Bay City Rollers star Les McKeown has been touring for 45 years and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
In fact, after conquering a booze and drugs addiction with the help of a spell in rehab, he has a renewed passion for music and life in general.
Les, 63, says: “Around 2001, I was a grumpy singer in a band going: ‘I’m not f***ing singing that again’.
“But when I had the misfortune to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, I went into rehab and came out feeling just like my young self again. And it’s been that way ever since.
“Part of the rehabilitation was to look at all the positive things in your life, all the things you are proud of.
“For me, I found singing again, which was my first love, my calling in life. And I haven’t looked back since.”
As part of the tartan-wearing Scottish 70s sensations, whose hits included Bye Bye Baby and Shang-A-Lang, Les found fame as a teenager.
But that came with a price to pay – being controlled by the Bay City Rollers’ abusive manager Tam Paton, who was jailed in 1982 for gross indecency with two boys aged 16 and 17. Paton died in 2009.
In his autobiography, Les told how Paton would give them drugs and try it on with them – something he says contributed to his addictions.
“I had a #MeToo moment with the manager,” Les says today. “And that was put aside, put into a back compartment in my brain. Then other things happened which weren’t very nice.
“But the straw that broke the camel’s back was both my parents dying in 2002 within about a month of each other.
“I got started on the bottle and never came back.”
Initially he was only supposed to be in rehab for two weeks but Les spent four months at the centre in Malibu, California.
He says: “At the beginning, you don’t want to be there, you want to be in the pub. But they more or less keep you there for the first couple of days, on medication which stops your body reacting badly to lack of alcohol. You think it’s a waste of time but then as the toxins leave your body, your head seems to clear up a bit.
“Then you start listening – there’s a lot of therapy, talking about your deepest, darkest secrets, and positive thinking. They give you a full service. It was really good.”
Fans can catch Les on his current tour right now on which he performs as Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers.
His former bandmate Stuart “Woody” Wood has a rival Bay City Rollers outfit and while Les admits the pair never got on, he’s not fussed about this incarnation, provided it doesn’t tarnish the group’s name.
Les says: “I really don’t mind because I believe the public will decide who they are going to see.”
And with projects on the horizon including a Canada tour and
potential work in the US, it doesn’t look like Les will be slowing down any time soon.
“I don’t mind challenges,” he says. “Every day is a challenge. It’s all about attitude.”
● The Bay City Rollers Gold 3 CD is released today. For details about Les’s tour, go to lesmckeown.com.