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(Read about Sweet after the video)
The Sweet (also known as Sweet) is a British glam rock band that rose to worldwide fame in the 1970s. Their best known line-up consisted of lead vocalist Brian Connolly, bass player Steve Priest, guitarist Andy Scott, and drummer Mick Tucker. The group was originally called Sweetshop.
The band was formed in London in 1968 and achieved their first hit, "Funny Funny", in 1971 after teaming up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and record producer Phil Wainman. During 1971 and 1972, their musical style followed a marked progression from the Archies-like bubblegum style of "Funny Funny" to a Who-influenced hard rock style supplemented by a striking use of high-pitched backing vocals.
The band first achieved success in the UK charts, with thirteen Top 20 hits during the 1970s alone, with "Block Buster!" (1973) topping the chart, followed by three consecutive number two hits in "Hell Raiser" (1973), "The Ballroom Blitz" (1973) and "Teenage Rampage" (1974). The band turned to a more hard rock style with their mid-career singles, like 1974's "Turn It Down". "Fox on the Run" (1975) also reached number two on the UK charts. These results were topped in West Germany and other countries on the European mainland. They also achieved success and popularity in the US with the top ten hits "Little Willy", "The Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox on the Run".
Sweet had their last Top 10 hit in 1978 with "Love Is Like Oxygen". Connolly left the group in 1979 to start a solo career and the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1981. From the mid-1980s, Scott, Connolly and Priest each played with their own versions of Sweet at different times. Connolly died in 1997 and Tucker in 2002. The two surviving members are still active in their respective versions of the band; Scott's is based in the UK and Priest's in the US.
Sweet's origins can be traced back to British soul band Wainwright's Gentlemen. Mark Lay's history of that band states they formed around 1962 and were initially known as Unit 4. Founder members included Chris Wright (vocals), Jan Frewer (bass), with Jim Searle and Alfred Fripp on guitars. Phil Kenton joined on drums as the band changed its name to Wainwright's Gentlemen (due to there being another band known as Unit 4). Managed by Frewer's father, the band performed in the Hayes, Harrow and Wembley area. By 1964 the group was also playing in London, including at the Saint Germain Club in Poland Street.
In January 1964 the band came fifth in a national beat group contest, with finals held at the Lyceum Strand on 4 May 1964. Highlights of the show were presented on BBC1 by Alan Freeman. Chris Wright left the line-up in late 1964 and was replaced by Ian Gillan. A female vocalist named Ann Cully joined the band soon after. Mick Tucker, from Ruislip, joined on drums replacing Phil Kenton. The band recorded a number of tracks including a cover of the Coasters-the Hollies' hit "Ain't That Just Like Me", which was probably recorded at Jackson Sound Studios in Rickmansworth. The track includes Gillan on vocals, Tucker on drums and, according to band bassist Jan Frewer, is thought to have been recorded in 1965. Gillan quit in May 1965 to join Episode Six, and later, Deep Purple. Cully remained on as vocalist before departing some time later. Gillan's and Cully's eventual replacement, in late 1966, was Scots-born vocalist Brian Connolly, who hailed more recently from Harefield. Tony Hall had joined on saxophone and vocals and when Fripp left he was replaced by Gordon Fairminer. Fairminer's position was eventually assumed by Frank Torpey - a schoolfriend of Tucker's who had just left West London group The Tribe (aka The Dream). Torpey only lasted a few months, and in late 1967 Robin Box took his place. Searle, regarded by many as the most talented musically, disappeared from the scene. Tucker and Connolly remained with Wainwright's Gentlemen until January 1968. Tucker was replaced by Roger Hills. When the Gentlemen eventually broke up, Hills and Box joined White Plains who eventually scored a big hit with "My Baby Loves Lovin'".
In January 1968 Connolly and Tucker formed a new band calling themselves The Sweetshop. They recruited bass guitarist and lead vocalist Steve Priest of a local band called the Army, who had previously played with another local band the Countdowns. Frank Torpey was again recruited to play guitar. The quartet made its public debut at the Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead on 4 March 1968 and soon developed a following on the pub circuit, which led to a contract with Fontana Records. At the time, another UK band released a single under the same name Sweetshop, so the band changed the name to The Sweet. The band was managed by Paul Nicholas, who later went on to star in Hair. Nicholas worked with record producer Phil Wainman at Mellin Music Publishing and recommended the band to him. Their debut single "Slow Motion" (July 1968), produced by Wainman, and released on Fontana, failed to chart and owing to its rarity now sells for several hundred pounds when auctioned. Sweet were released from the recording contract and Frank Torpey left. In his autobiography Are You Ready Steve, Priest said that Gordon Fairminer was approached to play for them when Torpey decided to leave Sweet after a gig at Playhouse Theatre Walton-on-Thames on 5 July 1969 but turned the job down as he wanted to concentrate on other interests.
