Les McKeown – Seventies pop legend talks to Alan Thompson.
FOR THOSE of us who can remember let’s get one thing straight, the bay City Rollers were absolutely massive in the Seventies. With a string of hits including ‘Shang-A-Lang’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’, ‘Remember’, ‘Summer Love Sensation’ and ‘Give a Little Love’. The magic is kept alive today by Les McKeown, the voice on all the original hits.
I caught up with Les as he prepares for his whistle stop Irish tour that includes gigs in Banbridge, Newry, Dublin and Belfast.
Les told me he’s always amazed by the reception he gets this side of the Irish Sea. “It’s brilliant” he daid. “I played here last year with David Cassidy and other stars of the 70s and the years just rolled back. I kind of think of Belfast now as my second home”.
Over the last five years Les’s popularity has again begun to soar and he told me he’ll be playing over fifty venues this year. But there’s another event high on the pop legend’s mind this year, the pending court case he and other former band members are bringing against their former record company. “It’s all been quite stressful but at least now at last it’s going to come to a head in court and hopefully be settled this year”. Les and the other band members are hoping for a negotiated settlement for monies and royalties they claim to have been cheated out of over the years.
Les welcomes the modern management techniques and layers of protection afforded to more recent boy band phenomena such as Take That and Boyzone. “We were thrown to the dogs” he states with understandable bitterness. “WE were exploited fully by ruthless, cruel, nasty people. They couldn’t have cared less about us. The only thing they worried about was lining their own pockets. We weren’t given a thought”.
However, les now looks to the future and his current management are planning a CD later in the year. Les has no contact with the other original members of the band socially but has been in contact as a necessity due to the pending legal proceedings.
Les stated “Sure I regret a lot, especially the management side of things but they were great times as well and I’m happy the way things are going now. I’ve a great team around me now and a big year ahead”.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Les in action during his forthcoming tour.