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Book Review: Shang-a-lang

Book: Shang-a-lang: My Life With the Bay City Rollers

Author/s: Les McKeown, with Lynne Elliott

Published: 2003 – Mainstream Publishing


Like most teenage girls in the 1970s, I loved the Bay City Rollers. As I got older, I realised that they were not the clean-cut boys they were presented to be: I didn’t care, I still loved their music. So I was keen as a middle aged woman to read the autobiography of Les McKeown – the band bad boy.

Was I in for an eye opener! McKeown wrote an no-holds-barred book detailing his life with the band – warts and all. It was a case of ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll) on a huge scale, as well as a frantic lifestyle and having most of the money the band earned syphoned off by ruthless music industry people. And while he was critical of other band members, he was also critical of himself, revealing intimate details showing his weaknesses. Refreshingly, he also gave credit where it was due.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the humour he showed while relating a life that was spiralling downward. And, given the path his life took, both at the hands of others and his own hands, it is amazing that he survived at all. McKeown himself credits this to confronting his demons. To be still performing live (I’ve seen him and his new band twice in the last few years and it is an awesome show) and to have written such a candid autobiography is testament to the human spirit.

If you were interested in the Bay City Rollers – or if you want to know how a band of young, inexperienced boys can be abused and taken advantage of on a multitude of levels, Shang-a-lang is well worth a read.

My rating: 4.5/5



Categories: book review

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Kerry A Waight - Author

A writer of historical fiction and paranormal stories.

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