Chris Norman is 70 this week.
He was born in Redcar in 1950 and after hearing Elvis Presley and Lonnie Donegan he took up guitar at the age of seven. In 1964, just two weeks after they formed, he joined a group called The Yen. They then recruited Terry Uttley on bass. They toured the clubs around Yorkshire changing their name on the way to The Sphynx, then Essence, then The Four Corners and then The Elizabethans before turning professional in 1968.
They signed a deal with RCA record who suggested another name change this time to Kindness. They performed on the Radio One club where Steve Rowland and Albert Hammond, both with the group Family Dogg, were impressed and Steve signed them to his production company and asked Albert to write a song for them. He wrote It Never Rains in Southern California, but then decided to record it himself.
On 1969 they changed their name again to Smokey and signed a new deal with Mickie Most’s RAK records. In July 1975 their first single, If You Think You Know How to Love Me went to number three in the UK chart and they followed it with Don’t Play Your Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me peaking at number eight. Instead of changing their name again, they altered the spelling and became Smokie.
They charted a further 11 hits, nine of them in the seventies with Living Next Door to Alice, It’s Your Life and Oh Carol all peaking at number five.
In the late seventies, Chris also teamed up with Pete Spencer and together they wrote songs for other artists including Kevin Keegan’s only hit Head Over Heels in Love and the England world Cup Squad’s number two hit This Time (We’ll Get It Right).
Let’s remember their fourth hit, I’ll Meet You at Midnight which was a number 11 hit in 1976.