The Rolling Stones, ‘Fool To Cry’ and RIP Charlie Watts

As you may have noticed there hasn’t been much from the Rolling Stones shared around here. I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan, but I can’t let the death of Charlie Watts go by without a mention. When the band formed back in the early ’60s, I doubt very much if anyone expected them to be still touring and recording new music almost 60 years later, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Doing the maths, it means the original – and even the unoriginal – band members are getting on in years. Charlie made it to the grand old age of 80 and by all accounts he was a very nice man, a jazz drummer who joined a blues band and quietly got on with the job, leaving the front of house stuff to the Glimmer Twins, and Ronnie. It seems chestnut hair-dye, gaudy silk shirts and pirate-esque garb was not for Charlie, and instead he developed a penchant for fine tailoring. A good move, and very smart he always looked too. He was married to wife Shirley for 57 years, almost unheard of in the rock world, so good for them. She will be bereft.

I’m not quite sure why the Rolling Stones haven’t featured more in the ‘tracks of my years’ but much of it down to the fact I was just too young for them back in the early days and by the time I understood more of what they were about, and the themes they covered in their song lyrics, my allegiances lay elsewhere.

I do like some of their ballads however and Wild Horses has been shared around here twice before, both by them and by the The Sundays (link here). Another favourite of mine is Fool To Cry from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1976. I did say I wasn’t going to return to that year for a while but it is a beautiful song and although not too much input from Charlie on that one, I’ve enjoyed listening to it again. I remember it being one of the songs played at our local youth club as it had reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart that year. The good friend I’ve often mentioned around here always had to leave the hall when it came on. Perhaps it was teenage hormones, or maybe she’d just had her heart broken, but at age 16 Fool to Cry always made her cry.

There will no doubt have been a fair few tears shed by the remaining Stones today, and understandably so. They’ve had the longest of journeys in an industry where longevity is a rarity. It won’t ever be quite the same again.

Fool To Cry by the Rolling Stones:

Until next time…, RIP Charlie Watts.

Fool To Cry Lyrics
(Song by Keith Richards/Mick Jagger)

When I come home baby
And I’ve been working all night long
I put my daughter on my knee, and she said
“Daddy what’s wrong?”
She whispered in my ear so sweet

You know what she said?
She said

“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

“Daddy, you’re a fool”

You know, I got a woman
(Daddy, you’re a fool)
And she live in the poor part of town
And I go see her sometimes
And we make love, so fine
I put my head on her shoulder
She said, “Tell me all your troubles.”
You know what she said? she said

“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Oh, I love you so much baby
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry, yeah

She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry”

Even my friends say to me sometimes
I make out like I don’t understand them

You know what they say?
They say, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

I’m a fool baby
I’m a fool baby
I’m a certified fool
I want to tell ya
Gotta tell ya, baby

I’m a fool baby
I’m a fool baby
Come on
I’m a fool
I’m a fool
I’m a fool

RIP Les McKeown: Revisiting the Rollermania Archive

Another Bay City Roller left us this week. Despite getting very little airplay nowadays, the announcement of lead singer Les McKeown’s death made it onto the national news, a nod to the phenomenal success the boys had in the early 1970s.

It took me a long time to admit to having been a fan of the Rollers around here, but a few years ago I finally bit the bullet after having a rummage through my box of teenage memorabilia. As someone who became a teenager in 1973 I was the perfect demographic for these tartan teen sensations. They were Scottish, like me, so looked a lot like the boys we went to school with (a bit pasty and undernourished) but their catchy, feelgood pop songs kept on coming and they became for a time the biggest ‘boy band’ in the world.

RIP Les McKeown

Les was my favourite Roller – He was the lead singer with a great voice, and also had a swagger that belied his age, only 17 when they first found success. As I was very shallow back then, I also thought he was the best-looking of the band. Their success was short-lived, but for those of us who were fans we will never forget those days of Rollermania. I first shared the post below back in April 2018, only a few months before the death of Bay City Rollers founder member Alan Longmuir as it turned out, but in view of this week’s news, I think it deserves another outing.

