Thomas Dougal "Tam" Paton
Born: 5 August 1938, Prestonpans, Scotland
Died: 8 April 2009, Edinburgh
Cause of death: Heart attack.
Notable because: Gay manager of the Bay City Rollers who saw them to popularity but failed to secure their commercial interests leading to tremendous resentment. Served jail time for underage boy sex.
Tam Paton was the manager and primary spokesman during the 1970s of the Scottish band, the Bay City Rollers.
Born in Prestonpans, Scotland, he was the son of a potato merchant. Paton drove a truck to initially aid the group financially. He went on to guide the band through their peak during the 1970s, nurturing the band's image to be that of the "boys next door". He was responsible for starting a myth that the band members preferred drinking milk to alcohol, in order to cultivate this clean, innocent image.
In 1979, Paton was fired as manager, and went on to develop a multi-million pound real estate business based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Paton was openly gay.
In 1982, Paton was convicted of gross indecency with teenage boys, serving one year of a three year prison sentence.
In later years he suffered poor health including two heart attacks and a stroke. He was arrested on child sexual abuse charges in January 2003, but was later cleared of all allegations. In April 2004, Paton was convicted of supplying cannabis and fined £200,000. In 2007, he was accused but cleared of raping the band's guitarist, Pat McGlynn, in a hotel room in 1977.
Paton died of a suspected heart attack aged 70 at his Edinburgh home on 8 April 2009
Tam Paton, who managed the band at the height of their fame in the 1970s, died after reportedly suffering a heart attack.
He oversaw the group for 11 years as they enjoyed huge success.
In recent years he had been convicted on charges of drug dealing, dogged by allegations of sexual abuse and had been convicted of indecency.
The Tartan-clad "Rollermania" drew a teenage following around the world, with hits including Bye Bye Baby and Shang-a-Lang.
Paton, a former big band leader, nurtured the "the boys next door" image and cultivated the myth that they preferred drinking milk to alcohol.
He managed the Bay City Rollers for more than a decade, but the group split up in 1978 and in 2003 Mr Paton was accused of trying to rape a member of the band while on tour at the height of their fame.
Guitarist Pat McGlynn claimed Paton attempted to rape him in an Australian hotel in 1977. Paton was cleared after Lothian and Borders Police said there was insufficient evidence to take the allegation any further.
He also spent time in prison in the early 1980s for indecency with teenagers and was fined in 2004 after admitting possessing a large amount of cannabis.
Former Rollers manager Paton, who weighed 25 stone when he died of a heart attack in 2009, left his entire £2.6million fortune to a kids' hospice and animal charities.
Paton served three years in jail after being convicted in 1982 of sex offences against two boys aged 16 and 17.
He was cleared in 2007 of raping Rollers guitarist Pat McGlynn 30 years before.
Paton was found guilty of drug dealing in 2004 after £26,000 worth of cannabis was found at the mansion. He was cleared on appeal.
He had also been fined twice for cannabis offences, but he denied claims that much of his fortune came from dealing the drug. He said he got rich through shrewd investments and property deals.
The Rollers claim they are still owed a fortune in royalties from their days at the top, and the band shed few tears when Paton died. Pat McGlynn said: "This is the best news I've had in ages. I hope he's roasting in hell. When I get there, I want a job stoking the fires."
Singer Les McKeown branded Paton "a thug, a predator and a drug dealing b*****d".
Paton, the son of a potato merchant, was born in the small town of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh. He was musically proficient on piano and accordion, and was the resident bandleader at the Edinburgh Palais when he first came across the fledgling Rollers, then known as the Saxons. Through his musical contacts, Paton secured gigs around Edinburgh for the group and, as their reputation spread, he gradually assumed the role of manager. He invited the Bell records boss Dick Leahy to come and see the band and Leahy was so impressed by the fan hysteria that he signed them instantly, even though the music was blotted out by the screaming fans.
Their first single, a remake of the Gentrys' 1965 hit Keep On Dancing, broke into the British Top 10 in October 1971. The band grew despondent as their next three singles flopped, but a rejigging of the line-up brought in the vocalist Les McKeown and guitarist Stuart Wood, and Paton masterminded a dramatic image overhaul. The group now appeared dressed in tartan, along with half-mast trousers and scarves.
Their apparently ludicrous costumes, plus a new alliance with the writer-producers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, brought them a No 6 hit with Remember (Sha La La) in 1974, followed by the anthem Shang-A-Lang (which reached No 2), Summerlove Sensation (3) and All of Me Loves All of You (4). The debut album Rollin' went to No 1.
The Rollers were entering their pomp. In 1975 Bye Bye Baby topped the UK charts for six weeks and became their biggest hit, Give a Little Love took them back to the top later in the year, and the group's TV series Shang-A-Lang ran on ITV from 1975 to 1977. Even America succumbed, with Saturday Night topping the US chart at the beginning of 1976, and the group's faces adorning breakfast-cereal boxes.
But stress-fractures were appearing. The group's guitarist, Eric Faulkner, almost died of a drug overdose at Paton's home in April 1976. McKeown, traumatised after killing an elderly woman in a 1975 road accident, later recalled how Paton (who had told the press that the Rollers preferred milk to alcohol) had introduced them to drugs.
"When we got a wee bit tired, he'd give us amphetamines," he said in 2005. "He'd keep us awake with speed, black bombers. You end up almost showing off to each other what stupid drugs you've taken."
The Rollers' sales were already on the wane when punk arrived in 1977, making them almost instantly obsolete. Their last UK hit was You Made Me Believe in Magic, which reached 34 in August 1977. The group disintegrated the following year.
Latent disputes and ill feelings emerged subsequently. The guitarist Pat McGlynn claimed that he had been the subject of an attempted rape by Paton in Australia in 1977, but the police could not gather sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution."It's the fact that I'm gay," Paton remarked, "and if you're gay in this country, you are considered a pervert." In 1982, he was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to molesting 10 boys over a three-year period.
The former band members believed that Paton, who went on to become a wealthy Edinburgh property developer, had deprived them of up to £50m in royalties, though he claimed to have suffered financially from miserly record deals. In 2004 he was fined £200,000 for drug dealing after police found large quantities of cannabis resin at his home.
A candid conversation with Mister Controversial by Hannes A. Jonsson (Via telephone, Sunday January 23rd, 2000).
What do you do these days?
“I’m into property. I buy real estate, as you would call it, and I develop it and I rent it out in Edinburgh. I have quite a large amount of flats. You know, top quality flats in the West End of the city. About 41, 42 beautiful West End flats in Edinburgh. I went into this when I finished with the Rollers in 1978, ’79, so I’ve been doing it for more than 20 years now.”
How are you doing health-wise?
“Health-wise I’ve been doing very well. I had a heart attack scare (Dec.’96), but it wasn’t a heart attack, it was just over work. It was total over work.”
What was the story with that drug raid on your home last year (March ’99) ?
