Brian Connolly

Brian Connolly

"I remember being struck by the fact that he never doubted he would be a huge star" Nicky Chinn, tribute at Brian's funeral

Brian Connolly was for many people the face of Glam Rock. With his long blond hair, good looks, distinctive voice and stage presence he was the star that teenage boys wanted to be and teenage girls wanted to be with.

Brian Connolly began his career playing in a playing in a jazz / soul group alongside drummer Mick Tucker; but this was but a brief diversion on his route to rock and in 1968 the two of them formed the group "Sweetshop" soon shortened to the Sweet - with bassist Steve Priest. The classic lineup was completed in 1969 when guitarist Andy Scott joined.

With their initial records failing to chart the group's big break came when they teamed up with the Chinn/Chapman songwriting team. This teaming saw them develop through bubblegum pop (with songs such as "Co-Co" and "Little Willy") and into songs with heavier riffs, ("Blockbuster" and "Teenage Rampage" for example) while notching up an impressive array of national and international chart hits. It also allowed the group to create their own style to match the music they were producing. At the forefront of Glam Rock, Brian made the most of the group's success with his rock and roll lifestyle only being eclipsed by the fashions he wore on stage. Always a favorite with television, a 1970s UK music show wasn't complete without Brian breaking a microphone stand over his knee or wearing a gold jumpsuit arrogantly singing anthemic tunes while Steve Priest played bass dressed as an effeminate Nazi behind him. The group were not just a studio creation however and they played a mean live show, albeit heavier than that portrayed by their chart success.

It was this love of the heavier side of their music, coupled with some singles that didn't quite make the grade, which led to Sweet leaving Chinn and Chapman to go it alone. Seen by some as commercial suicide the group were confident of their songwriting abilities and this ability was reflected in further hits such as "Fox On The Run" and "Action" - Brian was still the Glam Rock leader preaching to the converted through the medium of TV. After this however the hits slowed; the changing music scene, coupled with groups using Sweet's own approach to better effect, meant that by 1978 Sweet were a spent force in terms of chart success.

In 1979 the classic lineup was broken when Brian decided to go solo. Never able to leave his past behind him, Brian's work was always compared to his glory years with the Sweet and never really got the recognition it deserved.

  • Sweet first featured in the UK charts in 1971 with "Funny, Funny", arguably a reworking of the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar".

  • Brian was one of rock's great performers and despite numerous health problems, including fourteen heart attacks in one day, continued to play right up to his death.

  • Def Leppard had a worldwide hit in 1994 with their cover of the Sweet classic "Action".

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