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Woodland Hills, California, United States

Woodland Hills, California, United States
Band Rock


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"Sweet Live Review"

See link - Scott Itter

"Rolling Stone Magazine Review"

4 out of 5 stars:
Was it Bubblegum? Glam? Hard rock? A singles band in an album era, Sweet played pop melodies throughout the Seventies with such joy and malevolence that the English quartet typically confounded critics in the U.S., where much of their catalog went unreleased: For every glam–tastic American hit like "Ballroom Blitz" there were equally catchy U.K. protopunk smashes like "Teenage Rampage" that suggested the Who covering the Archies via a phalanx of violent guitars, vicious drums and castrato–high harmonies. This two–disc, 32–track collection traces the group's evolution from Latin–esque froth to metallic ferocity, definitively proving that Sweet were the glitter gang Def Leppard always wanted to be. - BARRY WALTERS

"Sweet bassist not sour about hand dealt band in '70s"

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Sad how things work in rock, a business that applauds you one minute, then turns its back on you the next.

It's been a particularly unfair journey for legendary British glam-rock pioneers The Sweet, who produced so many great songs in the 1970s — "Fox on the Run," "Ballroom Blitz," "Little Willy," "Love Is Like Oxygen" and countless others — and were an overwhelming influence for so many mega-successful acts (from David Bowie to Cheap Trick to Def Leppard to Motley Crue), and yet Sweet was never given their due.

It's years later, and at this point, there are two versions of Sweet that feature original members — guitarist Andy Scott's version, which has not toured America over the past 20 years, and bassist Steve Priest's version, which is in the midst of a summer tour in the states and plays Thursday, April 30, at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.

Priest, 61, has every right to resent not being a millionaire or not being a household name or not having the drawing power to play large halls, but that's simply not in his lexicon.

"When we first signed up with the record label back in England, the band came last," Priest said. "It was like everyone said, 'All right, here is my cut, here is my cut, and here is my cut,' and then there were a few crumbs left over for us. Yes, it pisses me off, but I don't live in the past, and I don't have a bad taste in my mouth because it's not worth it. You can't unscramble an egg, so you've just got to get on with it."

Even in Sweet's heyday, when the group topped the singles charts and was among the world's most popular bands, they never headlined arenas in America.

"We just never got our timing right," Priest said. "Bad management. I remember when 'Little Willy' was a big hit, our management didn't want to bring us over to America because they said we were a bubblegum band, which we were not. It was a stupid fight."

Besides Scott, the other two original members of Sweet, singer Brian Connelly and drummer Mick Tucker, have died. Connelly passed away in 1997 because of complications from alcoholism, and Tucker died from leukemia in 2002

After taking a long break from recording and performing, Priest, who has lived in Los Angeles since 1986, has assembled an all-new version of Sweet, and he does not care that the group will never be as big as Bon Jovi. He is playing music because it's what he loves to do, which is why he started in the first place.

"I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got back out there," Priest said. "It's fun just watching an audience sing along to your songs. It's an experience, it really is."

The new Sweet includes a group of relative unknowns, including singer Joe Retta, guitarist Stewart Smith, drummer Richie Onori and keyboardist Stevie Stewart. They've played a handful of shows, and the reviews have proved overwhelmingly positive.

"I wasn't looking for big stars. I was looking for people who were into it and had talent," Priest said. "Joe has a great voice. Stevie is a great piano player. They're all great, and they have great personalities. That's what it's all about."

At House of Blues on the Sunset Strip
8 p.m. Thursday, April 30, 2009.
INFO: hob.com

- By Gerry Gittelson, Special to the Daily News


While scoring hits in the '70s with classic rock staples "Ballroom Blitz," "Little Willy" and "Fox on the Run," Sweet never garnered the hip cachet of its British rock brethren. T.Rex and Mott the Hoople were cooler; Queen and ELO were more extravagant, and Bowie was Bowie. Sweet's glam-pop sound came off, well, a little too sweet — and the name undoubtedly fed bubblegum comparisons. However, listening to Sweet's new Shout! Factory anthology, Action, isn't an empty-calorie experience. Besides their well-known singles, the fun-packed double-disc set revives big riff rockers like "Action," "Teenage Rampage" and "The Lies in Your Eyes," along with curios like "Alexander Graham Bell" and the Caribbean-flavored "Poppa Joe." With bassist Steve Priest (immortalized in the "Are you ready, Steve?" line from "Ballroom Blitz") the only remaining original member, there's always the question of how, exactly, this incarnation will recreate the Sweet sound (and whether they'll wear those silly knickers), but, still, it should make for a jolly night of "Wig-Wam Bam" rock & roll.

- By Michael Berick for LA Weekly

"Action: The Sweet Anthology"

Sweet have never gotten the respect they deserve — that's what happens when your specialty is good times. Ben Edmonds perfectly explains the error of this disrespect in his liner notes to Shout! Factory's wonderful Action: The Sweet Anthology, but even he dismisses the group's earliest bubblegum singles, and their inclusion is a big reason why Action stands apart from all previous Sweet compilations. Most Sweet compilations — and there are many, their discography cluttered with dynamite doses of the hits and cheap recyclings alike — stick to the basic canon, beginning with the stomping "Little Willy," running through "Ballroom Blitz," and ending with "Love Is Like Oxygen," their first and last big hit not written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, with a handful spotlighting that early bubblegum. What distinguishes Action is that it traces Sweet's entire history, opening up with a clutch of sugary singles before deeply exploring the glory years of the mid-'70s and then closing out the saga by running into the '80s, after vocalist Brian Connolly had left the group and the rest of the bandmembers were winding down. This gives Action a narrative lacking in other Sweet compilations, but it also opens the door for a lot of terrific unheralded music from throughout their career. "Funny Funny" might be standard singalong bubblegum, but "Co-Co" and its rewrite, "Poppa Joe," are dynamic Caribbean-flavored candy, while "Alexander Graham Bell" is a glorious piece of symphonic weirdness, as good as any bubblegum hit from the early '70s, and the selected latter-day tracks that close the comp are respectable navigations of new wave and arena rock. It's great to have the opening and closing chapters of the band's career here, but it's even better that Action digs deep into Sweet's glam glory years, surrounding the hits with album cuts that more than hold their own. Coming after those sticky-sweet early cuts, "Little Willy," "Wig-Wam Bam," and "Blockbuster" all bear a strong bubblegum foundation, but the crunching guitars and brutal drums are pure rock & roll. And that is the brilliance of Sweet and why the best of their music endures: it provides trashy teenage rebellion via shouted chants and loud guitars, seeming ephemeral but proving to be eternal because it sounds so good. It can sound good on those skimpy ten-track comps, but here on this thorough 32-track retrospective it's never sounded better, nor has it ever been easier to appreciate just how good — and, yes, underrated — Sweet actually are.
- by Stephen Thomas Erlewine for AMG / All Music