(Laughs) “I had a police raid looking for a cannabis plant. And what happened was that I had bought an artificial cannabis plant from a major store here in Edinburgh. It was a lovely plant, a beautiful, big plant. It looked like a cannabis leaf, you know, and it’s artificial and made in Japan! (Laughs) And I had it here in my living room and I had friends coming out to see me and we always joked about it being a cannabis plant, you see? But somebody obviously phoned the police, thinking I was growing cannabis. And what happened then was the police came to my home and asked if they could look around. So they got a warrant to search my home and they found an artificial cannabis plant (Laughs). I did get an apology from the police. That was it basically. But I’m all for cannabis, I don’t mind people smoking it. I think it should be legalized. I find it’s more dangerous to drink alcohol and maybe get killed that way, so I’ve always been with the pro-legalizing of cannabis like Paul McCartney and the rest of them. I mean, my father was an alcoholic, so I know. But I haven’t smoked cannabis.”
Most managers in pop music remain firmly in the background and the public rarely knows - or cares - who they are, unless they’re someone like Brian Epstein (The Beatles' manager) or Malcolm McLaren (the man who put the Sex Pistols together) - or you.
“Or Me?” (Laughs)
You became almost as well known as the individual Rollers themselves. Was there ever a conscious decision made for you to be that visible and vocal?
“No, it wasn’t really, no. I mean, I always believed that the Rollers were built on image, certainly not on music. I don’t know what they’re like musically at the moment, but when I took on the Rollers I was looking for an image and that’s exactly what I was always doing, building an image. Unfortunately, sometimes, they were doing interviews and I got in the way, because I was trying to guide them one way and maybe I was overpowering, I don’t know. I never meant to be overpowering, it was all done in the interest of their careers.”
How did you initially become involved in music - and with the Rollers?
“I had played in bands all my life. I played in bands since the day I left the army, and even before that I played in bands. I played piano and I sang with the bands. With a band called the Crusaders, I backed people like Dusty Springfield and Billy Fury. We also traveled up and down the country, as an opening act, with bands like The Hollies. We were the type of band that if a record came out by a certain act, we could make it sound like that particular record. We did, for instance, Bobby Vee’s ‘Take Good Care Of My Baby’ - that type of thing. This was all in the sixties, you know. We also won lots of contests all over Britain, but we never were able to make it, but we were a very musical band. At one point, we appeared in a contest at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in London in front of Brian Epstein, Cilla Black, Ringo Starr and others. And we came about 10th out of twelve acts in the show (Giggles). And that almost broke up the band, because we thought we were musical and everything we did was perfect. We could copy any band and make it sound like that particular band. And after that show where we came 10th, I wanted to know why we were 10th and I did get a chance to speak to Brian Epstein. And he said to me, ‘You were a good band, nothing wrong with you, but the band just didn’t have any image. Good band, you know, but no charisma and no magic. You were just like a show band which played very well and people could dance to it, have a good time, but afterwards they would just walk away unaffected by it.’ I didn’t even know what the word image meant; I couldn’t even figure out what he had meant by it. But we eventually broke up, the band Crusaders, and I formed a dance band and I moved into Palais de Danse in Edinburgh, which was the biggest dance hall there. I got offered the job as a band leader there, to lead an orchestra. But I changed it into a showband, a big band, you know the type with the saxophones swinging back and forth and everything, and we drew big crowds in there. But on Thursdays there were teenage nights. So the manager at the Palais de Danse asked me if I could put on some young bands then. So I started to take on young bands and put them into the Palais on Thursday nights. And that was my first sight of the Bay City Rollers; that’s when the Bay City Rollers and I met. They also used to come along and watch the big band and they had always wanted to speak to me; Alan and Derek had wanted to speak to me for ages, you know. And that was basically it: they spoke to me and I got them some work in the Palais de Danse - and they were popular. And I realized the popularity was [due to] how they looked and how tight they wore their trousers, if that’s not putting it too crudely. And that was basically the start of the band.”
What was the band’s line-up at the time?
“At the time, there was Nobby Clark, the lead singer. There was Alan Longmuir(Bass), Derek Longmuir (Drums), there was a guy called Greg Ellison(Guitar) - a fine looking guy, too, you know. And there was a guy called David Pettigrew(Keyboards) That was the band at the time, and they were popular. And after they had played at the Palais once or twice, they asked if I would manage them, but at first I was too busy because I was working five nights a week. But eventually the Palais de Danse closed down because we had a lot of fighting and stabbings, and that was also at a place in time when they were turning them all into Bingo halls. And then I got offered to take my [big] band to Belfast in Ireland, but I refused, and so I thought my life in the music business had come to an end. But then the Rollers approached me again while I was working in the family business, which was a potato company, and I did decide then to take the band on.”
Recently, with the Rollers coming back and all the media attention that has brought, people have begun questioning your personal motives to take the band on...
(Tetchily) “Well, what would be my personal motives for it?”
...the implications being...
“Because I’m gay?”
“So what’s the implications for the manager of the Spice Girls? (Raises voice) Are you suggesting they’re all lying in the back slinging their legs in the air?” (Muffled laughter, dripping with mocking sarcasm)
(pathetically) Well, it’s not me, but...
“I mean, [about] my motives for managing the Rollers, I think you would be better off in asking them. Because I could produce Nobby Clark who traveled with me up and down the country and at no time did I ever go near him - or any of them, you see?”
(In mumbling embarrassment) I’m not saying that...
“(Mercifully, takes pity on the whimpering idiot on the other end of the line) No, no, no, I don’t mind (Laughs) I don’t mind you asking these questions. I mean, I’m not getting mad because...(Excitedly, yet somewhat more calmly than before) I mean, I’ve never been happier in my life than right now. You know, the motives for me managing the group were probably just because I had always wanted to make it myself - and I probably wanted to make money as well. I wasn’t wealthy then, I didn’t come from... Well, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. You know? And my motives were probably the same ones as anybody who manages a band has. There have been dreadful articles written about it where the whole story has been totally distorted. But it doesn’t bother me anyway; people can write what they like.”
These days, with the Rollers and you, the impression given in the press is that you are all at odds with each other. Is that an accurate enough impression?
“Well, I don’t know. Alan and his wife sent me a Christmas card, and so did Woody. And we got Derek’s court case coming up (Feb 2000) and I’ve been keeping in touch with him, so...(Abruptly changes subject) Well, I am gay but I’m not into small boys and in all the articles...you know, I did go to jail - I would like to point this out, too - I did go to jail, but I wouldn’t go to jail in this country now [for the same offense]. I went to jail for gross indecency [involving young boys]. The youngest boy was fifteen. People have said he was thirteen or fourteen, and shit like that, but that’s just crap. There was nobody in my case at fourteen or thirteen; there was one guy at fifteen, who actually just watched a movie [with me], called ‘Tina With The Big Tits’ and we had a couple of lagers. I didn’t lay a hand on him, nothing like that, and we watched a picture with women’s boobs in it - hardly anything homosexual about that. And I can prove that. And the rest of them were sixteen, seventeen and eighteen-year-olds. One of those chaps was actually the youngest soldier to serve in the Falkland Islands conflict, one of the marines. So it was alright for him to go and shoot some Argentineans at seventeen or eighteen, but it was not alright to roll about with somebody who was thirty-nine or thirty-eight at the time. But, unfortunately, on my record, I have ‘Gross Indecency’; I’ve been a naughty boy (Laughs dryly).”
