Tam Paton Spills The Heinz Baked
candid conversation with Mister Controversial by Hannes A. Jonsson (Via
telephone, Sunday January 23rd, 2000).
What do you do these days?
Im into property. I buy real estate, as you
would call it, and I develop it and I rent it out in Edinburgh. I have
quite a large amount of flats. You know, top quality flats in the West
End of the city. About 41, 42 beautiful West End flats in Edinburgh.
I went into this when I finished with the Rollers in 1978, 79,
so Ive been doing it for more than 20 years now.
How are you doing health-wise?
Health-wise Ive been doing very well. I had
a heart attack scare (Dec.96), but it wasnt a heart attack,
it was just over work. It was total over work.
What was the story with that drug raid on your home last
year (March 99) ?
(Laughs) I had a police raid looking for a cannabis
plant. And what happened was that I had bought an artificial cannabis
plant from a major store here in Edinburgh. It was a lovely plant, a
beautiful, big plant. It looked like a cannabis leaf, you know, and
its artificial and made in Japan! (Laughs) And I had it here in
my living room and I had friends coming out to see me and we always
joked about it being a cannabis plant, you see? But somebody obviously
phoned the police, thinking I was growing cannabis. And what happened
then was the police came to my home and asked if they could look around.
So they got a warrant to search my home and they found an artificial
cannabis plant (Laughs). I did get an apology from the police. That
was it basically. But Im all for cannabis, I dont mind people
smoking it. I think it should be legalized. I find its more dangerous
to drink alcohol and maybe get killed that way, so Ive always
been with the pro-legalizing of cannabis like Paul McCartney and the
rest of them. I mean, my father was an alcoholic, so I know. But I havent
Most managers in pop music remain firmly in the background
and the public rarely knows - or cares - who they are, unless theyre
someone like Brian Epstein (The Beatles' manager) or Malcolm McLaren (the
man who put the Sex Pistols together) - or you.
Or Me? (Laughs)
You became almost as well known as the individual Rollers
themselves. Was there ever a conscious decision made for you to be that
visible and vocal?
No, it wasnt really, no. I mean, I always
believed that the Rollers were built on image, certainly not on music.
I dont know what theyre like musically at the moment, but
when I took on the Rollers I was looking for an image and thats
exactly what I was always doing, building an image. Unfortunately, sometimes,
they were doing interviews and I got in the way, because I was trying
to guide them one way and maybe I was overpowering, I dont know.
I never meant to be overpowering, it was all done in the interest of
How did you initially become involved in music - and with
I had played in bands all my life. I played in bands
since the day I left the army, and even before that I played in bands.
I played piano and I sang with the bands. With a band called the Crusaders,
I backed people like Dusty Springfield and Billy Fury. We also traveled
up and down the country, as an opening act, with bands like The Hollies.
We were the type of band that if a record came out by a certain act,
we could make it sound like that particular record. We did, for instance,
Bobby Vees Take Good Care Of My Baby - that type of
thing. This was all in the sixties, you know. We also won lots of contests
all over Britain, but we never were able to make it, but we were a very
musical band. At one point, we appeared in a contest at the Prince Of
Wales Theatre in London in front of Brian Epstein, Cilla Black, Ringo
Starr and others. And we came about 10th out of twelve acts in the show
(Giggles). And that almost broke up the band, because we thought we
were musical and everything we did was perfect. We could copy any band
and make it sound like that particular band. And after that show where
we came 10th, I wanted to know why we were 10th and I did get a chance
to speak to Brian Epstein. And he said to me, You were a good
band, nothing wrong with you, but the band just didnt have any
image. Good band, you know, but no charisma and no magic. You were just
like a show band which played very well and people could dance to it,
have a good time, but afterwards they would just walk away unaffected
by it. I didnt even know what the word image meant; I couldnt
even figure out what he had meant by it. But we eventually broke up,
the band Crusaders, and I formed a dance band and I moved into Palais
de Danse in Edinburgh, which was the biggest dance hall there. I got
offered the job as a band leader there, to lead an orchestra. But I
changed it into a showband, a big band, you know the type with the saxophones
swinging back and forth and everything, and we drew big crowds in there.
But on Thursdays there were teenage nights. So the manager at the Palais
de Danse asked me if I could put on some young bands then. So I started
to take on young bands and put them into the Palais on Thursday nights.
And that was my first sight of the Bay City Rollers; thats when
the Bay City Rollers and I met. They also used to come along and watch
the big band and they had always wanted to speak to me; Alan and Derek
had wanted to speak to me for ages, you know. And that was basically
it: they spoke to me and I got them some work in the Palais de Danse
- and they were popular. And I realized the popularity was [due to]
how they looked and how tight they wore their trousers, if thats
not putting it too crudely. And that was basically the start of the
What was the bands line-up at the time?
At the time, there was Nobby Clark, the lead singer.
There was Alan Longmuir(Bass), Derek Longmuir (Drums), there was a guy
called Greg Ellison(Guitar) - a fine looking guy, too, you know. And
there was a guy called David Pettigrew(Keyboards) That was the band
at the time, and they were popular. And after they had played at the
Palais once or twice, they asked if I would manage them, but at first
I was too busy because I was working five nights a week. But eventually
the Palais de Danse closed down because we had a lot of fighting and
stabbings, and that was also at a place in time when they were turning
them all into Bingo halls. And then I got offered to take my [big] band
to Belfast in Ireland, but I refused, and so I thought my life in the
music business had come to an end. But then the Rollers approached me
again while I was working in the family business, which was a potato
company, and I did decide then to take the band on.
Recently, with the Rollers coming back and all the media
attention that has brought, people have begun questioning your personal
motives to take the band on...
(Tetchily) Well, what would be my personal motives
...the implications being...
Because Im gay?
So whats the implications for the manager
of the Spice Girls? (Raises voice) Are you suggesting theyre all
lying in the back slinging their legs in the air? (Muffled laughter,
dripping with mocking sarcasm)
(pathetically) Well, its not me, but...
I mean, [about] my motives for managing the Rollers,
I think you would be better off in asking them. Because I could produce
Nobby Clark who traveled with me up and down the country and at no time
did I ever go near him - or any of them, you see?
(In mumbling embarrassment) Im not saying that...
