FP100 Fife bands 6. Nazareth


The most enduring and successful rock band ever to emerge from Fife, Nazareth can point to a career spanning four decades, 25 albums -and regular world tours.

Their chart-topping days came in the 1970s, but the band has continued to tour and record, and Dunfermline remains their home town.

As The Shadettes, Dan McCafferty (vocals), Pete Agnew (bass), Darrell Sweet (drums) and Manny Charlton (guitar) had to churn out covers of the hits of the day on the instruction of the dance hall bosses.

That wasn’t their scene, and after serving their apprenticeship in the 60s playing places such as the Locarno and Kinema in their home town, they took the plunge,turned pro and headed to London.

They released their debut album in 1971, but it was their third release, ‘Razamanaz’ that made the breakthrough.

Produced by Roger Glover, bass player with rock legends Deep Purple - Nazareth had supported them on tour - it delivered the hit singles ‘Bad Bad Boy’ and ‘Broken Down Angel’ both of which made the top ten and propelled them on to ‘Top Of The Pops.’

The band’s canny knack of picking out songs to cover - they’d already tapped into the music of Woody Guthrie, Leon Russell and Tim Rose, to name but three - hit pay dirt in 1973 when they turned Joni Mitchell’s ‘This Flight Tonight’ into a bona fide rock classic. It reached number 11 in the UK charts but, more significantly, broke them in Canada where they went on to notch up dozens of gold and platinum records.

‘Razamanaz’ sparked an intensely creative period as the band released three albums in little more than 15 months - ‘Loud And Proud’ and ‘Rampant’ followed in 1974, and another cover, Everley Brothers’ classic ‘Love Hurts’ cracked the top ten in America.

In 1975 they released ‘Hair Of The Dog’ which also confirmed a heavier rock sound, while 1975 saw them return to the top 20 with a cover of Tomorrow’s ‘My White Bicycle.’

By 1977, the ‘Expect No Mercy’ album featured covers from Randy Newman and Ray Charles as the band moved closer to the AOR market.

Zal Cleminson, formerly of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, joined and worked in the ‘79 album ’No Mean City’ which yielded the group’s final chart hit ‘May The Sunshine’ - he was one of a number of pesonnel changes as the line-up expanded.

More albums and tours followed throughout the 1980s before Charlton quit. The band rolled on to play in Brazil, across Europe and North America, and they were on the verge of starting another tour when tragedy struck as drummer Darrell Sweet collapsed and died in 1999.

The tour was scrapped and Nazareth returned to Fife, where, after a break, they decided to continue with Lee Agnew, son of Pete, stepping in as drummer; a position he still holds.

The new Millennium saw their schedule packed with tours - they remain huge in Russia - before they returned home to open the Alhambra Theatre and mark their own 40th anniversary with the release of the well received album ‘The Newz.’

Last year they kicked-off a greatest hits tour only for singer McCafferty to collapse on stage. Health concerns marked his retirement, but the band plan to continue with a new album slated for this year.

Four decades on they still want to rock ...