So, for how long were you in jail?
“I spent one year in jail in 1982, the year of the Falklands. I’m writing a book (Laughs); I’m writing a best seller.”
“Yeah, I’m going to tell the whole truth, and nothing but... I mean, so many people listen to things...all the crap and things. I mean, I defended people when I went to jail; I could have taken other people to court with me. I got done for holding videos and films that didn’t belong to me - there were films that belonged to somebody else, close to me, (Mysteriously) and not at any time did I disclose who that person was.”
Could you elaborate on each of the names (belonging to very early ex-Rollers) I’m going to mention now?
“Sure, no problem.”
“Greg’s brother? I haven’t seen him for years and years. Nice chap, lovely chap. He was in the Rollers for about five weeks (Laughs) I think he was there even before I arrived. I can barely remember him, you know. He was virtually almost gone when I started to manage them, yeah.”
“Well, we had gone on for four years with Nobby, right? And what happened was that he just was convinced we were never going to make it. He had fallen in love with, actually, Greg and Mike Ellison’s sister. You see? So he had an ongoing thing there. But everybody I had worked on and tried to get there, all left the band because they were all falling in love and falling off like leaves from a tree. So I was just getting the band into a good situation and then they’d fall madly in love and away they were gone. And that’s why Nobby left the band. He wasn’t pushed out or anything like that.”
“Keith Norman? Yes. A very lovely person. He played Hammond organ. He left the band because he fell madly in love. What really wrecked it was me trying to tie up about five days of their week. They rehearsed about two to three days and they played three days, so they only had about one day off and Keith didn’t have enough time to spend with his girlfriend and he just thought, you know, it wasn’t working. He didn’t even tell us he was leaving until about two weeks before he did. We were coming down from Aberdeen and we had put ourselves in debt for a Hammond organ - it was about 1.200 pounds, which in these days was a lot of money to us. And once when we were driving down [from Aberdeen] in our van and everyone was sleeping in the back with the gear and everything, Keith just said to me, 'Listen, I got something to tell you. I’m leaving the band, you know. I’ve got a girlfriend and I want to spend more time with her'. And that was basically it.”
David Paton? (and Billy Lyall)
“A lovely Guy, David. A wonderful songwriter, by the way. But he couldn’t spend enough time on the band either. And David left to join Pilot with another guy called Billy Lyall (ED - Who, sadly, died in 1990, due to an AIDS-related illness). Billy was gay. And Billy left with David and they formed the group Pilot, which was great as far as I was concerned. David was an excellent songwriter. It was a shame he didn’t stay with the Rollers, I think he could have made a lot of money (Laughs). But the trouble with Pilot was that they just came and went. Good songwriting, no image. That was the sad thing about it.”
“Well, he, again, had almost virtually left when I came in. I couldn’t even tell you now what instrument he played (Laughs). Honest I couldn’t.”
Neil Potias (Alan’s and Derek’s cousin, occasionally mentioned as having started The Ambassadors, an early version of the Rollers, as early as 1965. Committed suicide a few years back, according to Alan Longmuir)?
“No, I never knew him at all.”
“Oh yes, Archie. Great guy. He actually was in the Rollers for about...Thinks) about a year. He had an alcohol problem.”
“John Devine? I saw him only few months ago, wonderful guy. He left to get married. It’s as simple as that. Probably all the stories say that I pushed them out and pulled them in, you know (Laughs). I can imagine all the stories, but all these people are wrong. I mean, if you speak to them (The ex-Rollers) themselves...you speak to John Devine, well, John will tell you...he just left, he was getting married. They all go through that age, 17-18 years of age, with females particularly, when the band was getting to be popular, and they were all falling in love. That’s why I eventually started to tighten the reins. That’s why the bad story came in that I was busy trying to keep them away from females: I wanted them all to myself (Laughs). It’s a joke! I wouldn’t even fancy one of the Bay City Rollers (More laughter). There wasn’t even one of them I fancied, so I don’t know even what that was all about.”
...Hmmm (Having been burned, nervously hesitant about even venturing going there)
“Feel free to ask me anything you like. I’m not offended at all by anything. Someone who has gone to jail for something you wouldn’t go to jail in any other country for, and who has had to live with the stigma of being gay, and just the fact that I was gay has had all these innuendos made about me. I mean, you get heterosexual men managing female bands and nothing is said. But it’s only when you’re gay that you get all those innuendos (ED - It probably doesn’t help matters much either to be a convicted sex offender). Brian Epstein had to go through lots of that too, I think, which was sad.”
To begin with, the Rollers’ image and look was nowhere near as innocent and squeaky clean as it became later on. For example, when you see a photo of Eric Faulkner circa 1972, he actually looks older than he does in photos taken two or three years later!
“That was just because they had longer hair. A long hair makes you look older, I think. And the fact is that I didn’t like the long hair. It took us a long time to try and make Eric cut his hair. But in spite of all that, it was Eric who created his own ‘tufty’ style (ED - Which he wore from circa 1973 onwards). That had nothing to do with me, he created that style himself and I think he did that for Woods, too. He was creative himself on that type of thing.”
But around late ‘73/early ’74, when Nobby Clark and John Devine left and Les McKeown and Stuart Wood, respectively, replaced them, the band’s image was going through some major changes...
“Well, it had already changed before Les came in. The style had started to change before that, you see? ‘Remember’, the next hit, was actually recorded and had gone into the charts when Nobby Clark left. Do you know how ‘Remember’ actually entered the charts? I had managed to get my hands on a David Cassidy fan club book of some sort, and then there was a magazine called ‘Swap Shop’, which was out in ’73, ‘74. From those I lifted names and addresses of the kids writing in to swap for pictures of Donny Osmond or David Cassidy or whatever. And when the record ‘Remember’ came out I sent picture postcards of the band to every one of these David Cassidy fans and these kids writing in to ‘Swap Shop’. I sent out loads and loads of these postcards. In fact, I borrowed five hundred pounds from my parents for the postage alone. At that time the stamps were about two and a half pence, so you can imagine how many cards we sent away. And I sent these cards everywhere ? I sent them to DJ’s, to television producers, to everybody. That picture went out everywhere. My mother, her friends, myself - we sat down and did all that ourselves. We posted away thousands of these cards, you know. I never get any praise from the Rollers for doing these kind of things. Les McKeown wasn’t in the band when we did this. I don’t know where his hatred [for me] comes from, you know.”
Yeah, he and Eric are especially vocal in their criticism of you nowadays...
“Well, I find it also strange that Eric is vocal about it, ‘cause Eric actually asked me to manage them again about six years ago (ED - Probably late December, 1995?).”
“Yeah. He came here to my house on Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve celebrations). I mean, if he likes to lie about it, well, that’s fine. We know what we’re talking about; we know whom we’re dealing with here, you know? But I refused to manage them because I’m not into that sort of thing anymore. And I don’t know what Les has got to talk about. I mean, if they have anything against me why haven’t they taken me to court? Doesn’t that speak for itself? And if they have anything against me, take me to court; I’d love to see them in court. I mean, I’d be delighted to see them in court. I may manage to be able to get back some of the money that’s due to me (Laughs).”