RIP Les McKeown

Alyson’s Archive – “Rollermania” and Me

“It’s a teenage dream, to be seventeen”, sang Les McKeown back in 1975. But no, I beg to differ Les. Back in 1975 it was a teenage dream to be fourteen, and have pictures of you and the rest of the boys staring down at me from my bedroom wall. Had I been a year or two older, or a year or two younger, it just wouldn’t have happened but I was the perfect demographic for these “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”. My generation had missed out on Beatlemania, and Osmondmania was on the wane, it was time for something new and luckily for me the band that inspired this latest mania came from Scotland.

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The humble author’s teenage collection of Bay City Roller pinups!

(I have shared a display like this once before, of David Cassidy pinups. I would just like to reiterate that I honestly don’t spend my evenings pouring over such teen-dream fodder, because that truly would be weird, it’s just that if you’ve ever had to clear out your parents loft when they downsize, it kind of becomes redistributed to your own loft, which fortunately for this blog is where it remains today.)

Anyway, getting back to the Rollers, the band’s founder members were brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir but after a few changes along the way, in late 1973 the classic line-up fell into place, consisting of guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart “Woody” Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan and drummer DerekTam Paton, their (highly controlling) manager was the man in charge, they got a record deal with Bell, and they came up with a unique “look” which consisted of cropped trousers, skimpy V-neck sweaters and plenty of tartan – What could go wrong?

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That’s me on the left in brown corduroy!

All through the year 1974 they were never far from the UK Singles Chart and when we heard the band were coming to the Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, of course my friends and I (aged only 13) went to see them. This tour was to promote the album “Rollin’” where most of the songs were written by those champions of the short and catchy pop song, Phil Coulter and Bill Martin. First of all we had Remember (Sha-La-La-La), then we had Shang-A-LangSummerlove Sensation and finally All Of Me Loves All Of You. The album went to No. 1 in the Album Chart – The boys were adored by hordes of teeny-bopper fans and were well and truly on their way.

And here are a few personal memories of that time. I don’t know about elsewhere in the country but here in Scotland, back in the 1970s, many young lads left school at 16 after (half-heartedly for many of them) sitting their “O” Grades. They all had apprenticeships lined up and work was plentiful, so why not? There was however the technicality that if you turned 16 later on in the calendar year, you couldn’t leave school until Christmas. As a group they were called “The Christmas Leavers”. They didn’t want to be there and the concept of abiding by strict school uniform rules went out the window. One by one, in 1974, they started to adopt Bay City Roller style clothing wearing trousers with tartan down the side, the cropped jumpers and the short-sleeved shirts. They had Les, Eric and Woody style haircuts and of course had similar accents – For girls like us in the lower grades they became our big crushes. We all had our favourite Roller (mine was Les, quite the showman back in the day) and there were definitely boys in our school who started to look like him – Unlike the clean-cut Osmonds, who kind of came from an alien planet as far as we were concerned, the Rollers were the “boys next door”.

By 1975, Rollermania had really taken hold, and after putting together their second album “Once Upon A Star”, another tour was announced. Again my friends and I persuaded one of the mums to take us into Aberdeen to see them. Their cover of the old Four Seasons song Bye Bye Baby was at No. 1 in the Singles Chart and ended up being the biggest selling record of the year.

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The Rollin’ Tour programme and Once Upon A Star, complete with pull-out pics

Unlike the previous year when we went to see them, this was a far more hysterical concert with girls screaming constantly throughout – I probably went hoarse myself, shouting LES at the top of my voice every time he came near the front of the stage. But strangely, my most vivid memory of that night is of a particular member of security staff, who for one night only had been given free rein to manhandle young girls. This is not a #MeToo confession but I did come home with a whiplash that night, as suddenly, out of nowhere, a pair of hands had grabbed my shoulders and firmly shoved me back down into my seat. Everyone in the entire theatre was standing, but for some reason this one “bouncer” had decided he would go up and down all the rows forcing us back into our seats – I took some time out to watch him, and even at that young age, could tell he was enjoying hurting us. Of course I didn’t tell my parents, as we didn’t in those days, but this was a new concept for me and one I have obviously never forgotten.

