Born in Prestonpans, Scotland, he was the son of a potato merchant. Paton drove a truck to initially aid the group financially. He went on to guide the band through their peak during the 1970s, nurturing the band's image to be that of the "boys next door". He was responsible for starting a myth that the band members preferred drinking milk to alcohol, in order to cultivate this clean, innocent image.
In later years he suffered poor health including two heart attacks and a stroke. He was arrested on child sexual abuse charges in January 2003, but was later cleared of all allegations. In April 2004, Paton was convicted of supplying cannabis and fined £200,000. In 2007, he was accused but cleared of raping the band's guitarist, Pat McGlynn, in a hotel room in 1977. 
- "Ex-Rollers manager is cleared on rape claims". News.scotsman.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- Dick, Sandra (26 January 2007), "Welcome to Tam Paton's weird world", The Scotsman, Edinburgh, retrieved 2007-11-27
- "Rollers boss sex inquiry dropped", BBC, 10 March 2003, retrieved 2007-11-27
- "Ex-Rollers boss fined £200,000", BBC, 30 April 2004, retrieved 2007-11-27
- Edward, Rhiannon (22 August 2007), "Former Rollers manager Paton cleared of rape claim", The Scotsman, Edinburgh, retrieved 2009-04-10
- "Ex-Bay City Rollers boss Tam Paton found dead in bath". News.scotsman.com. 2009-04-10. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- Stambler, Irwin. Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul. 1974. St. Martin's Press, Inc. New York, N.Y. ISBN 0-312-25025-8.