New line-up and new record deal
Guitarist Mick Stewart joined in 1969. Stewart had some rock pedigree, having previously worked with The (Ealing) Redcaps and Simon Scott & The All-Nite Workers in the mid-1960s. In late 1965, that band became The Phil Wainman Set when the future Sweet producer joined on drums and the group cut some singles with Errol Dixon. In early 1966, Stewart left and later worked with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates.
The Sweet signed a new record contract with EMI's Parlophone label. Three bubblegum pop singles were released: "Lollipop Man" (September 1969), "All You'll Ever Get from Me" (January 1970), and a cover version of the Archies' "Get on the Line" (June 1970), all of which failed to chart. Stewart then quit, and was not replaced for some time. Connolly and Tucker had a chance meeting with Wainman, who was now producing, and knew of two aspiring songwriters, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who were looking for a group to sing over some demos they had written together. Connolly, Priest and Tucker provided the vocals on a track called "Funny Funny" which featured Pip Williams on guitar, John Roberts on bass and Wainman on drums. The latter began offering the track to various recording companies. The band held auditions for a replacement guitarist and settled on Welsh-born Andy Scott. He had most recently been playing with Mike McCartney (brother of Paul) in the Scaffold. As a member of the Elastic Band, he had played guitar on two singles for Decca, "Think of You Baby" and "Do Unto Others". He also appeared on the band's lone album release, Expansions on Life, and on some recordings by the Scaffold. The band rehearsed for a number of weeks before Scott made his live debut with Sweet on 26 September 1970 at the Windsor Ballroom in Redcar.
The Sweet initially attempted to combine various musical influences, including the Monkees and 1960s bubblegum pop groups such as the Archies, with more heavy rock-oriented groups such as the Who. The Sweet adopted the rich vocal harmony style of the Hollies, with distorted guitars and a heavy rhythm section. This fusion of pop and hard rock would remain a central trademark of Sweet's music and prefigured the glam metal of a few years later.
The Sweet's initial album appearance was on the budget label Music for Pleasure as part of a compilation called Gimme Dat Ding, released in December 1970. The Sweet had one side of the record; the Pipkins (whose sole hit, "Gimme Dat Ding", gave the LP its name) had the other. The Sweet side consisted of the A- and B-sides of the band's three Parlophone singles. Andy Scott appears in the album cover shot, even though he did not play on any of the recordings.
Andy Scott's Sweet (1985–present)
Andy Scott and Mick Tucker re-formed their own version of Sweet with Paul Mario Day (ex-Iron Maiden, More, Wildfire) on lead vocals, Phil Lanzon (ex-Grand Prix) on keyboards and Mal McNulty on bass. The band performed at the Marquee Club in London in February 1986, with the shows recorded and gaining release a few years later, bolstered by four new studio tracks including a cover of the Motown standard "Reach Out I'll Be There". This line-up also toured Australian and New Zealand pubs and clubs for more than three months in 1985 and for a similar period again in early 1986. Singer Paul Mario Day ended up marrying the band's Australian tour guide and relocating downunder. He continued with Sweet commuting back and forth to Europe for the group's tours until this proved to be too cumbersome. He departed in late 1988. As McNulty moved into the front man spot, Jeff Brown came in to take over bass early in 1989. Lanzon too went back and forth between Sweet and Uriah Heep during 1986-1988 before Heep's schedule grew too busy. Malcolm Pearson and then Ian Gibbons (who had played with The Kinks and The Records) both filled in for Lanzon until Steve Mann (ex-Liar, Lionheart, McAuley Schenker Group) arrived in December 1989.
