Les McKeown
McKeown in 2010
Background information
Birth nameLeslie Richard McKeown
Born(1955-11-12)12 November 1955
Broomhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died20 April 2021(2021-04-20) (aged 65)
London, England
GenresPop rock
Occupation(s)Singer
InstrumentsVocals
Years active1973–2021
Associated actsBay City Rollers

Leslie Richard McKeown (12 November 1955 – 20 April 2021) was a Scottish pop singer. He was the lead singer of the Bay City Rollers during their most successful period in the 1970s.

Early life

McKeown was born in Broomhouse, Edinburgh, on 12 November 1955.[1][2] His father, Francis, worked as a tailor and was deaf;[1] his mother, Florence (née Close), was a seamstress[2] who moved to Scotland after getting married.[1] Both emigrated to the United Kingdom from Ireland.[3][4] The family communicated with his father via hand signals.[1] McKeown was raised in a city tenement block,[5] attended Forrester High School, and volunteered in the Boys' Brigade.[1] He left school at 15 and became a member of the band Threshold.[6] He was employed at a paper mill in between the group's gigs, which earned them £20 per show.[2]

Career

McKeown joined the Bay City Rollers in November 1973,[2] replacing founding lead singer Gordon "Nobby" Clark.[4] He was initially reluctant to join the group, later stating in his memoir that it was not "high on my list of bands I'd have wanted to join".[2] The band was founded in the mid-1960s but only achieved popularity after McKeown joined.[7][8] His arrival also coincided with an overhaul of the group's image introducing half-mast trousers, platform shoes and tartan.[9] They had four songs in the Top 10 in 1974 ("Remember", "Summerlove Sensation", "All of Me Loves All of You", and "Shang-a-Lang" which featured McKeown as the frontman).[2][8] This was followed by 2 UK number ones ("Bye Bye Baby", "Give a Little Love") and a US number one ("Saturday Night", which was re-recorded with McKeown as the lead vocalist)[8] a year later.[5] It was during this time, McKeown later wrote, that he was raped by their manager, Tam Paton, and that Paton provided him with Mandrax and amphetamines to help him cope with the pressures of touring.[2]

McKeown left the group in 1978, as its popularity began to decline.[5] He established the pop band Egotrip and released a solo album in 1979 titled All Washed Up,[10] which was successful in Japan. He went on to release eight more solo albums.[5] He rejoined the Bay City Rollers in 2015 for a series of reunion shows, the first of which, at Glasgow's Barrowlands, sold out in three minutes.[11][12] He released his final album, The Lost Songs, in 2016.[5]

McKeown killed an elderly neighbour in 1975 as a result of reckless driving, for which he was banned from driving for one year and fined £100.[5] He later revealed how the guilt he felt over the event played a key role in his alcoholism.[10] In 2005, he was found to have been driving while drunk, over twice the legal limit, and had left the scene of an accident. He was consequently banned for 18 months and fined £1,000.[5]

Personal life and death

McKeown met his wife, Peko Keiko, in 1978.[2] They married five years later,[1] and had one child together: Jubei, also known as Richard. In 2008, McKeown stayed at a treatment facility in California for four months, successfully overcoming his addiction to alcohol.[2] One year later, in the Living TV show Rehab, covering celebrities fighting addiction, he disclosed that he was a "secret bisexual" and admitted being unfaithful to his wife with both men and women.[13][14]

McKeown died at his home on 20 April 2021. He was 65 years old.[10][15]

Discography

Albums – solo[edit]

Albums – Bay City Rollers[edit]

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Les McKeown, frontman of the Bay City Rollers, darlings of 1970s teenyboppers whose hits included Bye, Bye, Baby and Give a Little Love – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sullivan, Caroline (23 April 2021). "Les McKeown obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Still on a roll: Former Bay City Roller Les McKeown". Belfast Telegraph. 24 May 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Les McKeown, who fronted the Bay City Rollers, dies at 65". Associated Press. 22 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (22 April 2021). "Les McKeown, Bay City Rollers frontman, dies aged 65". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Former Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown dies aged 65". BBC News. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  7. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (18 June 2005). "The Roller coaster". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Kreps, Daniel (22 April 2021). "Les McKeown, Bay City Rollers Singer, Dead at 65". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Scotsman Obituaries: Les McKeown, lead singer with the Bay City Rollers". www.scotsman.com.
  10. ^ a b c d "Former Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown dies aged 65". BBC News. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Bay City Rollers Frontman Les McKeown Dead at 65". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  12. ^ Wilson, Caroline (22 April 2021). "Fans' tributes to Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown after his death". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  13. ^ a b Shennan, Rhona (23 April 2021). "Les McKeown: life and career of Bay City Rollers frontman – and best songs and other band members remembered". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 24 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Bay City Roller Les McKeown's gay sex romps revealed to wife on TV". The Scotsman. 18 February 2009.
  15. ^ Aitchison, Jack (22 April 2021). "Les McKeown, Bay City Rollers star, dead aged 65 as family pay tribute". The Herald.
  16. ^ "Les McKeown – Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Leslie McKeown – Heart Control". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Les McKeown – Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  19. ^ Topel, Fred (22 April 2021). "Bay City Rollers singer Les McKeown dies at 65". United Press International. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  20. ^ Guarisco, Donald A. "Once Upon a Star: Bay City Rollers – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  21. ^ a b Chan, Anna (22 April 2021). "Les McKeown Dead: Bay City Rollers Singer Dies at 65". Billboard. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  22. ^ Spence, Simon (7 October 2016). When The Screaming Stops: The Dark History Of The Bay City Rollers. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781783237050.
  23. ^ "Bay City Rollers/Rock N' Roll Love Letter: Bay City Rollers – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Dedication: Bay City Rollers – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  25. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Strangers in the Wind: Bay City Rollers – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2021.

Sources