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Get Blitzed With Sweet

05/11/2008
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The following story was part of the Day in Rock Report for 5/11/08 - (antiMusic) We told you about the return of Sweet last week, but we got some new info in including the line-up and initial dates. They also just booked an appearance on KLOS's Mark & Brian program on June 5th. We were pleased to learn that longtime antiMusic friend Stuart Smith will be handling guitar duties. Here is the info:

Popular rock band Sweet led by bassist /vocalist Steve Priest will begin their "Are You Ready Steve?" 2008 tour their first in many years, it was announced today. The original Sweet was formed by Priest along with vocalist Brian Connolly, drummer Mick Tucker and guitarist Frank Torpey (later replaced by Andy Scott) in the UK and rose to fame with such hits as Ballroom Blitz, Fox on the Run, Love is Like Oxygen, Little Willy, Hellraiser, Teenage Rampage, Blockbuster, Action and many others. The 2008 Sweet tour will be a tribute to Connolly and Tucker whose tragic deaths were terribly pre-mature.

According to Edna Gundersen's story on the cover of the Life section in USA Today on May 2, 2008: "A blitz may be coming to your local ballroom. Bassist Steve Priest, a founding member of Sweet, has reconstituted the glittery fuzz-rock band that ignited U.K. and U.S. charts with such '70s hits as Ballroom Blitz, Little Willy, Fox on the Run and Love Is Like Oxygen. The Are you Ready Steve? Tour kicks off June 12 at The Whisky in Hollywood, with guitarist Stuart Smith, singer Joe Retta, drummer Richie Onori and keyboardist Stevie Stewart…Priest's reconfiguration plans to revisit all the historic Sweet spots, including Blockbuster, Action, Hellraiser and Teenage Rampage."

Steve Priest was born in Hayes, England and formed Sweet while still a teenager in 1968. The band worked with the songwriting team of Nicki Chinn and Mike Chapman on their early pop hits "Funny Funny," "Little Willy" and Wig-Wam Bam." Sweet, began writing the B-sides of their singles and found that the fans were attracted to those harder rock songs. "Blockbuster" was a number 1 hit in 1973 and went platinum. "Sweet continued to chart with Chinn and Chapman compositions including the Top Ten hits "Hell Raiser, "Ballroom Blitz, "Teenage Rampage and The Six Teens. They tour extensively and were renowned for Priest's outrageous antics on their TV appearances. "Ballroom Blitz" was put on the American version of the platinum-selling "Desolation Boulevard" album and reached the top 5 in the States in 1975. The "Give Us A Wink" CD came out in 1976 featuring the top 5 "Fox On The Run" and Top 20 "Action" singles. "Fox On The Run" was the band's first self-penned hit single in the UK and reached #2 on the charts. "Give Us A Wink" continued the groups move towards album oriented rock and reached gold sales in America. Sweet bounced back onto the charts in l978 with the Top 10 US and UK single, "Love Is Like Oxygen," from their "Level Headed" album which featured Priest supplying lead vocals on "California Nights." The group carried on for three more albums and then broke up in l981 performing their last live show with the original lineup at Glasgow University on March 20, 1981. Priest subsequently formed a band with guitarist Marco Delmar and drummer Steve Missal called "The Allies" in New York City. Their song "Talk To Me" was featured in the movie, "Fast Food." He worked with Stuart Smith in the late 80s in Los Angeles. In 1996 Priest published his autobiography "Are You Ready Steve?" which was a raw expose of his time in Sweet and in 2006 released Priest Precious Poems, a CD of tracks largely comprised of his more recent material.

Stuart Smith was born in York, England and was classically trained on guitar from the age of 7. He was mentored by Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore and played with Priest in the late 80's. Smith joined Keith Emerson's band "The Aliens of Extraordinary Ability", before forming his own band Heaven & Earth in 1997. In 1998 Smith released a critically acclaimed album called "Heaven & Earth featuring Stuart Smith" with guest appearances by Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Kelly Hansen (Hurricane/Foreigner), Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart/Jeff Beck/Vanilla Fudge), Bobby Kimball (Toto) and Priest. In 2004, the album won "Best Overall Album of the Year" at the "Los Angeles All Access Music Awards" and Stuart won the "Best Guitarist" award, a feat he repeated the following year.

Richie Onori was born in LA and as a session and sideman has worked with Rick Derringer, Richie Sambora, Bobby Kimball (Toto,) Larry Carlton, Steve Hunter (Alice Coper, Peter Gabriel,) Gary Ritchrach (REO Speedwagon,) Robbie Krieger (The Doors) and Rick Zunigar from Stevie Wonder, to name a few. Onori played with Smith in "The Aliens of Extraordinary Ability" and "Heaven & Earth." In his earlier career he was part of a popular LA progressive rock band, Satyr. His recently won All Access Magazine's award for Best Male Drummer

Joe Retta is the powerhouse lead vocalist for the new lineup. This Rochester, NY front man was raised on 70s R&B and rock, singing the styles of Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant and Ronnie James Dio. Taking time off in the early 90s to be a single dad, Joe did commercials, movie soundtracks and recorded an album with Miami Sound Machine. He recently toured with Toto, Guns N Roses, ELP, The Cars and Heart.

Stevie Stewart brings his formidable keyboard skills and vocals styling's to round out the group. This Minneapolis native performed with blues-rock band Crow best known for their Top 20 hit "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me.) In 1992 he relocated to LA where he performed and produced more than a dozen albums by various artists in all genres. He teamed with Nick St. Nicolas of Steppenwolf as the keyboardist for the "World Classic Rockers" which also featured former members of The Eagles, Santana, Toto, Boston, Wings, Vanilla Fudge, Journey, Foreigner, The Knack and The Spencer Davis Group.

Fans of the group can look forward to hearing all the hits, and more, played as they were meant to be heard, with an energetic stage show that will be second to none. The band will be performing on the Mark & Brian radio show on Thursday, June 5th at 9 a.m., which is heard on KLOS in Los Angeles and ten other western markets (see markandbrian.com for affiliated stations.)

Thurs. 6/12 The Whisky Hollywood, CA www.whiskyagogo.com
Fri. 6/13 The Canyon Club Agoura, CA www.canyonclub.net
Fri. 7/11 The Moondance Jam Minneapolis, MN www.moondancejam.com
Thurs. 7/12 The Common Ground Festival Lansing, MI www.commongroundfest.com
Sat. 7/19 Rock n Resort Festival North Lawrence, OH www.rock-n-resort.com
Fri. 7/25 Rock The Park London, Ontario, Canada www.rockthepark.ca
Sat. 7/26 The Mattawa Voyageur Days Mattawa, Ontario, Canada www.voyageurdays.com
Sat. 8/23 Festival Of Lights Petersborough, Ontario, Canada www.festivaloflights.ca/
Sat 8/30 Morongo Casino Cabazon, CA www.morongocasinoresort.com

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