• Sonia Neale

Borderline Personality Disorder and the Bay City Rollers

This morning I woke to the news that Les McKeown, Lead Singer of the Bay City Rollers had suddenly died. Was this a really bad joke? I had to ask friends interstate if this was true. It was. I am in shock. I am gutted. I burst into tears. How do I explain that one of my major coping mechanisms for my mental health when I was younger was my intense obsession with these five tartan clad boys from Edinburgh. I’ve had a 46 year long love affair with Les, Eric, Woody, Alan and Derek. Longer than my 36 year relationship with my husband.

When we got a computer in 1996, the first words I typed in were “Bay City Rollers” and found they were still active in the UK and USA. Fast forward to 2000 and I’m on my way to Edinburgh for a “Bay City Roller” long weekend along with about 100 other girls/women. Afterwards waiting in the autograph queue, Les found out I was from Australia and grabbed me for a long, passionate, very unexpected kiss. I had a whole relationship in that time, we courted, got married, had many babies, and then the kiss ended, and I was left with sweet memories. Then I rang my husband and told him.

The Bay City Rollers seemed to attract intense, emotional, traumatised girls. At thirteen I finally had something to throw all my virginal teenage angst and anger at. They were clean-shaven, non-smoking, non-drinking naïve young teenage virgins themselves. Ironically, back in 1975, many BCR fans admitted to writing fan fiction, pornographic fan fiction, and then burned it all in case someone (eg parents) found it.


I am still obsessed. I play their music, old and new, and note how Les’s voice went from high and sweet to rich and gravelly (from one too many whiskeys and cigarettes). The last time I played and sang along to a BCR song was yesterday.

I cannot even begin to process what Les’s death means to me. I only found out this morning. I do know that life for me at this point is about before he died and after he died. Some of my friends are grief-stricken. Since 2000 they have been his Australian contact point. While I hung round the fringes, they were part of his entourage and friends with him. I heard lots of stories and anecdotes. I was always hopeful of a reunion of the ones who were still alive, it didn’t happen for me. I did see Les play at the Astor theatre in 2018.


I was sad when David Bowie died, even sadder when David Cassidy died. But this is so different, this is so personal, so visceral. It’s as though part of me has died along with him. I need to work through my grief and come out the other side hopefully transformed with more of a grasp on this precious thing we call life.

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