Steve Priest, founding bass player with Sweet, the British glam rockers who bagged hits with “Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run,” “Teenage Rampage” and more, has died at the age of 72.
Riding the British ‘70s glam scene alongside the likes of David Bowie, T-Rex and Mott the Hoople, Sweet were in the rarest of company.
During their heyday, the group landed 15 top 40 hits singles in their homeland, including ten top 10s. Their 1973 song “Blockbuster” went to No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart, their only leader. They could have had more. No less than five Sweet songs peaked at No. 2.
In the U.S., the band had top tens on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Love Is Like Oxygen,” “Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on The Run,” all in the years 1975-1978.
Their signature tune “Ballroom Blitz,” a hit everywhere, from Canada to Germany and Australia, has been covered by multiple acts including The Damned and The Struts, and a version featured in Mike Myers’ ‘90s comedy film Wayne’s World, performed by lead Tia Carrere.
“Dear Friends and Fans, We have very sad news,” reads a statement on the band’s official social pages. “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.”
"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) June 4, 2020
Formed in the U.K. in 1968, the original lineup featured Brian Connolly on lead vocals and Priest on bass and backing vocals, drummer Mick Tucker and guitarist Frank Torpey, who was succeeded by Mick Stewart and, later, by Andy Scott.
Priest relocated to Los Angeles and, in January 2008, launched a new incarnation of the group, with fellow Briton Stuart Smith on guitar, local drummer Richie Onori and Stevie Stewart on keys.
The cause of death hasn’t been disclosed.