Les McKeown, former Bay City Rollers frontman dies at 65

Family announce former 1970s pop singer died suddenly on Tuesday

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO DATED 1975 - Derek Longmuir, Alan Longmuir, Les McKeown (back), Ian Mitchell and Stewart Wood during an anti-smoking campaign launch in 1975./File Photo
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Les McKeown, lead singer of the pop band Bay City Rollers, whose catchy songs and tartan-heavy outfits made them famous among teenagers around the world in the 1970s, has died at age 65, his family said on Thursday.

McKeown sang the Scottish band's biggest hits including Bye, Bye, Baby and Saturday Night which reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.

A statement from his family on Twitter said: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown. Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday 20 April 2021.

“We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss."

McKeown was born in Edinburgh to Irish parents and joined Bay City Rollers in late 1973, just as they began their ascent to fame, leaving in 1978.

Two other former members of the band, original bassist Alan Longmuir and his replacement Ian Mitchell, have also died in recent years.

Formed at the end of the 1960s, Bay City Rollers enjoyed great success at home and abroad with their distinctive tartan outfits and upbeat pop tunes such as Shang-a-Lang.

They had a large teen following and sold more than 100 million records, with the press heralding them as “biggest group since The Beatles”.

They broke through into the mainstream in 1974 after a series of singles which failed to dent the charts.

Alongside McKeown and Longmuir, the classic line-up also included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, with Longmuir’s younger brother Derek on drums.

McKeown, Longmuir and Wood reunited for a comeback tour in 2015 with tickets selling out.