Book Review: Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair with the Bay City Rollers by Caroline Sullivan
Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair with the Bay City Rollers by Caroline Sullivan
Bloomsbury Publishing, 1999 256 pages
Exciting girls everywhere with their tartan costumes and pop-sap songs, the Bay City Rollers ruled Britain in the mid-70s. Their single, "Saturday Night," crossed the ocean in 1975, topping the U.S. charts. By 1978, their immense fame faded. They closed that year out by starring in The Bay City Rollers Meet the Saturday Superstars, alongside a character named Witchiepoo. So much for rock respect.
Sullivan skillfully structures the book by setting up a question in the opening chapter. Just how did she - a teenage girl from New Jersey - end up serving them beer and cigarettes in a Detroit hotel room. It wasn't as easy as it might sound. From the time they landed on American soil, Sullivan followed the group by any means necessary. The chases, turnarounds and trickery involved are captivating. Throughout the book, the question isn't whether Sullivan and her Tartan Tarts (as they called themselves) could catch up with the group. They did, more often than not. Rather, the reader is left curious what will happen when they finally get members of the band alone in a room. Will she have the courage to act on her convictions?
Throughout the book, it is assumed that the reader knows that Sullivan is one of Britain's leading rock critics. In between getting fired from jobs and questioning her sanity, Sullivan straddles between her love of all things Roller and punk music. These hints of the future serve as a brilliant counterpoint, putting the Rollers and even the 70s in a colorful pop context.
The band beds them and brushes them off, but the payoff comes years later. In 1994, Sullivan interviewed Les McKeown for Radio 1's show "Soundbite." McKeown is trying to revive a stagnant career. She is doing a segment on fading teen idols. The game is reversed, and now he tries to impress her. This power shift underscores how the times have changed. Thank goodness for that.
Caroline Sullivan's book was a hit in Britain. At one point the film rights were optioned by Courtney Love. For those of you who don't know about the book, it is a perfect way to shoot a weekend. Once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down.