azareth arose out of the remains of a former semi-professional local outfit of the Shadettes, a band formed in 1961, with Dan McCafferty (vocals), Pete Agnew (bass), Manny Carlton (guitar/vocals) and Darrel Sweet (drums) in 1968 in Dunfermline, Scotland. Inspired by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Nazareth took their name from Nazareth, Pennsylvania, USA; a town cited in the first line of the band's classic song The Weight with the line, "I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about half past dead..."
Armed with a loyal following at home they moved to London, England in 1970 and released their eponymous debut the next year.
The next album, Exercises (1972) followed before changing labels to 'Mooncrest', a move that would become a changing point, for their 1973 single Broken Down Angel went straight to 9 UK, with the accompanying album Razamanaz (1973) going to 11. With Roger Glover (ex-Deep Purple) at the production desk the album would spawn another hit single for the track Bad, Bad Boy.
Their combining of excellent cover versions with original material and powerful use of stereophonic sound would continue to work on the follow-up album Loud 'N' Proud (1973), getting them a 10 in the UK; not to mention the album featuring their rendition of Joni Mitchell's classic This Flight Tonight.
Rampant (1974) would follow to a 13 UK placing. But it was the release of their version of the Boudleaux Bryant ballad Love Hurts that got them notice in the USA, making top 10 in 1975 and eventually going platinum; the track became the band's only US Top Ten hit. The accompanying album Hair Of The Dog (1975) would chart at 17 US. That same year they released their "best of..." compilation titled simply Greatest Hits, making 54 UK now on 'A&M'. The front man's first solo effort with the label would also arrive this year as a side project of an all covers album that didn't sit well with fans and was quickly forgotten.
Close Enough For Rock N' Roll (1976) was the consolidation of their efforts in the US and moderate success followed with each release, starting with this one at 24. Play 'N' The Game (1976) made 75, Expect No Mercy (1977) at 82 and No Mean City (1979) at 88 US/34 UK. None but the last charted well in the UK, so before the No Mean City release, Zal Cleminson (ex-The Sansational Alex Harvey Band; guitar) was recruited to help in their sagging support. The trick would work on their Malice In Wonderland (1980) release making 41 but only in the US; the UK market slowly slipping away.
John Locke (ex-Spirit) stepped in on keyboards for The Fool Circle (1981) release that finally got them a new UK charting at 60 and a 70 US.
Various Nazareth line-ups continued to make studio albums and tour during the 1980s and 1990s. Their live set Snaz (1981) slipped under the radar at 78 UK/83 US. During the remainder of the 1980s the band struggled with each recording, 2x5 (1983), Sound Elixir (1983), The Catch (1984), Cinema (1986) and Snakes 'N' Ladders (1989).
Nazareth would finally see some success again at the turn of the 1990s with No Jive (1991), now on 'Geffin' and with new member Billy Rankin (guitar) who had taken over Charlton's spot full time. There would be a several year break in album production before they returned with an all-star guest staff for Move Me (1997), featuring Michael Monroe and Axl Rose (ex-Guns N' Roses), among others. The album brought back McCafferty, Agnew and Sweet in classic form but also introduced Jimmy Murrison (guitar) and Ronnie Leahy (keyboards). G N' R also previously covering Nazareth's Hair Of The Dog on their The Spaghetti Incident? album.
After 30 years Nazareth was still proving they had the suss to make hard rock music and Boogaloo (1998) would continue the tradition now on 'C.M.C.' Tragically, while on tour in 1999, original drummer Darrell Sweet died at age 51 of a heart attack; he was replaced by Pete Agnew's son Lee. Sweet would be followed into the afterlife by John Locke, the former keyboardist of the band, on 4 August 2006 when he died from cancer at the age of 62.
In February 2008, The Newz was released on the Hamburg-based label, 'Edel Entertainment'.
Big Dogz (2011) and Rock 'n' Roll Telephone (2014) would follow after a long recording gap.
2015 saw Carl Sentance (ex-(Persian Risk, Geezer Butler Band, Krokus)), join as new lead vocalist.
After Tattooed on My Brain (2018), 25 June 2019 would see The New York Times Magazine listed Nazareth among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios fire.
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Jimm Murrison and Linton Osborne at Picture On Festival, August 2014
Photo by: Biha
CC BY-SA 3.0 de
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