(Mercifully, takes pity on the whimpering idiot
on the other end of the line) No, no, no, I dont mind (Laughs)
I dont mind you asking these questions. I mean, Im not getting
mad because...(Excitedly, yet somewhat more calmly than before) I mean,
Ive never been happier in my life than right now. You know, the
motives for me managing the group were probably just because I had always
wanted to make it myself - and I probably wanted to make money as well.
I wasnt wealthy then, I didnt come from... Well, I wasnt
born with a silver spoon in my mouth. You know? And my motives were
probably the same ones as anybody who manages a band has. There have
been dreadful articles written about it where the whole story has been
totally distorted. But it doesnt bother me anyway; people can
write what they like.
These days, with the Rollers and you, the impression given
in the press is that you are all at odds with each other. Is that an accurate
Well, I dont know. Alan and his wife sent
me a Christmas card, and so did Woody. And we got Dereks court
case coming up (Feb 2000) and Ive been keeping in touch with him,
so...(Abruptly changes subject) Well, I am gay but Im not into
small boys and in all the articles...you know, I did go to jail - I
would like to point this out, too - I did go to jail, but I wouldnt
go to jail in this country now [for the same offense]. I went to jail
for gross indecency [involving young boys]. The youngest boy was fifteen.
People have said he was thirteen or fourteen, and shit like that, but
thats just crap. There was nobody in my case at fourteen or thirteen;
there was one guy at fifteen, who actually just watched a movie [with
me], called Tina With The Big Tits and we had a couple of
lagers. I didnt lay a hand on him, nothing like that, and we watched
a picture with womens boobs in it - hardly anything homosexual
about that. And I can prove that. And the rest of them were sixteen,
seventeen and eighteen-year-olds. One of those chaps was actually the
youngest soldier to serve in the Falkland Islands conflict, one of the
marines. So it was alright for him to go and shoot some Argentineans
at seventeen or eighteen, but it was not alright to roll about with
somebody who was thirty-nine or thirty-eight at the time. But, unfortunately,
on my record, I have Gross Indecency; Ive been a naughty
boy (Laughs dryly).
So, for how long were you in jail?
I spent one year in jail in 1982, the year of the
Falklands. Im writing a book (Laughs); Im writing a best
Yeah, Im going to tell the whole truth, and
nothing but... I mean, so many people listen to things...all the crap
and things. I mean, I defended people when I went to jail; I could have
taken other people to court with me. I got done for holding videos and
films that didnt belong to me - there were films that belonged
to somebody else, close to me, (Mysteriously) and not at any time did
I disclose who that person was.
Could you elaborate on each of the names (belonging to very
early ex-Rollers) Im going to mention now?
Sure, no problem.
Gregs brother? I havent seen him for
years and years. Nice chap, lovely chap. He was in the Rollers for about
five weeks (Laughs) I think he was there even before I arrived. I can
barely remember him, you know. He was virtually almost gone when I started
to manage them, yeah.
Well, we had gone on for four years with Nobby,
right? And what happened was that he just was convinced we were never
going to make it. He had fallen in love with, actually, Greg and Mike
Ellisons sister. You see? So he had an ongoing thing there. But
everybody I had worked on and tried to get there, all left the band
because they were all falling in love and falling off like leaves from
a tree. So I was just getting the band into a good situation and then
theyd fall madly in love and away they were gone. And thats
why Nobby left the band. He wasnt pushed out or anything like
Keith Norman? Yes. A very lovely person. He played
Hammond organ. He left the band because he fell madly in love. What
really wrecked it was me trying to tie up about five days of their week.
They rehearsed about two to three days and they played three days, so
they only had about one day off and Keith didnt have enough time
to spend with his girlfriend and he just thought, you know, it wasnt
working. He didnt even tell us he was leaving until about two
weeks before he did. We were coming down from Aberdeen and we had put
ourselves in debt for a Hammond organ - it was about 1.200 pounds, which
in these days was a lot of money to us. And once when we were driving
down [from Aberdeen] in our van and everyone was sleeping in the back
with the gear and everything, Keith just said to me, 'Listen, I got
something to tell you. Im leaving the band, you know. Ive
got a girlfriend and I want to spend more time with her'. And that was
David Paton? (and Billy Lyall)
A lovely Guy, David. A wonderful songwriter, by
the way. But he couldnt spend enough time on the band either.
And David left to join Pilot with another guy called Billy Lyall (ED
- Who, sadly, died in 1990, due to an AIDS-related illness). Billy was
gay. And Billy left with David and they formed the group Pilot, which
was great as far as I was concerned. David was an excellent songwriter.
It was a shame he didnt stay with the Rollers, I think he could
have made a lot of money (Laughs). But the trouble with Pilot was that
they just came and went. Good songwriting, no image. That was the sad
thing about it.
Well, he, again, had almost virtually left when
I came in. I couldnt even tell you now what instrument he played
(Laughs). Honest I couldnt.
Neil Potias (Alans and Dereks cousin, occasionally
mentioned as having started The Ambassadors, an early version of the Rollers,
as early as 1965. Committed suicide a few years back, according to Alan
No, I never knew him at all.
Oh yes, Archie. Great guy. He actually was in the
Rollers for about...Thinks) about a year. He had an alcohol problem.
John Devine? I saw him only few months ago, wonderful
guy. He left to get married. Its as simple as that. Probably all
the stories say that I pushed them out and pulled them in, you know
(Laughs). I can imagine all the stories, but all these people are wrong.
I mean, if you speak to them (The ex-Rollers) themselves...you speak
to John Devine, well, John will tell you...he just left, he was getting
married. They all go through that age, 17-18 years of age, with females
particularly, when the band was getting to be popular, and they were
all falling in love. Thats why I eventually started to tighten
the reins. Thats why the bad story came in that I was busy trying
to keep them away from females: I wanted them all to myself (Laughs).
Its a joke! I wouldnt even fancy one of the Bay City Rollers
(More laughter). There wasnt even one of them I fancied, so I
dont know even what that was all about.
