The Bay City Rollers were playing at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1975 the same year I met Mark Knopfler and John Illsley. I was a conductor at the time on the number 11 bus, we were the last bus back into the city, and at the terminus at Hammersmith the fans from the gig were just a horde of tartan clad spirits screaming their love for the five lads from Edinburgh. That soon changed into a obsessed baying for blood when my driver decided he’d seen enough and sped away from the terminus without stopping to pick up a passenger. As hundreds of them chased after us it looked from the open deck at the back of the bus, like a scene from a zombie film as we were pursued by some pretty fit teenagers?
It seems like us Edinburgh boys are susceptible to meeting those who want to use or talents, but want to pocket the profits we bring them so Illsley and Knopfler to me just fit in nicely with Tam Paton, the manager of the Bay City Rollers. Paton’s father had a haulage firm in Musselburgh a town just outside Edinburgh that delivered sacks of potato’s, he also enjoyed the company of teenage boys and always having money to spend he was never without a young admirer from the rent boys of Edinburgh.
I came across him in a late night dance venue in Wallyford, he was dressed in a light blue suit and wearing cowboy boots and a stetson hat. Most of us were still in our teens and he looked completely out of place, of course he could have been giving the live bands a once over, but he wasn’t into the music business at that time. And his intentions were made clear when my mate ended up taking him outside and setting about him after being propositioned, all I remember is seeing the stetson flying in the air and the blue suit changing colour as they rolled about in the muddy grass outside the gig. If I’d known he would turn out to be a rip off merchant and leave the five Bay City Rollers without the money they were entitled too, he’d have got a few punches from me as well.
I’d like to say its great to see the boys together again, but the scars are deep when you get a using like that, when their lives should have been one of having no money worries after their break up it wasn’t, but unlike Ken Buchanan Edinburgh’s world champion boxer who can’t remember which bank he deposited his money in, the Bay City Rollers know where theirs went straight into Tam Paton’s pocket, I wonder if 1975 was a fatalistic year for rip offs.