There was once a crazy looking and sounding decade known as the 1970s. During the first part of those ten years, there was the Glam rock phenomenon. Glam rock, sometimes known as Glitter rock was massive in the U.K. For starters, you had David Bowie, at the height of his Ziggy Stardust period. There was T. Rex, with Marc Bolan. Another influential band was Roxy Music. Around the same time were rocks outfits such as Queen, Mott The Hoople, and early Elton John.
In the U.S., you had acts like shock rocker Alice Cooper, The NY Dolls, Suzi Quatro, KISS, Lou Reed (briefly after breaking with The Velvet Underground), and maybe Iggy and The Stooges, or just Iggy himself. Jobriath was an American music artist that was extremely hyped, but his overt gay sexuality was too much during that time. It’s only within the past ten years that Jobriath is being discussed. This is not to be confused with Glam Metal, which dominated mainstream rock during the ’80’s.
After that, you had your “Bubblegum” pop crew, with acts like Gary Glitter, Wizzard, Alvin Stardust, and a few others. We won’t discuss Gary Glitter cause like, that would be awkward.
Then we had Sweet.
Originally called The Sweetshop, the intital lineup formed in 1968. Bassist and vocalist Steve Priest was one of the founding members, along with Brian Connelly and Mick Tucker. It wasn’t until around 1970 when The Sweet met up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Chinn and Chapman for short. After a few attempts, The Sweet struck gold on the British charts with Bubblegum type hits like ‘Little Willy‘, ‘Block Buster‘, and ‘Wig-Bam-Wam‘. In 1973, the song ‘The Ballroom Blitz‘ became an international hit, charting in Canada, Europe, Australia, and the U.S.
The Sweet also had a then-considered outrageous look, which boosted their image. The Sweet’s makeup and wardrobe fit in perfectly with the Glam rock craze of the early ’70s.
The end of 1973, and from 1974 onward, the word ‘the’ was dropped from the band name. They were officially known as simply Sweet.
The year of 1974 was also the year Sweet were tired of the Chinn and Chapman formula. Wanting to go in a more harder rock direction, this was reflected in the next two albums, Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard. The U.S. release of Desolation Boulevard differs from the U.K. version. For example, the U.S. pressing includes the international ditty, ‘Ballroom Blitz.’ Interjecting a personal opinion, Desolation Boulevard is one of my favorite albums.
Their biggest hit was ‘Fox On The Run‘, released in 1975. Following Desolation Boulevard was the albums Give Us a Wink, and the live album Strung up. Strung Up, was released only in Europe. After proving the band was self sufficient in both songwriting and production, Sweet officially broke away from the Chinn-Chapman partnership.
Nothing lasts forever as the saying goes. Things slowly went from sweet to sour. They had one last international hit with the epic ‘Love Like Oxygen.’ Again, ‘Love Like Oxygen‘ and the album ‘Level Headed‘ showed another change in direction. A more mellower sound emerged. ‘Level Headed‘ would be the last good album Sweet would release.
After 1978, Sweet would fall from grace. Vocalist Brian Connelly left the band. The rest of Sweet carried on, until the 1980 breakup. Since 1984, there’s been various version of Sweet, all led by different members, going in different directions. Brian Connelly died in 1997. Mick Tucker passed away in 2002. With Steve Priest’s death on June 4, 2020, Andy Scott is the last Sweet member alive.
Taking a break from the pandemic and the current U.S. civil unrest, I drew a quick illustration of Sweet. It’s a bit rushed, but it captures Sweet during their Glam Bubblegum era. Done in pen, ink, watercolor, and shimmer watercolor. The shimmer watercolor adds to the Glam rock image.
Sweet. Quick illustration by Michele Witchipoo, June 2020. Pen, ink, watercolor, shimmer watercolor.