...Hmmm (Having been burned, nervously hesitant about even
venturing going there)
Feel free to ask me anything you like. Im
not offended at all by anything. Someone who has gone to jail for something
you wouldnt go to jail in any other country for, and who has had
to live with the stigma of being gay, and just the fact that I was gay
has had all these innuendos made about me. I mean, you get heterosexual
men managing female bands and nothing is said. But its only when
youre gay that you get all those innuendos (ED - It probably doesnt
help matters much either to be a convicted sex offender). Brian Epstein
had to go through lots of that too, I think, which was sad.
To begin with, the Rollers image and look was nowhere
near as innocent and squeaky clean as it became later on. For example,
when you see a photo of Eric Faulkner circa 1972, he actually looks older
than he does in photos taken two or three years later!
That was just because they had longer hair. A long
hair makes you look older, I think. And the fact is that I didnt
like the long hair. It took us a long time to try and make Eric cut
his hair. But in spite of all that, it was Eric who created his own
tufty style (ED - Which he wore from circa 1973 onwards).
That had nothing to do with me, he created that style himself and I
think he did that for Woods, too. He was creative himself on that type
But around late 73/early 74, when Nobby Clark
and John Devine left and Les McKeown and Stuart Wood, respectively, replaced
them, the bands image was going through some major changes...
Well, it had already changed before Les came in.
The style had started to change before that, you see? Remember,
the next hit, was actually recorded and had gone into the charts when
Nobby Clark left. Do you know how Remember actually entered
the charts? I had managed to get my hands on a David Cassidy fan club
book of some sort, and then there was a magazine called Swap Shop,
which was out in 73, 74. From those I lifted names and addresses
of the kids writing in to swap for pictures of Donny Osmond or David
Cassidy or whatever. And when the record Remember came out
I sent picture postcards of the band to every one of these David Cassidy
fans and these kids writing in to Swap Shop. I sent out
loads and loads of these postcards. In fact, I borrowed five hundred
pounds from my parents for the postage alone. At that time the stamps
were about two and a half pence, so you can imagine how many cards we
sent away. And I sent these cards everywhere ? I sent them to DJs,
to television producers, to everybody. That picture went out everywhere.
My mother, her friends, myself - we sat down and did all that ourselves.
We posted away thousands of these cards, you know. I never get any praise
from the Rollers for doing these kind of things. Les McKeown wasnt
in the band when we did this. I dont know where his hatred [for
me] comes from, you know.
Yeah, he and Eric are especially vocal in their criticism
of you nowadays...
Well, I find it also strange that Eric is vocal
about it, cause Eric actually asked me to manage them again about
six years ago (ED - Probably late December, 1995?).
Yeah. He came here to my house on Hogmanay (Scottish
New Years Eve celebrations). I mean, if he likes to lie about
it, well, thats fine. We know what were talking about; we
know whom were dealing with here, you know? But I refused to manage
them because Im not into that sort of thing anymore. And I dont
know what Les has got to talk about. I mean, if they have anything against
me why havent they taken me to court? Doesnt that speak
for itself? And if they have anything against me, take me to court;
Id love to see them in court. I mean, Id be delighted to
see them in court. I may manage to be able to get back some of the money
thats due to me (Laughs).
So, it is safe to say that youre not on friendly turns...?
Well, I wouldnt say that...eh...Les, I mean,
Les and Eric had great hatred for each other because their jealousy
of one another was incredible. Ive never seen such jealousy and
hatred. But at the moment it pays for them to be pals and hate me. I
dont want to get involved in all that childish crap. I mean, thats
their provocative. I dont really mind what they do. I just feel
its quite sad. And Eric who asked me to manage them six years
ago - Ive got evidence to that effect - and Les had asked me previously
to that to manage him.
Yes, yes, yes, yes...oh, yes. And I opened all my
books up to Eric and to Derek...to come and have a look through all
my books. And they came up here and looked all through my books and
everything...I was trying to assist them with any information they wanted.
As I said, if Id done anything wrong why dont they see me
in court, then? And why dont they sign at the bottom of the page
under anything theyve said? Its very simple. But what has
happened is that theyve become very bitter middle-aged men. And
its always sad when you ruin something yourself which was made
for you...and you destroy it. Because both Eric and Les were instrumental
in destroying the Rollers. I wouldnt say that Woods....I mean,
Woods is a gentleman and probably the one whos got the most musical
talent of the whole band.
You think so?
Well, yeah, he has had good success here in Scotland.
You mean with the traditional music CDs (The Munros,
Yes, the Celtic music. He has had lots of good success
here in Scotland. He comes from a wonderful family background, lovely
parents. And hes happily married - to Denise. Hes a lovely
guy, but I dont care if he likes me or not. I dont think
you can go through what weve been through and, sort of, all be
in love with each other.
I wouldnt harm a hair on his head. In fact,
in the past, I have defended him and Ive shut my mouth lots of
times.(ED - Since then it has been implied in at least one Scottish
newspaper article that Paton was somehow involved in 'framing' Derek
in the infamous child-porn case against him!)
Wonderful guy. Both Alan and Derek come from wonderful
parents, good parents, really nice people, you know.
Well, Im surprised at Eric. I dont know
what his quibble with me is. I mean, they say I didnt manage them
very well, but if I didnt manage them very well how did they get
to where they were?
Well, thats not bad managing to manage to
do what I did. And, remember, their first four records, not one of them
played an instrument on those records...
But Nobby sang...
Yeah, Nobby sang and then later they (Songwriters/producers
Martin/Coulter, presumably) put the tracks of Les over the top of Nobbys
How did the others - and you - feel about these recording
Neither they nor I had any choice in the matter.
Because we had already been at it since 1971, when we had a hit with
Keep On Dancing, and then we had about three flops in a
row. And when Remember came along I went to see Dick Leahy,
who was the head of Bell Records at the time, and he told me this would
be our last kick at the ball. If Remember would flop, that
would be the end for us. And thats why I did the other thing with
mailing out the picture postcards, you know. So, we were virtually begging.
I mean, I was begging - I begged Dick Leahy; I begged him to give us
another kick at the ball. Thats something the Rollers always forgot
too, you know. But theyve had 22 years to remember it all, because
what have they really done in the 22 years Ive been away? Lived
off a name, thats what.
Yeah, but about those early records...
Yeah, they didnt play on the first four or
five, Im not even sure if they played on Bye Bye Baby.
