Sweet (invariably referred to as The Sweet) was a British rock band that rose to worldwide fame in the 1970s as one of the most prominent glam rock acts, with the classic line-up of lead vocalist Brian Connolly, bass player Steve Priest, guitarist Andy Scott, and drummer Mick Tucker.
Sweet was formed in 1968 and achieved their first hit "Funny Funny" in 1971 after teaming up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and record producer Phil Wainman. During 1971 and 1972, their musical style followed a marked progression from the Archies-like bubblegum style of "Funny Funny" to a Who influenced hard rock style supplemented by a striking use of high-pitched backing vocals. The band achieved notable success in the UK charts, with thirteen Top 20 hits during the 1970s alone, with "Block Buster!" (1973) topping the chart, followed by three consecutive number two hits in "Hell Raiser" (1973), "The Ballroom Blitz" (1973) and "Teenage Rampage" (1974). Their first self-written and produced single "Fox on the Run" (1975) also reached number two on the UK charts. From 1976 the success started a to decline and Sweet had their last Top 10 hit in 1978 with "Love is Like Oxygen". The year after, Connolly left the group to start a solo career and the remaining members continued as a threesome until they finally disbanded in 1981.
Since the mid-1980's, Scott, Connolly and Priest have each played with their own versions of Sweet during different periods of time. Connolly died in 1997, and Tucker in 2002. The two surviving members are still active in their respective versions of the band; Scott's is based in the UK and Priest's in California.
Sweet's origins go back to 1965, with UK soul band Wainwright's Gentlemen, which included drummer Mick Tucker and vocalist Ian Gillan. The group were limited to small UK clubs playing a mixture of rhythm and blues and psychedelia. Gillan quit in May 1965 to join Episode Six, and, later, Deep Purple. Gillan's eventual replacement was vocalist Brian Connolly. Tucker and Connolly remained with Wainwright's Gentlemen until early 1968.
In January 1968, Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker left Wainwright's Gentlemen to form another band, calling themselves The Sweetshop. They recruited the bass guitarist and lead vocalist Steve Priest of a local band called The Army, who had previously played with another local band The Countdowns. Frank Torpey, a friend of Tucker's, was recruited to play guitar. It did not take long for Sweetshop to develop a following on the pub circuit and they were signed to the Fontana record label. At the time, another UK band released a single under the same name Sweetshop, so the band changed the name to The Sweet. Their debut single "Slow Motion" (July 1968) failed to chart. Sweet was released from the recording contract and Frank Torpey left. Steve Priest in his autobiography ( Are You Ready Steve ) says Gordon Fairminer was approached to play for them when Torpey decided to leave but turned the job down as he wanted to concentrate on other interests.
In 1969, guitarist Mick Stewart joined, and The Sweet signed a new record contract with EMI's Parlophone label. Three more bubblegum pop singles were released, "Lollipop Man" (September 1969), "All You'll Ever Get from Me" (January 1970), and a cover version of The Archies' "Get on the Line" (June 1970), which all failed to chart. Stewart then quit, and was replaced by ex-Scaffold, Mayfield's Mule, and The Elastic Band guitarist Andy Scott.
Out of all the members, Scott had the most professional experience. As a member of The Elastic Band, he had played guitar on two singles for Decca "Think of You Baby" and "Do unto Others". He also appeared on the band's lone album release, Expansions on Life.
With the new line-up now in place, a management deal was secured with a newly formed, and unknown song writing team, consisting of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Phil Wainman was the executive producer. This management deal also included a worldwide (the U.S. excepted) record contract with RCA Records. In the U.S., Sweet was on Bell Records then later Capitol Records
Sweet initially attempted to combine various musical influences, including 1960s bubblegum pop groups such as The Archies and The Monkees, with more heavy rock-oriented groups such as The Who. The Sweet adopted the rich vocal harmony style of The Hollies, with distorted guitars and a heavy rhythm section. This fusion of pop and hard rock would remain a central trademark of Sweet's music and prefigured the hair metal of a decade later.
Another influence on The Sweet's music was 1960s drummer Sandy Nelson, who partially influenced Mick Tucker's drumming style. In particular, Sweet tracks such as "The Ballroom Blitz" and "The Man with the Golden Arm" contain elements of Sandy Nelson's 1961 U.S. Top 10 hit, "Let There Be Drums".