The original Sweet
The Sweet are one of the great ‘70s British glam rock bands that, strangely, have not had a single movie or tell-all biography created in their honor. Just one documentary, Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz, from 1990. With their makeup, outrageous stage clothes, and terribly catchy songs, they influenced later bands like Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Poison, Mötley Crüe, and their own contemporaries like KISS.
Sweet (they dropped the “The” in late 1973) recorded a slew of hits written by the team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman: “Funny Funny,” “Little Willy,” “Hell Raiser,” “Block Buster!”, and “The Ballroom Blitz,” as well as their own compositions like “Sweet F.A.” and “Fox On the Run.”
During the recording of their album Sweet Fanny Adams in 1974, hard-partying vocalist Brian Connolly’s throat was injured in a street fight outside a pub in Surrey. The assault affected his voice for the rest of his life. In the short-term it affected the band’s career prospects, forcing them to turn down a tour opening for The Who. Connolly left the band in 1979 and the others continued briefly as a trio, still calling themselves Sweet.
Here is where the Sweet legacy gets confusing.
Connolly formed another band in 1984 and called it The New Sweet, later renaming it Brian Connolly’s Sweet. He occasionally played in exotic locations like Bahrain and Dubai, but his version of Sweet mainly eked out a living appearing at festivals, resorts (embarrassingly, Butlins holiday camps), and small clubs. His health problems prevented at least one proper Sweet reunion, planned by Mike Chapman in 1988. Connolly died in 1997 from liver failure and multiple heart attacks.
Andy Scott started Andy Scott’s Sweet in 1985 with original drummer Mick Tucker (who died in 2002) and a different line-up in 1991.
Andy Scott’s Sweet
Steve Priest, who had immigrated to the U.S. In 1979, started Steve Priest’s Sweet in 2008.
Steve Priest’s Sweet
Naturally this led to legal wrangling over the rights to the band’s name.
Following Connolly’s death the two surviving members of Sweet split up the world into territories. David Cavanagh of The Guardian wrote:
The two Sweets stay out of each other’s territories. Livelihoods are at stake, and if a promoter is uncertain which lineup of a band to book, he ends up booking neither. Scott has faced a challenge from rival Sweets before – Connolly fronted a few in the 80s and 90s – and is confident Priest will not encroach on his trademark in Britain or mainland Europe.
Scott, who appears to be the fitter and healthier of the two, tours Europe and Australia. Steve Priest’s Sweet tours North and South America. There is no shortage of festivals, small clubs, casinos, hotels, and benefit concerts all over the world that want some version of the band. But depending on where you happen to be, the Sweet you see performing may be comprised of an entirely different lineup than if you went 2000 miles in another direction.
The original Sweet on Top of the Pops, 1975: