Little Willy – Sweet

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………..on February 11th of 1972 The Sweet record the song “Little Willy” for their upcoming self titled LP. This song was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman – neither of whom were members of Sweet. Instead, Chinn and Chapman were a major force in the British pop music industry in the 1970s. Just as in the US, Leiber and Stoller became known for “the Brill Building sound,” Chinn and Chapman in the UK became known as the “Chinnichap” sound. They produced songs for Suzi Quatro, and British bands Smokie, Mud, Racey, and The Arrows. Chapman would later produce albums for Blondie and The Knack, and along with Holly Knight, wrote Pat Benatar’s hit “Love Is A Battlefield.” “Little Willy” was Sweet’s biggest US hit, peaking the charts at #3 when it was re-released in 1973. It was a non-album single, but went gold in the US and UK all by itself anyway. Critics in the UK dismissed the song as “bubblegum” and referred to the lyrics as “nursery porn.” Sweet wanted to shed their bubblegum/ glam-rock image and become more hardcore, so they later turned to writing their own songs. Putting this song together, Chinn and Chapman used a pounding drum beat popularized by Slade and producer Mike Leander. They mixed in the riff from the Who song “I Can’t Explain,” and added the exceptionally catchy chorus, which dug into your ear and wouldn’t let go. The song didn’t tell any kind of story – just that Willy won’t go home – but listeners didn’t care and with Glam Rock, the lyrics weren’t supposed to make sense anyway. The band first achieved success in the UK charts, with thirteen Top 20 hits during the 1970s alone, with “Block Buster!” (1973) topping the chart, followed by three consecutive number two hits in “Hell Raiser” (1973), “The Ballroom Blitz” (1973) and “Teenage Rampage” (1974). The band turned to a more hard rock style with their mid-career singles, like 1974’s “Turn It Down“. “Fox on the Run” (1975) also reached number two on the UK charts. These results were topped in West Germany and other countries on the European mainland. They also achieved success and popularity in the US with the top ten hits “Little Willy (#3)“, “The Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on the Run”. “Little Willy” peaked at #4 in the UK.