Sweet

Source: BBC News

Steve Priest, the bassist and co-founder of glam rock band Sweet, has died at the age of 72.

He was known for his playful humor and outrageous costumes when Sweet played hits like Blockbuster and Little Willy on Top of the Pops in the 1970s.

Priest also sang the memorable lines "there's a girl in the corner that no-one ignores, 'cos she thinks she's the passionate one," in Ballroom Blitz.

His death was confirmed by the band, who shared a statement from his family:

"It is with a heavy heart that we announce at 8:25am PT today, Steve Priest, founding member of The Sweet, passed away. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, three daughters, Lisa, Danielle & Maggie and 3 grandchildren, Jordan, Jade & Hazel.

— The Sweet (@SPSweetBand)

Bandmate Andy Scott paid tribute, describing Priest as the best bass player he had ever played with. "From that moment in the summer of 1970 when we set off on our musical odyssey the world opened up and the roller coaster ride started."

"I am in pieces right now," added the guitarist, who is now the sole surviving member of Sweet's classic line-up.

As the band became a regular fixture on Top of the Pops, Priest became the epitome of glam rock androgyny, known for his flamboyant outfits and heavy make-up.

"The make-up thing, I can't remember what started that. Marc Bolan, maybe? Top of the Pops was a stupid show in some ways but it was like, um, you had to outdo everyone else."

"I was the first one to wear hot pants on Top of the Pops," he added. "A year later, Bowie did it and everyone went, 'Wow, David Bowie wore hot pants on Top of the Pops,' and totally forgot the fact that I did it the year before."

Sweet parted ways with Chinn and Chapman in 1974, determined to write their own material. Influenced by The Who, their new sound was harder, and yielded hits like Fox On The Run and Action.

After Connolly departed the group in 1978, Priest took over lead vocal duties and Sweet continued as a trio until 1981.

In recent years, there had been two competing versions of Sweet: Priest had the right to use the band's name in the US, where he lived, while guitarist Andy Scott toured the UK with an alternate line-up.

Their biggest songs continued to get radio play - while Ballroom Blitz, a song inspired by a Scottish gig where the band were bottled offstage, gaining a new lease of life in the 1990s after featuring in the movie Wayne's World.

"His wife Maureen and I have kept in contact and though his health was failing I never envisaged this moment. Never. My thoughts are with his family."

Tributes to Priest have poured in since his death was announced, with many sharing their memories on social media.

David Ellefson of Megadeth said that Priest was "without parallel".

He added that Sweet "gave me one of my earliest memories of great hard rock on the radio as a kid and [1974's] Desolation Boulevard still holds up as one of rock's greatest albums from that period."

"RIP Steve Priest," wrote Nancy Wilson of the US rock band Heart. "A brave glam rocker and man."

"As you might imagine, I am definitely a Sweet fan," said Dee Snider, lead singer of Twisted Sister. "Sad that so many of the original band are now gone."

Priest is survived by his wife, Maureen, whom he married in 1981 and their three daughters. No cause of death was given.

Priest was born in Hayes, West London, in 1948, and became a musician after building his own bass guitar in his teens.

After playing in bands like The Countdowns and The Army, he formed The Sweet (then known as Sweetshop) in January 1968 with vocalist Brian Connolly, drummer Mick Tucker and guitarist Frank Torpey.

Following a few line-up changes and a false start on Parlophone Records, the band signed to RCA in 1971 and teamed up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, whose bubblegum melodies and power-pop riffs propelled them into the charts.

In total, they scored 13 Top 20 hits in the 1970s, with songs like Teenage Rampage, Hell Raiser, Wig-Wam Bam and the number one single Blockbuster.