The Bay City Rollers’ 1976 pop hit “Saturday Night” conjures up happier, innocent images. But the death of the band’s former manager, Tam Paton, has re-exposed the seamy underbelly that sometimes lurks beneath the music business.
Paton, 70, passed away last week after a suspected heart attack at his home near Edinburgh, Scotland. According to U.K. tabloid The Sun, the former boy band svengali collapsed while “sharing his hot tub with two male pals.”
“They tried to pull heavyweight Paton from the bath but failed. He was dead by the time paramedics arrived,” the paper reported.
Usually when someone like Paton passes away, glowing tributes from people who worked with them come pouring in. That’s not likely to be the case here.
Paton was jailed for three years in 1982 for indecency with teenage boys. Four days into a trial filled with sensational evidence, he pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced charges, admitting to molesting 10 boys over a three-year span.
In 2003, ex-Bay City Rollers guitarist Pat McGlynn accused Paton of attempting to rape him while the band was on tour in Australia in 1977. The case was dismissed because of lack of evidence.
Paton, who was also fined on drug charges in 2003, was arrested last September on additional narcotics charges but was released because of poor health.
McGlynn’s comment on his former manager’s death was brief and to the point.
“Great news,” he told Edinburgh’s Evening News. “Hope he roasts in hell.”
Former Bay City Rollers singer Les McKeown, who earlier this year on reality TV show “Rehab” revealed he’d been raped while in the band, also didn’t have kind things to say about Paton, whom he has now revealed to be the rapist.
“The Scottish people can sleep well knowing the beast of Kellerstain is dead,” McKeown told Scotland on Sunday. “The parents and children can feel safer as one more predator is off the streets.
“All the thousands affected by his devastating reign of drugs, terror and abuse can breathe a sigh of relief. He can no longer directly affect our lives. The tyrant despot is dead; long may he remain so.”
McKeown told The Sun his former manager had threatened his life, as well as the lives of his wife and family, unless he kept quiet and revealed how Paton managed to abuse so many.
“Tam was an evil manipulator of young men,” McKeown explained. “He used his power and drugs. Tam was great for plying the band with drugs to keep us working and under his control.
“He was always experimenting with new drugs. I dabbled with a bit of opium and it suited him – you don’t understand what’s happening to you. He was a really intimidating, big man. If he wanted something, he forcibly got it.”
McKeown, 53, said his abuse at Paton’s hands sent him into a spiral of drugs and alcohol that only ended recently when he was able to come to terms with it.
For years, the singer and other former members of the Bay City Rollers have been involved in a nasty battle with their former manager, whom they claim robbed them of millions of dollars in royalties.
“He was involved in a lot of seedy stuff in Edinburgh but he got away,” McKeown explained to The Sun. “It was almost like he was protected.
“There was also a fear factor because I was thinking I could be putting my wife and family in danger. I was that scared of him. He literally threatened to kill me if I didn’t shut my face and that was just over money.
“He knew a lot of unsavoury people. People that are involved in drugs aren’t very nice people. They shoot people, knife people and I just didn’t want that around my front door. I have more or less been living in fear all these years.
“Every year he would send you a Christmas card and the whole purpose was him pointing out he knew where I lived.”
Shortly after Paton’s death, University of Edinburgh researcher Sarah Nelson called for an investigation into his activities based on evidence she uncovered while doing research for a pair of reports on sex abuse of young men she published in 2004 and earlier this year.
“I became very concerned in the course of both studies, but particularly in 2004, to come across repeated allegations of sexually abusing activities involving Mr. Paton and rings of unknown others,” Nelson told Scotland on Sunday. “I think it is safe to say there are dozens of alleged victims.
“They were mainly very vulnerable teenagers, for instance those from a care background who should have been under society’s protection. They were groups of severely damaged young men, offenders who were now in the criminal justice system, but who had eventually revealed being abused in some kind of network involving Mr. Paton.
“The allegations included that extreme fear of the repercussions of reporting kept them silent, along with their fear of entrapment if they spoke out, since they had themselves been inveigled into crime. They would not agree to speak out about the abuse.”
When Paton was interviewed by the Evening News in his home in 2007, “he was being tended to by young men bringing him cups of tea and making him dinner,” lending credence to stories about his sordid activities.
Nelson told the paper she had heard reports of a network of apartments in Edinburgh where teenagers and young men under Paton’s control were housed and where criminal activities took place.
While some of the abuse was reported to authorities in the criminal justice system and social services, Nelson believes they were not pursued because the victims refused to file formal charges.
Believe it or not there is one bright spot in this whole nasty mess: McKeown and the other former members of the Bay City Rollers might have some kind of a future as a band again.
“It would be great if something good happened and we could perform without the giant, fat shadow of Tom Paton hanging over us,” McKeown told The Sun.