Yes, they did.
Oh, they did? Who told you that?
(Producer) Phil Wainman.
Phil said that. Yeah, Phil is wonderful man, he
wouldnt be lying. But there was another instrumentalist on it.
Did Phil tell about that?
(Confused) Uh, no...?
Well, yeah (Clears throat), thats right...you
had to be around when that was recorded...that and Give A Little
Love. (Tactfully changes subject) Phil produced both of these.
Phil is a wonderful man. There have even been allegations in the press
of me touching Phil up too, ha! Did you see that?! Phil Wainman wrote
me a letter [later] saying that he did not say that at all. And we got
a pending court action against that paper...I cant remember the
name of it. Raymond, wheres Raymond? (Asking for his otherwise
ever-present personal assistant) Oh, I dont know, it doesnt
matter. Just fire away (Laughs) I dont mind you asking me all
Billl Martin and Phil Coulter?
They did all the records that were recorded by session
men - Shang-A-Lang and all that.
...And all of the first (Rollin) album?
Yes. I think most of it. I mean, I couldnt
even tell you what was in the first album. The songs written by Bill
Martin and Phil Coulter, was actually all recorded by Phil Coulter himself
(Laughs). I think he went into the studios and did it all by himself.
Bill Martin, I understand, was the business man of that
Yes. Bill Martin took care of the business side
of it. A very good man.
(Surprised, since few have been that favorable towards Martin)
I mean, he made horrendous deals, but at the time
of Remember I was begging to try and work it out with the
record company and when we got teamed up with Bill Martin and Phil Coulter,
it was better to get fifty percent of something than a hundred percent
of nothing. Do you know what I mean? That was my theory in life. The
Rollers all say today, Why didnt he go for big deals?
But the fact was that at one stage before we had signed the contracts,
we had nothing. You know what Im saying? We had already had flop
records - Manana was a mess, and, oh, I cant even
remember those, we had quite a few of them. We Can Make Music,
Dizzy...I think Dizzy was one. You know (Hums
a bit of a tune), the one that had been done by Tommy Roe.
Err, that was never a Rollers single, no...
Oh, what was it, then? Wasnt it Tommy Roe
who did We Can Make Music?
I think that was him..you know. Anyway, I couldnt...Im
talking thirty years ago here.
You never play the records, then, do you?
(Mildly amused) No, I never play the records. Id
love to forget that this ever really happened. You know? Im sorry
all of it happened (Laughs bitterly). If I had been just an ordinary
gay guy, Id been allowed to go on with my life. In Scotland, I
have managed to get on with my life. I do get a lot of respect here
now. We have very liberal laws in Scotland and weve moved nicely
forward into the 21st century. I remember when I was a young man - when
I was a boy - I was twelve and I discovered I was gay, I used to bash
my head against the wall. I just couldnt figure out what was wrong
with me cause nobody ever spoke about someone being homosexual.
When everybody else was looking at girls, I was looking at guys. It
was hard being gay and living with an alcoholic father too. He was a
big, butch man, you know, and I was always frightened to tell him about
that - what I was and everything. But I was never into young boys or
anything like that, as theyre trying to make out now and all the
kind of rubbish that goes along with it. I live with somebody and Ive
lived with him for twenty-five years. Nice lad.
But you did get engaged (in the mid-70s, at the height
of Rollermania), didnt you?
That was advised, you see. I got engaged to a female
and the reason for that was simply that I had the News Of The World
(British tabloid newspaper) floating around at the time, in the 70s,
that I was having it off with little...that I was rolling from one room
to another and all that kind of crap. And the publicist thought that
was bad for the image - if they thought that they (ED - The Rollers)
had that homosexual manager, you know, they could all be rolling about
in bed with me. So, I got wangled into this stupid engagement thing.
It was the one decision I didnt take for myself, it was taken
for me by a female publicist I sacked at a later date because I thought
she wasnt very good at her job. I was better at doing it myself.
So, quite fairly and truly, thats the whole story behind that
Yeah, people still wonder about that one...
No, no, no, no. But I have slept with women and
the reason I have slept with women is because of all the things that
have happened to me. You know, growing up in a very Victorian Britain.
It was very difficult. And as you see now in some of the stories they
print, they still come from some very Victorian thinking people ...
women too. Like, who was that who wrote that about me and Phil Wainman?
(Muffled conversation of some sorts takes place with Raymond about some
related details) I still cant believe that. I had no sights on
Phil Wainman, whatsoever. I have no idea where that shit comes from.
I mean, he must be fantasizing or something (Thunderous laughter follows).
(Avoiding the gutter at all cost) But, do you think the
Rollers music has perhaps been unfairly judged through the years?
They werent that bad...?
No, I dont theyve been...(Hesitates)
Well, I mean, I think they have been unfairly judged, yes, I would defend
them in lots of ways there. But not in the early days. They werent
very capable back then. They only wrote those better records, strangely
enough, when all the other things started to fall to pieces. I mean,
Wouldnt You Like It (Confusing it, probably, with
Strangers In The Wind) and all that, that all started to
come out after I had been sacked and things like that. I mean, we had
terrible dramas during recordings, just to try and get the group together
to record. I mean, do you know about some of the problems we had within
the group? We booked studios for three to four months in Switzerland.
Its where David Bowie had recorded. And we went over there and
when we got there, eh, Les discovered that the air there wasnt
good for his throat. So, then were talking about where all the
money went: a fortune went into the studios for these three months.
Were talking about sixty pounds an hour and that was in the seventies!
Those were the kind of things we had problems with...and the hatred
between Les and Eric at the time was horrendous. It will all come again
Oh, of course it will come again, yeah (Giggles).
Jealousy is like...if youre born with jealousy, its like
being born gay: it doesnt go away. You can try and hide it as
much as you like, but you cant get rid of it.
But they now claim it was all a misunderstanding...
Well, thats nice of them. Im happy for
them if thats what they want to think and I hope it was a misunderstanding,
but I would like to know what their hatred for me is based upon. What
did I ever do to them? I would like to know that. I traveled with them
up and down the country, I gave away the best part of my life for them,
while I could have been going out and having fun, you know? And because
Im worth a million now, or Im a millionaire, they all think
I stole their money. Do you know how much I got from the Rollers?