So, it is safe to say that you’re not on friendly turns...?
“Well, I wouldn’t say that...eh...Les, I mean, Les and Eric had great hatred for each other because their jealousy of one another was incredible. I’ve never seen such jealousy and hatred. But at the moment it pays for them to be pals and hate me. I don’t want to get involved in all that childish crap. I mean, that’s their provocative. I don’t really mind what they do. I just feel it’s quite sad. And Eric who asked me to manage them six years ago - I’ve got evidence to that effect - and Les had asked me previously to that to manage him.”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes...oh, yes. And I opened all my books up to Eric and to Derek...to come and have a look through all my books. And they came up here and looked all through my books and everything...I was trying to assist them with any information they wanted. As I said, if I’d done anything wrong why don’t they see me in court, then? And why don’t they sign at the bottom of the page under anything they’ve said? It’s very simple. But what has happened is that they’ve become very bitter middle-aged men. And it’s always sad when you ruin something yourself which was made for you...and you destroy it. Because both Eric and Les were instrumental in destroying the Rollers. I wouldn’t say that Woods....I mean, Woods is a gentleman and probably the one who’s got the most musical talent of the whole band.”
You think so?
“Well, yeah, he has had good success here in Scotland.”
You mean with the traditional music CD’s (The Munros, Celtic Spirit)?
“Yes, the Celtic music. He has had lots of good success here in Scotland. He comes from a wonderful family background, lovely parents. And he’s happily married - to Denise. He’s a lovely guy, but I don’t care if he likes me or not. I don’t think you can go through what we’ve been through and, sort of, all be in love with each other.”
“I wouldn’t harm a hair on his head. In fact, in the past, I have defended him and I’ve shut my mouth lots of times.”(ED - Since then it has been implied in at least one Scottish newspaper article that Paton was somehow involved in 'framing' Derek in the infamous child-porn case against him!)
“Wonderful guy. Both Alan and Derek come from wonderful parents, good parents, really nice people, you know.”
“Well, I’m surprised at Eric. I don’t know what his quibble with me is. I mean, they say I didn’t manage them very well, but if I didn’t manage them very well how did they get to where they were?”
“Well, that’s not bad managing to manage to do what I did. And, remember, their first four records, not one of them played an instrument on those records...”
But Nobby sang...
“Yeah, Nobby sang and then later they (Songwriters/producers Martin/Coulter, presumably) put the tracks of Les over the top of Nobby’s voice (Laughs).”
How did the others - and you - feel about these recording methods?
“Neither they nor I had any choice in the matter. Because we had already been at it since 1971, when we had a hit with ‘Keep On Dancing’, and then we had about three flops in a row. And when ‘Remember’ came along I went to see Dick Leahy, who was the head of Bell Records at the time, and he told me this would be our last kick at the ball. If ‘Remember’ would flop, that would be the end for us. And that’s why I did the other thing with mailing out the picture postcards, you know. So, we were virtually begging. I mean, I was begging - I begged Dick Leahy; I begged him to give us another kick at the ball. That’s something the Rollers always forgot too, you know. But they’ve had 22 years to remember it all, because what have they really done in the 22 years I’ve been away? Lived off a name, that’s what.”
Yeah, but about those early records...
“Yeah, they didn’t play on the first four or five, I’m not even sure if they played on ‘Bye Bye Baby’.”
Yes, they did.
“Oh, they did? Who told you that?”
(Producer) Phil Wainman.
“Phil said that. Yeah, Phil is wonderful man, he wouldn’t be lying. But there was another instrumentalist on it. Did Phil tell about that?”
(Confused) Uh, no...?
“Well, yeah (Clears throat), that’s right...you had to be around when that was recorded...that and ‘Give A Little Love’. (Tactfully changes subject) Phil produced both of these. Phil is a wonderful man. There have even been allegations in the press of me touching Phil up too, ha! Did you see that?! Phil Wainman wrote me a letter [later] saying that he did not say that at all. And we got a pending court action against that paper...I can’t remember the name of it. Raymond, where’s Raymond? (Asking for his otherwise ever-present personal assistant) Oh, I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. Just fire away (Laughs) I don’t mind you asking me all these questions.”
Billl Martin and Phil Coulter?
“They did all the records that were recorded by session men - ‘Shang-A-Lang’ and all that.”
...And all of the first (‘Rollin’’) album?
“Yes. I think most of it. I mean, I couldn’t even tell you what was in the first album. The songs written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, was actually all recorded by Phil Coulter himself (Laughs). I think he went into the studios and did it all by himself.”
Bill Martin, I understand, was the business man of that partnership?
“Yes. Bill Martin took care of the business side of it. A very good man.”
(Surprised, since few have been that favorable towards Martin) Huh?
“I mean, he made horrendous deals, but at the time of ‘Remember’ I was begging to try and work it out with the record company and when we got teamed up with Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, it was better to get fifty percent of something than a hundred percent of nothing. Do you know what I mean? That was my theory in life. The Rollers all say today, ‘Why didn’t he go for big deals?’ But the fact was that at one stage before we had signed the contracts, we had nothing. You know what I’m saying? We had already had flop records - ‘Manana’ was a mess, and, oh, I can’t even remember those, we had quite a few of them. ‘We Can Make Music’, ‘Dizzy’...I think ‘Dizzy’ was one. You know (Hums a bit of a tune), the one that had been done by Tommy Roe.”
Err, that was never a Rollers single, no...
“Oh, what was it, then? Wasn’t it Tommy Roe who did ‘We Can Make Music’?”
“I think that was him..you know. Anyway, I couldn’t...I’m talking thirty years ago here.”
You never play the records, then, do you?
“(Mildly amused) No, I never play the records. I’d love to forget that this ever really happened. You know? I’m sorry all of it happened (Laughs bitterly). If I had been just an ordinary gay guy, I’d been allowed to go on with my life. In Scotland, I have managed to get on with my life. I do get a lot of respect here now. We have very liberal laws in Scotland and we’ve moved nicely forward into the 21st century. I remember when I was a young man - when I was a boy - I was twelve and I discovered I was gay, I used to bash my head against the wall. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me ‘cause nobody ever spoke about someone being homosexual. When everybody else was looking at girls, I was looking at guys. It was hard being gay and living with an alcoholic father too. He was a big, butch man, you know, and I was always frightened to tell him about that - what I was and everything. But I was never into young boys or anything like that, as they’re trying to make out now and all the kind of rubbish that goes along with it. I live with somebody and I’ve lived with him for twenty-five years. Nice lad.”
But you did get engaged (in the mid-70’s, at the height of Rollermania), didn’t you?
