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The Bay City Rollers Did NOT Suck... and the Awesome Influence of One Haircut

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Here's the true unsung story about one of the origins of the Punk/New Wave look...

It was 1973... my friends and I were wearing our Glam-shagged hair as long as possible, mine was at least 8 or 9 inches past my shoulders. We all had the satin and velvet and sequins and eyeliner goin' on as our every day look.

Anthony Jones and I were two of this crew of about a dozen fashion-conscious rock freaks scattered throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. Anthony looked vaguely Hispanic with wirey loose-curled hair. So, his version of the look included a huge halo of black fluff on his head.

Anthony was destined to become (my band) The Planets' bassist in less than a year.

But, for a few months, Anthony been jamming with two slightly hicky guys who had just moved to New York City, Tom Miller and Richard Meyers. Both of them hippie-types with hair as long, stringy, and shapeless as Bob Weir's. The three of them had been getting together every few weeks in Anthony's studio apartment (directly across the street from my parents' house) with guitars and small amps, trying to gel into a band.

One late Saturday afternoon, with absolutely no warning, to all of our shock and disbelief, Anthony appeared with his hair chopped off down to no more than an inch long. Not only that, but, he'd gone to a $2.00 barber who'd made him look like a convict on death row. A super-short totally style-less haircut.

We were aghast! What the fuck was he thinking?!

A few days later, Tom and Richard came over to jam with Inmate Anthony. They walked in, took one look at his hair, made some excuse, and split within a few minutes, never to come by again.

About six months later, tiny ads started showing up in The Village Voice advertising a band called Television playing at a bar called CBGB... Yep, Tom Miller was now Tom Verlaine and Richard Meyers was now Richard Hell... both with their short choppy haircuts that looked like they'd gone to a $2.00 barber.

We all laughed, shook our heads, and forgot about it at the time. It was only many years later that I realized how seminally important Anthony's rash decision to get rid of his hair-halo was in the annals of Rock Fashion. And no, he'll never get the credit. But, this is the truth.

Next, we find me 'n' Anthony accidentally scoring a pair of excellent seats for the Bay City Rollers first (and only?) NYC show on January 8th, 1977, at the absolute height of their 15 minutes. Oh, goodie, this should be serious fun!

Naturally, we got reefer-blasted across the street from the Palladium and then found our way to our seats in the 12th row center.

Seventy-five to 80 percent of the audience were girls aged about 10 to 16. The rest were "grown ups"; parents of the other 75 to 80 percent... and two ripped rock band guys having the times of their lives goofing on everything, just howling with laughter.

The place was positively plaid! Tartan was EVERYWHERE!!!

Every girl was covered head to toe in plaids. Many of them in homemade replicas of the goofy high-water suit their favorite Roller favored. Almost every single girl had a plaid scarf to hold over her head like banners, as was the Bay City custom.

The girl sitting next to me was adorable. Kinda funny looking... round face, glasses, braces, severely short (real) blond bangs, stick-figure skinny, in pale blue with red tartan accents. She seemed to be there without parental accompaniment. We started talking to her and found a true Rock'n'Roll Spirit sitting with us in the 12th row.

She was Liz. Liz was OB-fucking-SESSED with the Bay City Rollers. She was a bright kid, articulate and talkative, and just way beyond jazzed. She was hovering near spiritual ecstasy (she was too young for the carnal kind). She went on and on about how fabulous Derek, the drummer, was. That was Her Guy!

Then, the lights went down, the band came on, and genuine plaid pandemonium ensued. The audience simply went insane. I mean that in the most matter of factual way. It was, without a doubt, the most completely out-of-control audience I've ever been in! Hardcore Thrash Moshers? Shy retiring wallflowers compared to this. This was bedlam! This was lunacy!

The band started to play... and... well, fuck us... Anthony and I looked at each other and said in unison, "They're GOOD!" And they were.

Turned out the Bay City Rollers were an actual rock band trapped in this weird-ass dream that would, of course, ultimately ruin them.

About four songs into their set, Liz suddenly turned to me and screamed, "I can't stand it anymore!" and just hurled her way past me and Anthony and disappeared down the aisle towards the stage. Okay, well... buh bye, Liz.

Then, about halfway through the next song...

"Oh My God... Anthony, look who's up on the drum riser?!!"

Liz has somehow gotten onstage!

She was up on the riser behind her love, Derek, the drummer. She threw both her arms up in the air in a gesture of triumph, and then she grabbed Derek, who didn't even know she was there. Liz threw herself on him so hard and fast that all you saw were both his legs suddenly flying over his head. And then, Derek and Liz were gone.

The band stumbled to a halt while three grown men attempted to dislodge Derek from Liz. It took awhile. I turned to dear crazy lovin'-it Anthony and yelled...

"That's our girl!"