"Glam slam: With 'Fox on the Run,' 'Ballroom Blitz,' Sweet coaxes 1975 back to life"

Updated: 05/01/2009 06:28:35 PM PDT

WEST HOLLYWOOD — After sitting idle for nearly three decades, Steve Priest is making up for lost time in a big way.

The original Sweet bassist has reformed the legendary British glam-rock band in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, and the group performed a near-perfect concert Thursday before a packed crowd of about 2,000 at House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.

Priest, now 61, still has the chops, and he has assembled a terrific blend of support musicians, led by singer Joe Retta, an undiscovered gem who proved every bit as mesmerizing and perhaps even a bit stronger-voiced than original Sweet vocalist Brian Connolly, who died in 1997 from liver failure.

Priest's Sweet has performed only a handful of shows over the months since the reformation, but there was no denying this is a tight, ultra-professional outfit that blew openers L.A. Guns off the stage.

Opening with a rousing version of "Action," followed by a spot-on rendition of "Fox on the Run" — that one has to be one of the greatest songs in rock history — it was 1975 all over again, as Sweet played nearly every selection from the legendary "Desolation Boulevard" LP that remains perhaps glam's defining collection.

It's been years and years, but the crowd was totally into it, stomping up and down, pumping their fists, and singing along loud and clear to such chorus-heavy anthems as "Teenage Rampage," "Little Willy" and "Love is Like Oxygen."

Sweet even impressed with a new song, "Sweet Dreams," a catchy throwback that, quite surprisingly, stood tall with all the hits. Didn't see that coming, but I guess you never know.

It was close to midnight before Sweet finally made its bows, then the fivesome was coaxed into a couple of encores and showed no lost energy while churning out a cover of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" and finally "Ballroom Blitz."

- By Gerry Gittelson, Special to the Daily News



Having been born in the punk era and raised by oh-so-jazz minded parents, the thunderous sounds of glitter band SWEET's power pop anthems such as 'NO YOU DON'T', 'LITTLE WILLY', 'LOVE IS LIKE OXYGEN' and 'FOX ON THE RUN' where only made known to me through late night infomercials hocking some seventies collection or by any artist who has ever worked with MIKE CHAPMAN (PAT BENATAR's venomous cover of 'NO YOU DON'T'). Hell, I haven't even gotten into how I first heard 'BALLROOM BLITZ' in the 1991 film 'WAYNE'S WORLD'! With a string of hits - penned largely by songwriting team MIKE CHAPMAN and NICKY CHINN up until 1974 - SWEET was glam rock and through their pounding rhythm section, melodic guitar crunches, manic four-part harmonies, and stage presence, the band inspired a generation of future eighties hair bands. Of course, fortune couldn't smile on these lads forever. A couple of bad things happened and SWEET wasn't all that sweet anymore. Former lead singer - the late BRIAN CONNOLLY - was the first to abandon ship. The rest of the band followed suit in 1982 following the release of their final album 'IDENTITY CRISIS'.

After an infinite number of line ups calling themselves SWEET had toured the world and the untimely deaths of BRIAN CONNOLLY and drummer MICK TUCKER, bassist and co-founder STEVE PRIEST has dusted off the cobwebs on his AMPEG bass and has reformed the band SWEET with new members. This latest line up, consisting of STUART SMITH (guitar), RICHIE ONORI (drums), STEVIE STEWART (keyboards) and vocalist JOE RETTA, has already toured the U.S. and Canada and are on the verge of releasing a live album. There is also talk of a studio album being in the works - the bands first since 1982.

ROCKWIRED spoke with bassist/vocalist STEVE PRIEST over the phone. Here is how it went.

RW-Are you ready STEVE?
Steve Priest-(Silence)

RW-Just kidding!
Steve Priest-Its all right! I get that a couple of times.

RW-Then I apologize. It probably annoys the piss out of you.
Steve Priest-No. No.

RW-So how does it feel going out there with this new line up for SWEET?
Steve Priest-It's excellent! They are all very, very good players, and we're having a lot of fun together. It came together very quickly.

RW-You haven't had much to do with SWEET since the break up following the release of 'IDENTITY CRISIS' in 1982. What brought you back?
Steve Priest-Watching ERIC CLAPTON on stage and observing the fact that he is a lot older than I am and wondering why I'm not up there. So I decided to redo it and get going again.

RW-Already, you and this latest incarnation of SWEET have toured the U.S. and Canada. What surprised you the most when you went back on the road? What didn't you expect?
Steve Priest-Lets see. I expected exactly what we got actually. They recognized the tunes but they really didn't recognize who the band was. That was always our problem on this side of the Atlantic because we didn't tour enough. So, right now we are getting everyone to realize who actually played these songs.

RW-I know what you mean. I have to be honest. The first time I heard 'BALLROOM BLITZ', it was through the movie WAYNE'S WORLD.
Steve Priest-Right.

RW-I was fourteen years old and I thought that CASSANDRA and CRUCIAL TAUNT sang it. But anyway...
Steve Priest-Yeah there you go.

RW-The band has also got a live album in the works.
Steve Priest-We've already done it. Right now we're mixing it.

RW-How about original material with this new band?
Steve Priest-We'll be doing that too.