I was lucky if I ever...I got sixty thousand pounds.
Thats lucky if I even got that.
So, where do you think the money went?
Well, I think the money went into stupid things.
I mean, for example, do they ever talk about the limousine company they
had? Well, they had a limousine company and Ill tell you the story
about that. There were five limousines and they decided to buy that.
That was without me; I had no saying in that. And they bought that company
- this was just after Rollin - but the limousines
never worked. All they ever did was that they drove the Rollers around.
I mean, they drove Les down to see his mother in the South of England.
They had a chauffeur sitting there all day, every day, and Eric was
being driven from one place to another and you could see a limousine
parked outside a club in London at four in the morning. And the company
went into bankruptcy. I think they all had a good hand in spending the
money, I think they all forgot what they spent. I mean, there was all
sort of... You dont buy recording studios for nothing. Didnt
Eric have a studio in Camden Town? Did you know about that?
Oh, well (Laughs). He had a studio in Camden Town,
which went out of business. That all happened after I left. I think
they made lots of mistakes after I left, I think they made terrible
mistakes. We did a tour in Japan (ED - Sept.78), and we couldnt
keep Les and Eric apart. Every place we went, they were fighting with
each other and its amazing they should say it was all a big misunderstanding
now, I think...you know? And I couldnt blame one without blaming
the other. I mean, I put an under manager on that tour and he left with
a nervous breakdown. His name is John Corman. He had a nervous breakdown,
really, I had to send him home. He was actually, virtually crying. He
later left my company and tried to sue me for thousands cause
he said he would never be the same again; that he had never experienced
anything like this. But I didnt have thousands to pay him cause
when the Rollers sacked me I went bankrupt. But, where did the money
go? I think it was between the lawyers and the accountants.
What about Arista?
Well, I mean, umm... We were too busy fighting and
disputing and having to deal with five lawyers every time we wanted
to do a tour. But when I did get around to deal with all the accountants
and all that I would have needed to be like an octopus, with about twenty-two
arms...or twenty-two brains, dealing with everything, because it was
an almost impossible monster to deal with. I still thought there was
some money about back then, but, you see, there were some arguments...I
mean, they all had a...each one was a limited company and all their
companies went into liquidation because they didnt pay the money
they owed. I mean, they spent money... I mean, are you telling me they
tell you that they didnt spend any money? Woods bought a beautiful
big house for his mother - his mother must be living in a house worth
about four to five hundred thousand pounds. And he, himself, is living
in a beautiful in-place called The Dell, in Edinburgh. But hes
not complaining about the money, I think hes quite happy. And
hes doing very well with his Celtic records, hes got a lovely
wife, and hes a lovely person. But he also had a hotel...sorry,
a bar in Gibraltar, which went bankrupt. One of the biggest ones in
Gibraltar. Did you know that?
No, these are all revelations, are they?
And Derek has got five to six or seven flats in
Edinburgh, a property business. Beautiful two bedroom flats. Hes
not short of money. He has a beautiful penthouse which overlooks the
Scottish parliament. And he lives in a house which must be worth about
a quarter of a million pounds. And Alan had a hotel - it went bankrupt.
Yeah, I've heard something about that...
Yes, and he had a big farm with horses. He got married
and, seemingly, his [first] wife took away most of his money. So, I
dont know where this thing comes from, that they dont have
any money. I could tell you a few suggestions about where Les
money went, but I wont say it over the phone and on tape (Laughs).
But maybe one day all that will come out. They had lot more than I ever
had when I was sacked. Im not saying all this to be nasty, because
deep down I do care for them and deep down I would like them to have
Sure, but youre not very optimistic about that...
Well, are you?
Not really, no...
(Laughs) You know, they were strictly built on an
image. But maybe I was to blame for that, but they decided on that themselves
too. Remember, Im not a lot older than they are. Im only
ten years older than Alan is. I mean, people see this whole thing as,
Heres this old queen with some suspicious motives for managing
all these young boys. Wonderful for him, yeah? But Im only
nine years older than some of them - 12 or 13 years older than others.
So, I mean, it wasnt anything...(Drifts off) But, I mean, there
must be few of them there with some musical ability now. After thirty
odd years, there has to be some kind of musical ability to write the
songs because, you see. Les wants to write the songs and Eric wants
to write the songs cause thats where the money is and thats
when the trouble comes in. And, you know, we formed a publishing company
and I put it down that everybody would share five ways. That was to
stop the bickering, like, 'Oh he wrote the last one, so Im gonna
write this one...' So, I thought if they all had a share in each song,
and they could only have it for five years, that would be it, basically.
And then after the five years the person who actually wrote the song
could get all the royalties back, you know.
But the songs were usually credited to Faulkner/Wood...
Yeah, thats where the jealousy came in from
Les end. And thats also where I got the blame and Les
hatred for me comes from. I was supposedly defending Eric and Woods.
And thats basically why Les wanted to leave the band and they,
too, wanted to get rid of him. I mean, they got Duncan Faure. And I
see now that...I think theyve gotten rid of Alan.
Well, the tour (ED - England, Feb.2000, later cancelled
and hasn't been heard of since) was supposed to be with Les McKeown,
Eric Faulkner, Stuart Woods, and Duncan Faure.
Yes, thats supposed to be the lineup on the
tour. So, they seem to have sacked Alan again. I was always the one
who got blamed for sacking Alan, while it was actually...Eric was the
one behind the sacking of Alan.
No, no, no, not recently, dont misunderstand
me. I meant the first time Alan was sacked (ED - in 75-76).
But now both the Longmuir brothers are out and its just down to...(Swiftly
abandons subject) No, a long time ago (ED - Mid-90s?), what I
said to them was, If they wanted to ever survive the lineup should have
been...they should have taken Ian Mitchell in and get Les back. But
Eric wouldnt have that; he said that under no circumstances would
he ever play on a stage with Les again. And I said, 'Reform the band
with Les, Ian and, uh, Duncan Faure'. And the band could have musically
moved on then. I mean, I think Duncan is a very good musician and I
think they could have moved forward with him in the band. Its
him and Woods, basically, you know?
What about Eric?
