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SMOKIE -The smoke still gleaming, almost 30 years with Terry Uttley

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Smokie, with lead singer Chris Norman, could be classified as one of the world’s best pop groups to emerge from the seventies. With a chain of hits like “If you think you know how to love me”, “Living next door to Alice”, “Don’t play your rock n’ roll with me”, “Wild wild Angels”, and “Mexican girl” the group’s teamwork grew from strength to strength.

As students at ST Bedes Grammar School in Bradford, United Kingdom, Terry Uttley, the only founding member left in the new “Smokie” group, teamed up with his musical friends, Chris Norman and Alan Silson, to form a group named “The Yen”, which was later changed to “The Sphnx”. It was very tough for them at that time just to buy the instruments they needed to achieve their aims and objectives. But they were never discouraged.

They were not yet famous, when one night in Cheshire, a man called Bill Harley discovered the talents of the group. Their hit “If you think you know how to love” sold well in UK and millions worlwide. The band temporary broke up for couple of years when Chris Norman went to pursue a solo career. Then a Yorkshire musician by name John Verity joined Chris Norman back to the group. Their first public appearance, after the break up, was to play a relief fund concert, in aid of victims of Bradford City Football Club, when the stadium main stand caught fire during a football match, resulting in a considerable loss of life.

At the end of the concert, Chris Norman persuaded his mates to put up Smokie once again, touring Germany, Austria and Switzerland, successfully as they began. Chris Norman later left the group again and filled his post with a friend, Allan Barton. By then they had sold 30 million CD’s, records and albums. They had 13 top twenty hits and “Living next door to Alice” sold over 30 million worldwide. In 1989, the new “Smokie” came out with the hit “Boulevard of broken dreams”, followed by “Whose are these boot” in 199O.

In 1995, while on tour in a bus to Dusseldorf, the bus skidded off the road in a freak hail storm and Allan Barton, after five days in intensive care, lost his battle for life and Mike Craft stepped into his shoes. With all the chains of problems and tragedy, Smokie refused to give up. According to Terry Uttley, a Smokie of almost 30 years, “Smokie has never been in a better shape than now”. Their latest “Uncovered”, another big selling album, achieved double platinum status. “Our sound is like the recipe for Kentucky fried chicken. It’s a secret. But it’s true that the vocal harmonies are our trade,” says lead singer Mike Craft.

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About Joel Savage

  • srm

    hello terry you don’t know me but i think I am one of your biggest fans and yes you and I are related clue my aunt Lizzie was my auntie and I remember you were going to call your group the Elizabethans and it didn’t take off.Imoved from yks to the midlands in 1967and in the 70 this song living next door to alice was my favorite and when I saw smokie on top of the pops and saw you I knew it was aunt lizzies grandson as you looked like John uttley when he was younger.so I rang my mum and asked had you changed the name of your group then I knew it was youwhen you get this message please reply as I would love to hear from you’your Dad thomas was my cousin and apparantly just before he died he had ried to find some of his cousins.Can you guesse who I am I bet you will remember Uncle willie at hipperholme well I was Sheila Whelan and I have often wondered hoe Shirley and John have got on in life .Please reply as I would love to hear from you I play your cd often yours sincerely Sheila morrell [Personal contact info deleted]

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