RW-Forgive me for going back to the year of the flood, but what drew you to music in the beginning?
Steve Priest-Well, I used to sing in the church choir which was whatever that was, but I had a lot of rock n roll inside of me that I had to get out.

RW-Why the bass?
Steve Priest-Ah, that's a tough one! Do you remember CLIFF RICHARDS AND THE SHADOWS?

Steve Priest-Okay, well he had his own show on a Wednesday night and I was watching them and I really didn't know who THE SHADOWS were and the one standing in the middle had a different looking guitar. It was JET HARRIS on bass and I went 'Oh, I wanna play one of them!' I had no idea why, I just wanted to play one of them. I can play the guitar, but I have a lot more fun playing the bass.

RW-Describe your first meeting with original SWEET members BRIAN CONNOLLY and MICK TUCKER.
Steve Priest-We were doing a gig together. I was in a band called THE ARMY and they were in a band called WAINWRIGHT'S GENTLEMEN. We were co-headlining in this place just outside of London. It just so happened that MICK was being fired by their manager that evening and he didn't know anything about it. We were just chatting about how money doesn't go very far in an eight piece band. So after that gig, MICK was fired and BRIAN said to the manager that 'if you fire him, I'm leaving!'. The next day, BRIAN called me at work and said 'Would you like to form a four piece band?' and I said 'yes' because I was into CREAM by then and i liked that kind of bluesy type of stuff. Really basic. So I said 'yes' right away.

RW-Initially, the band was called SWEETSHOP.
Steve Priest-Only for a minute. Somebody stole the name and released some songs so we just shortened the name to SWEET.

RW-I'm surprised no one thought of SWEET first.
Steve Priest-Yeah, but it was during that time in the sixties and seventies were you had these stupid pretentious names like STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK. It was all just silly.

RW-So what were the initial gigs like with you, MICK and BRIAN?
Steve Priest-Some of them were all right but it was hard going because reggae had just come out and skinheads loved reggae for some reason and we weren't playing any. So in the beginning, it was rather difficult getting gigs. A lot of these venues were school halls and youth clubs and what not and it was very hard going until we had some hits in Europe - where reggae wasn't popular - and then we started touring Germany and Sweden and it became a lot easier.

RW-At what point did ANDY SCOTT join the band.
Steve Preist-That was 1971. Our first guitarist FRANK TORPEY left to get married and so we went "okay!'. Then we got another guitarist named MICK STEWART who didn't last very long. We didn't think we were getting anywhere and coincidentally that was how we hooked up with NICKY CHINN and MIKE CHAPMAN. Our producer PHIL WAINMAN did not like MICK STEWART and did not get on with him. He knew him and said "I'm not working with him!' This is the same time that MICK STEWART said that he was leaving. And we're like 'okay, bye-bye'. We held some auditions and eventually we decided on ANDY.

RW-Much of SWEET's early work is kind of defined by NICKY CHINN and MIKE CHAPMAN. What were you're initial thoughts on this songwriting team?
Steve Priest-Well, they saved us really because for a while we had no guitarist for one thing. PHIL WAINMAN got us a load of session stuff which paid some of the rent. CHINN and CHAPMAN had a good organization around them with MICKIE MOST and SUZIE QUATRO. It's nice to have a hit record. It makes you feel good. We'd go in to the studio and record the A-side which was always a CHINN/CHAPMAN song and the B-side would always be one of our songs. Of course we would record the B-side once CHINN and CHAPMAN had gone home and left WAINMAN in the studio with us.

RW-In a lot of ways, it seems like SWEET's pop leanings mixed with it's rock sensibility predated a lot of the "hair metal" of the eighties. What are your thoughts on that?
SP-Many of the eighties bands have said that we were a big influence on them with the vocals and the thrashing which was what we set out to do. We wanted these heavy back vocals in a three part harmony. Our guitarist didn't sing so it was only the three of us. It wasn't until ANDY joined that we went into four parts, but we still had the hard and driving back track underneath it all.

RW-You, ANDY, BRIAN and MICK are the original members of the band. Talk about each of them and what you thought each of them brought to the table creatively and personality-wise.
Steve Priest-Well, BRIAN had a very unique voice and a very unique look as well. He was very cool on stage. He had a good stage presence and had a lot of charisma. MICK was an excellent drummer. He is one of the most underrated drummers out of England. I think when people dismissed us as a pop band, they had decided that we couldn't play but my God was MICK good! Same with ANDY. He was an excellent guitarist. He's got a very high falsetto to top off what the rest of us were doing vocally. So it was a good combination. There was a certain amount of anger between BRIAN and ANDY for some reason. I'll never understand that one, but it seemed to work for some reason. It was always like a chemical reaction on stage that always had us going 'What's going to happen next?'.

RW-A powder keg.
Steve Priest-Indeed.

RW-SWEET's first LP was 'FUNNY HOW SWEET COCO CAN BE'. What are your thoughts on that release so many years later?
Steve Priest-Some of the songs on it are quite nice. The title is stupid but that was because we were still being controlled. 'REFLECTIONS' (a cover of THE SUPREMES hit) is a good one. It took BRIAN hours to sing it. It was a hard song to sing. But all in all, the album wasn't really us. It was NICKY CHINN's version of what he thought our album should be.

RW-You've already talked about what your initial feelings were regarding CHINN and CHAPMAN, but what did that relationship turn into? Eventually the band broke away from them.
Steve Priest-They were such prima donnas. The last single we recorded for them was 'THE SIX TEENS' which was an excellent song actually, but at the time BBC was on strike, so we couldn't get to TOP OF THE POPS and TOP OF THE POPS was the magic ingredient for getting you singles played on BBC. There weren't that many other radio stations around at the time. So consequentially, the song wasn't a hit. So NICKY CHINN and MIKE CHAPMAN had moved out to Los Angeles because CHAPMAN had already bought a house there, so the band was stuck with a miss on our hands. So the band got together and said 'let's do a single.' We had already recorded 'FOX ON THE RUN' which was on 'DESOLATION BOULEVARD' but thee song seven minutes long so we decided to rerecord it on our own. We did and it ended up being a huge hit. I remember MIKE CHAPMAN phoning me and saying 'It doesn't look like you need us anymore!' and I went 'No it doesn't, does it!' and that was the end of that.

