Rachel Sweet Biography

28 July 1962, Akron, Ohio, USA. Sweet sang professionally at the age of five, working as a child model for television commercials in New York and as a support act to Mickey Rooney. At the age of 12 she recorded her first single, the country song ‘Faded Rose’, on the Derrick label which, along with her follow-up ‘We Live In Two Different Worlds’, reached the lower regions of the Billboard country charts. Under the tutelage of manager and songwriter Liam Sternberg, in 1978 Sweet landed a contract with the pioneering independent UK label Stiff Records. The company had previously distributed a compilation album of Akron acts which included two tracks by the singer. For the Stiff 78 Tour with fellow labelmates Lene Lovich, Wreckless Eric, Jona Lewie and Mickey Jupp, Sweet’s backing band were the Records. The single, a version of the Isaac Hayes / David Porter song ‘B-A-B-Y’, reached the UK Top 40, with Sweet demonstrating she possessed a mature voice for someone still in her mid-teens. The full-length Fool Around saw her tackling Del Shannon’s ‘I Go To Pieces’ and Elvis Costello’s ‘Stranger In The House’ as well as several Sternberg originals.

Sweet’s obvious talents were dogged by persistent, but tenuous, accusations of her being marketed as ‘jail-bait’. After parting with Sternberg in 1979, her second album presented Sweet with a harder image, complete with an advertising campaign bizarrely depicting her as a leather-jacketed, sullen child abductor. Backed by Fingerprintz, the songs on the album contained cover versions of Lou Reed’s ‘New Age’, Graham Parker’s ‘Fool’s Gold’ and the Damned’s ‘New Rose’ as well as the usual quota of country rock. As with the first album, Protect The Innocent was a commercial failure, although this time it did not enjoy critical approbation.

Sweet’s departure from Stiff to CBS Records saw the release of 1981’s ... And Then He Kissed Me which included the UK and US Top 40 hit duet with Rex Smith, ‘Everlasting Love’, in 1981. Despite this encouraging start, the mismanaged talents of Rachel Sweet saw her fade from the music scene. She reappeared singing the title song of John Waters’ Hairspray in 1988, and subsequently worked on cable television. In the 90s and into the new millennium, Sweet concentrated on acting, writing and producing.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.