“That was advised, you see. I got engaged to a female and the reason for that was simply that I had the News Of The World (British tabloid newspaper) floating around at the time, in the 70’s, that I was having it off with little...that I was rolling from one room to another and all that kind of crap. And the publicist thought that was bad for the image - if they thought that they (ED - The Rollers) had that homosexual manager, you know, they could all be rolling about in bed with me. So, I got wangled into this stupid engagement thing. It was the one decision I didn’t take for myself, it was taken for me by a female publicist I sacked at a later date because I thought she wasn’t very good at her job. I was better at doing it myself. So, quite fairly and truly, that’s the whole story behind that engagement myth.”
Yeah, people still wonder about that one...
“No, no, no, no. But I have slept with women and the reason I have slept with women is because of all the things that have happened to me. You know, growing up in a very Victorian Britain. It was very difficult. And as you see now in some of the stories they print, they still come from some very Victorian thinking people ... women too. Like, who was that who wrote that about me and Phil Wainman? (Muffled conversation of some sorts takes place with Raymond about some related details) I still can’t believe that. I had no sights on Phil Wainman, whatsoever. I have no idea where that shit comes from. I mean, he must be fantasizing or something (Thunderous laughter follows).”
(Avoiding the gutter at all cost) But, do you think the Rollers’ music has perhaps been unfairly judged through the years? They weren’t that bad...?
“No, I don’t they’ve been...(Hesitates) Well, I mean, I think they have been unfairly judged, yes, I would defend them in lots of ways there. But not in the early days. They weren’t very capable back then. They only wrote those better records, strangely enough, when all the other things started to fall to pieces. I mean, ‘Wouldn’t You Like It’ (Confusing it, probably, with ‘Strangers In The Wind’) and all that, that all started to come out after I had been sacked and things like that. I mean, we had terrible dramas during recordings, just to try and get the group together to record. I mean, do you know about some of the problems we had within the group? We booked studios for three to four months in Switzerland. It’s where David Bowie had recorded. And we went over there and when we got there, eh, Les discovered that the air there wasn’t good for his throat. So, then we’re talking about where all the money went: a fortune went into the studios for these three months. We’re talking about sixty pounds an hour and that was in the seventies! Those were the kind of things we had problems with...and the hatred between Les and Eric at the time was horrendous. It will all come again eventually.”
“Oh, of course it will come again, yeah (Giggles). Jealousy is like...if you’re born with jealousy, it’s like being born gay: it doesn’t go away. You can try and hide it as much as you like, but you can’t get rid of it.”
But they now claim it was all a misunderstanding...
“Well, that’s nice of them. I’m happy for them if that’s what they want to think and I hope it was a misunderstanding, but I would like to know what their hatred for me is based upon. What did I ever do to them? I would like to know that. I traveled with them up and down the country, I gave away the best part of my life for them, while I could have been going out and having fun, you know? And because I’m worth a million now, or I’m a millionaire, they all think I stole their money. Do you know how much I got from the Rollers?”
“I was lucky if I ever...I got sixty thousand pounds. That’s lucky if I even got that.”
So, where do you think the money went?
“Well, I think the money went into stupid things. I mean, for example, do they ever talk about the limousine company they had? Well, they had a limousine company and I’ll tell you the story about that. There were five limousines and they decided to buy that. That was without me; I had no saying in that. And they bought that company - this was just after ‘Rollin’’ - but the limousines never worked. All they ever did was that they drove the Rollers around. I mean, they drove Les down to see his mother in the South of England. They had a chauffeur sitting there all day, every day, and Eric was being driven from one place to another and you could see a limousine parked outside a club in London at four in the morning. And the company went into bankruptcy. I think they all had a good hand in spending the money, I think they all forgot what they spent. I mean, there was all sort of... You don’t buy recording studios for nothing. Didn’t Eric have a studio in Camden Town? Did you know about that?”
“Oh, well (Laughs). He had a studio in Camden Town, which went out of business. That all happened after I left. I think they made lots of mistakes after I left, I think they made terrible mistakes. We did a tour in Japan (ED - Sept.’78), and we couldn’t keep Les and Eric apart. Every place we went, they were fighting with each other and it’s amazing they should say it was all a big misunderstanding now, I think...you know? And I couldn’t blame one without blaming the other. I mean, I put an under manager on that tour and he left with a nervous breakdown. His name is John Corman. He had a nervous breakdown, really, I had to send him home. He was actually, virtually crying. He later left my company and tried to sue me for thousands ‘cause he said he would never be the same again; that he had never experienced anything like this. But I didn’t have thousands to pay him ‘cause when the Rollers sacked me I went bankrupt. But, where did the money go? I think it was between the lawyers and the accountants.”
What about Arista?
“Well, I mean, umm... We were too busy fighting and disputing and having to deal with five lawyers every time we wanted to do a tour. But when I did get around to deal with all the accountants and all that I would have needed to be like an octopus, with about twenty-two arms...or twenty-two brains, dealing with everything, because it was an almost impossible monster to deal with. I still thought there was some money about back then, but, you see, there were some arguments...I mean, they all had a...each one was a limited company and all their companies went into liquidation because they didn’t pay the money they owed. I mean, they spent money... I mean, are you telling me they tell you that they didn’t spend any money? Woods bought a beautiful big house for his mother - his mother must be living in a house worth about four to five hundred thousand pounds. And he, himself, is living in a beautiful in-place called The Dell, in Edinburgh. But he’s not complaining about the money, I think he’s quite happy. And he’s doing very well with his Celtic records, he’s got a lovely wife, and he’s a lovely person. But he also had a hotel...sorry, a bar in Gibraltar, which went bankrupt. One of the biggest ones in Gibraltar. Did you know that?”
“No, these are all revelations, are they?”
“And Derek has got five to six or seven flats in Edinburgh, a property business. Beautiful two bedroom flats. He’s not short of money. He has a beautiful penthouse which overlooks the Scottish parliament. And he lives in a house which must be worth about a quarter of a million pounds. And Alan had a hotel - it went bankrupt.”
Yeah, I've heard something about that...
“Yes, and he had a big farm with horses. He got married and, seemingly, his [first] wife took away most of his money. So, I don’t know where this thing comes from, that they don’t have any money. I could tell you a few suggestions about where Les’ money went, but I won’t say it over the phone and on tape (Laughs). But maybe one day all that will come out. They had lot more than I ever had when I was sacked. I’m not saying all this to be nasty, because deep down I do care for them and deep down I would like them to have success.”
Sure, but you’re not very optimistic about that...
“Well, are you?”
Not really, no...
(Laughs) “You know, they were strictly built on an image. But maybe I was to blame for that, but they decided on that themselves too. Remember, I’m not a lot older than they are. I’m only ten years older than Alan is. I mean, people see this whole thing as, ‘Here’s this old queen with some suspicious motives for managing all these young boys.’ Wonderful for him, yeah? But I’m only nine years older than some of them - 12 or 13 years older than others. So, I mean, it wasn’t anything...(Drifts off) But, I mean, there must be few of them there with some musical ability now. After thirty odd years, there has to be some kind of musical ability to write the songs because, you see. Les wants to write the songs and Eric wants to write the songs ‘cause that’s where the money is and that’s when the trouble comes in. And, you know, we formed a publishing company and I put it down that everybody would share five ways. That was to stop the bickering, like, 'Oh he wrote the last one, so I’m gonna write this one...' So, I thought if they all had a share in each song, and they could only have it for five years, that would be it, basically. And then after the five years the person who actually wrote the song could get all the royalties back, you know.”
