When the Bay City boys rolled up and turned the town tartan

Bay City Rollers at the Guild Hall
Bay City Rollers at the Guild Hall
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Mass hysteria, fans fainting and being crushed – the Bay City Rollers concert in Preston was memorable – but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Mass hysteria, fans fainting and being crushed – the Bay City Rollers concert in Preston was memorable – but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

The Rollers on stage

The Rollers on stage

The Scottish five-piece performed at the city’s Guild Hall on May 15 1975 and certainly ensured there were plenty of headlines.

Even before the concert, the band was causing controversy, as around 6,000 schoolgirls in Lancashire signed a petition pleading with guitarist Alan Longmuir not to quit.

He left a few months later, to be replaced by Ian Mitchell, and the band continued with great success.

As 2,000 fans crammed into the concert hall to see their favourite heart-throbs, four girls – 14-year-old Elaine Dunn, Angela Braithwaite, 15, Margaret Slater, 16, and Ann Connell – suffered minor arm or back injuries during a crush as crowds filed out after an eventful evening.

The Rollers on stage

The Rollers on stage

And they were not the only ones to feel the effects of the stampede, as dozens fainted from the excitement of the prospect of being near the Rollers.

An official from the concert played it down, telling the Evening Post: “Only three or four fainted. The rest were overcome with emotion, heat and hysteria.”

But the fans were determined not to let their ill health get in the way as they returned shortly after being treated to rejoin the madness and fulfil their dream.

The air was filled with a buzz as the band, consisting of Alan and Derek Longmuir, Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood, Eric Faulkner and Les McKeown, entered the stage after a mission control countdown by Mancunian DJ Dave Eager.

Crowds waited eagerly in the Guild Hall

Crowds waited eagerly in the Guild Hall

The crowd went wild, screaming and singing along to their favourite tunes, including Shang-a-Lang, Summerlove Sensation and All of Me Loves All of You.

There was rebellion in the room as the cheeky fans stood on chairs, despite being warned by stewards to climb down.

The band happily played their hits for 45 minutes, lapping up all the attention, until they were interrupted by a temporary power failure.

As the concert hall was plunged in darkness, fans booed in disappointment as they waited what probably seemed hours.

Fans go wild

Fans go wild

Crews frantically worked to get the set up and running, and the boys came back on to carry on their set, creating a sense of relief and merriment for the revellers who didn’t want the festivities to end.

The tartan-clad Rollers themselves escaped a mobbing, but a few girls were within grabbing distance from the stage as a 50-strong army of stewards struggled to keep them away, despite a metal barrier in the way.

Whilst the fans would argue the concert was a great success, leaders in Preston were more wary as it put them off any future appearances by the band.

Speaking after the event, Coun Harold Parker, chairman of the city’s entertainment, told the Evening Post that the Preston corporation may have to rethink whether they would allow them to play again.

But despite warnings over the hysteria, praise was given to some young fans who acted bravely and responsibly, as well as Margaret Burdekin, a nurse, who missed part of the concert to give first aid to some troubled teenagers.

The mad scramble to see the Scottish pin-ups began much earlier as they camped out all night to ensure they were first in line for tickets.

Tartan scarves at the ready

Tartan scarves at the ready

Fans travelled as far as Yorkshire and the North East to see the Rollers in Preston, ensuring the concert was a sell-out.

Local readers remember the night well and could not wait to tell the Evening Post about their experiences.

Liz Orrell said: “My friend stayed at mine the night before the tickets went on sale.

“We couldn’t sleep so I went and woke my dad up at about 1am.

“My mum packed a flask and found us sleeping bags.

“Dad drove us to the Guild Hall at about 2am to join the line waiting for the ticket office to open – in his pyjamas.”

Debbie Scott-McDonald, of Larches, was 15 when she attended the concert and was one of many to pass out during the concert. She even missed a chance to speak to the boys as they walked straight past her.

The 55-year-old said: “My friend Lorraine Farley and I were at the front, near the stage.

“I was pushed against the railings and I passed out.

“The bouncers carried me over the railings and sat me at the side with the St John Ambulance and the wheelchair users.

“They gave me a cup of tea.

“After the concert The Bay City Rollers came past me to go backstage but I was that shocked and star struck that I couldn’t move. Everyone was shouting at me to ‘get them.’

“Then we made our way to the Saxon Inn hotel just outside Blackburn, hoping to get a glimpse of them. But when we got there, someone said they weren’t staying there, so we walked back down the carriageway in the dark with some other girls.

“When we got to the Tickled Trout there were two

policemen there who gave us a lift home.”

Kim Meek was there and will never forget the moment Eric waved at her. She said: “I camped all night for tickets.

“I was thrilled when Eric waved to just me – not any of the other 2,000 fans there.”

Valerie Gore had even taken the time to make a scarf for the occasion, and still has it as memorabilia.

She said: “I still use my scarves I made especially for that concert.”

Catherine Evans recalled the concert, saying: “I went with my friend Mary Utton. It was a fantastic night. I have such happy memories.”

Gail Lee said: “I slept out all night for tickets then went to the Swallow Hotel to get a glimpse of them.”

And despite the fans mainly being teenage girls, there were one or two boys in the audience.

Steve Jones said: “I went with my mate and two girls. I think we were the only boys there. We were only 13 though.

“One of the members of the group had announced he was going to leave and everybody was singing don’t leave Alan.

“I remember that the group came on and everybody frantically ran up to the front, leaving just me and my friend sat there.”