Today glam rock fans mourn the death of Sweet co-founder and bassist Steve Priest. The rocker died yesterday of heart disease. He was 72.
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Priest and his band mates are known for being the forerunners of glam rock music. They wore outrageous outfits and tested the lines of androgyny. They were also famous for writing well-known tunes such as Ballroom Blitz, Blockbuster and Little Willy.
Priest’s death was confirmed when the Sweet released the following statement made by the musician’s family, on their Twitter account.
“It is with heavy heart that we announce at 8:25am PT today, Steve Priest, founding member of Sweet passed away. He is survived by his wife Maureen, three daughters, Lisa, Danielle & Maggie and 3 grandchildren, Jordan, Jade & Hazel.
Band mate Andy Scott followed up by releasing his own statement. "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. 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.”
Priest was born in Hayes, West London in 1948. He began playing bass when he was a teenager and it was soon after that he started playing in bands. He finally found a home when he joined Sweet. The band got signed to RCA Records and released a slew of hits including Teenage Rampage, Wig-Wam Bam, Hell Raiser and, of course Ballroom Blitz.
Sweet also had a regular spot on the British music TV show, Top of the Pops. It was at these appearances that they really began to hone in on their image wearing outfits that were more outrageous as the weeks went by. Hot pants were often worn and Priest got himself in hot water when he showed up wearing a Hitler uniform.
Eventually, things got rocky for the band internally. Lead singer Brian Connolly left the band and Priest took over vocal duties. As more line up changes occurred, there would be two versions of Sweet, a U.K. version led by Andy Scott and a U.S. version led by Priest.
Despite internal conflict, the band’s legacy lived on and a defining moment was when Ballroom Blitz was played in the Wayne’s World movie in the 1990’s.
Many fans and celebrities are mourning Priest’s death. The Damned’s Captain Sensible says, “"When Sweet were on [TV] you sat there in awe thinking, 'sod the school careers adviser that's the job for me. And they wound your parents up something rotten too, which was a bonus. Steve Priest RIP."
Heart’s Nancy Wilson wrote "RIP Steve Priest. A brave glam rocker and man."
Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider also chimed in with "As you might imagine, I am definitely a Sweet fan. Sad that so many of the original band are now gone."
Priest is gone but not forgotten. His legacy will surely live on in his music. RIP to this legendary rocker.