But the songs were usually credited to Faulkner/Wood...
“Yeah, that’s where the jealousy came in from Les’ end. And that’s also where I got the blame and Les’ hatred for me comes from. I was supposedly defending Eric and Woods. And that’s basically why Les wanted to leave the band and they, too, wanted to get rid of him. I mean, they got Duncan Faure. And I see now that...I think they’ve gotten rid of Alan.”
“Well, the tour (ED - England, Feb.2000, later cancelled and hasn't been heard of since) was supposed to be with Les McKeown, Eric Faulkner, Stuart Woods, and Duncan Faure.”
“Yes, that’s supposed to be the lineup on the tour. So, they seem to have sacked Alan again. I was always the one who got blamed for sacking Alan, while it was actually...Eric was the one behind the sacking of Alan.”
“No, no, no, not recently, don’t misunderstand me. I meant the first time Alan was sacked (ED - in ’75-’76). But now both the Longmuir brothers are out and it’s just down to...(Swiftly abandons subject) No, a long time ago (ED - Mid-90’s?), what I said to them was, If they wanted to ever survive the lineup should have been...they should have taken Ian Mitchell in and get Les back. But Eric wouldn’t have that; he said that under no circumstances would he ever play on a stage with Les again. And I said, 'Reform the band with Les, Ian and, uh, Duncan Faure'. And the band could have musically moved on then. I mean, I think Duncan is a very good musician and I think they could have moved forward with him in the band. It’s him and Woods, basically, you know?”
What about Eric?
(None too convincingly)“Well, yeah, Eric’s alright too.”
The 70’s songs credited to Faulkner/Wood, Eric has claimed (In his own mid/late 80’s aborted effort at trying to tell this story) to have written most of those all by himself - without Woods. Is that true?
“Ha! ha! ha! See, doesn’t that tell you something? There we are again, way back to the beginning, to all that again. That he wrote the songs and Woods’ name just got down on ‘em. I mean, the next thing we may know is that Woods and Faulkner will have fallen out and there’ll be... I mean, doesn’t that tell you the story?”
When you were sacked...
“I was glad the day they sacked me. That day I just sat back and I thought, Jesus, thank God! (Sighs with relief at the mere memory of it) I never thought I had been that happy in all my life. And by then I thought I was a millionaire, and I thought, Thank God this monster has gone away and I can just get on with my life. But once I started to look at my finances I began to discover I hardly had two pennies to rub together. The Rollers owed me large amounts of money and I never got any of that. In fact, they were very, very fortunate that I got up and went...you know, and didn’t bother them for what was due to me, because I could have sued them and sued them and sued them. And I’ll tell you another reason why Les doesn’t like me. Because, I was asked to get involved in the court case he had for the name (ED - In the early 90’s)...”
“...And I did an affidavit (ED - Legally sworn statement) in favor of Eric, Alan, Woods and Derek. And I thought that they represented the Bay City Rollers more than Les did, since together they were more than just one member of the old band. And I signed it as their ex-manager, Tam Paton. And I do believe that was the reason for Eric managing to secure the name. So, I think Les has a great hatred for me for that. Well, he has to hate somebody, ‘cause, listen, if he hates me he has to leave somebody else alone. But what a sad way going through life, hating people. But I don’t hate anybody. I’m quite happy, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my whole life than I am right now. I’m a millionaire, I’ve got lots of property, none of which came from my association with the Rollers, not a penny. And, as I’ve said, I’ve never been happier. I’m going to move to Spain soon. I can prove all my money came from property which I have developed and worked on. I mean, when I finished with the Rollers I used to roll up my sleeves and shovel shit. I used to work until two o’clock in the morning painting up flats. I’ve got diaries going back years, listing all the properties I bought and the money I paid back...I ended up paying back a hundred thousand pounds tax, to the Inland Revenue, that was bestowed upon me from moneys that was due from the Bay City Rollers. It took them nine years to catch up with me, but I won’t bore you by going into all that, but I can account for every penny, you know? I’ve heard wild rumors about off-shore companies and such things, but I didn’t have a penny left from the Rollers, not a penny. I reckon, if anything, I came out of it with about forty, maybe sixty thousand pounds. I flew to America and I managed to get some money that was in a Rollers account over there. It was a big account that was opened up for the Rollers and myself and I got what was due to me, nothing to do with the Rollers; it was due to my management company. So I came back to England with this cheque and I showed it to my little Scottish accountant and I said to him, 'I’m alright, I’ve actually got sixty thousand pounds here'. And he looked at me and said, 'Oh no, you don’t have sixty thousand pounds; it’s the company that’s gone bankrupt which has sixty thousand pounds'. So I quickly phoned an investment company called PDT Investments and I put the sixty thousand pounds in through the management company and into PDT investments and that’s where I got the money to start over again. So, during the next nine years I used that sixty thousand very cleverly and carefully. I bought property, did it up and sold it, bought some more property and did that up and sold... And by the time the nine years were up and the taxman finally caught up with me, I borrowed money and I paid the Inland Revenue back the hundred thousand pounds. And even to this day, I’m still paying it... I just got a bill saying, I still got sixty thousand pounds to pay.”
Dating back to the old days?
“Yes, because of the old days. I was left a legacy of a hundred thousand pounds from the Bay City Rollers. Thank you Bay City Rollers, ha! ha! ha! And I haven’t even claimed what it’s called historical royalties, which I could have claimed. I mean, I could get into all this and I could start claiming them for this and that, but I don’t want any of their money, they can keep it, I’m not interested, they can do what they like. I wish them all the success in the world. Do you think they’ve got a future?”
(Mumbling) I dunno...
“Ha! But it would be nice if we could rewind the tape...take us back to ’76. I would say they had a future back then, but I mean...I hope they do now, too. I hope people give them a chance. Personally, I would have thought they would have been better off dropping the name Bay City Rollers, and if they’re so confident about their music, they should have gone on without the name.”
But they’ve sort of tried that but people won’t accept them like that either.
“Is that what they think? Well, if they’ve tried everything... But Eric has always said about me that I interfered with his songwriting things and all that, you know? Well, I always say to Eric and I say it nicely, 'If that was the case, Eric, I left in about 1978, and from then on until now, where are the hits? And if it was the name that was bothering you, why didn’t you get somebody else to record them, and then you could say, Well, that was done by Eric Faulkner of the Bay City Rollers'. But he has actually produced artists and that’s where all his money went, in the studios. He was in studios recording and that’s where the money went. He also managed some artists (ED - Janine Andrews, etc. - Early 80’s), and if he was such a good manager why then didn’t he ever make the charts? I mean, he made the charts with me being his manager, but his artists didn’t make the charts with him as their manager. Maybe that was just a dedication on my part, but it certainly didn’t involve any sexual favors, I can tell you that (Laughs).”
(Taking a U-turn, changing the subject) But what was the story behind Alan’s departure from the band in ’75, ’76?
