- Quote: ‘We say Bye Bye Baby one last time from the Villamartin Plaza to our dear friend Leslie Richard McKeown’ – Casey Shaddock
By Andrew Atkinson
Former Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown has been remembered following his passing, aged 65, after appearing on the Costa Blanca south in 2019.
“We say Bye Bye Baby one last time from the Villamartin Plaza to our dear friend Leslie Richard McKeown who left us Tuesday evening,” Casey Shaddock who booked McKeown’s Bay City Rollers to perform in Spain told The Leader.
“Our sincere thoughts and condolences go out to Peko, the family, and all of the band,” said Shaddock.
Shaddock, the President and spokesperson for Villamartin Plaza, said: “It was a pleasure Les, ‘Villamartini’ as you always called it, will always remember you.”
The Scottish pop star fronted the Edinburgh band during their most successful period in the 1970s with hits, including: I Only Wanna Be With You; Bye Bye Baby; Shang-a-Lang and Give a Little Love.
His family announced on April 22 that he had died suddenly at his home on April 20.
McKeown who performed at Villamartin Plaza in October 2019, spoke about the Bay City Rollers, split saying: “At the end of the day I have to think about myself – and my band.
“I’m happy doing my own thing – I’m too long in the tooth now. In terms of any future reunion, my answer would be ‘no’.”
McKeown reminisced about Bay City Rollers’ band mate Alan Longmuir, during his concert in Villamartin Plaza, paying tribute to the late band member, performing Rollers’ hits, including Shang a Lang, Saturday Night and Bye Bye Baby.
Bay City Rollers became tartan-clad sensations in the UK and USA in the 1970s – with over 120 million record sales.
The group found their name – by throwing a dart at a map – landing on Bay City, near Michigan, USA.
Their first single was Keep On Dancing in 1971, and they had two number one hits in 1975 with Bye Bye Baby and Give A Little Love, plus chart-topping albums with Rollin’ in 1974 and 1975’s Once Upon A Star.
McKeown said the band’s first pair of tartan trousers were inspired by a picture on a birthday card – made by his father, who was a tailor.
McKeown, who left school aged 15 and joined a band called Threshold, went on to join the Bay City Rollers, aged 18, in 1973.
He left the group in 1978, as the band performed in a new-wave direction under the new name The Rollers, later rejoining for several comeback tours.
Recalling the 1975 tour, McKeown said it was crazy: “We would go on and the police would make us stop – because they just could not control the crowd,” he said.
McKeown toured in recent years under the name Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers – including regular appearances in Spain.
McKeown’s Bay City Rollers performed in front of a capacity audience in Villamartin Plaza, as part of a tour that was to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic during the last 14 months.
McKeown put on record the COVID-19 lockdown had seen him isolated away from the stage: “I never had so much time off”, he said.
McKeown, Wood and the late Longmuir were the only members of the Bay City Rollers to re-unite in 2015.
This weekend the weekly Villamartin Plaza news video chat bulletin, that has thousands of viewers will be in honour of McKeown.
“Our Sunday show will be to you! – with memories of the song that drove us mad, Shang A Lang, RIP Les x,” added Casey Shaddock.