canada. It was June 27, 1976, and Kat was one of 65,000 fans sent into a frenzy when the band appeared on stage only to be rushed away by security for their own safety. Rollermania was at its height and the world was the Rollers’ oyster. For Kat, it was a chance to see her idol, Les McKeown for the first time.

It would be another 26 years before she would finally meet the singer and like millions of fans around the globe, the 57-year-old is in mourning for Les McKeown, the Broomhouse boy who conquered the world. Unlike most fans, Kat got to know Les, who passed away on Tuesday, better than most, helping coordinate his Canadian tours, one of which was mid-way through when the pandemic hit.

She recalls, “The first time I met Les McKeown was in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2002. I was nervous, anxious, going to cry, not speak. Someone said, ‘When you meet him, he will put you at ease…’ I didn't believe that. After all, this was THE Les McKeown, popstar, Mr Wonderful... you get my drift. But, sure enough, I was very much at ease as I found he was just as funny and as sarcastic as me. I didn’t know it then, but that event was the start of a real friendship which I will treasure forever.”Paying tribute to her friend, Kat, who traveled the world to meet up with him at various events and came to Edinburgh numerous occasions to join him in his hometown, continues, “Within a 10 minute span, Les could make me laugh, cry, want to spit nails, be frustrated, exasperated. He is the only person who had the capability to do this. His giggling at his own jokes was enough to set me off. He had his way of joking, dancing around and making funny faces when he was trying to stop me from being angry with him. Funny thing is, his tactics worked. I couldn't stay upset with him for long. He always knew how to make me laugh and calm me down.She adds, “He was a kind, caring, loving, and talented cocky Scotsman. He was funny, charismatic and cheeky. He always had time for me, let me know that I mattered and I will always love him for that. I had spoken with him a couple of weeks ago via video chat. We talked about life in general and his plans to tour Canada once again. He was happy and excited to be getting back into the music scene as that was his favorite place to be and where he truly shined. To be notified this morning of his passing has left me empty, devastated and feel like I took a big punch in the gut. I will truly miss him. Rest in peace my friend.”

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