Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Les McKeown Survives Dark Times to Become 'Born Again Bay City Roller'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Les McKeown Survives Dark Times to Become 'Born Again Bay City Roller'

Article excerpt

McKeown brings Bay City Rollers to Canada


TORONTO - For a long time, Les McKeown rebelled against his stint as a plaid-clad pin-up for the Bay City Rollers.

McKeown joined the sugary Scottish pop outfit as a teen and become frontman during their commercial peak -- the 1973-78 period that yielded all of their hit albums and such fizzy chart-climbing ditties as "Saturday Night," "Bye Bye Baby" and "Summer Love Sensation" -- but struggled to be taken seriously after leaving the band, finding that few in music wanted to collaborate with someone they figured to be washed-up.

During that time, crooning the sweet lyrics to one of the band's cheerfully guileless hits would have felt like pulling teeth, even though McKeown did go out on the road with Bay City Rollers material from time to time.

"You go through a huge phase, and you hate it, you loathe it, you loathe yourself for being that person (that you were), because you no longer feel able to be anything else," McKeown said during an interview in Toronto this week.

"You're only that. You're in a pigeonhole and that's all you'll ever be, all your life, so get used to it. And that in itself is a bit depressing if you're creative or you want to do other things. It's severely limiting, any time you come out. 'What's that?' 'It's the singer from the Bay City Rollers, he's got a new single.' Well there you go -- that's dead.

"In my particular case," he added, "I started to hear it so much that I started drinking a lot, taking drugs a lot, which was compounded by lots of my friends dying and my parents dying and stuff. I fell into a black hole of extreme alcohol (use) and got pretty close to dying."

McKeown's rebirth, and the rebirth of his take on the Bay City Rollers, came about just over five years ago, when he checked himself into rehab.

There, he underwent therapy and learned how to change his attitude toward the early-life accomplishments that had seemed to shadow him.

Now, he launches a 12-date Canadian tour in Montreal on Wednesday with a band helping him reproduce the band's biggest tunes -- technically, they're now called Les McKeown's Bay City Rollers -- and feels as if he's a "born-again Bay City Roller. …

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