RW-Can't imagine anyone telling MIKE CHAPMAN that they don't need him. I've interviewed many people that have worked with him and have heard of all of the fights that would break out.
Steve Priest-Oh okay! From what I've heard, he's really mellowed out and has become human again.

RW-Age and blood pressure do that to you.
Steve Priest-They do, don't they?

RW-I was reading that a lot of your live shows around that time consisted mostly of B-sides and album tracks. Is that true?
Steve Priest-Oh yes. Definitely yes. When we had one song 'COCO' which was a big hit actually, on the reverse side of it was a song we wrote called 'DONE ME WRONG ALL RIGHT' so we had opened the show with it and everyone's mouths fell to the floor. It just wasn't what they expected. That was the fun part. We could play our own stuff and mix it in with the singles.

RW-Had SWEET ever had any contact with rivals bands such as T-REX or QUEEN or even GARY GLITTER?
Steve Priest-Only in passing on things like TOP OF THE POPS. SLADE, we used to chat with. They were okay. MARC BOLAN was a bit 'I'm holier than thou!' Who else? Oh, I was sitting next to DAVID BOWIE. I think it was when we had 'BLOCK BUSTER' out and he 'JEAN GENIE' and I think these songs were released like a week apart. The two songs sort of had the same riff. He was sitting next to me and I was putting make up on and of course I was as subtle as a flying brick and DAVID was going"Oh no, no, no, no! You don't need that much!' and I went 'Oh, go away!' or something to that effect. I wasn't trying to be subtle. He didn't get it so there you go.

RW-I've interviewed people that have performed on TOP OF THE POPS but I've never asked them what the experience was like. What was it like?
Steve Priest-It was a very long day. You get there at like eight o'clock in the morning, which when you're in a rock n roll band doesn't exist. Anyway, you get ther at eight, you do a run through and they do the camera angles and all of that crap and then you are on your own until like four o'clock and they bring you back for dress rehearsal and then you are on your own again until eight in the evening by which time you have been to the bar a few times which is not good. So for a lot of performances, not just by us, everyone would be slightly under the influence.

RW-Yeah, but for TOP OF THE POPS, all you had to do was lip synch, right?
Steve Priest-In the early days, you lip synched but the Musician's Union complained that the musicians that had played on the record weren't getting paid for that session so we had to go in and redo the song with a Musician Union person there. So it wasn't the album itself. It was actually a remake and then you either put the vocals on or sing live. But we used to fiddle all of that anyway. We used to just give them the back track of the record and go 'All right! Here you go!' Then we'd go in and sing to the back track. It cost us a lot of money because we had to rent the studio for three and a half hours. In those days it was quite expensive. You didn't have PRO-TOOLS.

RW-For the album SWEET FANNY ADAMS, the band recorded without CHINN and CHAPMAN. Describe that whole period where it sounded as if the band was taking control of it's sound.
Steve Priest-SWEET FANNY ADAMS was a strange album. We did that album with PHIL WAINMAN while CHINN and CHAPMAN had floated off somewhere. So we decided to do it ourselves but unfortunately half away through it, BRIAN was attacked one night by a couple of thugs and they kicked his throat in so he couldn't sing. That's another one where I'll never truly know the why, what and how, but the timing for SWEET FANNY ADAMS must have been a dreadful time for BRIAN. It was awful because PETE TOWNSHEND wanted us on a big festival with him. It would've put us on the map as areal band, but because of what had happened to BRIAN, we couldn't do it. The press got a hold of it and were like 'it sound's like a put-up job! They didn't want to do it really!' We had to finish the album off because it was contractually due and that was why I sang 'NO YOU DON'T' for instance.

RW-Once again, how I know that song is because PAT BENATAR did it.
Steve Priest-That's right! That's exactly the point that I was making. I remember this one person trying to tell me that the song 'LOVE IS LIKE OXYGEN' was by ELO and I was like 'No, it wasn't. I was there when I recorded it.' And he wouldn't have it so I gave him the CD and he said 'Oh, I thought that was ELO.' They were similar in sound. JEFF LYNNE is a big fan of ours anyways so I think he ripped us off.

RW-It happens.
Steve Priest-It does. You hear things and then you forget that you've heard them and they come out subliminally sometimes.

RW-When did you see things starting to turn for the worse for SWEET?
Steve Priest-When BRIAN was losing his voice. He was drinking much to much. He never really got over the voice thing. His vocal range was very reduced after that but of course we went on and did 'GIVE US A WINK' which I think is one of our best albums and 'LEVEL HEADED'. We recorded 'OFF THE RECORD' and then BRIAN left. We did the album 'CUT ABOVE THE REST' with me and ANDY doing all of the vocals.

RW-What was that like stepping up front?
Steve Priest-I was getting used to it actually because on stage BRIAN would keep forgetting lyrics so I would have to keep my eye on him all night and step in when he missed his queues. You had to keep it going which was strain on me because I was doing my own vocals too. It all started to crumble. BRIAN started taking God-knows-what pills and there was one night in Birmingham, Alabama - a place that I never particularly want to go to again - where BRIAN was so far out of it that he didn't even know where he was.

RW-Oh God!
Steve Priest-I know, and at the time CAPITOL RECORDS had heard that things were going south so they had decided to come and see how good or bad we were. All of the heads at CAPITOL were there and it was a disaster so we told BRIAN that 'either you're in or you're out, unless you can get yourself together!'. So he got himself together on stage and he was excellent actually. So we got back into the studio and he just couldn't do it. He also decided that he didn't want to scream any more. He just wanted to do Country music. And that was the end of that, really.

RW-What were you're thoughts on his solo work?
Steve Priest-Not bad actually. There were some nice songs on there and he sang very well. The songs were in his range and he was relaxed and he didn't have ANDY around him this time.