(None too convincingly)Well, yeah, Erics alright
The 70s songs credited to Faulkner/Wood, Eric has
claimed (In his own mid/late 80s aborted effort at trying to tell
this story) to have written most of those all by himself - without Woods.
Is that true?
Ha! ha! ha! See, doesnt that tell you something?
There we are again, way back to the beginning, to all that again. That
he wrote the songs and Woods name just got down on em. I
mean, the next thing we may know is that Woods and Faulkner will have
fallen out and therell be... I mean, doesnt that tell you
When you were sacked...
I was glad the day they sacked me. That day I just
sat back and I thought, Jesus, thank God! (Sighs with relief at the
mere memory of it) I never thought I had been that happy in all my life.
And by then I thought I was a millionaire, and I thought, Thank God
this monster has gone away and I can just get on with my life. But once
I started to look at my finances I began to discover I hardly had two
pennies to rub together. The Rollers owed me large amounts of money
and I never got any of that. In fact, they were very, very fortunate
that I got up and went...you know, and didnt bother them for what
was due to me, because I could have sued them and sued them and sued
them. And Ill tell you another reason why Les doesnt like
me. Because, I was asked to get involved in the court case he had for
the name (ED - In the early 90s)...
...And I did an affidavit (ED - Legally sworn statement)
in favor of Eric, Alan, Woods and Derek. And I thought that they represented
the Bay City Rollers more than Les did, since together they were more
than just one member of the old band. And I signed it as their ex-manager,
Tam Paton. And I do believe that was the reason for Eric managing to
secure the name. So, I think Les has a great hatred for me for that.
Well, he has to hate somebody, cause, listen, if he hates me he
has to leave somebody else alone. But what a sad way going through life,
hating people. But I dont hate anybody. Im quite happy,
I dont think Ive ever been happier in my whole life than
I am right now. Im a millionaire, Ive got lots of property,
none of which came from my association with the Rollers, not a penny.
And, as Ive said, Ive never been happier. Im going
to move to Spain soon. I can prove all my money came from property which
I have developed and worked on. I mean, when I finished with the Rollers
I used to roll up my sleeves and shovel shit. I used to work until two
oclock in the morning painting up flats. Ive got diaries
going back years, listing all the properties I bought and the money
I paid back...I ended up paying back a hundred thousand pounds tax,
to the Inland Revenue, that was bestowed upon me from moneys that was
due from the Bay City Rollers. It took them nine years to catch up with
me, but I wont bore you by going into all that, but I can account
for every penny, you know? Ive heard wild rumors about off-shore
companies and such things, but I didnt have a penny left from
the Rollers, not a penny. I reckon, if anything, I came out of it with
about forty, maybe sixty thousand pounds. I flew to America and I managed
to get some money that was in a Rollers account over there. It was a
big account that was opened up for the Rollers and myself and I got
what was due to me, nothing to do with the Rollers; it was due to my
management company. So I came back to England with this cheque and I
showed it to my little Scottish accountant and I said to him, 'Im
alright, Ive actually got sixty thousand pounds here'. And he
looked at me and said, 'Oh no, you dont have sixty thousand pounds;
its the company thats gone bankrupt which has sixty thousand
pounds'. So I quickly phoned an investment company called PDT Investments
and I put the sixty thousand pounds in through the management company
and into PDT investments and thats where I got the money to start
over again. So, during the next nine years I used that sixty thousand
very cleverly and carefully. I bought property, did it up and sold it,
bought some more property and did that up and sold... And by the time
the nine years were up and the taxman finally caught up with me, I borrowed
money and I paid the Inland Revenue back the hundred thousand pounds.
And even to this day, Im still paying it... I just got a bill
saying, I still got sixty thousand pounds to pay.
Dating back to the old days?
Yes, because of the old days. I was left a legacy
of a hundred thousand pounds from the Bay City Rollers. Thank you Bay
City Rollers, ha! ha! ha! And I havent even claimed what its
called historical royalties, which I could have claimed. I mean, I could
get into all this and I could start claiming them for this and that,
but I dont want any of their money, they can keep it, Im
not interested, they can do what they like. I wish them all the success
in the world. Do you think theyve got a future?
(Mumbling) I dunno...
Ha! But it would be nice if we could rewind the
tape...take us back to 76. I would say they had a future back
then, but I mean...I hope they do now, too. I hope people give them
a chance. Personally, I would have thought they would have been better
off dropping the name Bay City Rollers, and if theyre so confident
about their music, they should have gone on without the name.
But theyve sort of tried that but people wont
accept them like that either.
Is that what they think? Well, if theyve tried
everything... But Eric has always said about me that I interfered with
his songwriting things and all that, you know? Well, I always say to
Eric and I say it nicely, 'If that was the case, Eric, I left in about
1978, and from then on until now, where are the hits? And if it was
the name that was bothering you, why didnt you get somebody else
to record them, and then you could say, Well, that was done by Eric
Faulkner of the Bay City Rollers'. But he has actually produced artists
and thats where all his money went, in the studios. He was in
studios recording and thats where the money went. He also managed
some artists (ED - Janine Andrews, etc. - Early 80s), and if he
was such a good manager why then didnt he ever make the charts?
I mean, he made the charts with me being his manager, but his artists
didnt make the charts with him as their manager. Maybe that was
just a dedication on my part, but it certainly didnt involve any
sexual favors, I can tell you that (Laughs).
(Taking a U-turn, changing the subject) But what was the
story behind Alans departure from the band in 75, 76?
Well, Alan wanted to leave. He was happy to... Well,
he had a farm and he was madly in love with this girl and he couldnt
get enough time with her. And we were recording with Phil Wainman at
the time. And, I mean, Im not telling any lies; this is the truth.
And he was coming and going to the studios and they were flying him
up and down to Scotland and the person who was doing the complaining
about that was Eric! Eric was the one saying, 'He is not even interested
and well have to do something about this'. And I went along with
Eric; yes, I went along with Eric, Im not washing my hands of
it, I mean, I was a part of it too. But let them not forget that the
rest of them had a part in it as well - and mainly Eric. Woods wasnt;
Woods wouldnt do anything bad and I defend him totally. Derek
wouldnt do anything bad either and Alan...I think it suited Alan,
you see? Alan didnt mind, he wanted to go, he thought he was a
millionaire, like I did! You know, we all thought we were millionaires.
