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.