RW-Describe the time you guys made what would end up being the band's swan song - "IDENTITY CRISIS'.
Steve Priest-I was living in New York by then and I would come back to England every now and then because we needed an album. So we'd sit and write it and I'd come over to the States and stay somewhere with a friend and feel like a square peg in a round hole. I'd be there going 'Are we writing today?' and everyone would go 'Oh no, I can't make it!' I had traveled five thousand miles for all of these people not to make it. So we just sort of chucked that album together. It was the last thing we were going to do. At that time, I was staying at the CHELSEA HOTEL which is like an old peoples home because it was so cheap. I'd be getting to the studio by taking the subway. Everyone else was arriving in their Rolls Royces and I would arrive on foot. I just didn't feel very happy about the situation at all and the studio we did it in was rotten. It was horrible. The manger of the studio had these pictures on the wall of all of the employees and by the time we had finished the album, they had all been fired. So one day, I got a black magic marker and I just put crosses through all of there faces , just to make a point. the title of album pretty much said it all. We didn't know where we were going. We didn't have a direction. Punk had just hit and all though we were punks, we weren't punk rockers. That was ten years younger than us.

RW-After the break up, BRIAN had his own version of SWEET and ANDY has his. It was pretty confusing! What were your thoughts on each of them going back and trying to make it work?
Steve Priest-I never knew anything about BRIAN's version. I did eventually, but I didn't know it at the time. In 1985 there was a point when ANDY had asked me if he could use the name SWEET. He and MICK were going to be touring Australia and I had figured that that was going to be it. So I said yes. So ANDY and MICK went off as SWEET and then BRIAN was out there as BRIAN CONNOLLY's SWEET and I was sitting there going like 'My God! What is going on! What did I do!' So they kept going and one day around the time MICK started getting ill - he had leukemia - ANDY had fired him. MICK was fired from his own band. So ANDY flew MICK back to England and had another drummer the next day and continued as ANDY SCOTT's SWEET, but of course promoters immediately dropped the ANDY SCOTT bit. So ANDY was going on as SWEET while BRIAN was going on as SWEET and I wasn't.

RW-Yeah, you stayed away from it.
Steve Priest-Yeah, I thought it was in poor taste. It was too confusing and then ANDY would get a new singer every couple of weeks. And still is. I think he's got the singer from SAILOR now. Was it SAILOR?

Steve Priest-Oh no, it's not SLADE!

RW-Then who?
Steve Priest-The band that did 'Whoa, whoa, whoa it's magic!'.

RW-Okay, I'll GOOGLE it later if I remember.
Steve Priest-I wouldn't. That's who he's got at the moment. I think he's had about fifteen singers. He's looking for the ultimate in vocal superiority and he'll never find it. So I figured it was time for me to go out there. I've known STUART SMITH (current SWEET guitarist) ever since I've moved to L.A. so thats been a while and he's a good guitarist. I've put bands together with him in the past just to do a one off shows. We would do three of four SWEET songs for fundraiswers and things like that. So I phoned him and said 'Let's get a band together and since I own the band's name in America - let's just do it!'.

RW-So is there bad blood between you and ANDY right now?
Steve Priest-No blood actually. I don't talk to him and he doesn't talk to me and I think that if I go to Europe as SWEET, there is not a whole lot he can do about it.

Steve Priest-Yes. Right now, our band is trying to get festivals together this year in the States, and they are slowly coming in because the economy sucks. It's hurt everything. It's hurt the big shows because people can't afford to go.

RW-Exactly, when you can spend eighty bucks on groceries and not on a ticket.
Steve Priest-There you go. So right now, they are being a little stingy and they going for the acts that have been doing it for the last thirty years. You know, "The Good Ol' Stand-Bys" of whatever the hell their names are. 'We're an American Band!'

RW-Oh them! Great now I forgot their names!
Steve Priest-Here we go 'THE AMNESIACS'!

RW-I know and I'm supposed to be this rock trivia expert. Oh well, they're probably worth forgetting.
Steve Priest-They are. Believe me, we did one show with them last year and they've got one hit. Or he's got one hit. There are two versions of them and I still can't remember what they're called. Something 'railroad'.

RW-Oh, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD! Talk about the current lineup now. Who are they and what do you think each of them brings to the table that makes it worth going out there again?
Steve Priest-STUART SMITH is on guitar and he's an excellent guitarist. We've got RICHIE ONORI on drums and he is excellent. He's on par with MICK. He's got great timing. STEVIE STEWART is on keyboards. Everyone in this band has been around the block a few times so they know the ropes. JOE RETTA is on vocals. He's got a great vocal range and a wonderful voice. I've known STEWART and RICHIE for a while and they knew JOE and STEVIE so I said 'All right , let's go into a rehearsal room and try it.' It worked right away! It just got together really quickly.

RW-What would you like a person to come away with after they've seen this new line up live?
Steve Priest-From what I've heard from fans who've seen ANDY's version and ours, they say that we do it like rock n roll and that ANDY does it to perfection or to his idea of perfection anyway. We do it the the way I wanted it to be done in the first place, you see what I mean?

RW-A little more raw.
Steve Priest-A lot more rock n roll. We do put on a good show. It goes straight to the point and there is no waffling. Everyone says that it's an excellent show and that now they can see who the real band is.

"Coach House concert is Sweet news for classic-rock fans"

Sweet is back.

The legendary 1970s rock band that crafted a string of infectious and well-known rockers such as "Fox on the Run," "Ballroom Blitz, "Little Willy" and "Love is Like Oxygen" is the subject of an upcoming reissue by Shout Factory.

"Action: The Sweet Anthology" is a two-disc collection set for release April 28. It is the definitive Sweet set, featuring the band's best-known material remastered. The ambitious CD celebrates the legacy of Sweet, which featured bassist-vocalist Steve Priest, singer Brian Connolly, drummer Mick Tucker and guitarist Frank Torpey (later replaced by Andy Scott).

The good news for area music fans is that Sweet, which Priest reconstructed last year, will deliver live versions of those classic cuts and other material when the band kicks off its 2009 tour Thursday night with a show at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.

