Fans fury as Edinburgh Bay City Rollers' legend Les McKeown omitted from Royal Variety Performance showbiz tributes

Bay City Rollers’ fans were left disgusted and saddened by the omission of Edinburgh singer Les McKeown from this year's Royal Variety Performance tributes to those in the showbiz world who left us in 2021.

Edinburgh's Les McKeown in action with the Bay City Rollers in 2016
Edinburgh's Les McKeown in action with the Bay City Rollers in 2016

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The Edinburgh singer who was born and raised in Broomhouse and who fronted the band through their glory years was missing from the salute, which was screened on ITV at the weekend.

McKeown, who left the band in 197​8​ having scored hits with the likes of Remember, Summerlove Sensation, All of Me Loves All of You and "Shang-a-Lang​, but continued to tour with his own band. Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, to keep those and the band’s other hits alive, died suddenly on April 20 this year.

In a tweet to ITV, fan Elaine Wayman wrote: '@ITV Watching the obituaries on tonight's Royal Variety Show I was disappointed at a glaring omission. @LesMcKeownUK, lead singer of The Bay City Rollers during their heyday passed away suddenly in April leaving his many fans and supporters devastated but NO MENTION. Why?'

Other fans quickly took to the popular Bay City Rollers Facebook page Rollermania to express their anger and disappointment.

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Christine Hallworth wrote, 'So disrespectful I'm so disappointed in ITV.'

Rebecca Joynes wrote, 'That's awful, especially as before Covid he was one of the hardest working artists in show business! And at the start of the 1st lockdown he was delivering prescriptions in his local area to those shielding, until his Dr told him he should be shielding as well due to his diabetes! Hero.'

Angela Agate added, 'BCRs, and other performers from that era, are always overlooked. They were around during what was arguably the​ ​best period for British music, so why do they never receive recognition for their contribution? Didn't watch the show, but I think it's disgusting if they didn't mention Les.’

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Fan Moira Anne Shearer perhaps summed up what many were thinking when she wrote, ‘It is like he is banished from history not getting mentioned that he passed. To me anyway. He was the main man. It did begin and end with Les. The glory years they got globally.’

Leslie Richard McKeown, to give him his full name, joined the Bay City Rollers at the age of 18 in 1974 to replace the original voice of the Rollers, Gordon 'Nobby' Clark, who sang the band's first Top 10 hit, Keep on Dancing,​ in ​1971​.

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McKeown went on to front what became known as the Rollers' 'classic' line-up, which scored numerous hits around the world helping to create the global phenomenon that was Rollermania.

​In 1999 the singer ​rejoined members of the classic line-up to perform a one-off New Year's Eve millennium concert in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle for that year's Hogmanay Street Party. He also reunited with founding member of the Bay City Rollers Alan Longmuir for a number of guest performances in his Fringe musical, I Ran With The Gang, at Le Monde Hotel.

McKeown last appeared with other members of the band in Edinburgh as part of a series of reunion concerts that brought him to the Usher Hall in 2015.

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