A group that initially started out in England in 1965 went through at least six name changes and a few personnel changes on their way to stardom. Success as a group initially eluded them, although for awhile they were Peter Noone’s backup band (probably after Peter split from Herman’s Hermits in 1971).
The group started working with Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who had written numerous hit records for the Sweet and Suzi Quatro. In addition to writing some songs for the group, the pair convinced them to change their name to Smokey. objections by Smokey Robinson appears to have resulted in another name change, this time to Smokie.
The group’s first single did not impress anybody, but their next two got into the top ten in the UK. In 1977 the group had their biggest hit with the release of Living Next Door to Alice. The record only got up to #25 in the US, and #3 in the UK, but was a number one record in no less than seven countries. Smokie followed up that success with five more hits in the UK, but with little additional success in the US.
I always thought the song was recorded by Dr. Hook, so it wasn’t a big surprise when Casey Casem quoted Mike Chapman as saying that the song was inspired by Dr. Hook’s recording of Sylvia’s Mother.
After listening to Living Next Door To Alice, you should listen to Smokie’s recording of Sally’s Song from 2010. The sequel wraps up the storyline by letting us know what happened with Sally…it isn’t exactly the happy ending we might have expected.