Sunday Herald
March 28, 1999

Bye bye bad blood

By Eddie Gibb

Prepare to scream as the Bay City Rollers get back together to wow a new generation of baby loves. TARTAN flares are set to make a comeback as the Bay City Rollers prepare to shang-a-lang once more for an estimated seven figure sum. According to a source close to the band, new songs have been recorded, including a possible single called Gossamer Dream. "There's a lot of stuff been happening and the guys have been working together on quite a number of things," the source added. The news will delight the screaming female fans of the 1970s and make the rest of the music-loving public wonder why. From the heady days of teenage adulation to the infamous punch-up on a Japanese tour, the Rollers really did get on that roller-coaster. When bands split, it is usually put down to musical differences, but with the Bay City Rollers there was no musical difference - they were each as bad as one another. But who needs talent when you have platform shoes and tartan flares? What really destroyed the band was the personal animosity between Edinburgh pals Les McKeown and Eric Faulkner. The rest is history and legal action.That was 20 years ago, but despite one of the most acrimonious splits in pop, the Rollers, Les, Eric, Woody, Alan and Derek are rollin' again. Reforming the Rollers is not new - there has been plenty talk of it, most recently for a Dunblane fundraiser, which never materialised. The sticking point has always been Les and Eric - they couldn't stand each other. Ex-manager Tom Paton said: "The band broke up because of Eric and Les's jealousy towards each other." Competing for wall-space in a teenager's bedroom was a serious business in those days. The Bay City Rollers have played in various incarnations since Les quit in 1978 but legal battles over who actually owned the band name kept the acrimony alive. They could almost certainly have profited from the current 1970s revival, but the stumbling block has always been Eric and Les's inability to bury the hatchet. Until now, that is. A BBC documentary to be shown at Easter relives the glory days of girls screaming so hard they lost their dignity and bladder control. The film ends with footage of the band in the studio and a short interview which suggests peace has finally broken out. McKeown, sitting on a couch with his arm casually draped over Eric Faulkner's shoulder, explains: "This is something I thought I would never see. Without trying, we've just become friends like we used to be. "All the animosity has gone and I don't hold any grudges against Eric because I realise that there was no foundation to the bad things I've been thinking about him. "I thought they had nicked my money and they thought I had nicked their money, which is why we never talked for about 20 years."

As always, it comes down to money. Stuart "Woody" Wood estimates the band sold 120 million records in a seven-year career during which they had an American number one, starred in their own television show and were seriously big in Japan on a scale that rivalled Beatlemania. The band maintain they never saw a penny of the money and a long-running legal wrangle with their US label, Arista Records, drags on. This could just be the reason behind the band reforming. In music circles there is still talk of frozen bank accounts containing the spoils of Rollermania, believed to be a seven-figure sum. The thinking, according to one industry source who knows the band, is that a reformed Rollers would provide the record company with an opportunity to pay the allegedly unpaid royalties by releasing a greatest hits package, backed by a tour and new material. Famously dysfunctional bands from The Eagles to the Sex Pistols whose members never thought they could stand to be in the same room again have proved reforming can be very lucrative.