Bringing up the rear of the British Invasion, the Bay City Rollers emerged from Scotland in the 70s and after racking up a respectable number of fans in the UK, arrived in America to enjoy even more adulation. Besides gracing the American music charts with a string of hits, the teen heartthrobs also endeared themselves to millions via Saturday morning television.
Two brothers, Alan and Derek Longmuir, decided to expand from a duo to a band in the early 70s and named their new group Bay City Rollers because they wanted it to sound American. Legend has it that they threw a dart at a map of the U.S. and it landed on Bay City, Michigan—hence the name. History might have shaped up differently had that fateful dart veered off in the direction of Coxsackie or Tallahassee.
By 1974, the band had several Top 10 hits in the UK charts, like “Remember (Sha La La)” as well as four successful albums. This led to an after-school TV show for young Brits called Shang-A-Lang, starring the Bay City Rollers. The time was ripe to move across the pond and the band debuted on Howard Cosell’s Saturday Night Variety Show, with the foot-stomping anthem “Saturday Night.” The song went to #1 in 1976 and Bay City Rollers followed it with more hits, like “Money Honey” and a cover of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want To Be With You.”
The Bay City Rollers were bona fide teen idols in the UK and the US now, complete with hordes of screaming teenage girls (and some teenage girls’ mothers) in tow. They continued to release hits in 1977-78, most notably “You Made Me Believe In Magic” and “The Way I Feel Tonight.” The band starred in yet another television show, The Bay City Rollers Show, created by producers Sid and Marty Krofft. The band performed comedy skits and their own hit songs in this children’s variety showcase.
Time waits for no teen idol and the late 70s saw a decrease in the Rollers’ popularity. They have continued to perform throughout the years, however, and still have a legion of ardent fans that greet them at every venue. And they will always have a fond place in the hearts of many a 70s kid – for their infectious pop songs and their memorable Saturday morning presence.
Did you have a Bay City Rollers poster hanging on your wall as a kid? Do you remember watching them on Saturday mornings? We’d love to hear your memories of this 70s group in our comments section, as we reflect back upon an era in teen idol history.