Bay City Rollers Lead Singer Les McKeown Dies Suddenly at 65
Les McKeown, the lead singer of '70s superstar act the Bay City Rollers — whose popularity among teens globally spawned "Rollermania" — died unexpectedly on Tuesday at his home. He was 65.
In a tweet, his official account released a statement saying, "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 April 2021. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss."
The note was signed by his wife Keiko, whom he met in 1978, and their son Jubei.
The news came as a shock — he had been aggressively promoting an upcoming 49-city Bay City Rollers tour on social media just days before the sad announcement.
McKeown, born November 12, 1955, in Edinburgh, Scotland, was the lead singer of the band — whose 100 million in album sales earned them a spot among the top teen idols of all time — from 1973-1978, the peak of their success. He rejoined the group in 2015 for a series of nostalgic reunion gigs.
He performed on eight of the band's albums, and sang lead vocals on their iconic #1 smash "Saturday Night" (1976) and the Top 10 U.S. hits "Money Honey" (1976) and "You Made Me Believe in Magic" (1977). The group was even hotter abroad, with a dozen Top 40 hits in the U.K.
McKeown aggressively pursued a solo career once he initially left the band, releasing nine albums of his own, including 2016's "The Lost Songs," comprised of never-before-heard tapes he'd made while on the road with the Rollers decades earlier.
In 2009, McKeown shocked fans on the U.K. reality series "Rehab" when he tearfully revealed he had been raped as a teenager, candidly discussed his alcoholism, and came clean about cheating on his wife, including at least a dozen affairs with men.
Ian Mitchell, a less prominent member of the Bay City Rollers, died at 62 in 2020.