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Smokie the Band That Lives On

Updated on September 23, 2017
Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

I'm a writer, a poet, a dreamer. Born and raised in New York City. I live in the suburbs of Riga, Latvia. I have a wonderful cat named Sid.

Just the Facts

The first hit Smokie came out with was “If You Think You Know How to Love Me”. Altogether they have sold more than 30 million CDs, records and albums. At the top of their popularity in the 1970s they had 13 top twenty hits and their one time most popular song “Living Next Door to Alice” went on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide.

In the Beginning

It all began in West Yorkshire, England at the beginning of the 70s. While still at St. Bedes Grammar School in Bradford, England Terry Uttley got together with his musical friends Chris Norman and Alan Silson and formed the band The Yen which they late renamed The Sphynx. At first they had little success and then one night Bill Hurley discovered the band and provided them contact with Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who created the signature sound of British radio pop in the 1970s.

Then Came the Hits

It suddenly seemed that Smokie was unstoppable coming out with hit after hit including “Living Next Door to Alice”, “Don’t Play Your Rock and Roll to Me” and “If You Think You Know How to Love Me”. They had a fantastic sound with close guitars and sharp vocals.

Their 20 Greatest Hits

Living Next Door to Alice

Don’t Play Your Rock ‘N’ Roll to Me

Lay Back in the Arms of Someone

Needles and Pins

Changing All the Time

Mexican Girl

For a Few Dollars More

Stumblin’ In

Baby It’s You

Oh, Carol

If You Think You Know How to Love Me

I’ll Meet You At Midnight

Take Good Care of My Baby

Run to Me

Do to Me

San Francisco Bay

Wild Wild Angels

Babe It’s Up to You

Something’s Been Making Me Blue

It’s Your Life

Looking Back

No matter what the troubles Smokie just never gave up. One stumbling block was their original lead singer Chris Norman who had ambitions to go after a solo career. In 1978 he had a successful hit duet with Sizy Quatro “Stumblin’ In” and chose to go his own way. Soon it turned out that after five years of popularity Smokie decided to break-up the band. They came back together in 1986 with Chris Norman joining them for a short period and in stepped new lead singer, Alan Barton. Smokie managed to get back up and came out with the album “Celebration” in 1994 containing such great songs as “Can’t Cry Hard Enough”. However more troubles lay ahead for the band when in March of 1995 Smokie was involved in an accident on the way to the airport in Dusseldorf, Germany. Both Alan Silson and Terry Uttley were badly injured. Alan Barton’s injuries were so severe that he died in the hospital five days afterwards. Once again the band thought of breaking-up but dedicated fans with much support changed their minds. They took Mike Craft into the band and became successful once more. They tell their success story in the box set “The Hit Box” containing 10 CD’s telling the whole story in music.

Better Than Ever

There are bands that come and go but Smokie bass player Terry Uttley will tell you that the band is even now in the best of shapes. He has been with them for practically 40 years and is the only original member out of the five current members. He began playing with the band in 1975 when they spelled their name Smokey. Their debut album was called “Pass It Around”. Uttley will tell you that he has seen it all so he knows that the magic continues – a long row of number one hits, full stadiums and three generations of enthusiastic fans. Today Smokie consists of Mike Craft –vocal and guitar, Terry Uttley – backing vocal and bass, Mick McConnell – backing vocal and lead guitar, Martin Bullard – keyboard and Steve Pinnell – drums and percussion.

The Beat Goes On

Smokie is as successful as ever and keeps giving more enjoyment to their fans. Instead of just playing the old hits they have released two new albums. In 2004 they released the album “On the Wire” with songs like “Over You”, “Love on a Wire” and “Broken Hearts”.

The album Take a Minute in 2010 which includes such great new songs as “Take a Minute”, “Sally’s Song (The Legacy Goes On)” which continues the story from their hit “Living Next Door to Alice”, “Till the Grass Grows Over Me” and “The Biggest Lie”.

Smokie band member Terry Uttley explains it as a passion and says they love every minute of all the popularity and performing. Their drummer Steve Pinnell puts it simply that he just loves the life they lead and could never imagine doing anything else.

© 2015 Gypsy Rose Lee


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    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thank you Jodah. Glad it brought back memories.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Smokey (Smokie) was always one of my favourite bands. I had two albums and the duo between Chris Norman and Suzi Q "Stumblin' In"....I did not know the more recent history of the new lead singers, accident and death of the then lead singer. Interesting to hear that they just keep going despite the obstacles. Great hub that brought back memories.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thank you Manatita. Music is what gets me through life and always inspires.

      You welcome Ann.

      Thank you Shauna. They had their popularity in the 70s but there were many other American bands at that time too so they must have just passed you by. It's like with all the newest bands and singers I have no idea whose who but I do love writing about and remembering the bands of yesterday some of which still play today like Smokie.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Why have I never heard of this band? Even after playing the videos, they don't ring a bell. Regardless, you've done a nice job of highlighting them, Rasma. They have a nice sound.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I remember this group and I wasn't that keen on the 'Living Next Door to Alice' song though I know it was a great hit - it was just one of those repetitive tunes I couldn't get out of my head! However, as a group they were good and so was their music. I didn't realise they're still going strong!

      Thanks for the musical tour.


    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Never giving up! I was just listening to a motivational Hub on this. Yes, Smokey was persistent, and had some great songs.

      Dare I say, Gypsy, that you had a great or swinging early life? He he. You do research, but you come up with these amazing people! Stunning stuff!

      Very nice voice and great beat and rhythm in the video. Much Love.