Priest, who was born in England and lived in Los Angeles, had been performing with his own edition of Sweet in recent years. The earlier and most-remembered version, also known as The Sweet, had its greatest success during Britain’s glam rock wave in the 1970s, recording such hits as “Ballroom Blitz,” “Little Willy” and “Love Is Like Oxygen.”
Andy Scott, guitarist and now the last surviving member of the core quartet from the ’70s, confirmed the news Thursday on The Sweet band’s Facebook page in a statement that included high praise for Priest’s musical skills.
“I am in pieces right now. Steve Priest has passed away. 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 x,” Scott wrote, referring to Priest’s wife, Maureen O’Connor.
Scott continued: “He was the best bass player I ever played with. The noise we made as a band was so powerful. From that moment in the summer of 1970 when set off on our Musical Odyssey the world opened up and the rollercoaster ride started! He eventually followed his heart and moved to the USA. First New York then LA. Rest in Peace brother. All my love.”
Members of Priest’s more recent version of Sweet, which he formed with new members in 2008, posted a statement from his family regarding “very sad news” on the the band’s Twitter account:
“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.”
In the ’70s, Priest, Scott, lead vocalist Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker, teamed on a series of hits, their popularity spanning mainland Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. (Connolly died in 1997 and Tucker in 2002.)
According to Wikipedia, the band scored 13 Top 20 hits in the U.K. in the ’70s, while making the Top 10 in the U.S. with “Little Willy,” “The Ballroom Blitz,” “Fox on the Run” and “Love Is Like Oxygen.”
Connolly left the group in 1979, with his bandmates continuing as a trio until 1981. In recent decades, Priest, Connolly and Scott performed with their own iterations of Sweet.
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