And the man at the back said everyone attack
And it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said boy, I wanna warn ya
It’ll turn into a ballroom blitz
When Sweet first performed this song in 1973, little did they know that it would peak from #5 to #1 on just about every major music chart in the world during the mid-70s. Tia Carrere would cover the song in Wayne’s World. And forty years later, original Sweet member Steve Priest would still be playing the song to audiences, dancing up a storm to the music. Steve then semi-retired, until the pull of music became too great and he called up drummer Richie Onori, a seasoned rock drummer whose style had been compared more than once to Mick Tucker, the original drummer for the Sweet. Richie told me, “Mick Tucker, who was the original drummer, we both go from the same kind of rock drumming, the Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa kind of style where you really apply yourself. You have to have your drum chops up. It was a perfect fit; I get that all the time, how close I am to playing like Mick Tucker.”.
For Richie Onori, asking to join Sweet was more than just a drumming gig. Richie said, “It’s been a really good ride, joining Sweet. Steve Priest is really the only founding member of the band that is left. Steve decided to reform the band after being pretty much retired in 2008. He called me up and we put a pretty good lineup up. Most of that lineup has been going since 2008. We’ve toured with Journey, been to Europe, South America, Canada, all over the world and that music just lives on and on. It’s a legendary group and it’s been a great experience for me. When Steve asked me, I became a full partner in the band, so it’s not just like a side gig, it’s like Ron Wood when he joined the Stones. He wasn’t the original guitarist, but everybody that is in the band has earned their position in that legendary band”.
With the ability to help pick the band members, Richie showed the experience he learned playing over the years. “My first real big professional gig was with Question Mark and the Mysterians, when I was 17. They did ’96 Tears’. I wasn’t on the record but from there the next thing of any consequence was Rick Derringer, and then Louis Johnson from the Brothers Johnson—I did a few things with the Brothers Johnson, but mainly Louis. It goes on and on, Richie Sambora and Heaven and Earth, I was in a band with Keith Emerson for a short time; the band was called ‘Aliens with Extraordinary Ability’. I toured with Bobby Kimball so we did the whole ‘Toto” thing. ”. Currently, Richie has a new band called the Blues Messengers that is also playing some shows.
Richie talked about the Sweet’s upcoming show. He said, “We’re doing a cancer benefit on October 18 in Santa Ana with Sweet. I’m very sensitive to when people lose their loved ones; my father passed recently from cancer. He was up in Rocketdyne where the first nuclear meltdown was. He made it through and passed away much later in life but he had multiple myeloma. I went to the Atomic Commission and was able to get a settlement from them due to some of the cancer that he acquired. My mother had cancer when she was in her ’50s, breast cancer and colon cancer, so it’s touched my family quite a bit.”.
Richie has his own way of looking at fighting cancer. “The way I do it and the way i’ve been predisposed to it has pretty much been holistically. I think that it’s important to pretty much do preventative, anything preventative, watch what we put in our bodies, what we breathe, all those things. When we have pathogens that start accumulating, you handle that with holistic means instead of doing it the complete medical way. So far, I’m doing pretty good. I’ve had a lot of years of pretty good health following my own prescription”.
Richie elaborated on ways to fight the dreaded disease. “People just have to be aware of what they eat, plus it’s important to support the survivors of cancer and it’s really important to see what you are putting in your body. Even with all that, i’ve seen people who have been totally health conscious get cancer. Well, how do you get cancer? It’s also your mental attitude. There are a lot of things, if people are really unhappy, that can trigger things. We’re only here temporarily, so hopefully we can not contract that deadly disease. Every body has to be very, very aware of what is going on in their lives, they have to take responsibility to not trust really anything and take responsibility to make sure they really protect themselves, because a lot of people really don’t care, and people also need to help those who have contracted the disease and help them find a way out of it. There are a lot of different things that are working for people out there”.
Life on tour gets pretty wild and Richie had a great story to tell about one of the Sweet shows. “I think one of the funniest things that has happened, one of the first guitarists we used in Sweet, we were playing one of these big festivals and he had these long shoes on and he was playing like a madman at the end of the stage. All of a sudden, he turns around and looks at me, like right in the eye, like ‘I’m going to come and run right up on your drum riser and I’m going to rock with you right now, Richie’. You’ve seen that look, because he loves to do that kind of thing. Well, the drum riser was only a foot up, so he made this mad dash. Well, his shoe caught on the end of that drum riser and he literally came crashing into my whole drum set and the whole thing just fell. Well, I kept playing, and the snare drum was sideways! The band didn’t even know what happened, but the audience was just looking and Stewart, basically he fell down. That’s a pretty humorous story!”.
Richie ended our talk by saying, “Our agent hooked us up with Rockers Against Cancer 3 and when we heard about it we were happy to get involved. I’m very supportive of anything that’s a good cause”. As the headlining act for tomorrow’s 3rd Annual Rockers Against Cancer Benefit show, Richie and Sweet are certainly showing that it’s not just the music, but the people that count to them.
3rd Annual Rockers Against Cancer Benefit Show
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Malone’s Bar and Grill
604 E. Dyer Road
Santa Ana 92705