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A Laugh, A Memory, A Roller, A Friend

September 11, 2020

I have struggled with this one. Tears. “It can’t be!” Then memories flowed. Then it came on headlines. Then came tributes…and I still couldn’t share.

Going back some 45 years many know of the walls covered with Bay City Roller posters…some with an occasional Donny Osmond or David Cassidy or someone else in. Oh but the Rollers were a wave beyond. Then the famous lineup changed when Alan left and – gasp – an Irish lad took the musical spot. In less than a year he left but many fans followed to Rosetta Stone and, later, the Ian Mitchell Band.

I went to college, studied horses, moved, got married, got divorced, life rolled over but some “Roller friends” remained *friends* through it all. I worked agriculture, horses and writing. After a stint with a towing company I began writing for a magazine few have heard of called Towing & Recovery Phootnotes. Mostly business, office, motivational articles. Like many I never forgot the Rollers or Ian but I wasn’t in Scotland so…!

Then came the internet. I found Ian was living in Vegas and was a motivational speaker. Well…an opening is better than no opening so an email was sent and an email came back. A phone interview was scheduled that would, seriously, change my life. I had no idea…they didn’t either! They being Ian and his lovely wife Wendy, who quickly became a friend. There were differences but also much common ground.

The time came to call for the interview and I was getting nervous…all those years ago his photo was on my wall and now getting to talk to him…while wanting to be ‘professional’ as this was for writing..of course. I had a dozen or so questions penciled in. It wasn’t very far into the article interview I’d asked a question about risk and he (paraphrasing here as the article is long lost) said everything is a risk.Then out of the blue he asked what color underwear I had on. Trust me this was NOT the direction I thought the article was going and I could sense him laughing on the other end as I fumbled. His point was asking was a risk….and he might get slapped if in person but he might get an answer to even an outrageous question. Point. Taken!

Well I was living in Flagstaff at the time so as the “interview” wrapped up it was left with we’d get together sometime. At that time it was more than I’d ever seriously hoped for all those years ago in small town Illinois. Well…not too much later a concert was scheduled and it was “come over!” I worked with Helen for time off a the RV park and with my trusty road dog Gael headed for Vegas. Once the fiasco of meeting up with/missing Wendy was dealt with I followed to their apartment where I met more friends. So I came face to face with Ian…big hug…altered reality kind of experience and…Gael *peed on the floor*! I was mortified. He laughed and said something about dogs being humbling as Wendy got paper towels.

The show was memorable and the next morning held breakfast at the Lucky Dog…don’t think that’s there anymore either. Back to reality…but staying in touch. A show in California challenged my combined trips view…I had a young purebred goat coming in by air to Phoenix and didn’t have time to run back to Flagstaff and drive across I-10 in time to get checked in. What to do…take the goat with me of course. I had a campershell on the truck so feed, water, he’d be fine until we got home. But when I told Ian I had a goat in the truck he didn’t believe me…we went down to see and from that time forth it was a story.

Skip forward…a get together was slated for Rosetta Stone and of course I was going. Walking into a room and meeting the McKee brothers (also once pinned on the wall!) and Ian told the goat story and introduced me as Goat Lady. I got looks of that can’t be true and I assured them it was – he wasn’t exaggerating on that one. It’s not like the goat came on stage!

So, so many memories, laughs, some not so pleasant ones at a few people unjustly saying bad things about them, then me. Life goes on. More funny memories, pranks, gags than bad. Far more. When an engagement got ghosted it was a conversation with Ian that seriously changed my attitude about a lot of things. I won’t ever repeat all that was said as not everyone needs to know everything about everyone. Suffice to say it made a big difference.  Suffice to say it was from a friend not a poster on the wall.

So many times I’d see people use photos without permission and be offended when confronted. In any case, I’d left Arizona to move back East and Ian and Wendy moved back to California. Conversation was mostly on Facebook or email (before Facebook) or phone. Life hits on both ends but it warmed my heart more than I’d admit to see a birthday greeting from him or a passing comment…or make a comment on something funny he posted.

Ian was no longer, to me,just a teen idol. He’d become a friend. Over a couple of decades, with all life throws at us anyone that remains in life is a friend. I’d always thought he and Wendy were the perfect compliment for each other. I’m sure there were challenges but they never spoke of it publicly or disrespected others publicly. She means more to me than she knows. He became an American citizen, legally, and was very proud of that and the opportunities he’d had here in America. Most of the hundreds of photos taken at the shows and privately are now in my mind only. Storms of life.

When I saw the news Ian passed away on September first I first thought of Wendy. Then I thought how much I was going to miss that infectious laugh and one liners just to make someone else laugh. He never acted better than anyone else. The stories were sometimes better! But he was a good person far beyond being a Roller or celebrity. And he will be deeply missed by this now goatless Goat Lady.

I hope that one day when my time comes to pass beyond the gates of Heaven there’s Gael, Diva, my parents, a few friends and a not quite as short as me American moving for a hug saying “hey Goat Lady!”

are you having a good time

Until that day there’s recordings of the familiar voice and image to remember.

“This song I want to dedicate to you…and to everyone who feels the way we do. As long as you’re a part of me the song will play on endlessly. I hope my dedication’s getting through. Dedication’s playing just for you.”

I’ll miss you Ian.  I’ll remember  and carry songs and stories on. 

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