The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society discussion

When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers
This topic is about When the Screaming Stops
19 views
Hamilton-esque books, authors.. > "When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers" by Simon Spence

Comments Showing 1-50 of 60 (60 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
OK, so we're straying far and wide in the 'Hamilton-esque books and authors' category but what the heck. A few of us share an enthusiasm for all manner of tangentially related cultural flotsam and jetsam like The Bay City Rollers and their dark history. So, come one, come all, let's discuss 'When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers'


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers looks like the sort of book that'll guarantee to put your teeth in curlers."


Having now heard the two 'This Day In Music' podcasts I have to wholeheartedly concur Mark....

http://www.thisdayinmusic.com

...do a podcast (available on iTunes and Audioboom) and two recent episodes are devoted to When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers by Simon Spence.

On the second one Simon Spence explains the structure of the book. It sounds like an unbelievable story.

I had no idea that the Rollers were so big in America. I thought it was a case of just one hit at the end of their UK career, but no, hit albums, a US-wide TV show etc etc.

The second podcast also has the good taste to end with Nick Lowe's The Tartan Horde - 'Bay City Rollers, We Love You'...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmMlD...

Thanks Mark - you're an inspiration

More info about When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers on the author, Simon Spence's, website...

http://www.wordsonmusic.co.uk





Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments The Rollers were huge stateside, mainly because of the massive money-making machine behind them and the emergence of a very young -- and mainly female -- demographic with cash to spend. In short, you could argue that the Rollers filled a void in the states which, by rights, probably should have been filled by Bolan or The Sweet, but was denied.

I'm quite interested to read the "dark history" of the band mainly because, at the time, anything and everything that one could read about them was filtered through an incredibly powerful PR machine... which runs absolutely counter to today's climate, where every mundane detail of every celebrity's existence is readily available through social media avenues.

The Rollers' story, once the sheen of carefully-maintained PR is stripped away, looks to be one of the darkest ever.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "The Rollers' story, once the sheen of carefully-maintained PR is stripped away, looks to be one of the darkest ever."

That could well turn out to be a massive understatement. From what I heard on the second part of the podcast it's one of the biggest, darkest soap operas in music history, and it still continues to this day.

Needless to say, I've ordered my copy of When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers. It's been an expensive day, what with this one and the new, pricey JMR biog. Still, what price a classic read?


Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Unfortunately for the wallet, this forthcoming book has just been brought to my attention...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shock-Awe-Se...


message 6: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 04, 2016 11:44AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I know, I know, I feel another thread coming on. I'll probably wait & suggest to a relative that they buy me Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century for a Xmas present - which would doubtless make me very happy. I've enjoyed other books by Simon Reynolds, so feel sure he'll deliver with this one.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I know, I know, I feel another thread coming on....."

And here it is...

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Nigeyb wrote: "I'll probably wait & suggest to a relative that they buy ...for a Xmas present"

Or we could simply purchase copies for each other for Christmas. We wouldn't be saving money, but think of all the guilt we'd alleviate!


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Inspired!


message 10: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Normally, I would assume that Shock & Awe will eventually see a cheaper paperback release. You know, the sort that's yet to happen with Look Wot I Dun by Don Powell out of Slade.

Speaking of... this, too, is on the immediate horizon and already snatching at my bank account...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nobodys-Fool...

It seems I'm destined for the poor house.


message 11: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 16, 2016 03:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Thoroughly enjoying this book. Easy to forget just how massive they were. The prologue relates a Radio 1 fun day on 18 May 1975 which sounds anything but fun. Venue Mallory Park racetrack nr Leicester with DJs eventually broadcasting from an island in a lake. The Rollers arrived by helicopter. When the thousands of fans saw them they ran across the race track (in mid race) and started piling into the lake. More here...

http://www.radiorewind.co.uk/radio1/f...