Tucker departed after a show in Lochau, Austria on 5 May 1991. He later was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Three drummers, Andy Hoyler, Bobby Andersen and Bruce Bisland (ex-Weapon, Wildfire, Praying Mantis), provided short-term relief before German Bodo Schopf (ex-McAuley Schenker Group) took over. They recorded an album during this period, simply titled A. But before the band embarked on the supporting tour for A in 1992 however, Bodo left and Bisland returned as permanent percussionist. Scott changed the band's name to 'Andy Scott's Sweet' after Tucker's departure but truncated it to simply 'The Sweet' once again after Tucker's death in 2002.
Mal McNulty, now lead vocalist, departed in 1994, though he would return briefly that year to fill in for Jeff Brown on bass (as he would again in 1995 as lead singer for a few dates while Rocky Newton subbed on bass). Sweet's former keyboard men Gary Moberley and Ian Gibbons also did fill-in jaunts with the group that year, as did Chris Goulstone. Chad Brown (ex-Lionheart; no relation to Jeff) was the new front man. Glitz Blitz and Hitz, a new studio album of re-recorded Sweet hits, was released during this period.
In 1996 Mann left to take a job in television and Gibbons came back for a short time before Steve Grant (ex-The Animals) became the permanent keyboardist. When Chad Brown quit in 1998 after developing a throat infection, Jeff Brown assumed lead vocals and bass duties. After this, the band was stable again for the next five years.
The mid-2000s would bring further confusing shake-ups and rotations. Tony O'Hora (ex-Onslaught, Praying Mantis) replaced Brown as lead vocalist in 2003. Ian Gibbons came back for a third stint as fill-in keyboardist in June 2005 for a gig in the Faroe Islands. O'Hora decided to split to take a teaching job in late 2005. Grant then jumped from keyboards to lead vocals and bass as Phil Lanzon returned on keyboards for a tour of Russia and Germany in October/November. New singer Mark Thompson Smith (ex-Praying Mantis) joined in November 2005 for some Swedish gigs, while Jo Burt (ex-Black Sabbath) was temporary bass player. Tony Mills (ex-Shy) was slated to be Sweet's new singer in early 2006 but failed to work out and left after six shows in Denmark. At this point, Ohora came back as fill in front man and then Grant did another turn himself as the singer/bassist (Steve Mann depped on keyboards) until the group finally landed a new permanent front man when Peter Lincoln (ex-Sailor) arrived in July 2006. The line-up then consisted of Scott, Bisland, Grant and Lincoln.
Scott produced the Suzi Quatro album Back to the Drive, released in February 2006. March 2006 saw the U.S. release of his band's album Sweetlife.
In 2007 the group played in Germany, Belgium, Austria and Italy. In May of that year, the band played in Porto Alegre and Curitiba, Brazil, their first and only South American shows. The tour was called the 'Sweet Fanny Adams Tour'.
The band toured again in March 2008 under the name 'Sweet Fanny Adams Revisited Tour'. In May and June, Scott's Sweet were part of the "Glitz Blitz & 70s Hitz" tour of the UK alongside The Rubettes and Showaddywaddy.
In March and April 2010, Scott was absent from a couple of gigs due to ill health and Martin Mickels stood in. Scott revealed later that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was treated at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. After a course of treatment and rest, he was back to full touring fitness. In 2010 the band played at venues in Europe and back at Bilston in October.
In March 2011 there was a short tour of Australia, Regal Theatre - Perth, and Clipsal 500, Adelaide with the Doobie Brothers. Also in 2011, Tony O'Hora came back to the group, this time as keyboardist, after Grant departed.
In March 2012 the band released a new album New York Connection. Recorded in England, it comprised 11 cover versions, including the 2011 single "Join Together" and one revamped original recording; the 1972 B-side "New York Connection". All the covers either featured 'bits and pieces' of Sweet hits or other artist songs, such as a "new version of the Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop [which] shared space with samples from ‘Ballroom Blitz,’ and a take on Hello’s New York Groove (made famous in the US by Ace Frehley) featured a sample from Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind along with other Sweet references."
On the eve of their March 2012 "Join Together" tour of Australia, the band undertook an acoustic performance of three tracks, "New York Groove-Empire State of Mind", "Blockbuster" and "Peppermint Twist", in front of a live audience at ABC Radio Studios in East Perth. Shows in Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Geelong, Melbourne and Sydney featured tracks from the new album for the first time.
