Het is vandaag al twintig jaar geleden dat Brian Connolly, het “blondje” van The Sweet, is gestorven.

Brian Connolly was born in 1945 in Govanhill, Glasgow. The identity of his father was never made public. His mother was a teenaged waitress, Frances Connolly, who left him in a Glasgow hospital as an infant whilst he was possibly suffering from meningitis. He was fostered, aged two, by Jim and Helen McManus of Blantyre and took their family name.
In a radio interview, Connolly reported that singing was a large part of growing up since there was no television, and that he was regularly called upon to sing for family and friends. Connolly has credited the Everly Brothers as being his earliest musical influence.
At the age of twelve Connolly moved to Harefield, Greater London. In his mid-teens he joined the Merchant Navy. On his discharge from the Merchant Navy in 1963 he returned to Harefield and played in a number of local bands. Connolly eventually replaced singer Ian Gillan (later of Deep Purple fame) in a band called Wainwright’s Gentlemen, which included drummer Mick Tucker. Tucker and Connolly left Wainwright’s Gentlemen in late 1967 and recruited guitarist Frank Torpey, and bassist Steve Priest, naming their new band The Sweetshop.
On the eve of releasing their debut single, “Slow Motion”, in July 1968, the band shortened their name to The Sweet. They recorded a further three unsuccessful singles on Fontana/EMI until Andy Scott joined the line-up in late 1970, just before the release of their first hit single “Funny, Funny” on RCA.
The Sweet was in het begin van de jaren zeventig een exponent van de glamrock onder toeziend oog van producersduo Nicky Chinn en Mike Chapman (ook bekend van o.a. Mud, Smokie, Suzi Quatro en Hot Chocolate). Enkele hits waren Funny Funny, Poppa Joe, Wig Wam Bam, Block Buster en Little Willy (double entendres waren schering en inslag in hun nummers). De b-kantjes en andere nummers om een elpee vol te krijgen, werden wel door henzelf geschreven en neigden meer naar hardrock.
De samenwerking met Chinn/Chapman werd in 1974 verbroken, while Connolly was badly beaten after leaving a nightclub in Staines where he received several kicks to his throat resulting in his being unable to sing for some time and permanently losing some of his vocal range. As time progressed issues between Connolly and other members of Sweet developed and he would find the band excluding him from decisions. Brian developed a significant alcohol problem in the mid-1970s.
Toch scoorde The Sweet met het zelfgeschreven nummer Fox on the Run begin 1975 een grote hit, gevolgd door Ballroom Blitz. Daarna werd het stiller rond de groep en werden ze enigszins voorbijgestreefd door de Punk- en New-Wave-rage. Een laatste internationale hit was Love is like Oxygen begin 1978. Van melodieuze hardrock evolueerde de band naar symfonische rock in 1978.
In februari 1979 werd Connolly uit de band gezet en vervangen door Gary Moberley, die keyboards speelde. Connolly zou een solocarrière beginnen, maar die kwam niet van de grond until he reportedly stopped drinking in 1985. Still he separated from his wife Marilyn, divorcing in 1986. During 1987, Connolly would meet up again with Frank Torpey, who was the original Sweet lead guitarist from 1968 to 1969. However, their recording (“Sharontina”) would not be released until 1998, when Frank Torpey’s CD album, “Sweeter”, became available.
In 1988, Connolly reunited in Los Angeles, California, with former band members Mick Tucker, Steve Priest and Andy Scott, to rework studio versions of “Action” and “The Ballroom Blitz”. This was to be trial to see if a full reunion and new album could be arranged for America’s MCA Records. This Mike Chapman-produced reunion floundered quickly due to problems with Connolly’s voice. Connolly went back to performing with his band “The New Sweet”.
Legal problems were still going on in the background over the use of the Sweet name between Connolly and Andy Scott. In something of a truce, both parties agreed to distinguish their group’s name to help promoters and fans. The New Sweet became Brian Connolly’s Sweet and Andy Scott’s version became Andy Scott’s Sweet. Connolly and his band continued to tour, both in the UK and Europe.
In 1995, he released a new album entitled “Let’s Go”. His partner Jean, whom he had met a few years earlier, gave birth to a son that year. In 2013 Connolly’s son, Brian, competed in the television talent show “The X Factor”.
In 1995, Jean also managed to track down his missing biological family. It emerged that he had an aunt in Ontario, Canada who revealed that Connolly’s true birth mother had died in 1989. She also informed him that he had a living brother and sister, whom he met up with in England. He eventually reverted to the name Connolly.
Brian Francis [McManus] Connolly stierf op 9 februari 1997 op 51-jarige leeftijd. Hij stierf aan de gevolgen van leverproblemen en een hartaanval, toegeschreven aan een chronisch alcoholprobleem. Er wordt gezegd dat hij de meeste hartaanvallen heeft overleefd van alle mensen. (Wikipedia)

Een gedachte over “Brian Connolly (1945-1997)

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