They were a ‘70s British glam band, best known for the high-pitched vocals and catchy guitar riffs on radio-friendly hits “The Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run” and “Love Is Like Oxygen.” Things went sour for Sweet before the ‘80s ushered in, and today, two surviving members keep the band’s name alive—while staying very far apart.
Here are 5 things you didn’t know about Sweet.
5. They played a major name game. Originally formed in 1968, Sweet was first known as Sweetshop, which was fitting considering the band’s early sound was more bubblegum pop than hard rock. The group later changed its moniker to The Sweet, before dropping the “The.” By 1970, Sweet boasted its most prolific lineup with lead singer Brian Connolly, guitarist Andy Scott, bass player Steve Priest, and drummer Mick Tucker. In an interview with Britain’s Express, Scott, who joined the band in 1970, explained the name switch: “Initially, they called themselves The Sweetshop because they rehearsed above one. The name was shortened when the word ‘shop’ was left off a billboard advertising at a gig. Everyone thought it sounded better so we went with it.”
4. Sweet’s original singer left the band due to his smoking habit. Just one year after the band’s biggest radio hit, “Love is Like Oxygen,” topped the charts, original lead singer Brian Connolly quit Sweet, citing plans to pursue a solo career. While his heavy alcohol abuse was initially blamed, in an interview with Focus in the Mix, bassist Steve Priest said it was more about Connolly’s vocals—or lack thereof. “A lot of the songs were really up there – and he smoked like a chimney. So he used to lose his voice a lot,” Priest revealed. The bassist did acknowledge his late bandmate’s drinking problem (Connolly died in 1997 at age 51), adding: “He used to have a couple of drinks before interviews. Then he’d arrive and he’d be drunk as a skunk.”
3. They influenced one of hard rock’s biggest bands. In 2012, Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose told late night host Jimmy Kimmel that while he listened to “everybody” growing up, Sweet was one of his favorite bands. "Well, my favorite band was Queen and Sweet and stuff like that,” Rose told Kimmel. In addition, GNR bassist Duff McKagan listed the Sweet album Desolation Boulevard as one of his all-time favorite albums, In an Amazon Front Row post, McKagan described the 1974 release as “the blueprint of rock fantasy.”
2. Guitarist Andy Scott went commercial. In 2010, Scott cashed in on his band’s heyday by appearing in a series of commercials for van insurance. Scott spoofed his glam rock past as he explained how easily a van insurance deal can be found, ending his pitch with the exclamation: "Sweet!
1. The band is still active—in two incarnations. Surviving Sweet members Andy Scot and Steve Priest (Tucker died in 2002) no longer speak, but they continue to perform as two separate acts. Scott’s Sweet is based in England, while Priest is free to use the Sweet name for tours in U.S. and Canada. Scott told The Guardian he doesn’t see any reason to stop performing as Sweet. "I can't survive on fresh air, so I have to work,” he said. “As long as other bands keep going, why shouldn't Sweet? There's still an audience for our music in Germany.”