Alan just thought, I got my farm, I got my horses, my beautiful girlfriend
and I got a few million in the bank, and of course he was delighted
But around that same time you were going to start another
band, with younger boys...?
Yes...No, I didnt start another band but I
was managing another band with boys the same age as the Rollers (Laughs).
And that was Rosetta Stone.
Yeah, but what about that Danish guy you recruited?
Baron Gert Von Magnus? Oh, he was wonderful. The
only problem was that I couldnt get him signed to a contract cause
he couldnt sing (Laughs). And so he went back to Denmark and that
was it, yeah. They told me he had been a big pop star in Denmark, although
I cant see how because I couldnt get a record deal for him
But wasnt Ian Mitchell originally supposed to have
been in that band?
In Gerts band? (Flabbergasted at the
mere suggestion) Noooo, no, no, Ian Mitchell was with Rosetta
Stone. Baron Gert Von Magnus came over - he was only over for about
six months - he did some test recordings. I spent about two or three
thousand pounds on test recordings for him and I couldnt get a
deal. Then he decided he wanted to go back because he was going into
banking or something instead. And he was missing home and he went back
to Denmark. Hes a good guy, I actually think hes still going.
But hes no Baron; we only pretended he was to give it a publicity
angle, you see? (Laughs) It was only a publicity stunt.
But when Les had his brush with the law after having accidentally
killed an old lady by driving into her (In the spring of 75), were
you already waiting with someone else in the wings to take his place had
he gotten a stiffer sentence than he got (this has been suggested by people
close to the matter)?
No, I wasnt. I employed the top barrister
in Scotland for him, a senior legal figure, to go into a small court
to defend him. And McKeown got off with dangerous driving. But he gets
off with killing somebody, but still people look at me like Im
the bad man! I mean, God, everything is switched on to me. And then
theres was the matter about the girl who got shot through the
Yeah, what was that all about?
Well, I dont know what the story was there,
but there were lots of rumors. But one of my friends got charged with
that, but there was always a story attached to that that I had paid
him to take the blame for that, for Les. (Sarcastically) You know, me
being such a bad guy. But I think that that may be a ghost that may
eventually come back to haunt mister McKeown.
So, Ian was just plucked from Rosetta Stone (Then known
as Young City Stars) to take Alans place in the Rollers?
Yes. I took him out because my main aim was to keep
the Rollers supported. That was the jewel in the crown. But Ian couldnt
take all the bickering and backstabbing that went on in the Rollers
- all the bitchiness and nastiness that was going on.
So he quit on his own?
Yeah, he quit within months. He said, 'I just couldnt
put up with that, Tam. Thats really, really horrendous.'
But by the time you took on Rosetta Stone, had you lost
No, I was sacked, I could have made them big...
But there were three brothers in Rosetta Stone and
I wanted to change one of the brothers, the lead singer (Laughs). He
didnt have what I thought fitted the image, you see? So, I went
to bring in a guy called Limahl from a band called Kajagoogoo...(ED
- "Too Shy" anyone?)
Yes, I was going to take him and put him into Rosetta
Stone before he was in Kajagoogoo...
Yes, that must have been about five years before...
Yes, it was a good time before. So, what I did was
that I went and was going to move him into Rosetta Stone, but of course
they had great strength in three brothers. So, they got up and disappeared
and sacked me. Ha! ha! ha! ha! So, that was the story; it was short-lived
but it was alright, but it could have been great.
And then there was Pat McGlynn...
(Not sounding too fond of that memory, or name) Ooooh!
He was only in the Rollers for a few weeks. He was sacked by Eric. But
he said the rest of the group had sacked him. By that time things were
started to get...oh, you know.
But Pat has claimed to have been only paid as a session
Well, that had nothing to do with me. Pat McGlynn
never signed a contract with me at all.
Were drugs a problem by that time?
Not really, no. There was never anything serious
about, there wasnt. A bit of cannabis or something like that,
but never anything...ummm...never any bad drug problems. I mean, there
were sleeping pill problems. I mean, you must have heard about Eric
and his overdose (Laughs)?
(More laughter) Yeah, who hasnt? Did you get
the correct story on that?
Yeah, about the ambulance and all that...?
Yeah, thats quite funny, I always find that
quite funny. No, I always seeked publicity in a big style, in a big
way, you know? Whenever I would get them on the front page of the national
papers I went for it. Because that was about all they had going for
themselves. So, what happened in that case, we came back from Dublin,
Ireland, from doing a television show, and Eric had taken two sleeping
pills - you couldnt die on two of these - and he went to sleep
and we had difficulties waking him up. But he was breathing and he got
up; he did get up. And I thought this was a great way to create a nice
publicity over, you know, 'A Bay City Roller O.D.s' and all this
kind of thing. He was depressed anyway, because he was busy constantly
competing with McKeown on the stage and all that. So, what happened
anyways, I did phone the ambulance first and then I phoned the paper
later. So, that was the story there. There was no big deal whatever
they are trying to make of it now. There was no nasty business. It was
just another front page as far as I was concerned.
Do you think there was a short-sightedness on your behalf
to promote the band so strongly on image and nothing else?
Well, there was nothing else - as far as I was concerned
there was nothing else. I wouldnt think so, honestly. I mean,
I tried to push other things, didnt I? I spent four years trying
to promote them on various things. I tried to promote them on.... I
mean, if there was shortsightedness on my part, surely the proof for
that would be evident now. I mean, then things would surely had gotten
better for them after they sacked me.
So, what did you think of that big change that happened
there, with Duncan joining and the name-change to The Rollers and all
Well, they had all the time in the world then to
promote themselves, I wasnt around. I mean, I didnt go back
and grab the name and change it to The Rollers and all that. And then
go back and change it to The New Rollers, The Legendary Bay City Rollers,
Les McKeowns Rollers, Les McKeowns 70s Bay City Rollers
or whatever. And McKeown had plenty of chances. He actually did the
European (ED - Eurovision) song contest (ED - Actually just
the Song For Europe preliminary U.K. leg of it) and fell
flat on his face. I mean, he wrote a song (ED - Well, he didnt
really write it himself) and everything and appeared in the contest
and it flopped. I mean, they had all these chances. In my own mind I
had nothing but image to sell..
