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The Tartan Army – Rollermania

After the sophistication of the early seventies disco scene a whole new phenomena struck in 1974 with the emergence of The Tartan Army. Don’t worry it wasn’t a Braveheart style attack on those of us south of the border but a new band called the Bay City Rollers. Les McKeown joined the line-up as lead singer in 1974, Remember Sha La La was released the same year and Rollermania was born. They were billed as ‘The biggest group since the Beatles’ and tartan became the fabric of choice for teenagers. More hits followed such as Shang a Lang and Summer Love Sensation and adulation for the Scottish Band exploded.

They toured the UK in 1975 and their distinctive look was copied by their adoring fans. Their cropped calf-length tartan trousers, torso baring waistcoats and tartan scarfs were worn from John O’Groats to Land’s End and incredulous parents looked on as spiky mullets appeared on their children’s heads. I was one of the lucky ones who saw them live at Portsmouth Mecca in the mid-seventies and I can still remember the feeling of being one of the gang as their hits were sung by their whole audience of clones. They even inspired a chant which was sung in every school playground in the country:

B-A-Y, B-A-Y,
B-A-Y, C-I-T-Y,
With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S,
Bay City Rollers are the best!
Eric, Derek, Woody too,
Alan, Leslie, we love you,
With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S,
Bay City Rollers are the best!

Their music and look were infectious and their popularity had spread to North America by 1976. By the late seventies however their popularity had waned due to personnel changes but Les McKeown continues to tour today.

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