Sweet combined the harmony-minded vocals of groups such as the Hollies and the Turtles with distorted guitars and heavy bass guitar and drums. That distinctive sound remains an influential force 35 years later.

Sweet's 2008 tour saw the band perform for more than 200,000 fans throughout the United States and Canada, with the positive response setting in motion the reformed outfit working on a new studio album expected to be completed this year.

The 2009 tour is dedicated to two members of the original Sweet, Connolly (who died at age 51 in February 1997) and Tucker (who died at 54 in February 2002).

In addition to Priest, Sweet's current lineup includes lead vocalist Joe Retta, lead guitarist Stuart Smith, drummer Richie Onori and keyboardist Stevie Stewart.


"Sweet Play Morongo Casino"

Sweets Saturday Night two show performance at Morongo Casino was stunning. The Vibe Club was really a blast from the past for me. Being the youngest of five, I was into music at a young age. I remember a new Music Plus record store opening up and one of my first purchases on this Grand Opening Day was Sweets’ 1975 album, Desolation Boulevard. As with most vinyl records from my early youth, I played it till it was scratched in a many places. Blasting around my room with my friends playing air guitar to “Ball Room Blitz,” “Fox on the Run” is still a joyful memory. Even today when I hear “Ballroom Room Blitz,” which made it to number 5 in the USA, or their other classic hit Fox on the Run” I get hyped up and want to rock out.

I knew even before I went to see them that these would be the songs where the fans would really cut lose and rock out and just relive their crazy youth. Sweet has one of the 70's era Rock and Roll major anthems for me, it comes at the beginning of “Ballroom Blitz” when Joe Retta says, “Are you ready Steve! Andy, Aha! Mick, Okay!, All right fellas, well let’s goooooo! This is what I came to the Vibe Club to see and hear. I wanted to relive the old days with the new lineup of Sweet featuring original bassist Steve Priest who always delivers a high energy and very entertaining show.
With Joe Retta, singing lead vocals, Steve Stewart, on keyboards, Stuart Smith, on lead guitar, Richie Onori, handling the drums, and of course Steve Priest, on bass Sweet still creates the same old energy and the crowd loved them.

After opening with “Action” the band broke into “Fox On The Run” and instantly everyone was on their feet dancing and enjoying hearing this classic song live. After many other classics like, “Wig Wam Bam”, “Oxygen”, and “Little Willie” just to name a few of the songs they played, the band erupted into “Ballroom Blitz” and just as I thought, it brought the house down or may be correctly to its feet. Most of the people in the attendance knew the words and they were not shy in helping the band singing along as the show reached its peak.

As I was leaving the Vibe Club and strolling out amongst all my new friends, I just had to stop to talk with and take one final picture of Seth Hall, Lucy Tallarita, Cyndi Johnson, Jessica Johnson and Allan Johnson. We all agreed we got what we came for. Sweet, a classic band, delivering a classic show.

Now I just can’t wait to buy the DVD that was filmed during this show. Imagine that, from a vinyl record of Desolation Blvd to a soon to be in my collection, DVD....I guess I am getting old, hell no! I just still love Sweet!

- Andrew Yelich for Desert Cities Entertaiment

"“Sweet” on the Run - Stuart Smith :: Interview"

“Stuart Smith was born in York, England and was classically trained on guitar from the age of 7. He was mentored by Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore and played with Steve Priest of Sweet in the late ’80s. Smith joined Keith Emerson’s band The Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, before forming his own band Heaven & Earth in 1997. In 1998 Smith released a critically acclaimed album called "Heaven & Earth featuring Stuart Smith" with guest appearances by Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Kelly Hansen (Hurricane/Foreigner), Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart/Jeff Beck/Vanilla Fudge), Bobby Kimball (Toto) and Priest. In 2004, the album won “Best Overall Album of the Year” at the Los Angeles All Access Music Awards and Stuart won the “Best Guitarist” award, a feat he repeated the following year. After touring with Heaven & Earth for a few years Smith put the band on hiatus in January this year to reform Sweet with former bandmate Steve Priest, taking longtime drummer Richie Onori along with him. Sweet have just completed a successful summer tour playing to over 200,000 people throughout Canada and the States and are currently working on a new album before resuming touring in the New Year.”

With the band Heaven & Earth on hiatus, award-winning guitarist Stuart Smith has found a “Sweeter” way to take his music career these days. AAM was lucky to catch up with Stuart. While he was flying somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, we got him to shed some light on a few unanswered questions for us.

AAM: So where can our readers find the talented Stuart Smith hanging out these days, and how did this all come about?

Stuart Smith: Most of the time I’m either in the air traveling, waiting ’round at airports, or packing for the next leg of the tour. It’s funny because when my old singer Kelly Hansen joined Foreigner, he’d always be complaining about how little time he had to himself and I’d be saying, “‘Oh waaaaaaah, I’m in Foreigner’ – Shut the hell up.” But now I know exactly how he feels and he’s having the last laugh when I complain saying, “Oh waaaaaaah, I’m in Sweet.”

It all started in January this year when I was really trying to decide what to do, as Heaven & Earth couldn’t get arrested over here and we weren’t quite big enough for anyone to pick us up and take us to Europe, when I got a call from Steve Priest asking me if I’d be interested in reforming Sweet again. We’d tried it together when I first came over to Los Angeles in 1986 but it was the wrong time for us. We tried again in 1994, which was going to be the original members of Steve Priest, Brian Connolly, and Mick Tucker, with myself on guitar. But then, sadly, Brian died, which took the wind out of all our sails. So we thought “third time lucky,” which it turned out to be.

AAM: How have your fans greeted the reformed SWEET on the road?

Stuart Smith: The response has been absolutely incredible, we couldn’t have wished for a better reception. We’ve been playing some great festivals around the States and Canada to anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people, and some of them we’ve either been headlining or going on before bands like Poison. The most amazing thing is that our audience consists of people between the ages 15 and 50 and at least half of them are teenagers – and they’re down the front and they know all the words to the songs, sometimes better than us! And not just to the major hits like “Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run,” and “Love is Like Oxygen,” but also some of the lesser known ones like “The Sixteens” or AC/DC.