...(Referring to one of Patons favorite catchphrases
of the past) Like Heinz Baked Beans, eh?
Yeah, like Heinz Baked Beans. But it was alright
as long as nobody put a can opener in em and opened em up
and poured em all out (Laughs a lot before swiftly changing the
subject). But it was myself who picked Bye Bye Baby for
the single. Nobody will ever tell you that. It was an old number done
by the Symbols (ED - The Four Seasons had the absolute original of it
in 1965, but the Rollers version drew more from the Symbols 1967
cover of that) and I had it in my record collection - I had a big collection
from the 50s and the 60s - and I picked that out: Bye
Bye Baby. It was on the President label (ED - President PT 144;
a number 44 UK hit in 1967) and that, of course, became the Rollers
first number one hit. But nobody would ever mention that to you, you
know. Its all like a glass of milk which has gone sour. But unfortunately
it has gone sour for them and they look at me and Ive just forced
ahead and gone on with my life; Ive made a success of it, while
theyve hung on to the old signs. Personally, if they were really....if
there was a lot of musical ability behind them...they should have done
what Woods has done, I think Woods should have done it a lot sooner
But, you know that Malcolm MacLaren has mentioned you as
an influence in his own approach to managing the Sex Pistols (On purely,
mainly, strong image spiced with publicity stunts)?
Well, that was nice of him, hes a lovely man
You ever met him?
Yes, I met him once or twice. Hes running
for a mayor in London now (ED - early 2000. MacLaren later dropped out
of that race). Im going to run for president of Scotland (More
laughter follows). Im only kidding you. But, yeah, youre
right. I seem to remember Malcolm MacLaren having said something like
that. But it seems that people only want to look at the really bad things.
The fact that I was gay seemed to make all the difference. I mean, if
I had been heterosexual, I often wonder... And I mean, I dont
know even where that came in, the fact that I was gay, what difference
should that make? Because that made no difference to the Bay City Rollers
lifes at all. I was strict on girlfriends, of course I was, because
every time we got someone new in the band theyd be leaving it
for their girlfriends! Like I said about Keith Norman; we spent all
that money on a Hammond organ which we were gonna have to pay back.
And we had just gotten him into the band and everything, and he was
only there for about nine months, and the next thing you know is that
he had found a girlfriend because he was popular in this band and then
he was just up and off. So, that was the only thing for me to do - to
be strict on the girlfriends issue. But, I mean, Les cant complain
- he had a girlfriend all the time he was in the Rollers. Lynn was her
name. Umm, and he even came out with at one time...(Thinks and changes
the subject) I mean, Les was at war with the group at one time, too.
He was taken off a radio show here in Scotland because he said that
he wouldnt let Derek within six feet of his then eight-year-old
son or something...
I mean, he was immediately taken off the air. Theres
lots of water gone under the bridge since then. They appeared recently
at a show in Edinburgh (ED - New Years Eve 99) and Eric
appeared totally...oh, well, I dont know. You must have seen the
pictures? Well, if the success is there for them, please go out and
get it. I would like them to have it, honestly, even just to get them
off my back (Laughs) You see, Eric asked me to manage them a few years
ago, that was the last time they were playing in Scotland and they cant
deny that, although they probably will. I mean, Ive never heard
so many lies in my whole life over this whole thing. (And unconvincingly)
In fact, I barely even think of the Bay City Rollers, Im totally
obsessed with my work - flats, properties, buying property and doing
property up. And if Id done that from the beginning instead of
managing the Rollers, I could have been a billionaire today. I could
have probably owned all of Edinburgh! I gave up about ten years of my
life, ten good years I could have been finding myself and going to clubs
having a good time. Instead of traveling the world with five guys and
in the end getting the blame for things I never did...and having them
all write it up, like, 'Oh, look at that, He likes boys...' and all
that kind of crap. No, I liked men, not boys, so that was basically
that. But when I was younger I was always embarrassed about what I was.
I always hid and... It took a long time during my court case to come
to terms with it. I thought about suicide on several occasions, I thought
of hanging myself. And my parents couldnt understand what I was,
that was difficult, and I had to go through all that on my own and not
one Bay City Roller ever got in touch with me. But I do live with somebody
and, as Ive said before, have lived with him for twenty-five years
and Im very happy. And thats why I dont come on like
Im running down the Rollers or trying to be destructive about
their future career. I wouldnt like to be destructive about it,
I mean, if theyre going to make it I wish them all the best.
What, if any, is the nature of your current relationship
with some of the others? Duncan? Ian?
You know, Duncan came over here to Scotland a while
back and no one could put him up anywhere and he came here and lived
with me, with his lovely wife Laurie. I put them up and took them out
to dinner and everything - my friend and I - and made them feel very
welcomed, and we took them here, there and everywhere. But when he arrived
in Scotland again last year he never phoned me (Laughs). So, I knew
there had to be strict instructions from somewhere, from the fuhrers
headquarters someplace, to not get in touch with me at all, and I dont
really know what that is all about. He couldnt even pick up the
phone and say 'Hi' to me or anything, you know. I was a bit surprised
and Ian was a bit mad about it - Ian Mitchell. Ian is a bit disillusioned
about everything, he just wants to get away from it all, he just wants
nothing to do with it. But dont take it like Im bitter and
twisted about any of it, I just want to be clear about few things, you
know? Some of the stupid stories that go about, phew, they just do my
head in, you know? But I really cant be bothered with it, cause,
you know.... Well, weve got an old saying here in Scotland: the
more you stand on shit, the more it spreads (Laughs). But I think people
like to read about the Rollers; it seems to be like a soap-opera, a
very popular one. They all want to know what this one was doing and
what did that big bad manager do. You know, where did he come in and
all that. I think that is just basically like that, but if theyre
still willing to buy the records, I dont know. But I hope to God
that the Rollers sell records and can get it together. But I still think
they should have changed the name..."
That said; the end.
This interview has been reproduced with the kind permission
of Hannes A. Jonsson. The original version can be found at Hannes' own
web site, dedicated to the Bay City Rollers at http://www.lcv.ne.jp/~ryhokaya/Tampaton/tampaton.htm