Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bay City Rollers -- "Saturday Night" (1975)

It's hard to believe today, but at one time the Bay City Rollers were so popular that some people said they were going to be as big as the Beatles.

The Bay City Rollers were formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1966.  They got their name by throwing a dart at a map of the United States.  It landed near Bay City, Michigan.

The group's first hit in the UK was a 1971 cover version of "Keep on Dancin'" by the Gentrys.  Their fourth UK single was "Saturday Night," but it just failed to chart.

But a few years later, the "tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh" suddenly hit their stride -- at least in the UK, where they had four top 10 singles in 1974, three more (including back-to-back #1 hits) in 1975, and two more in 1976.  Their first two albums went to #1 in the UK.   

In late 1975, "Saturday Night" -- a UK flop -- was released in the U.S. and Canada, and quickly went to #1 in both countries.  The Rollers cracked the top 40 in the U.S. several times after that, but never came close to having another #1 hit.  

The group began to release more sophisticated music beginning in 1977, but that wasn't really what their fans were looking for.  Band members began to come and go, and it was clear the end was near.  One of the group's lead singers, Ian Mitchell -- he stayed less than a year -- told Rolling Stone that "I'm getting out before I stick my head in a gas oven."  (Baby want a bottle?)  For some reason, the Bay City Rollers remained popular in Japan, releasing three albums there in the early 1980s.

The Rollers sold tens of millions of records -- some believe they generated as much as five billion pounds in sales -- but didn't end up with a lot to show for it.  In 2007, six former Bay City Rollers sued Arista Records for unpaid royalties.  A few years later, three other ex-band members sued the first six because they wouldn't allow the three to join in the lawsuit.  Click here to read more about that lawsuit, which apparently is ongoing.

Here are the Bay City Rollers lipsynching "Saturday Night":

And here's a video of the boys lipsynching the song with Ann-Margret (did you know she was born in Sweden?) in front of an enthusiastic audience that appears to consist entirely of British grandmothers and grandfathers:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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