Nazareth Biography

Formed in 1968 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, Nazareth evolved out of local attractions the Shadettes. Dan McCafferty (William McCafferty, 14 October 1946, Edinburgh, Scotland; vocals), Manny Charlton (b. 25 July 1941, La Linea, Spain; guitar), Pete Agnew (b. 14 September 1946, Dunfermline, Scotland; bass) and Darrell Sweet (b. 16 May 1947, Bournemouth, England, d. 30 April 1999, New Albany, Indiana, USA; drums) took their new name from the opening line in ‘The Weight’, a contemporary hit for the Band. After completing a gruelling Scottish tour, Nazareth opted to move to London. Nazareth and Exercises showed undoubted promise, while a third set, Razamanaz, spawned two UK Top 10 singles in ‘Broken Down Angel’ and ‘Bad Bad Boy’ (both 1973). New producer Roger Glover helped to focus the quartet’s brand of melodic hard rock, and such skills were equally prevalent on Loud ‘N’ Proud. An unlikely rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘This Flight Tonight’ gave the band another major chart entry, while the Charlton-produced Hair Of The Dog confirmed Nazareth as an international attraction. Another cover version, this time of Tomorrow’s ‘My White Bicycle’, was a Top 20 entry and although Rampant did not yield a single, the custom-recorded ‘Love Hurts’, originally a hit for the Everly Brothers, proved highly successful in the USA and Canada.

Nazareth’s popularity remained undiminished throughout the 70s but, having tired of a four-piece line-up, they added guitarist Zal Cleminson, formerly of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, for No Mean City. Still desirous for change, the band invited Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, late of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, to produce Malice In Wonderland. While stylistically different from previous albums, the result was artistically satisfying. Contrasting ambitions then led to Cleminson’s amicable departure, but the line-up was subsequently augmented by former Spirit keyboard player John Locke. Baxter also produced the experimental The Fool Circle, while the band’s desire to capture their in-concert fire resulted in’Snaz. Glasgow guitarist Billy Rankin had now joined the band, but dissatisfaction with touring led to Locke’s departure following 2XS. Rankin then switched to keyboards, but although Nazareth continued to enjoy popularity in the USA and Europe, their stature in the UK was receding. Bereft of a major recording contract, Nazareth suspended their career during the late 80s, leaving McCafferty free to pursue solo ambitions (he had already released a solo album in 1975). No Jive was an impressive comeback album in 1992, but the band failed to capitalize on its success. In 1999, Castle Communications reissued the band’s back catalogue, complete with added bonus tracks and alternate takes.

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

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