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Forget One Direction, we loved the Bay City Rollers

By Frances Burscough

Published 29/08/2015

Frances Burscough
Frances Burscough

So, farewell then, One Direction. Five years after they were artificially in-Simonated on X Factor, into a readymade boy-band comprised of five solo wannabees, the teenage hearth-throbs are finally taking a break.

I can’t say I’ll miss them, because I have never knowingly listened to a single single they have ever made. In fact, unless you happen to have little girls in your family — or you are a little girl yourself — I bet you haven’t either.

And yet they became a household name that everyone recognises, simply because of the music business mass-production machine and

all that entails: Almost daily press conferences, announcements, photo shoots, meet & greets personal appearances, national radio and TV interviews; blanket coverage of their every move in the tabloids, chat magazines and gossip columns; a constant production line of singles, albums and tour dates and last — but by no means least — the interminable and multifarious merchandise.

Truly obsessed 1D fans — known as “Directioners” — could effectively live out their entire teenage years using just band branded products and little else. They have their own toothpaste range for goodness sake! Lipsticks, deodorant, underwear, bedding, soft furnishings, hard furnishings, clothing, shoes, readymeals, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes, shampoo, jewellery, stationary, mobile phones, laptops, bicycles, rollerblades ... they’re even launching their fourth after shave this summer. Like anyone would want to smell like Harry Styles?

So you could say it’s a far cry from the good old days when pop stars got where they were by hard slog and talent alone and when then only merchandise you got was seven inches of vinyl with a bonus B-side thrown in for good measure.

Of course, by “the good old days” I mean my day ie. the seventies when I was in my adolescent hey-day. Back then, the equivalent boy band was of course the inimitable Bay City Rollers. Rollermania was at its most virulent in about 1975, when I was twelve. Les McEwan, Eric Faulkner, Stuart “Woody” Wood and Alan Longmuir. I loved them all with a passion!

My sisters and I spent all our pocket money on Jackie comic and Fab208, because for a while they were on the cover every week and there was always, always, a pull-out poster in the middle. We became adept at prising open staples with such dexterity that only tiny microscopic holes remained in the crease and then we’d steam the fold away carefully with an iron before carefully sellotaping it on the last remaining space on our bedroom wall.

As for their songs, well we knew them all off by heart. I still do for that matter!

Shang-alang ... Bye Bye, Baby ... Manana ... Summerlove Sensation ... I’d sing them to myself in a Scottish accent and imagine Les was there in front of me. Les understood me like noone else ever could. His songs were meaningful, just like he’d read my mind and put it to music.

Oh, Les ... if only we could be together!

Sadly I never actually did see Les, Eric or indeed any of them in the flesh, nor got to scream at them at point-blank range to show the true depth of my love, so watching them on Top of the Pops on Thursday and Shang-a-Lang every Friday had to suffice. But I did try and express it in other ways too. For example I got my mum to make me a tartan scarf (McEwan plaid, of course) which I always wore tied around my wrist as a mark of devotion. And I got a pair of baseball boots from Oxfam and coloured them in to match my half-mast tartan trews. If only Les or Eric could have seen me, it would have been love at first sight!

So come on, own up. Who else loved the Rollers?

I want to hear the gory details, so email me! In the meantime ... Altogether now — waving your scarf in the air:

“Give a little love Take a little love (na na naaa) Be prepared to forsake a little lovin’ When the sun comes shinin’ through We’ll know what to do-oooo-ooo!!”

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