What happened to Bay City Rollers as Les dies – illness, career U-turn and rehab

The news broke today that Bay City Rollers band member Les McKeown has died suddenly, which was confirmed by the band's former manager John MacLaughlan.

Bay City Rollers took over in the 1970s with their Scottish accents as they stunned the world with their pop-rock hits – and have sold a whopping 120 million records worldwide.

The group's line-up had many changes over the years, but the classic line-up during its heyday included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir.

Since 2018 the current line-up includes original guitarist Stuart "Woody" Wood, singer Ian Thomson, bassist Marcus Cordock, and drummer Jamie McGrory.

Here's what happened to its original members…

Les McKeown

The frontman died at the age of 65 suddenly on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Les' death was confirmed and announced on Thursday, April 22, 2021, by the band's former manager John MacLaughlan.

John, who dealt with his comeback shows in 2015, broke the tragic news after being called by Les's wife Peko.

He said: "I'm very sad and shocked and so is Peko, his wife.

"She is heartbroken and called me from Les' phone with the news. I picked up and thought it was Les wanting a chat.

"I'm still in shock right now, I spoke to him last week and he was on great form and happy about life and happy to book his tour.

"We were friends as well as working partners.

"He was hoping to get it all going again and he was one of the hardest working men in the music industry."

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Les' family later revealed a statement to say he died suddenly at his home.

A statement shared on Les' Twitter account alongside a selfie of him read: "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 from privacy after the shock of our profound loss. Thank you. Keiko and Jubei McKeown."

Les led a colourful life, and spoke openly about his four month-long stint in rehab on the titular TV show Rehab.

Whilst everyone had two weeks to detox, Les decided to stay for four months, and said it changed her life for the better.

He said on the show: "I’ve been a bit of a George Michael, meeting people, often strangers, for sex."

Ian Mitchell

The official Bay City Rollers Facebook page announced the news of Ian's death at the age of 62 with a statement on September 2, 2020.

This read: "We are deeply saddened by the news of Ian Mitchell's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Wendy, their family and friends.

"Rest In Peace, Ian."

Mitchell only spent a short time with the Bay City Rollers and was brought in after original member Alan Longmuir left the band in 1977.

Bay City Rollers recorded album ‘Dedication’ with Ian and had a hit with a cover of Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be Like You’ – with Mitchell performing lead vocals.

Alan Longmuir

Tragically on July 2, 2018, at the age of 70, Alan died two weeks after flying home from Mexico as he deteriorated from suffering from his health.

He was the bass guitarist of the band but replaced in 1976 at the height of the group's fame.

Alan returned to the group in 1978 and switched between bass guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboard.

Liam Rudden, director stage show of 'I Ran With The Gang: The Story of Alan Longmuir', said: "Having worked closely with Alan for the last seven years I am devastated by the news he has left us.

"Alan was one of the most gentle, generous and kind-hearted people I have ever known.

"He touched the lives of everyone he met with a smile that made them feel special, insisting that despite his amazing adventures in life he was still just 'a plumber from Edinburgh'."

Derek Longmuir

Brother to Alan, he and Derek founded the band in their childhood home in Edinburgh, with their first performance taking a place in a talent show in Princes Street Gardens.

Derek was a drummer in the band but in the early 1980s he retired from the music industry for good.

The star decided to go down a completely different career path as he decided to train as a nurse and worked at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Eric Faulkner

Leading guitarist Eric joined the band in 1972 and just a few years ago nearly died.

The star nearly lost his life in 2015 after he contracted Viral Encephalitis.

According to Better Health, Viral encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus. The most serious potential complication is permanent brain damage.

Although his life was saved, the star was left with Encephalitic Syndrome – inflammation of the brain.

Sadly he has not played in public since August 2015.

In the 1990s, he worked as a lead singer of a reformed version of the band.

Stuart John Wood

The 62-year-old guitarist is the only remaining original member in the group to this day.

Stuart was just 16-years-old when he joined the iconic band back in the 1970s.

He remains touring the world with the band and is also behind the scenes in the music industry, producing music through The Music Kitchen.

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