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Originally formed in Yorkshire, England in 1966, Smokie hit the British pop charts several times during the late '70s with updated psychedelic pop, influenced by the band's stay on Mickie Most's Rak Records as well as the writers of most of the band's hit material, Rak's Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Vocalist Chris Norman, bassist Terry Utley, guitarist Alan Silson, and drummer Ron Kelly had played in the Elizabethans, but formed the band Kindness in 1970. The quartet recorded many singles during the late '60s and early '70s, but failed to show any chart activity. By 1973, Kelly had left the band and was replaced by Pete Spencer. In 1975, the band, signed to Rak Records; billed as Smokey, they hit number three in the U.K. with "If You Think You Know How to Love Me." After another Top Ten hit, "Don't Play Your Rock 'n' Roll to Me," Smokey became Smokie; in 1976, the group scored with three Top 20 hits, including the number five "Living Next Door to Alice." Smokie hit number five both in 1977 ("It's Your Life") and 1978 ("Oh Carol"), but the band's chart run ended in early 1980, and following 1982's Midnight Delight, they disbanded. Both Spencer and Norman continued to work at Rak during the '80s, writing hits for several groups; they re-formed Smokie in 1986, resurfacing with the LP My Heart Is True. Two more albums, All Fired Up and Greatest Hits Live, followed, with the group remaining active throughout the '90s, issuing new material -- including 1992's Chasing Shadows and 1995's The World and Elsewhere -- as well as a number of hits collections. The group returned to the U.K. singles chart in 1995, after comedian Roy "Chubby" Brown teamed up with the band for the release of "Living Next Door to Alice (Who the F**k is Alice)." With a renewed interest in the band, Smokie continued to deliver albums over the following years -- 1996's Light a Candle, 2000's Uncovered, and 2004's On the Wire -- as well as playing to crowds throughout the U.K. and Europe. Smokie issued their 21st album, Take a Minute, in 2010. Over the next decade, they released a handful of tracks while continuing to tour Europe.
© John Bush & Al Campbell /TiVo


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