Paul Manzi joined Sweet on their 2014 Australian tour, replacing Tony O'Hora who was absent for personal reasons. Manzi played guitar, keyboard and undertook lead vocals on "Set Me Free" and "AC-DC" as the band performed shows in regional centres, including outback Western Australia, Darwin and far-north Queensland, NSW and Victoria during February and March. The band, with O'Hora back in the ranks, returned to Australia in September 2014 as the headlining act for "Rock The Boat 4". This was a cruise aboard the ship Rhapsody of the Seas which departed Sydney and took in New Caledonia and Vanuatu. The band played two gigs and various members guested with Australian veteran performers including Brian Cadd and Russell Morris and members of AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo and Skyhooks.
In June 2015 it was revealed that the band were going on an extensive tour of the UK in late 2015 and that this tour would probably be their last.
For the 2015 summer tour dates, Paul Manzi returned to sub for Peter Lincoln who left this online message to the fans: "There have been a few rumours going around this weekend, so . . . just to say that I am alive and well! The short explanation for my absence is that I need to rest my voice for a few weeks. We are lucky that our good friend Paul Manzi is able to step in, and Tony knows the role of bass player/singer, so the shows can go ahead, and they will be great! I look forward to being back on stage very soon."
Pete Lincoln duly resumed his role in the band and they continued with extensive live dates, known as the "Finale" tour in Germany. In 2017, after Andy undertook a successful Australian visit with Suzi Quatro and Don Powell in the side outfit known as QSP, Sweet was again booked for an extensive European tour.
New Sweet, Brian Connolly's Sweet (1984–1997)
In 1984 Brian Connolly formed a new version of the Sweet without any of the other original members. Despite recurring ill health, Connolly toured the UK and Europe with his band, "Brian Connolly's Sweet", which was then renamed to "New Sweet". His most successful concerts were in West Germany, before and after reunification.
During 1987, Connolly met up again with Frank Torpey. Torpey later explained in interviews Connolly was trying to get a German recording deal. The two got on very well and Torpey subsequently invited Connolly to go into the recording studio with him, as an informal project. After much trepidation, Connolly turned up and the track "Sharontina" was recorded. This recording would not be released until 1998, appearing on Frank Torpey's album Sweeter.
By July 1990, plans were made for Connolly and his band to tour Australia in November. During the long flight to Australia, Connolly's health had suffered and he was hospitalised in Adelaide Hospital, allegedly for dehydration and related problems. The rest of the band played a show in Adelaide without him. After being released from the hospital, Connolly joined the other band members in Melbourne for a gig at the Pier Hotel, in Frankston. After several other shows, including one at the Dingley Powerhouse, Connolly and his band played a final date at Melbourne's Greek Theatre. It was felt Connolly's health was sufficient reason for the tour not to be extended, and some of the planned dates were abandoned. Connolly went back to England and his band appeared on The Bob Downe Christmas show on 18 December 1990.
During the early 1990s, Connolly played the European "oldies" circuit and occasional outdoor festivals in Europe with his band. On 22 March 1992, a heavy duty tape recorder was stolen from the band's van whilst at a gig in the Bristol Hippodrome with Mud. It contained demos of four new songs, totaling about 20 mixes.
Legal problems were going on in the background over the use of the Sweet name between Connolly and Andy Scott. Both parties agreed to distinguish their group's names to help promoters and fans. The New Sweet went back to being called Brian Connolly's Sweet and Andy Scott's version became Andy Scott's Sweet.
In 1994 Connolly and his band played in Dubai. He appeared at the Galleria Theatre, Hyatt Regency. He also performed in Bahrain.
By this time Connolly had healed the differences with Steve Priest and Mick Tucker, and was invited to the wedding of Priest's eldest daughter, Lisa. At the private function, for which Priest specially flew back to England, Priest and Connolly performed together.
In 1995 Connolly released a new album entitled Let's Go. His partner Jean, whom he had met a few years earlier, gave birth to a son. Connolly also performed in Switzerland that year.
On 2 November 1996 British TV Network Channel 4 aired a programme "Don't Leave Me This Way", which examined Connolly's time as a pop star with the Sweet, the subsequent decline in the band's popularity, and its impact on Connolly and the other band members. The show revealed Connolly's ill health but also that he was continuing with his concert dates at Butlins. Connolly and his band had appeared at Butlins a number of times on tour during the early 1990s.
Connolly's final concert was at the Bristol Hippodrome on 5 December 1996, with Slade II and John Rossall's Glitter Band Experience.