Steve Priest has died. The founding bass player and later lead singer for the 1970s glam rock band The Sweet passed away at age 72, his family has announced.
No details on Priest’s cause of death were given in a statement posted on Twitter. Priest is survived by his wife, Maureen, three daughters, and three grandchildren.
"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
In a statement, Sweet guitarist Andy Scott, who is now the sole surviving member of the band’s classic lineup, recalled his early days working with Priest in the glam band known for its wild outfits and heavy makeup.
“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,” Scott said, per BBC News.
“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’s Career With The Sweet Started In 1968
Priest had a love for music early on and built his own bass guitar in his teens. He played in the bands The Countdowns and The Army before forming The Sweet in 1968 alongside vocalist Brian Connolly, drummer Mick Tucker, and guitarist Frank Torpey.
But it was the classic lineup of the British glam band that dominated the music scene in the mid-1970s when Priest, Connolly, Tucker, and guitarist Andy Scott churned out a succession of rock radio-friendly hits including “Teenage Rampage,” “Fox on the Run,” and “Love Is Like Oxygen.”
In “Ballroom Blitz,” the band’s breakout 1973 hit, Priest also famously sang the memorable line, “A girl in the corner, let no one ignore her ’cause she thinks she’s the passionate one.”
In the U.K., the popular group landed 10 Top 10 hits during their 1970s heyday, per Billboard. Between 1975 and 1978, The Sweet had three top ten singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 with “Love Is Like Oxygen,” “Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on The Run.”
After Connolly left The Sweet in 1979 due to his struggles with alcoholism, Priest became the band’s lead singer until the group disbanded in 1982. Decades later, Priest relocated to Los Angeles and launched a new incarnation of The Sweet in 2008 with Stuart Smith on guitar, Richie Onori on drums, and Stevie Stewart on keyboards.
The Late Rock Star Is Being Mourned By The Music World
In addition to Scott, many other members of the music world are remembering Priest and his influence on rock music in the 1970s. Heart’s Nancy Wilson described Priest as a “brave glam rocker” in an Instagram tribute.
Megadeth bassist David Ellefson paid tribute to the late rock star on Instagram as he noted that Priest’s “writing, vocals, and bass work are without parallel.” Ellefson also pointed to The Sweet’s third studio album, 1974’s Desolation Boulevard, as “one of rock’s greatest albums from that period.”
Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, whose career was heavily influenced by The Sweet, also paid tribute to Priest on Twitter, as did Culture Club singer Boy George, who wrote that the “great” glam rocker made his teenage years “less lonely.”