AAM: Your recent tour took you overseas. How was it? Bump into anyone you know?

Stuart Smith: Yes, it’s been great out on the road. You meet a lot of new friends but also run into people you haven’t seen for years. In Canada I got to reconnect with Joan Jett whom I’d met in London years ago, and also got to hang with Sammy Hagar, whom I hadn’t seen since we played Calgary with Heaven & Earth back when Kelly Hansen was the singer.

AAM: AAM has followed your music career for several years now and it would have appeared you have made a full circle. So what is next? Any musical plans for the winter or holidays?

Stuart Smith: When we started off Sweet, I said I’d manage the band as I pretty much knew what I was doing in the music business. But after the whole thing took off it really became too much for me to deal with all the business and be the guitar player of the band. So we’ve taken on an old friend of mine, John Malta, who manages Pat Benatar, to handle the business side of things for us which frees me up to be more involved in the creative side.

We’ve taken a short break in the touring right now and are concentrating on writing and recording while John Malta sorts out a new agent for us and gets us booked for the New Year.

AAM: Is there a new album or DVD in the works?

Stuart Smith: Yes. We’ve just recorded a track for Cleopatra Records, who are doing a Beatles tribute album with people like Santana on it, which turned out great. It was really our first time in the studio together and we recorded a version of “I Saw Her Standing There” and were so knocked out with it that we decided to keep that one for ourselves and record another for them which turned out to be “Ticket to Ride.” Our last show at the Morongo Casino was recorded by Westwood One for a radio broadcast and we have ownership of the masters so we’ll be bringing out a live album soon. We cut a deal with K-Tel Records, who have videoed us in High Def playing the main hits which will be available for downloads as podcasts on iTunes very soon. We’re also writing tracks for a new Sweet album and are talking those to some record labels right now. As well as that we’ll be filming the complete show sometime next year and will release a “Sweet Live” DVD. So things are going to be pretty busy over the next year.

AAM: What are some of the things you like the best about being a musician and some of the worst?

Stuart Smith: The thing I like most is playing live for the fans. This version of Sweet, which consists of Steve Priest on bass, Joe Retta on vocals, Richie Onori on drums, Stevie Stewart on keyboards, and myself on guitar, is so exciting it’s dangerous. The musicianship is great and we have a very loose stage show, which means we experiment a lot. It’s like walking on a knife-edge each time we go on stage. I also like traveling to all the new places that I haven’t been to before and meeting some very cool people.

The things I don’t like are sitting around in airports for hours when a flight is delayed or cancelled, and disorganized tour routing where you have to get up at some ridiculous hour and travel all day just to get to the next gig. I always say that we play for free: What you pay for us is all the crap we have to deal with to get there.

AAM: Your Ultimate Goal?

Stuart Smith: The only problem Sweet has is that although the band has had over 10 international top ten hits, most people out there know the songs but don’t know who did them. We’ve had people hear us play “Love is Like Oxygen” and they come up to us afterwards and say, “Oh, we thought that song was by Electric Light Orchestra.” We’ve even had someone think that “Fox on the Run” was played by the Yardbirds. So our main goal next year is to get out there and educate everyone as to the songs Sweet has in its jukebox.

AAM: Any words for your fans, friends or music colleagues?

Stuart Smith: I’d like to thank All Access Magazine and all their readers for the continued support they’ve given me throughout my career, and hope we get to see everyone at Sweet shows during the coming year.

AAM would like to say “congratulations” to you, Stuart, not only on the success of your summer tour and reforming the band Sweet, but congrats to you for being one helluva guitarist! It has been an honor to follow your music career these past few years, and AAM wishes you continuous success.

- Debra Stocker for All Access Magazine.com

"Sweet Live! In America"

One of rock’s highly influential bands, Sweet, has returned to the foray. Pioneers of polished Glam Rock, Sweet’s career began in the late ’60s and carried forward until 1981. Founded by Brian Connolly (v) and Mick Tucker (d) and Steve Priest (b), the original lineup worked with several guitarists before finding Andy Scott.

Since the early ’80s, the former bandmates have resurrected their own lineup of Sweet in various incarnations, leading to at least three touring versions of the band.

In ’97, Connolly died from liver failure and repeated heart attacks, which was attributed to his chronic alcoholism. Tucker died in 2002 from leukemia. Andy Scott continues on with his own touring version of the band.

In ’08, bassist Steve Priest reformed his touring lineup of the band, which includes guitarist Stuart Smith (Heaven & Earth), drummer Richie Onori (Heaven & Earth), vocalist Joe Retta and keyboardist Stevie Stewart. Priest’s latest incarnation of Sweet has produced the band’s first live album in more than 20 years.

Live! In America brings forth the fire and energy within the confines of 16 songs that span the bands career. The concert was recorded at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, Calif., on August 30th, 2008 in conjunction with Westwood One’s mobile recording unit for a live broadcast. Sweet performs their classic rock hits “Action,” “Fox On the Run,” “Love Is Like Oxygen,” “Little Willy” and “Ballroom Blitz.”

With only one original member within the ranks of the band, fans may find the tour and live CD hard to digest. Fans can be rest assured that the magic that lies in the songs still lives. Priest’s bass and vocal performance are enhanced by the artists that surround him on stage. Joe Retta lands the “MVP” award. Without his spot on vocal performance, this incarnation of Sweet would have been sunk.

Guitarist Stuart Smith finds himself a comfortable home. Performing “somebody else’s” songs isn’t necessarily a highlight for any musician. But Smith takes the original compositions and makes them his own. For the most part, he sticks to the original arrangements, but he also explores a bit and puts his own stamp on these classic songs.

Alongside the “hits” are a collection of great rocks songs that may not be known to the listener. Honestly, this is a great release for those who really don’t know the band. With the changes in technology, Sweet are able to bring new life to their catalog of music. And with a new lineup in tow, Priest is able to prepare us for the future.

