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Nicky Campbell looks into the Secrets of the Bay City Rollers


Nicky Campbell looks into the Secrets of the Bay City Rollers

A BOY from a children’s home who says Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton blackmailed him into taking other youngsters to his house so he could sexually abuse them, has spoken for the first time.

Speaking anonymously to Nicky Campbell for a new ITV1 documentary, Secrets Of The Bay City Rollers, to be shown at 9pm on Thursday 29 June, the now grown-up man says in the 1970s he lived at Paton’s Little Kellerstain mansion near Edinburgh, and Paton told him if he procured other boys for him from care homes, he would stop raping him.

He is one of a series of witnesses including Bay City Rollers guitarist pat McGlynn who say they were sexually abused or bullied by the music svengali, who died in 2009 but served 18 months in prison for gross indecency towards several underaged boys and later became a crime lord after being fired by the band in 1979.

The anonymous man says he was 13 when he was first taken to Paton’s house, where he was plied with drink and drugs at a star-studded party: “One night I was there and there was a load of people there – a couple of people I recognised from TV. I can remember taking a drink and sitting and I thought, ‘God, I feel really bad.'”

Nicky asks him if he thinks he was spiked, and he says: “Spiked, aye. And the next thing I can remember was being abused. There were three of them. Tam was there. My trousers were down and I was face down over a bed, and I just screamed out, I’m only 13. Leave me alone. They carried on.”

“A few days later, I was told I had to go out to Tam’s. and he got me in a room and he said, ‘I tell you right now, I’ve got photos of you doing things, enjoying it and smiling, and laughing, and you go to anybody, and these photos will go to your social worker and your pals, and your family.’ It was frightening. And he told me, ‘You’ve got a lot of connections in the homes. I want you to bring boys here and you’ll get left alone.’ And it’s been the guiltiest thing in my life.”

Nicky asks him how many boys he took to Paton’s home, and he says: “Twenty maybe, from different homes.”

He also says most of the boys were drugged before they were abused: “Most, aye. They would be, aye. It just became normal because you just started thinking, I’m not getting touched. And you used to just hide in the room.” Asked why he didn’t just report the abuse to police, he says: “They would never listen.”

Nicky also speaks to the widow and son of singer Les McKeown, arguably the band’s most recognisable member, who was sacked in 1978 and died in 2021 after many years of struggling with alcohol and drug addiction following abuse by Paton.

His wife Peko reveals he used to scream in his sleep, and son Jubei says: “Yeah because when he went on his binges, he would say he hates himself.” Les finally revealed he had been raped in 2009, while on a TV show, and Jubei says: “And then it kind of made sense…The drinking, the anger. My dad’s a broken man – he was a broken man. My dad never found peace in his life. He never found peace, and that hurts.”

Bay City Rollers performing at ATV in 1975

Former Rollers guitarist Pat McGlynn tells Nicky that his dream of joining the band at 18 turned into a nightmare because he was raped by Tam Paton. “It actually started on the very first night I joined the Rollers. That night, I went out to his house. Told me you’re in the Rollers now – I said, ‘Really?’

“That’s when he gave me this pill and told me it would make me feel better. And prepare me for tomorrow because it was going to be a big publicity day. Pat the new Roller. I took that and crashed out on his couch and I woke up an hour or two later, and he was on top of me, molesting me.”

Nicky says: “Were you actually raped?” Pat replies: “I’m afraid I was, yeah. I sort of got woken up by Tam Paton and he gave me a set of Bay City Rollers clothes. And I was still quite groggy and I was out in the back garden doing pictures and interviews non stop.”

Paton saw this as business as usual, he says:  “It was just no big deal, it was just a bit of fun. I didn’t really understand what had happened to me, to be honest.”

“In Australia another time, he did it there as well. The same thing happened. Two or three months in the Rollers turned me into a drug addict basically. Like amphetamine and cocaine. I didn’t really want to sleep in case I woke up with Tam Paton on top of me. Totally messed me up. I’m still recovering from it, it took decades for me to come to terms with it. And I still get pissed off days, I get really depressed but I sort of soldier on.”

One starry-eyed youngster eyed up for a spot in the Rollers was Gert Magnus, who Paton moved into his house and who says he is ‘completely sure’ he would have actually been in the band if he had agreed to sex with the manager. While he stayed at Paton’s house, he says: “There were always parties and lots of young boys and lots of producers… Going to the room and coming out. Big party.” He continues: “I was so young. And I thought that’s normal in this business.”

The band’s original singer Nobby Clarke says Paton once told him the band would get better promotion on Radio 1 if a member slept with DJ Chris Denning, later convicted of paedophilia:

“Tam told us that if one of us or more than one of us slept with Chris Denning, that we would probably get much better promotion. I remember looking at Alan and he said, ‘Well it won’t be me, and I said it certainly won’t be me. It ended up, its highest position was number nine. It might have been a hit but at what cost? I realised that the Bay City Rollers were about Tam Paton. He didn’t care about the band. As far as he was concerned, the Bay City Rollers were to make Tam Paton famous. I grew to despise him in the end.”

This new documentary fronted by Nicky Campbell explores The Bay City Rollers’ rise to being one of the biggest pop bands of the ’70s as tartan fever spread across the world – while behind the scenes a much darker side to the story played out.

In the 1970s the band took the charts – and Britain’s teenagers – by storm, with hits like Shang-A-Lang and Bye Bye Baby topping the hit parade, but as fame faded, it became clear manager Tam Paton was not the champion and protector he appeared.

Nicky returns to his home city of Edinburgh to celebrate the achievements of the Rollers,  while exploring how their dreams of teenage stardom were tainted, in a story that brings back memories from that time of traumas of his own.

He speaks to original members of the group like Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood and Pat McGlynn, while original singer Nobby Clarke, along with the widow and son of singer Les McKeown, provides their own testimony about how the band rose to fame, only for the sheen to later be tarnished as dark claims emerged about Paton.

Secrets Of The Bay City Rollers airs on ITV1, STV, STV Player and ITVX at 9 pm tonight (Thursday, June 29)

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