Sweet Biography

The nucleus of the Sweet came together in 1966, when drummer Mick Tucker (17 July 1947, Harlesden, London, England, d. 14 February 2002, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England.) and vocalist Brian Connolly (b. 5 October 1945, Hamilton, Scotland, d. 10 February 1997). These two played together in Wainwright’s Gentlemen, a small-time club circuit band whose repertoire comprised a mixture of Motown, R&B and psychedelia. The pair broke away to form Sweetshop, later shortened to just Sweet, with Steve Priest (b. 23 February 1950, Hayes, Middlesex) on bass and Frank Torpey on guitar. After releasing four unsuccessful singles on Fontana Records and EMI Records, Torpey was replaced by Andy Scott (b. 30 June 1951, Wrexham, Wales) and the new line-up signed to RCA Records. The band were introduced to the writing partnership of Chinn And Chapman, who were to provide the band with a string of hit singles. Their initial success was down to bubblegum pop anthems such as ‘Funny, Funny’, ‘Co-Co’, ‘Poppa Joe’ and ‘Little Willy’. However, the band were writing their own hard rock numbers on the b-sides of these hits. This resulted in Chinn/Chapman coming up with heavier pop rock numbers, most notably the powerful ‘Blockbuster’, which reached number 1 in the UK at the beginning of 1973. The group’s determinedly effete, glam-rock image was reinforced by a succession of Top 10 hits, including ‘Hell Raiser’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’, ‘Teenage Rampage’ and ‘The Six Teens’.

Sweet decided to take greater control of their own destiny in 1974 and recorded the album Sweet Fanny Adams without the assistance of Chinn and Chapman. The album charted at number 27, but disappeared again after just two weeks. The work marked a significant departure from their commercially-minded singles on which they had built their reputation. ‘Set Me Free’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Sweet F.A.’ epitomized their no-frills hard rock style. Desolation Boulevard included the self-penned ‘Fox On The Run’ which was to hit number 2 in the UK singles chart. This gave the band confidence and renewed RCA’s faith in the band as a commercial proposition. However, as Sweet became more of an albums band, the hit singles began to dry up, with 1978’s ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ being their last Top 10 hit. Following a move to Polydor Records, they cut four albums with each release making less impact than its predecessor. Their brand of melodic rock, infused with infectious hooks and brutal riffs, now failed to satisfy both the teenybopper and the more mature rock fan.

Since 1982, various incarnations of the band have appeared from time to time, with any number from one to three of the original members in the line-up. In 1989, they recorded a live album at London’s Marquee Club, with Paul Mario Day (ex-More) handling the vocals. Brian Connolly suffered from a muscular disorder, and experienced numerous heart attacks. His grim situation was warmed in 1992 with the incredible success of the film Ballroom Blitz and the subsequent renewed interest in the Sweet, but he died in 1997. Tucker died from leukaemia five years later.

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

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