Sweet is a fun, energetic band. The lyrics aren’t trendy social statements and are more often than not quirky and campy. Performing live, the band delivers with the vocal harmonies you remember from hearing the albums and radio hits. Sweet tries and succeeds at recording a quality live recording. The band put in a tremendous effort from the performance, mixing and mastering to the packaging to release a great product. Superior production pushes Live! In America into the elite class of revered live rock albums.

Sweet is preparing to release a new studio album soon, giving fans something to look forward to in the near future.

Web: www.thesweetband.com

Steve Priest (b)
Stuart Smith (g)
Richie Onori (d)
Joe Retta (v)
Stevie Stewart (k)

Track Listing:
1. Action
2. Fox On The Run
3. Hell Raiser
4. Love Is Like Oxygen
5. Blockbuster
6. Windy City
7. Wig Wam Bam
8. The Six Teens
9. Sweet Dream
10. Sweet F.A.
11. Turn It Down
12. Teenage Rampage
13. Little Willy
14. AC/DC
15. Set Me Free
16. Ballroom Blitz

HRH Rating: 8/10

- by John Kindred for Hardrock Haven


Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be (1971)
Sweet Fanny Adams (1974)
Desolation Boulevard (1974)
Give Us a Wink (1976)
Off the Record (1977)
Level Headed (1978)
Cut Above The Rest (1979)
Waters Edge (1980)
Identity Crisis (1982)

Strung Up • Rock Concert • Live at the Rainbow 1973
Sweet, Live in America (2008)

Compilation albums:
Gimme Dat Ding • The Sweet's Biggest Hits • Poppa Joe • The Sweet • Lo Mejor De The Sweet • Sweet and Middle of the Road • The Sweet Singles Album • The Golden Greats • The Sweet • Teenage Rampage • Sweet 16 - It's It's... Sweet's Hits • Starke Zeiten • Gold - 20 Superhits • Ballroom Hitz -The Very Best of Sweet • The Ballroom Blitz & More Sweet Hits • The Very Best of Sweet



Legendary rock band Sweet (aka The Sweet) shot to the top of the charts in the 1970s with such hits as Ballroom Blitz, Fox on the Run,Love is Like Oxygen, Little Willy, Hellraiser, Teenage Rampage, Blockbuster and Action.

Formed in the U.K. in 1968, the original lineup featured vocalist Brian Connolly, bassist/vocalist Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker and guitarist Frank Torpey (later replaced by Mick Stewart and, subsequently, by Andy Scott). In 1973, the band produced their first number one hit, Blockbuster, which went on to achieve platinum status. Sweet toured extensively and continued to chart with Chinn and Chapman compositions.

Fans were increasingly attracted to the heavier rock songs written by the group which appeared on the B sides of their singles, and the struggle for creative control ultimately led to a split with Chinn and Chapman. 1975 Fox on the Run (the band first self-penned single) reached the number two spot in the U.K. and top five in the U.S. charts. The Give Us A Wink album, released in 1976 and featuring the top twenty single Action, attained gold status in America and continued the group's move toward album-oriented rock. Sweet bounced back onto the charts in 1978, scoring another top ten hit in both the U.S. and the U.K with Love Is Like Oxygen. After Brian Connolly's departure in 1979, Sweet carried on as a three-piece outfit for three more albums before disbanding in 1981.

In January 2008, Steve Priest assembled his own version of The Sweet in Los Angeles, California. He enlisted fellow Brit Stuart Smith, an old friend and a classically-trained former axeman for the bands Sidewinder and Heaven & Earth, on guitar. L.A. native Richie Onori, Smith's bandmate in Heaven & Earth, was brought in on drums. The keyboard spot was manned by ex-Crow and World Classic Rockers alumni Stevie Stewart. Frontman and vocalist Joe Retta rounded out the lineup.

After an initial appearance on L.A. rock station 95.5 KLOS's popular Mark & Brian radio program, the "Are You Ready Steve?" tour kicked off at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood in June, 2008. The band spent the summer playing festivals and gigs throughout the U.S. and Canada, including, among others: Moondance Jam in Walker, MN; headlining at the Rock 'n' Resort Festival in N. Lawrence, OH; London, Ontario's Rock The Park; another headlining gig at Peterborough's Festival of Lights; the Common Ground Festival in Lansing, MI; and a benefit concert for victims of California's wildfires at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA.

In January 2009, The Sweet not only presented at the concert industry's Pollstar Awards, but also played a short set at the Nokia Theater where the event was held, marking the first time in the ceremony's history that a band performed at the show. In addition to local gigs at the House of Blues on L.A.'s Sunset Strip and Universal's Citywalk, 2009 saw the band return to Canada for sold-out shows at the Mae Wilson Theater and Casino Regina, as well as the Nakusp Music Festival and Rockin' the Fields in Minnedosa, Manitoba. U.S. festivals included Minnesota's Halfway Jam, Rockin' the Rivers in Montana (with Pat Travers and Peter Frampton), and two late-summer shows at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The new band recorded a cover version of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," which was included on Cleopatra Records' "Abbey Road," a Fab Four tribute CD that was released in March 2009. April 2009 saw the release of a new two-disc, career-spanning greatest hits album called "Action: The Sweet Anthology," which was released on Shout Factory Records and received a coveted four-star rating in Rolling Stone Magazine.

A preview of the band's new CD "Live in America," which was recorded live by Westwood One at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California on August 30, 2008, was featured on KLOS's "Front Row" program on April 12, 2009. The CD, which was first sold at shows and via the band's online store, was released worldwide in an exclusive deal with Amazon.com on July 21, 2009. The release has garnered favorable reviews in the Rock n Roll Report, Classic Rock Revisited and Hard Rock Haven, among others.

Exclusively represented by:

Chris Hardin and Brendan Bourke
Phone : 818-557-7566
Chris Hardin e-mail : chris@hardinentertainment.com
Brendan Bourke e-mail : bourkeman2@aol.com

Bernie Aubin.
Canadian Classic Rock
Phone : 604 476 0634
Cell : 604 307 6835
E-Mail : bernie@canadianclassicrock.com
Website : http://www.canadianclassicrock.com/

Maureen O'Connor
Rogers and Cowan