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I'm on page 226 of 568 of When the Screaming Stops:

In 1975 the Rollers visit New York for the first time. Danny Fields, writing for 16 magazine, whilst also simultaneously managing the Ramones, and he took Les McKeown to dinner with da brudders. Said Fields, "All the Ramones loved the Bay City Rollers. Both acts were fascinated with each other". 'Blitzkrieg Bop' of course being a homage to 'Saturday Night'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBn2u...


message 13: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Another early punk connection... when Simon Spence writes about the 1960s beat music scene in Scotland, he mentions a combo called The Beatstalkers having been on the circuit. Their bass player was Alan Mair, who went on to play bass in The Only Ones.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Great intel Mark. As always. Amazing how old some of these punk and new wavers turned out to be eh?

I'd never made any mental connection with the Rollers and the 60s and yet, there they were, and Tam, plugging away in bands.


message 15: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments I'm strangely drawn to this book Nigeyb! I'll be interested to hear more of your thoughts as you progress with the book.

At the time my contemporaries pretended not to like the Bay City Rollers because we felt the fans were all young kids - but secretly we all loved them!

There's a lot of criticism and negativity about the 1970s which I could never understand. I always look back on it as a great time with all sorts of different types of music, great TV and films, wonderful fashion. The power cuts and political power struggles didn't really affect us and I can't relate to the grim memories that some people have. As a teenager then I didn't have many responsibilities and the lack of money didn't bother me.

But now there's a darker, seedier side of that era emerging and I'm curious but don't know if I want my memories tarnished any more.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Ruth wrote: "But now there's a darker, seedier side of that era emerging and I'm curious but don't know if I want my memories tarnished any more."

Well Ruth, the Dark History part of the book's title is very appropriate and the shadow of 70s sleaze (Savile etc.) hangs over this book like a big black cloud. On the one hand it's a detailed and informative trawl through the band's history - which is remarkable and compelling - but their manager Tam Patton, was a very controlling manager, strong and scary, and a homosexual with a penchant for teenagers and young men. Simon Spence does not going into any great detail but the subtext is clear. And that's just the start of decades of negative consequences for the band. Just as you could argue that Pete Best probably has had the happiest life of all The Beatles, so it is with the members of the Rollers who got turfed out before fame, with the exception of Nobby Clark the original singer, who was dispensed with as the Rollers were on the cusp of fame. Clark drifted into drug and gambling addiction though is happily recovered now and tells his own tale in The Lost Roller - The autobiography of Nobby Clark


message 17: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments I'm pretty sure that the greater truth is that the particular brand of darkness surrounding the Rollers in the 1970s was always there, always lurking and always a ruinous force. It's probably a matter of the Rollers' generation, especially as time moved on, being the first to have the courage and the platform to peel back the sheen of wholesome entertainment to reveal the sinister underbelly.

I'm about 100 pages in, and it's frightening. The grooming is well under way, although somehow clear of most peoples' radar. The innocence of the age seems somehow complicit as an enabling factor.

But the main point is that I can wholeheartedly recommend the book, even to non-fans of the band.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Yes, I'd echo all of that Mark.

Like you... "I can wholeheartedly recommend the book, even to non-fans of the band. "

I'd put myself in the non-fan category although have always had a soft spot for their classic singles. I was having a look at Allmusic earlier and started reading some of the (always interesting) Dave Thomson reviews and especially those from the late 70s and early 80s, the post-Les years, when very few people can have been listening but DT is amazingly complimentary about them and says a few times that if they'd been using a different name, the albums could have been a lot more successful.


message 19: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 17, 2016 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I was having a look at Allmusic earlier and started reading some of the (always interesting) Dave Thomson reviews and especially those from the late 70s and early 80s, the post-Les years, when very few people can have been listening but DT is amazingly complimentary about them and says a few times that if they'd been using a different name, the albums could have been a lot more successful."

Gotta say, I think DT has got this right. It's a Game is v patchy but from then on there's much to enjoy in Elevator, Voxx, and Ricochet. All have been rereleased by the Cherry Red offshoot 7Ts.

What a time to be alive.

