I was more upset than I realised at the sudden death last week of Les McKeown from the Bay City Rollers.

I used to have a pair of tartan-trimmed, white trousers, worn at half mast over striped socks. I remember lending a spare pair of socks to a classmate on a school trip to watch ladies’ hockey at Wembley. She never gave them back. Years later I reminded her of this at a school reunion.

‘Those bloody socks,’ she said. ‘You told me this at the last reunion.’

They were green, yellow and white. Not that I’m the type to bear a grudge or anything. I remember thinking at the time, after said socks were conspicuous by their absence, how relieved I was that I hadn’t lent her my favourite pair of red, white and blue ones.

I don’t recall much about the hockey game, but I do remember a whole group of us storming across the covered bridge at Fleet Services on the way up, we were so excited. We broke out on to the hallowed turf at the end of the game and then sang rude songs on the coach on the way back. I still know the words.

Chimmy-cherry-some, we used to make up songs, remember.

Looking back, was being a Roller uncool? Maybe, but it was part of growing up. My brother saw the Bay City Rollers in the early 1970s at Chard Guildhall during carnival week. He can’t have been very impressed, though, because it was only last year that he told me.

Back then, I see-sawed between drummer Derek Longmuir (since disgraced) and David Essex (now old, but still a looker) after growing out of my David Cassidy phase. And then I saw the (disco) light before moving on to punk, ska and new wave and then electronica.

This week, after hearing about poor Les (he was only 65 but led a life of debauchery for years), I slipped into a bit of Rollermania on YouTube. I couldn’t get over how skinny they all were. I mean, look at Les’ washboard torso.

And look at us now. Time marches on.

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la shoo-be-doo-aye
Remember all the little things we used to say
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la shoo-be-doo-eye
Wonder why we ever had to say good-bye…

Stay safe.

Love, Maddie x

By Maddie Grigg

Maddie Grigg is the pen name of former local newspaper editor Margery Hookings. Expect reflections on rural life, community, landscape, underdogs, heritage and folklore. And fun.


  1. I didn’t know this about you! Who’d have thought Ms Margery was a Roller! As a confirmed Bowiephile from age 11 I was very disparaging of my poor school friends who liked the Rollers. “They’re so lame, they don’t even write their own songs” I would say. But time does strange things to us and now I play the BCRs quite happily, remembering the 70s and being a bit more open minded!


  2. I loved reading this. I was born in 1971 and lived in a council estate in Hampshire. There was a family who lived next door to us who had an older girl – she was about 5/6 older than me and just constantly utter cool – she was completely into this band and had the scarfs and tartan. I’ll never forget how I looked up to her for it. I was a bit young for it to be my scene, but it definitely marked the start of my love of music.


  3. I loved reading this, even though it brought a tear to my eye thinking of the passing of Les, and never admitted to liking the Bay City Rollers. I was also a fan of David Essex and David Cassidy and saw the both in concert before moving on to disco and soul music. Oh, such happy days. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


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