LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The members of the Bay City Rollers, a Scottish teeny-bopper band that briefly enjoyed worldwide stardom in the 1970s, sued their former record label on Tuesday, seeking millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.
According to the suit against Arista Records, filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, the group said they sold at least 70 million albums worldwide but received only a single royalty payment of about $254,000 in more than 25 years.
The suit does not estimate how much the band is owed, in part because of incomplete royalty statements, but “we know it’s in the millions,” Joshua Krumholz, one of their attorneys, said in an interview.
A spokesman for Arista Records, a unit of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, declined comment. Sony BMG is a unit of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG.
The suit lists the five members who were in the band during its mid-‘70s heyday — singer Les McKeown, guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, bass player Alan Longmuir and his brother, Derek. Also listed is Duncan Faure, who replaced McKeown in 1978 after the band’s fortunes had faded.
The Bay City Rollers, decked in their trademark tartan costumes, inspired a wave of “Rollermania” around the world as screaming girls flocked to their concerts and snapped up their records. Breathless reports at the time often focused on pools of urine at their shows left by over-excited fans.
After conquering Britain with such top-five hits as “Shang-A-Lang” and “Summerlove Sensation,” the Bay City Rollers topped the U.S. charts in early 1976 with their first American single, “Saturday Night.” They achieved legendary status in Japan, and were also big in Australia.
The fame never translated into much financial success for the band because of low royalty rates. Also, the band did not write some of its biggest hits, such as “Shang-A-Lang” and “I Only Wanna Be With You.”
The lawsuit says Arista executives over the years have repeatedly promised to pay royalties but did not know who to pay. The suit says that was a “pretext intended to deprive (the band) of the royalties to which they are entitled.”
The suit claims, among other things, breach of contract and fiduciary duty. In addition to seeking compensatory and punitive damages, it demands a full accounting statement as well as the transfer of all master recordings and any copyrights.
The money could come in handy. McKeown tours small venues with a group dubbed Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers. Krumholz said Derek Longmuir is a nurse, while another former member is a plumber.