Checkout 'Life on the Radio' from Ricochet for an example...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=901Za...


message 20: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments The later albums definitely had their merits, and would've captured more ears if their name hadn't shackled them to their past. Had they made a clean break, all might've gone differently.


message 21: by Mark (last edited Oct 18, 2016 03:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments A quick glance through the index pretty much dispels a rumour about the Rollers that I'd always secretly hoped was true -- that is that Chris Spedding was a session guitarist for much of their work. Damn. At least it's certain that he was a Womble.


message 22: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 19, 2016 05:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Ah well Mark, you can't have everything, though we do now know that all the early Bill Martin and Phil Coulter singles were played by session musicians, so easy to see where the rumour originated.

One criticism I have of an otherwise engrossing read is the lack of proof reading - there's quite a few typos and a few of the quotes get used more than once, presumably because Simon Spence forgot he'd already used them before. I have the impression of a well researched book that was written in a bit of a hurry. And, little things, like Ian Dury getting called Ian Drury is just plain sloppy. Still, it is a helluva read and one I am racing through such is my enthusiasm and interest level.


message 23: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments It's little things like that that really aren't so very little, especially when it comes to enjoying a book. The thing is riddled with sloppy editorial errors. I don't necessarily mind reading sentences or passages multiple times -- fuck knows I did a lot of that while making my way through Emanuel Litvinoff's The Lost Europeans, but in that instance it was because they were beautifully constructed and worded and merited spending time with.

If I had a dime for every time I've seen Ian Dury referred to as Ian Drury, and Eddie Cochran referred to as Eddie Cochrane, I'd be able to go on a tidy little shopping spree.


message 24: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments Nigeyb wrote: "Having now heard the two 'This Day In Music' podcasts I have to wholeheartedly concur Mark....

http://www.thisdayinmusic.com

...do a podcast (available on iTunes and Audioboom) and two recent episodes are devoted to When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers by Simon Spence...."


I've listened to the first podcast which I found very interesting.

I've now got the tune to Shangalang running around inside my head though. I don't know if it's an improvement on 'Boom Bang a Bang' which it replaced!


message 25: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 19, 2016 07:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
^ Shang-A-Lang is a huge improvement on Boom Bang a Bang in my view though for pure pop goodness look now further than Remember (Sha La La La)...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrpXh...

Mark wrote: "It's little things like that that really aren't so very little, especially when it comes to enjoying a book. "

You're right Mark. It wouldn't have taken much extra effort to get it right.

I'd also like to take issue with Spence's complete dismissal of the Voxx, Ricochet and Elevator albums, at least in terms of any comment on the quality of the music. I'm amazed by these albums. Unrecognisable from the glory years. As Dave Thompson states in his Allmusic review of Voxx, the Rollers had thoroughly reinvented themselves, someplace between classic Raspberries and the reborn Searchers; tight melodies and driving harmonies are their stock in trade, courtesy of an in-house writing machine that will astonish anyone who drifts into this stage of the band's career by mistake. He's spot on, I'm not suggesting they're classics, but they show there was genuine writing talent in the band and, as part of the narrative is how the band were trapped in their teeny bopper image, this is worthy of serious exploration, instead of which Spence barely mentions it and those remarks he does make are very dismissive.


message 26: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments A few years ago -- okay, maybe it was more than just a few years ago, BBC Radio aired a series of shows titled The Producers, each episode documenting the career of an important producer through music and interviews.

For those interested, I've just uploaded two of the better episodes for you to download. The links expire 26 October, so grab them sooner than later if you're interested.

The Roy Wood episode can be downloaded here:
https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/X...

The Chinn-Chapman episode can be downloaded here:
https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/g...

Enjoy!


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Thanks Mark. I think I've heard both those programmes before but might yet grab them for a re-listen before the deadline.

I finished When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers yesterday. Here's my review...

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

3/5


message 28: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments Does the book include interviews with band members?


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Ruth wrote: "Does the book include interviews with band members?"

Yep, all of them were interviewed so far as I can tell. Even Pat McGlynn, Ian Mitchell, Gordon "Nobby" Clark and Duncan Faure. There are extensive quotes from them, and from lots of others associated with the band.


message 30: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments Nigeyb wrote: "Ruth wrote: "Does the book include interviews with band members?"

