Subject: Darryl Sweet - This Flight Tonight!
Dear Fishheads, Freaks, Fans and the Company,
One of the first times I was at Turnhouse airport, now known as Edinburgh airport was to meet some Belgian friends of the family arriving for a holiday with us. It was way back in the early 70's and I'd just started High School.
While waiting I noticed a bunch of guys I somewhat recognised. Long hair, denims, Indian cotton shirts and a certain panache that stood them out from the other few punters on the small concourse. I recognised them as Nazareth, at the time one of the biggest Rock bands in Scotland.
I gamely asked for autographs, the first apart from Hibernian footaball players I'd ever got.
I was in utter awe!
Years later as singer with a new up and coming band I met them again and we hit off! In particular with Darryl the drummer and backing singer of the band. When I moved to Scotland in 88 we started to see more of each other and swapped stories and advice amongst many vodkas. They were Dunfermline boys as were Big Country and Scotland being as it is we stayed in constant touch exchanging advice as I like them became a veteran of the scene. Darryl was one of my "Gurus" and as the years went by we discovered that we had a lot more in common. Darryl ran Nazareth! He revitalised them when all but a few had written them off as a has-been 70's band! He negotiated contracts and set up deals keeping them on the road with wit and guile and a conviction and belief combined with a feet on the ground sense of reality and order that was paramount in maintaining a career in the 90's. He was nothing short of a genius in the way he breathed life into the band and when everyone thought they had disappeared he had Nazareth in Russia, Germany and other European states and continued to make great and unheard of albums for their devoted fans.
They fought and scrambled for a living as professional musicians belying trends and modern critics and against all the odds were regaining the respect they deserved.
They were one of the few Scottish bands that were regulars at the Funny Farm as it was then and I can still remember the first time they arrived here to record. I was asked in to the studio for "cocktails" at 10 am. The fridge in the residential block was crammed to the gunnels with vodka bottles and Carlsberg Special Brew! No food, mind! That was for wimps!!
The session was due to start at 10 and we arrived back from the Tyneside at around 3 - bladdered!
They then spent the rest of the day getting it together and at the end of the day they were ahead of schedule!!! They are special and Darryl was always there holding the whole chaotic ensemble together like a big brother! I was in awe of him! He was always on the phone for me and never ducked a question or gave me bullshit!
I returned the respect and we often discussed endless "cunning plans" and the "state of the business" over a few as ever too many voddies! He was one of the very few and close friends I have ever had in the music business. He was "old school" and I revered him!
I worked with them at a charity gig in East End Park , Dunfermline Athletics Ground. It was for a wheelchair fund raising event for Eastern Europe that the guys had put together and they asked me to sing "Broken Down Angel" with them as a duet with singer Dan Mc Cafferty! I shat hedgehogs before the show as Dan is and always will be one of my all time heroes next to Alex Harvey. The gig was sublime and to play with Nazareth after all those years one of the proudest moments of my life. I worked with Dan and Pete Agnew the bass player when the SAHB's thought about reforming and Darryl was always there with us like the Dad he was to a lot of people!
He'd calmed down a lot after the first heart scare a couple of years back but the spirit was unquenched.
He was supposed to be at my 40th party but as always they were on tour. I hadn't seen Darryl for over a year as our touring duties kept us apart. The Christmas card arrived as always and I was hoping to see him this month when they returned from the US tour they just embarked on a week ago!
I was on the train back from London when Tammi called on the mobile. I was filled in by his son Mike when I got back to the farm.
The band had arrived late last week for their US tour and were down in Kentucky at the races on a through travel day before a gig. Darryl had gone down to the banks of the Idaho river and had phoned his wife Marion on his mobile before heading back to the front of the bus where he complained of stomach and chest pains. The paramedics were called but before they arrived he suffered a massive heart attack and died. It was quick and in a moment one of Scotlands finest drummers was gone!
I will miss him terribly! Darryl was one of the few true gentlemen of the Rock world and one of my few real close friends! As always we never had enough time together but if I had ever wanted a brother he would have been my first choice.
An era in Scottish music died today with him!
My heart is well broken at the moment
especially to Marion the family, Dan and Pete and all the band and crew
A broken down angel!
Darryl I'll miss you!
Email 1st May 1999