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Smokie the Band That Lives On
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
For a Few Dollars More
Baby It’s You
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
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