Yep, all of them were interviewed so far as I can tell. Even Pat McGlynn, Ian Mitchell, Gordon "Nobby" Clark and Duncan Faure. The..."


I was just wondering how they felt about everything being dredged up again but presumably if they were happy to be interviewed they must be ok with it.


message 31: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 21, 2016 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I don't think these stories were ever far from the surface Ruth. There's been numerous press reports over the years - along with various incidents and convictions. The band members seem to have different responses - which also have changed over time.

Currently, Les is wholeheartedly exploiting the Rollers name and would probably think any publicity is helpful. Eric also occasionally plays with a version of the Rollers - his own - but is also a folk singer. Woody participated with Les last year, and then they fell out. He has a sideline in Ambient Celtic music. Derek is persona non grata following his conviction. Alan also played with Les last year - he participated in a show about the Rollers at the last couple of Edinburgh festivals, which attracted good notices. I think after all these years they are all, to varying degrees, reconciled to their pasts and the life sentence that is being a Roller.


message 32: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments While all of the band were quoted throughout the book, I had the sense that none of the "definitive" lineup of the band [Derek, Eric, Les, Alan & Woody] actively participated in interviews specifically for the book. I could be mistaken, though.


message 33: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 21, 2016 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
You may well be right Mark. The acknowledgements section doesn't make it clear. It just states the author spoke to hundreds of people connected to the band. It sounds as though his research was very rigorous - something I think comes through in the level of detail. He mentions that all, bar a few off the record interviews, were recorded and that a transcript was sent to every interviewee.


message 34: by Susan (new)

Susan | 264 comments I have been so busy lately that I have participated much less in many of my Goodreads groups - only managing to keep up with one that I help moderate. I do remember the Bay City Rollers, although I was never a fan, but I grew up in the early Seventies with tartan trousers! This would have been an interesting book and I wish I'd managed to join in. Is the group planning any other music reads?


message 35: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 31, 2016 01:24AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Thanks Susan. It was just a spontaneous thing. Do add a few comments if you feel inclined.

I will be following up this read of 'When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers' with a related read - 'Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair with The Bay City Rollers' by Caroline Sullivan, probably in the next few days.

Mark has already read it.

It sounds like another goodie....

Funny, poignant, and totally original--this story of one girl's love affair with the Bay City Rollers is a brilliant portrait of an era.

'I loved them desperately. For four years I lived for them. It's not a pretty story.'

Bye, Bye Baby is the true tale of a passionate obsession with possibly the most untalented bunch of musicians in the history of rock and roll. Even in their heyday, Leslie, Eric, Woody, Alan, and Derek of the Bay City Rollers were hideously uncool among everyone but fourteen-year-old girls. Their tartan knickerbockers and striped socks were sneered at, while their feeble teenybopper music was ridiculed.

And yet for Caroline Sullivan, a teenager in suburban New Jersey, these pasty-faced Scottish youths ruled her heart. Over four hot summers from 1975 to 1979, Sullivan and her band of lust-crazed friends, the Tacky Tartan Tarts, crisscrossed the United States in the Rollers' wake, staking out airports and hotels, tricking airline clerks and wheedling information out of bodyguards and PR companies-all in pursuit of that one big night.

Bye Bye Baby is a confessional memoir that invites the reader into some of Sullivan's most excruciatingly embarrassing moments. More than just an uproarious tale of teenage passion and teen-adulation, it is also an inspired exploration of the intimate bonds that tie teenage girls.





message 36: by Susan (new)

Susan | 264 comments Are you a Rollers fan, Nigeyb, or was just a random choice? I do think we forget how big they were at one time.


message 37: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 31, 2016 04:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
No Susan, not a big fan, I'm more interested in the era and them as a phenomenon. Their story is also very interesting, both a cautionary tale and symptomatic of the darker things that were happening at the time.

That said, I retain a soft spot for a few of their tunes which occasionally get a spin here at Nigeyb Towers.