“Well, Alan wanted to leave. He was happy to... Well, he had a farm and he was madly in love with this girl and he couldn’t get enough time with her. And we were recording with Phil Wainman at the time. And, I mean, I’m not telling any lies; this is the truth. And he was coming and going to the studios and they were flying him up and down to Scotland and the person who was doing the complaining about that was Eric! Eric was the one saying, 'He is not even interested and we’ll have to do something about this'. And I went along with Eric; yes, I went along with Eric, I’m not washing my hands of it, I mean, I was a part of it too. But let them not forget that the rest of them had a part in it as well - and mainly Eric. Woods wasn’t; Woods wouldn’t do anything bad and I defend him totally. Derek wouldn’t do anything bad either and Alan...I think it suited Alan, you see? Alan didn’t mind, he wanted to go, he thought he was a millionaire, like I did! You know, we all thought we were millionaires. Alan just thought, I got my farm, I got my horses, my beautiful girlfriend and I got a few million in the bank, and of course he was delighted to leave.”
But around that same time you were going to start another band, with younger boys...?
“Yes...No, I didn’t start another band but I was managing another band with boys the same age as the Rollers (Laughs). And that was Rosetta Stone.”
Yeah, but what about that Danish guy you recruited?
“Baron Gert Von Magnus? Oh, he was wonderful. The only problem was that I couldn’t get him signed to a contract ‘cause he couldn’t sing (Laughs). And so he went back to Denmark and that was it, yeah. They told me he had been a big pop star in Denmark, although I can’t see how because I couldn’t get a record deal for him anywhere.”
But wasn’t Ian Mitchell originally supposed to have been in that band?
“In Gert’s band?” (Flabbergasted at the mere suggestion) “Noooo, no, no, Ian Mitchell was with Rosetta Stone. Baron Gert Von Magnus came over - he was only over for about six months - he did some test recordings. I spent about two or three thousand pounds on test recordings for him and I couldn’t get a deal. Then he decided he wanted to go back because he was going into banking or something instead. And he was missing home and he went back to Denmark. He’s a good guy, I actually think he’s still going. But he’s no Baron; we only pretended he was to give it a publicity angle, you see? (Laughs) It was only a publicity stunt.”
But when Les had his brush with the law after having accidentally killed an old lady by driving into her (In the spring of ’75), were you already waiting with someone else in the wings to take his place had he gotten a stiffer sentence than he got (this has been suggested by people close to the matter)?
“No, I wasn’t. I employed the top barrister in Scotland for him, a senior legal figure, to go into a small court to defend him. And McKeown got off with dangerous driving. But he gets off with killing somebody, but still people look at me like I’m the bad man! I mean, God, everything is switched on to me. And then there’s was the matter about the girl who got shot through the head...”
Yeah, what was that all about?
“Well, I don’t know what the story was there, but there were lots of rumors. But one of my friends got charged with that, but there was always a story attached to that that I had paid him to take the blame for that, for Les. (Sarcastically) You know, me being such a bad guy. But I think that that may be a ghost that may eventually come back to haunt mister McKeown.”
So, Ian was just plucked from Rosetta Stone (Then known as Young City Stars) to take Alan’s place in the Rollers?
“Yes. I took him out because my main aim was to keep the Rollers supported. That was the jewel in the crown. But Ian couldn’t take all the bickering and backstabbing that went on in the Rollers - all the bitchiness and nastiness that was going on.”
So he quit on his own?
“Yeah, he quit within months. He said, 'I just couldn’t put up with that, Tam. That’s really, really horrendous.'”
But by the time you took on Rosetta Stone, had you lost interest...?
“No, I was sacked, I could have made them big...”
“But there were three brothers in Rosetta Stone and I wanted to change one of the brothers, the lead singer (Laughs). He didn’t have what I thought fitted the image, you see? So, I went to bring in a guy called Limahl from a band called Kajagoogoo...(ED - "Too Shy" anyone?)”
“Yes, I was going to take him and put him into Rosetta Stone before he was in Kajagoogoo...”
Yes, that must have been about five years before...
“Yes, it was a good time before. So, what I did was that I went and was going to move him into Rosetta Stone, but of course they had great strength in three brothers. So, they got up and disappeared and sacked me. Ha! ha! ha! ha! So, that was the story; it was short-lived but it was alright, but it could have been great.”
And then there was Pat McGlynn...
(Not sounding too fond of that memory, or name) “Ooooh! He was only in the Rollers for a few weeks. He was sacked by Eric. But he said the rest of the group had sacked him. By that time things were started to get...oh, you know.”
But Pat has claimed to have been only paid as a session musician. True?
“Well, that had nothing to do with me. Pat McGlynn never signed a contract with me at all.”
Were drugs a problem by that time?
“Not really, no. There was never anything serious about, there wasn’t. A bit of cannabis or something like that, but never anything...ummm...never any bad drug problems. I mean, there were sleeping pill problems. I mean, you must have heard about Eric and his overdose (Laughs)?”
(More laughter) “Yeah, who hasn’t? Did you get the correct story on that?”
Yeah, about the ambulance and all that...?
“Yeah, that’s quite funny, I always find that quite funny. No, I always seeked publicity in a big style, in a big way, you know? Whenever I would get them on the front page of the national papers I went for it. Because that was about all they had going for themselves. So, what happened in that case, we came back from Dublin, Ireland, from doing a television show, and Eric had taken two sleeping pills - you couldn’t die on two of these - and he went to sleep and we had difficulties waking him up. But he was breathing and he got up; he did get up. And I thought this was a great way to create a nice publicity over, you know, 'A Bay City Roller O.D.’s' and all this kind of thing. He was depressed anyway, because he was busy constantly competing with McKeown on the stage and all that. So, what happened anyways, I did phone the ambulance first and then I phoned the paper later. So, that was the story there. There was no big deal whatever they are trying to make of it now. There was no nasty business. It was just another front page as far as I was concerned.”
Do you think there was a short-sightedness on your behalf to promote the band so strongly on image and nothing else?
“Well, there was nothing else - as far as I was concerned there was nothing else. I wouldn’t think so, honestly. I mean, I tried to push other things, didn’t I? I spent four years trying to promote them on various things. I tried to promote them on.... I mean, if there was shortsightedness on my part, surely the proof for that would be evident now. I mean, then things would surely had gotten better for them after they sacked me.”
So, what did you think of that big change that happened there, with Duncan joining and the name-change to The Rollers and all that?
“Well, they had all the time in the world then to promote themselves, I wasn’t around. I mean, I didn’t go back and grab the name and change it to The Rollers and all that. And then go back and change it to The New Rollers, The Legendary Bay City Rollers, Les McKeown’s Rollers, Les McKeown’s 70’s Bay City Rollers or whatever. And McKeown had plenty of chances. He actually did the European (ED - ‘Eurovision’) song contest (ED - Actually just the ‘Song For Europe’ preliminary U.K. leg of it) and fell flat on his face. I mean, he wrote a song (ED - Well, he didn’t really write it himself) and everything and appeared in the contest and it flopped. I mean, they had all these chances. In my own mind I had nothing but image to sell..”
