Bay City Rollers' first singer claims it's his voice on the hit version of 'Saturday Night'

29 June 2023, 11:11 | Updated: 29 June 2023, 11:39

2015: Bay City Rollers stars pose outside Glasgow hotel after announcing return

By Mayer Nissim

Nobby Clark was replaced by Les McKeown just before the Rollers' breakthrough.

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The Bay City Rollers' classic lineup featured Les McKeown, but he wasn't the first lead singer of the Scottish hitmakers.

The group's first recording lineup saw Gordon 'Nobby' Clark fronting the band, before he quit the group in 1972 apparently unhappy with its musical direction.

Before his departure, Nobby had recorded a number of songs with the band.

It's his voice on the Bay City Rollers' debut single, a cover of The Gentry's 'Keep on Dancing' that peaked at number 9 in the UK charts.

Nobby also sang on follow-ups 'We Can Make Music' and 'Mañana', which both failed to chart, and he was replaced by Les McKeown while the Clark-sung version of 'Remember (Sha-La-La-La)' was scaling the top ten.

The original recording lineup of the Bay City Rollers featuring Nobby Clark in 1972
The original recording lineup of the Bay City Rollers featuring Nobby Clark in 1972. Picture: Getty Images

Clark also recorded the vocals on the original version of 'Saturday Night', which sunk without a trace in 1973, but was re-recorded and became a massive US hit for the McKeown-fronted band, going all the way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

But Nobby has now claimed that the version of the song that topped the US charts was in fact the original version featuring his voice, which means he is long overdue royalties from the track.

"The Bay City Rollers' only No 1 in America, 'Saturday Night', was released by Arista Records with my lead vocal and backing harmonies," he told the One Life, One Dream, One Reality podcast, the Daily Record reports.

Saturday Night

"One band member actually phoned me to tell me I’d better get my lawyer on to it."

He added: 'Saturday Night' was sent to Clive Davis, head of Arista Records in America, after Les McKeown had joined the band.

"He was unaware my voice was on it because the record company in London and [manager Tom] Paton did not want him to know I had left the band and that they had a new singer.

"They later re-recorded the song with Les for an album but by then 'Saturday Night' had already entered the Billboard Top 100.

Nobby Clark in 1976
Nobby Clark in 1976. Picture: Getty Images

"This was confirmed by Alan Longmuir and Bill Martin, the co-writer of 'Saturday Night', when we met in Edinburgh before his death in 2020."

Nobby has also said that he was forced out of the picture when the rest of the band pursued record labels for their own unpaid royalties in 2011.

"For years, certain members of the band’s so-called 'classic line-up' have done everything in their power to write me out of the Rollers' story," he said.

Nobby Clark in 2010
Nobby Clark in 2010. Picture: Alamy

"It has taken me a long time to gather evidence of 35 Rollers albums released worldwide featuring my voice as well as a list of single releases prior to the classic line-up filing a motion to have me dismissed from the court case against Arista/Sony."

Clark's replacement McKeown died in 2021 at the age of 65 and Nobby later expressed regret that they hadn't been able to put aside their differences before his passing.

"Les and I could have had a much better relationship and its very sad now that opportunity has been missed," he told the Daily Record soon after McKeown's death.

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