What about you? Were the tartan trousers indicative of your love for Woody/Les/Eric/Derek/Alan (delete as applicable)?


message 38: by Susan (new)

Susan | 264 comments No, I think my mother brought them. I was into Wings (my mother asked whether I knew Paul had once been in another group - I didn't, but - cue obsession), Billy Joel and -as I recall - had an early crush on Starsky and Hutch :)


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Ah well, at least you were "on message" trouser-wise even if disinclined to chant..

B-A-Y, B-A-Y, B-A-Y, C-I-T-Y, With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S, Bay City Rollers are the best


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 264 comments Hideous trousers! I hated them, but I suppose they were fashionable. I do also remember a terrible one piece, pink cat suit that was undoubtedly inspired by The Avengers and, I am sure, also looked terrible. All of my 1970's childhood photos are fashion nightmares!


message 41: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Susan wrote: "Is the group planning any other music reads?"

I think Nige and I are both planning to read Shock & Awe, Simon Reynolds' new massive -- 700+ pages -- book documenting the Glam Rock years. I've got mine already.


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan | 264 comments That does look interesting, Mark. I have my eye on 1971 - Never a Dull Moment: Rock's Golden Year as well as I Swear I Was There.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Yep, will def be reading Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century but might not get my copy until Yuletide comes. Missus B has banned me from buying any more books, music or films until the new year so she has some present ideas to give to various relatives who want to lavish me with gifts - lovely people that they are.

1971 - Never a Dull Moment: Rock's Golden Year and I Swear I Was There both appeal to me too and I could easily be persuaded to read either, or both.


message 44: by Susan (new)

Susan | 264 comments Then I've added to your Christmas list, Nigeyb, which is no bad thing :)


message 45: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 01, 2016 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I will be following up this read of 'When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers' with a related read - 'Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair with The Bay City Rollers' by Caroline Sullivan, probably in the next few days.

Mark has already read it."


I'm now 75 pages in and loving it.

Caroline's honesty and frankness makes it so readable. It's a really enjoyable read.

Coincidentally, and through the wonders of GoodReads, I've had a bit of communication with Caroline who has recently started reading 'When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers'.


message 46: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments Nigeyb wrote: "Coincidentally, and through the wonders of GoodReads, I've had a bit of communication with Caroline who has recently started reading 'When the Screaming Stops: The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers'. "

Has she said what she thinks of it? That is one of the things I love about the internet, not only can you chat with people who have interests in common, you can make connections from halfway across the world!


message 47: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Very pleased to hear that you're enjoying Bye Bye Baby. It's fun and engaging and completely devoid of pretension... imminently and equally enjoyable the second time I read it.


message 48: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 01, 2016 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Thanks Ruth - agreed, it is one of the great things about the wired world

Ruth wrote: "Has she said what she thinks of it?"

Not really, except to express some surprise about what was happening behind the scenes

Mark wrote: "Very pleased to hear that you're enjoying Bye Bye Baby. It's fun and engaging and completely devoid of pretension... imminently and equally enjoyable the second time I read it."

Couldn't agree more Mark. On the back of my edition one of the reviews states that for "an established rock critic to admit a lapse of taste of such gargantuan proportions takes a certain kind of chutzpah". Hmmm. I'd flip that on its head and say that it is Caroline's complete frankness and honesty that makes it such a compelling read. As for a "lapse of taste", that smacks of the kind of snobbery that characterises the worst music journalism. Or maybe that's just my way of justifying my, ahem, extremely broad musical taste.


message 49: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments I'm in full agreement with you... it's only music, after all, and the great thing about music is that there's room enough for everyone and every taste. Then again, I suppose there are those who would go out for a seven-course meal where each course is a potato dish.

So... I read them too far apart to say, really, so I wonder if you're able to draw strong parallels between Bye Bye Baby and Nina Antonia's Prettiest Star?


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Good question Mark. There are definitely many parallels between them, not least that both are brilliant memoirs about an obsession with a musical artist. The main difference, perhaps only significant one, is that Nina had a much more troubled childhood than Caroline appears to have had. Or so far anyway. So perhaps slightly different motivations underpinning their respective obsessions but both well worth reading. I think it's the confessional aspect of both books that makes them so good.


« previous 1
back to top