Roller Les still bitter as Paton dies
HE WAS the pop Svengali who sent the Bay City Rollers around the world in a blizzard of tartan scarves and flares. Tam Paton, the band's manager who convinced young fans that the "Rollers" favoured milk over alcohol, but whose later career was soured by allegations of drug-dealing and convictions for sexual abuse, has died. He was 70.
Paton, who became a multi-millionaire through property development – although former band members believed it was through their success – is thought to have had a heart attack on Wednesday night while bathing in the plunge pool of Little Kellerstain, his mansion outside Edinburgh.
Friends who were present in the house called an ambulance, but medical staff were unable to revive Paton, who had suffered a stroke and two previous heart attacks in recent years.
Last night, the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead was trumped by the rock 'n' roll feud. Les McKeown, the former singer with the Bay City Rollers, hit out at Paton, describing him as a "tyrant despot" and "predator".
The controversial manager, who was convicted of sexual offences against teenage boys and fined after police discovered a massive stash of cannabis at his mansion in 2007, was described by McKeown yesterday as "the beast of Kellerstain". In a hard-hitting e-mail to The Scotsman, who had requested a comment about Paton, the singer replied: "The Scottish people can sleep well knowing the beast of Kellerstain is dead.
"The parents and children can feel safer as one more predator is off the streets," he wrote.
"All the thousands (of] people that have been affected by his devastating reign of drugs, terror and abuse can breathe a sigh of relief. He can no longer directly affect our lives. The tyrant despot is dead; long may he remain so."
McKeown stated recently in an interview that Paton had drugged and seduced him, an allegation Paton had denied.
In 2003 Pat McGlynn, a guitarist with the Bay City Rollers, accused Paton of attempting to rape him in a hotel room in Australia in 1977. However, Paton was later cleared, after Lothian and Borders Police said there was insufficient evidence to take the allegation any further.
Paton managed the band for 11 years through the height of "Rollermania", when the tartan-trimmed group attracted massive crowds around the world with songs such as Bye Bye Baby and Shang-a-lang.
Last night, in a follow-up phone call, McKeown, who now lives in London, asked if the city of Edinburgh was "in mourning". He said he did not know what the other band members thought of Paton's death. He said: "Some of us were more badly affected than others".
The band have always claimed that Paton swindled them out of millions. McKeown said that the manager had persuaded him to sign a contract in the back of a car and that he lost out on much of the money the Rollers earned when Paton was in charge. The band are now suing their former record label in the United States.
Paton's living arrangements also raised eyebrows. Openly gay, he was said to share his large house with an entourage of young men.
It is believed he was in the plunge bath of his luxury home when he suffered the heart attack.
Two friends who were in the house were unable to lift him out, and it was not until a paramedic arrived on a motorcycle that they were able to remove him from the bath and attempt to revive him.
His family were understood to be at his home last night, as preparations for his funeral were under way. In a previous interview, Paton said that he wanted to be cremated to Bing Crosby singing That's The Way Life Is.
In 2002 he revealed that he had finalised his will, giving half his cash to the Canine Defence League and WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund.
The property developer, who the same year won a 25-year fight for 500,000 of unpaid royalties from his time with the band, said the rest of his estate would be divided between the Children's Hospice in Kinross and Cancer Research.
He said at the time: "I love animals and they will benefit from my will, as well as the children's charity and research into cancer. I certainly won't be leaving my money to the Bay City Rollers."
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