When the Bay City boys rolled up at the city's Guild Hall

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

Wednesday, 6th July 2016, 12:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th July 2016, 1:57 pm
The Rollers on stage

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

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 - suffering minor arm or back injuries during a crush as crowds filed out after an eventful evening.

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.

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The Rollers on stage

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

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

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 DJ Dave Eager.

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

The Rollers on stage

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

The band played for 45 minutes until they were interrupted by a temporary power failure.

As fans booed in disappointment, for what probably seemed hours to the eager spectators, 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.

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

But 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.

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

He left a few months later, to be placed by Ian Mitchell.

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

Local readers remember the night well - and had even camped out all night to ensure they were first in line for tickets.

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.

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 Johns Ambulance and the wheelchair users. They gave me a cup of tea. After the concert The Bay City Rollers came passed 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 made a scarf for the occasion, as 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,”