The Scotland-based Nazareth – or ‘the Naz’ to its fans - was formed by former The Shadettes members Dan McCafferty, Pete Agnew and Darrell Sweet, as well as guitarist Manny Charlton in 1969. The Shadettes was formed in 1961 and played cover versions locally at Dunfirmline and environs. The band played locally until the release of the self-titled debut in 1971, which immediately established them as being characterized by raw vocals, hard rock cuts and ballads. Bill Fehilly, a gaming millionaire who had helped with the financing of the early recording, managed the group. The boys were now based in London, England. The first two albums, however, found little success despite opening for the likes of Rory Gallagher and Atomic Rooster. The Roger Glover of Deep Purple produced Razamanaz of 1973, however, featured songs like Bad Bad Boy and Broken Down Angel and, along with Loud ‘N’ Proud, made a name for the Scottish band. Nazareth had opened for Deep Purple – and earlier played with The Who, Cream and others - in support of Exercises. Nazareth had asked Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Pete Townsend of The Who also whether they would produce. The latest album was on a new label, following the old one's financial problems, and had the band tour Canada. Glover also engineered loud ‘N’ Proud and Rampant. Rampant even featured Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. The band played strongly to its hard rock crowd, but the singer took time off for solo recordings and the music also included folk and country elements. The solo album featured both Nazareth members and Glover. Charlton took over the band’s production as Nazareth felt Glover was not keeping up with trends and where the Scots were going. The single Out Of Time also landed on the charts making the solo record a success. Hair Of The Dog was originally going to be called Son Of A Bitch, but A&M Records vetoed the title. The band instead called it Heir Of The Dog, which soon became Hair Of The Dog. The band switched to the Mountain label, which was home to The Alex Harvey Band. Close Enough For Rock ‘N’ Roll featured a song called Vancouver Shakedown, which referred to a shyster promoter in the city, yet the song was blacklisted on that city’s radio. Play ‘N’ The Game was also a success, but the band’s manager was dead following a flight accident. However by the time Zal Cleminson of The Alex Harvey Band came in 1979 (and went) the band was both heavy like on No Mean City and heard on an album like Malice In Wonderland, which was playing to the charts. The group contributed the song Crazy to the soundtrack of Heavy Metal. The band was playing with groups like Rush, High Tension, Bang, Ted Nugent, Aeromsith, Billy Squire, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marseille. Snaz was a double live album that was recorded in Vancouver, Canada and featured Billy Rankin and the American John Locke. The latter man had joined in time for The Fool Circle and was a veteran of Spirit. The band had a reworked version of Love Hurts for the film Scarlet, which followed Gone With The Wind. Locke left to reform Spirit after Sound Elixir, which was recorded in Vancouver’s Little Mountain Sound. Rankin had a 1984 solo album called Growing Up Too Fast. Cleminson helped record it. Cleminson would also negotiate to play in Alcatraz, but that came to naught. Rankin would soon depart in 1983 (but return in 1990) Nazareth and the Scots were a quartet again for The Catch. Nazareth played the Great Yarmouth Festival alongside Waysted and Motorhead. The band was involved in litigation when former manager Jim White had the band’s partial catalogue released in the USA through his Sahara imprint. Cinema came next and was barely released in the UK. The band was without a record contract and on hiatus. With Snakes And Ladders also not doing much it was time for Charlton, who was now based in Texas, to leave and look for a career as a producer. He would form a solo act soon enough however and include famous session musicians. No Jive was issued through the fledgling Belgian heavy metal label Mausoleum. Worldwide tours followed. Move Me was nothing more than a self cover album with acoustic versions of older hits. Nazareth played the Pioneers Of Rock festival in Germany in 1996. Jimmy Morrison and Ronnie Leahy were labelled “touring band mates” for Boogaloo, which was issued very early in 1999. The album itself was reworked for over a year and a half before it was issued. Darrell Sweet would die at age 51 of a heart attack on April 30th on tour and soon replaced by Pete’s son Lee Agnew, who was a Nazareth roadie, but not before the said tour was cancelled. Back To The Trenches was a compilation of live tracks culled from the decades prior to its release. Alive & Kicking (2003) was an edited version of Homecoming. Naza Live was a 2005 DVD live package. Former member John Locke died of cancer in 2006. The band celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2008. The smoker McCafferty retired in 2013 due to lung disease, but Agnew would forge ahead. Rock 'N' Roll Telephone would become Dan’s last album. A Scot called Linton Osborne would join in 2014. He would depart a year later after the band had earlier cancelled shows due to the singer’s illness. Carl Sentence of Persian Risk and Krokus would soon be drafted.
The band has often had hit singles which were cover versions. These include Joni Mitchell’s This Flight Tonight, My White Bicycle by Tomorrow or the group’s best-known song Love Hurts, which was a composition of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant.
Gun N’ Roses members are fans of Nazareth and Axl Rose asked them to play Love Hurts at his wedding to Erin Everly. Nazareth, however, did not play at the wedding. Guns ‘N’ Roses, whose name includes the Nazareth favoured ‘N’ would cover Nazareth’s Hair Of The Dog. An early 18-minute version of November Rain by GNR was recorded at a session with guitarist Manny Charlton in 1986 for the Americans’ Appetite For Destruction production. Charlton was invited by the Americans to produce their debut full-length, but the Scot was fired for technical and sound reasons. The Americans would also later recall how Charlton was risk-averse and worried about the state of the car in which he was picked up at the airport. Charlton would recalls scheduling conflicts as the issue. Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses would play on Charlton’s solo record.
The group’s name is not directly Christian-related, but rather taken from the town of Nazareth in Pennsylvania, which is also featured in the song The Weight by Canadian group The Band. Pete Agnew suggested it. The band has an affinity for titles abbreviating ‘and’ into ‘N.’ Stevie Agnew the son of Pete Agnew also had a band.
NAZARETH - BOOGALOO - CMC/BMG
Here is the new album from the grand daddy of them all, Nazareth. The band which directly influenced acts like Cinderella and Guns N' Roses is back and, believe it or not, these aged musicians are still rocking. There is nothing lame about this hard rocking album, as songs like Light Comes Down, Cheerleader ("legs up to her shoulders/All the way back down") and Talk Talk prove. Anyone who is a fan of the newer boogie or heavy rock bands and has never given the originators a chance will be pleasantly surprised by Boogaloo. Not bad at all therefore, and with a tour to follow this spring, the success of Boogaloo will be something to watch. - Ali "The Metallian"