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Les McKeown, who fronted the Bay City Rollers, dies at 65

In this Jan. 16, 1976 file photo, Scottish pop group the Bay City Rollers are seen performing during the taping of a local New York City kids' television program "Wonderama". (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)

LONDON (AP) -- Les McKeown, the former lead singer of the 1970s Scottish pop sensation Bay City Rollers, has died suddenly at the age of 65, his family said Thursday.

    A statement from his family posted on social media said: "It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown." The Scottish singer died at home on Tuesday, it added.

    In this Oct. 7, 2010 file photo, Bay City Rollers singer Les McKeown poses for the media during a photocall to celebrate the release of the band's career retrospective boxset, 'Rollermania: Bay City Rollers The Anthology' in London. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

    Formed at the end of the 1960s, the Bay City Rollers enjoyed huge success in Britain and abroad with their tartan outfits and pop tunes like "Bye Bye Baby," "Shang-a-Lang" and "Give a Little Love." They had a fanatical teen following and sold more than 100 million records. Some in the British media called them the "biggest group since the Beatles".

    McKeown was born in Edinburgh to Irish parents and joined the Bay City Rollers in late 1973, replacing founding lead singer Gordon "Nobby" Clark.

    Among those paying tribute Thursday was former British home secretary Jacqui Smith, who wrote on Twitter: "One of my first loves. I'm feeling some teen heartache but know it'll be very real for his family and friends."

    The band split up in 1978 and reunited in 2015 for a string of sold-out performances.

    Alan Longmuir, a founding member of the Bay City Rollers who played multiple instruments including bass guitar and keyboards, died in 2018 at age 70.

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