...(Referring to one of Paton’s favorite catchphrases of the past) Like Heinz Baked Beans, eh?
“Yeah, like Heinz Baked Beans. But it was alright as long as nobody put a can opener in ‘em and opened ‘em up and poured ‘em all out (Laughs a lot before swiftly changing the subject). But it was myself who picked ‘Bye Bye Baby’ for the single. Nobody will ever tell you that. It was an old number done by the Symbols (ED - The Four Seasons had the absolute original of it in 1965, but the Rollers version drew more from the Symbols’ 1967 cover of that) and I had it in my record collection - I had a big collection from the 50’s and the 60’s - and I picked that out: ‘Bye Bye Baby’. It was on the President label (ED - President PT 144; a number 44 UK hit in 1967) and that, of course, became the Rollers’ first number one hit. But nobody would ever mention that to you, you know. It’s all like a glass of milk which has gone sour. But unfortunately it has gone sour for them and they look at me and I’ve just forced ahead and gone on with my life; I’ve made a success of it, while they’ve hung on to the old signs. Personally, if they were really....if there was a lot of musical ability behind them...they should have done what Woods has done, I think Woods should have done it a lot sooner actually.”
But, you know that Malcolm MacLaren has mentioned you as an influence in his own approach to managing the Sex Pistols (On purely, mainly, strong image spiced with publicity stunts)?
“Well, that was nice of him, he’s a lovely man (Laughs).”
You ever met him?
“Yes, I met him once or twice. He’s running for a mayor in London now (ED - early 2000. MacLaren later dropped out of that race). I’m going to run for president of Scotland (More laughter follows). I’m only kidding you. But, yeah, you’re right. I seem to remember Malcolm MacLaren having said something like that. But it seems that people only want to look at the really bad things. The fact that I was gay seemed to make all the difference. I mean, if I had been heterosexual, I often wonder... And I mean, I don’t know even where that came in, the fact that I was gay, what difference should that make? Because that made no difference to the Bay City Rollers’ life’s at all. I was strict on girlfriends, of course I was, because every time we got someone new in the band they’d be leaving it for their girlfriends! Like I said about Keith Norman; we spent all that money on a Hammond organ which we were gonna have to pay back. And we had just gotten him into the band and everything, and he was only there for about nine months, and the next thing you know is that he had found a girlfriend because he was popular in this band and then he was just up and off. So, that was the only thing for me to do - to be strict on the girlfriends issue. But, I mean, Les can’t complain - he had a girlfriend all the time he was in the Rollers. Lynn was her name. Umm, and he even came out with at one time...(Thinks and changes the subject) I mean, Les was at war with the group at one time, too. He was taken off a radio show here in Scotland because he said that he wouldn’t let Derek within six feet of his then eight-year-old son or something...”
“I mean, he was immediately taken off the air. There’s lots of water gone under the bridge since then. They appeared recently at a show in Edinburgh (ED - New Year’s Eve ’99) and Eric appeared totally...oh, well, I don’t know. You must have seen the pictures? Well, if the success is there for them, please go out and get it. I would like them to have it, honestly, even just to get them off my back (Laughs) You see, Eric asked me to manage them a few years ago, that was the last time they were playing in Scotland and they can’t deny that, although they probably will. I mean, I’ve never heard so many lies in my whole life over this whole thing. (And unconvincingly) In fact, I barely even think of the Bay City Rollers, I’m totally obsessed with my work - flats, properties, buying property and doing property up. And if I’d done that from the beginning instead of managing the Rollers, I could have been a billionaire today. I could have probably owned all of Edinburgh! I gave up about ten years of my life, ten good years I could have been finding myself and going to clubs having a good time. Instead of traveling the world with five guys and in the end getting the blame for things I never did...and having them all write it up, like, 'Oh, look at that, He likes boys...' and all that kind of crap. No, I liked men, not boys, so that was basically that. But when I was younger I was always embarrassed about what I was. I always hid and... It took a long time during my court case to come to terms with it. I thought about suicide on several occasions, I thought of hanging myself. And my parents couldn’t understand what I was, that was difficult, and I had to go through all that on my own and not one Bay City Roller ever got in touch with me. But I do live with somebody and, as I’ve said before, have lived with him for twenty-five years and I’m very happy. And that’s why I don’t come on like I’m running down the Rollers or trying to be destructive about their future career. I wouldn’t like to be destructive about it, I mean, if they’re going to make it I wish them all the best.”
What, if any, is the nature of your current relationship with some of the others? Duncan? Ian?
“You know, Duncan came over here to Scotland a while back and no one could put him up anywhere and he came here and lived with me, with his lovely wife Laurie. I put them up and took them out to dinner and everything - my friend and I - and made them feel very welcomed, and we took them here, there and everywhere. But when he arrived in Scotland again last year he never phoned me (Laughs). So, I knew there had to be strict instructions from somewhere, from the fuhrer’s headquarters someplace, to not get in touch with me at all, and I don’t really know what that is all about. He couldn’t even pick up the phone and say 'Hi' to me or anything, you know. I was a bit surprised and Ian was a bit mad about it - Ian Mitchell. Ian is a bit disillusioned about everything, he just wants to get away from it all, he just wants nothing to do with it. But don’t take it like I’m bitter and twisted about any of it, I just want to be clear about few things, you know? Some of the stupid stories that go about, phew, they just do my head in, you know? But I really can’t be bothered with it, ‘cause, you know.... Well, we’ve got an old saying here in Scotland: the more you stand on shit, the more it spreads (Laughs). But I think people like to read about the Rollers; it seems to be like a soap-opera, a very popular one. They all want to know what this one was doing and what did that big bad manager do. You know, where did he come in and all that. I think that is just basically like that, but if they’re still willing to buy the records, I don’t know. But I hope to God that the Rollers sell records and can get it together. But I still think they should have changed the name..."
That said; the end.
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Editorial Review: For the first time ever, the inside story of British pop management from 1955 to the present [published in 1988]. Johnny Rogan explores the diverse roles of the pop manager through a series of 17 case studies: Larry Parnes, the great pioneer of British rock'n'roll; Ken Pitt, who nurtured Bowie to his first big hit - then lost him; Brian Epstein, the man behind the Beatles; Andrew Oldham, the Stones' supremo; Simon Napier-Bell - from the Yardbirds to Marc Boland to Wham!; the flamboyant and controversial Sex Pistols' svengali, Malcolm McLaren; enigmatic Joy Division/New Order manager, Rob Gretton - and many more. Rogan has interviewed scores of entrepreneurs over the years and his penetrating analyses of their grand designs, millionaire coups, litigious battles and spectacular falls brilliantly convey the perilous nature of pop management. These stories are not only intriguing in themselves but provide fresh insights into the careers of many of the most important artistes of our time. "Starmakers and Svengalis" is a cornucopia of charismatic characters, wealth, glamour, power, scandal, violence and tragedy; it is compulsive reading for anyone interested in popular culture or the evolution of the music business over the period of 30 years, up to the late 1980s.
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