Artist News

Bay City Rollers’ Les McKeown dies

By | Published on Friday 23 April 2021

Les McKeown

Les McKeown, vocalist of the Bay City Rollers, has died. He was 65.

In a statement, his family said: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown. Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday 20 Apr 2021. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss”.

McKeown replaced original Bay City Rollers singer Gordon Clark in 1973. The band had already had a couple of hits, but enjoyed their most successful period with McKeown out front. With him they released singles including ‘Shang-a-Lang’, ‘Summerlove Sensation’, ‘Give A Little Love’ and their cover of The Sensations’ ‘Bye Bye Baby’.

The band enjoyed success in the US as well as the UK, but by the end of the 70s their popularity had begun to wane and McKeown left the band. They changed their musical direction and began performing as The Rollers, releasing three unsuccessful albums. McKeown rejoined for 1985 reunion record ‘Breakout’, though that didn’t chart either and became the band’s final album.

McKeown subsequently rejoined the band for reunion shows a number of times, and continued to perform as Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers – a tour with whom was planned for later this year. And alongside his stints with the band, he released nine solo albums, including his final record, 2016’s ‘The Lost Songs’, which was made up of new recordings of previously unreleased songs that he had written in the 1970s.

He was also involved in a long-running legal dispute with Sony Music over royalties, which resulted in an out-of-court settlement in 2016.