Steve Priest (February 23, 1948 – June 4, 2020) was a British bass player and lead and backing vocalist of the glam rock band The Sweet.
Stephen Norman (Steve) Priest was born in Hayes, Middlesex, UK. As a young teenager he made his own bass guitar and began playing in local bands after being influenced by artists such as the Shadows, the Rolling Stones and The Who.
In January 1968, Steve Priest was invited to form a band with vocalist Brian Connolly, drummer Mick Tucker, and guitarist Frank Torpey. That band that was to become The Sweet. Frank Torpey was replaced by Mick Stewart in 1969 and he was replaced by Andy Scott in August 1970, following Mick Stewart’s departure, and the classic line-up on The Sweet was established.
The Sweet went through several ups and downs, with initial success in 1971, after the band teamed up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, and The Sweet would also write a number of their own hits.
Steve Priest often directly backed up Brian Connolly’s vocals and took distinctive short high pitched vocal leads which was a key to their musical style at the time.
Steve Priest became the main singer of The Sweet in early 1979, after Brian Connolly left, and continued in the role until 1982, when the original Sweet disbanded.
By this time, Steve Priest had divorced his first wife, Pat, and moved to New York City, and on 18 June 1981, he married his second wife Maureen, who was then the East Coast Director of Publicity and Artist Relations for Capitol/EMI Records in New York.
While in New York, Steve formed a band called the Allies with guitarist Marco Delmar and drummer Steve Missal, but they were not very successful, although their song “Talk To Me” was featured in a film, Fast Food.
In 1985 Steve Priest was invited by former bandmate Andy Scott to reform the Sweet, but he declined the offer.
Shortly after, Steve Priest and his family moved to live in Los Angeles, and he largely reverted to private life, although he made occasional forays into production and session work, as well as some collaborations with other artists including David Arkenstone and future bandmate Stuart Smith.
In 1988 Steve Priest did a demo session in Los Angeles with the other members of the original Sweet, with Mike Chapman producing, to try and see if a studio album and reforming the band were possible. However, the band members were unable to come to an agreement and the project failed.
Despite the difficulties they had in the late 1970s, Steve Priest continued his friendship with former Sweet lead singer Connolly, who was by now in poor health.
In 1994, Steve Priest published his autobiography called “Are You Ready Steve?”, the title of which is taken from the intro to the Sweet’s “The Ballroom Blitz” when Brian Connolly counts in the song with, “Are you ready Steve? …Andy? …Mick? …Alright fellas, let’s gooooo!”, and in 2006, he released a CD entitled “Priest’s Precious Poems”.
In January 2008, Steve Priest formed a new version of the Sweet and enlisted fellow Brit Stuart Smith, an old friend and a classically-trained former guitarist with Sidewinder and Heaven & Earth, L.A. native Richie Onori, Smith’s bandmate in Heaven & Earth, on drums, and Stevie Stewart, ex-Crow and World Classic Rockers, on the keyboard.
This new band played mainly at festivals and venues in the U.S. and Canada. In early 2009, the band released a live CD, recorded in August 2008 at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California.
In his later years, Steve Priest lived with his wife and daughters in La Cañada Flintridge, California. He died on June 4, 2020, aged 72, no cause was given.
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