But back to the Rollers – In 1976 they were kind of lost to us as they secured a record deal with Arista and were heavily promoted in America. They appeared on Saturday Night Live and ended up at the top of the Billboard Chart with a song that had been a flop in the UK but obviously hit the spot in the US. Saturday Night started off with a chant that also struck a cord with New York band the Ramones – It is no coincidence that their record Blitskrieg Bop starts in the same way. They had watched the Rollers on telly and decided to copy their winning formula of a catchy three minute song, a “uniform” and a football-style chant. Hard to believe I know, but part of rock and pop folklore.

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Most of us by this time had moved on to “real boys”, so we were happy to forget about the Rollers and leave them to their success in other parts of the world such as North America, and strangely enough Japan, where they still have a following today. I have never had any inclination to see them perform as part of a reunion tour, as for me, they were very much of their time. I do however feel very sorry for them sometimes, as it is well known that despite their global success they ended up with none of the money – 300 million albums sold worldwide (in an era where the revenue came from such sales) and no spondulicks. Tam Paton was of course blamed, and he went to his grave taking the secret of where the money went with him. The Rollers were not highly educated and they came from families that were ill-equipped to deal with their fame, so became one of the many financial casualties of that era.

Give A Little Love by the Bay City Rollers:


I am going to end this post with some extracts from what has turned out to be the most interesting part of rifling through old teenage memorabilia – The words that were on the back of the pinups. Prior to being in a band, Alan used to get the horses ready for the local dairy’s milk round (yes really). Eric and Derek (has a nice ring to it) were apprentice joiners and Woody and Les were only 16 when they found fame – Not the best backgrounds from which to go on and “take care of business”. Despite it all falling apart in the late ’70s, it sounds as if the Rollers still have happy memories of their heyday, their time in the sun. The Beatles had a mania, and so did these five boys from Edinburgh – Who would have ever thought it possible?

Lesley's bio from the Rollin' tour programme
Leslie’s stats – Some shockers there!
Magazine feature on the Rollers
Hanging out with the band
The Rollers’ Story Part 1
The Rollers’ Story Part 2

Until next time….

Give A Little Love Lyrics
(Song by Phil Wainman/John Goodison)

It’s a teenage dream to be seventeen
And to find you’re all wrapped up in lo-o-ove
And I found that you made a dream come true
Now I do believe in what they say-ay-at

You’ve got to give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

When I walk with you there is just we two
And the world goes by and I just don’t care-are
And I know one day I will find a way
To be safe and sound within your hear-eart

So until I do, gonna give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

Phil Spector, The Ronettes and ‘Be My Baby’

Yet another person written about in the early days of this blog left us yesterday. Phil Spector was an innovator, coming up with the “Wall of Sound”, a Wagnerian approach to rock ‘n’ roll. His work with the Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love produced some of the finest pop tunes ever recorded, and of course he gave us the best Christmas Album ever made, A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records. I think I’ve shared something from it every year since starting this blog.

He had a troubled life however and at the time of his death was an inmate of the California state prison system. Here is not the place to go into the whys and wherefores, but if you want to hear a bit of classic Phil Spector, click on the post below where you will find his once wife, Ronnie Spector, performing Be My Baby with her fellow Ronettes. This two-and-a-half minute gem is often cited as being “the perfect pop song” – A fine accolade indeed.

What's It All About?

Following on from my last post when I wrote about Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black”, her image at that time was very much taken from the American girl groups of the early ’60s. The most famous and recognisable of these was probably The Ronettes of Be My Baby fame.

Be My Baby by The Ronettes:

Now I would be lying if I said that I remembered this song from 1963 when it was first released, but it is one of those songs you will have heard throughout your entire life, popping up on the radio and on film soundtracks. Phil Spector, who produced the record, was an innovator and in the early 60s created his now infamous “wall of sound” as a backdrop to the sultry vocals of singers like Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett of The Ronettes and Darlene Love. This new approach to recording included using whole string and…

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