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Background information
OriginLondon, England
GenresRock, pop rock, progressive rock, glam rock, new wave, soft rock[1]
Years active1977–1983, 1992–present
LabelsChiswick Records (UK),
Atlantic Records (US)

Sniff 'n' the Tears is a British rock band best known for their 1979 song 'Driver's Seat', a hit in many countries (including No. 15 on the American Billboard Hot 100chart). The exception was the UK itself where a problem with EMI's pressing plant meant that the single was not available following the band's appearance on Top of the Pops and it peaked just outside the Top 40.[2] Sniff 'n' The Tears is led by singer/songwriter Paul Roberts, the band's sole constant member. Roberts, a noted painter, is also responsible for painting all of the band's album covers.

Formation and initial success (1973–1979)[edit]

An early version of Sniff 'n' The Tears had been gigging in England as early as 1974.[3] They were unable to land a record deal and the band's singer/songwriter Paul Roberts decided to dissolve the group and move to France.[1]

A few years later, Luigi Salvoni, the drummer from a band called Moon, listened to some demos that he and Roberts had cut in about 1975 for a French record label.[3] Hearing some potential in them, he contacted Roberts about approaching Chiswick Records for a deal. Sniff 'n' The Tears subsequently debuted in 1977 as a six-piece band, consisting of Paul Roberts (vocals, acoustic guitar), Loz Netto (guitars), Mick Dyche (guitars), Chris Birkin (bass), Alan Fealdman (keyboards), and Luigi Salvoni (drums & percussion).[3] This line-up recorded the band's first album, Fickle Heart, which was produced by Salvoni. Though recorded in 1978, the album sat unreleased for over a year because Chiswick were in the process of changing their distribution. The band then had a substantial international hit with Fickle Heart's lead single 'Driver's Seat' in 1979,[3] aided by its driving rhythm, catchy lyrics and a Moog solo contributed by guest musician Keith Miller.[4][5] However, the band fractured almost immediately after the album's release; in a matter of months, Birkin, Fealdman, and Salvoni all left the group to pursue other interests.

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Nick South took over on bass and would become a permanent member of the band. On tour, Sniff 'n' The Tears were augmented by drummer Paul Robinson and keyboardist Mike Taylor.

When naming the band, Roberts suggested 'The Tears', but their manager suggested 'Sniff ‘n’ the Tears' because Roberts had hay fever and sniffed a lot.[6]


The 1980s[edit]

For the group's second album, 1980's The Game's Up,[3] the band line-up consisted of Roberts, Netto, Dyche, South, and new keyboard player Mike Taylor. At this point the group had no permanent drummer, and a variety of session drummers were used.

The Game's Up yielded no hits, and Netto left the group to establish a solo career, taking Dyche with him. This left Roberts as the sole remaining original member of Sniff 'n' The Tears. He decided to press on, and recruited Les Davidson as the group's new guitarist and added Jamie Lane as the permanent drummer. This five piece line-up (Roberts, Davidson, Lane, South and Taylor[7]) recorded two albums: Love/Action (1981), and Ride Blue Divide (1982). Again no hits were spun off from these albums, and after having been dropped by Chiswick Records, the group broke up in 1983.[3]

Singer and songwriter Paul Roberts went on to make two solo albums for Sonet Records: City Without Walls (1985) and Kettle Drum Blues (1987).

Reformation (1992–present)[edit]

After a decade of inactivity, Sniff 'n' The Tears were unexpectedly revived in 1992, after the use of 'Driver's Seat' in a European advertising campaign pushed the 13-year-old recording to the very top of the Dutch charts in mid-1991. Roberts took the opportunity to assemble a new version of Sniff 'n' the Tears, and took them out on the road in the Netherlands and Germany. This version of the band consisted of Roberts and Davidson, with new recruits Jeremy Meek (bass) (Ex Live Wire), Steve Jackson (drums) and Andy Giddings (keyboards). This line-up also cut a new studio album in 1992, No Damage Done, which was the first new Sniff 'n' the Tears release in a decade.

'Driver's Seat' was prominently featured on the soundtrack of the 1997 film Boogie Nights and had another popular resurgence as a result, although most radio outlets played the 1991 re-release version instead of the original. The song also appeared in The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 10 “18 Miles Out”.

The band's next release, 2001's Underground, featured Roberts singing and playing almost everything. He was credited with vocals, guitars, mandolin, harmonica, keyboards, bass and drum programming. However, longtime group member Les Davidson also played guitar on the album, and new member Robin Langridge handled the bulk of keyboard parts.

After another long hiatus, the band released their seventh album, Downstream, in February 2011. The Sniff 'n' the Tears line-up for this album consisted of Paul Roberts (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard), Les Davidson (guitars), Robin Langridge (keyboards), returning member Nick South (bass). and new member Richard Marcangelo (drums). Marcangelo had previously been a session player on The Game's Up. Jennifer Maidman, who had played bass on Paul Roberts' two solo albums, also played bass on several tracks.[8]

Chris Birkin became a mathematics teacher in a school in Suffolk.[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

1979Fickle Heart724335
1980The Game's Up-77-
1982Ride Blue Divide---
1992No Damage Done---
2017Random Elements---


Snippets Drivers Ed

1991A Best of Sniff 'n' the Tears


1978'New Lines on Love'---108-
1979'Driver's Seat'421781513
1980'Poison Pen Mail'-----
1980'Rodeo Drive'-----
1980'One Love'--38--
1981'That Final Love'-----
1981'The Driving Beat'-----
1982'Hungry Eyes'-----
1982'Como el fuego salvaje (Like Wildfire)' (Spain release)-----
1982'Ojos hambrientos' (Spain release)-----
1991'Driver's Seat' (12' Long Version)--1--


  • Paul Roberts (Vocals, acoustic guitar), (in 2001 played bass guitar, mandolin, and additional keyboards) 1978–present
  • Les Davidson (Guitars, Background vocals) 1981–1992, 2001–present
  • Loz Netto (guitars) 1978-81
  • Chris Birkin (bass guitar) 1978–79
  • Mick Dyche (guitars) 1978–81
  • Nick South (bass) 1980–81, 2011–present
  • Jeremy Meek (bass) 1992
  • Jennifer Maidman (bass) 2011
  • Luigi Salvoni (drums) 1978, rejoined the band briefly in 1992
  • Paul Robinson (drums) 1979, 2017–present
  • Jamie Lane (drums) 1981–82
  • Steve Jackson (drums) 1992
  • Richard Marcangelo (drums) 2011–2017
  • Alan Fealdman (keyboards) 1978
  • Keith Miller (synthesizer) 1978
  • Mike Taylor (keyboards) 1980–81
  • Andy Giddings (keyboards) 1992
  • Robin Langridge (keyboards) 2001–present
  • Noel McCalla - (backing vocals) 1978-80


See also[edit]


  1. ^ abJason Ankeny. 'Sniff 'n' the Tears Biography & History'. AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  2. ^Ford, Matt. 'Sniff 'n' The Tears – Driver's Seat'. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  3. ^ abcdefColin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1106. ISBN1-85227-745-9.
  4. ^Catching Up with Sniff 'n' The Tears – an interview with Paul Roberts at the Wayback Machine (archived 21 September 2010)
  5. ^'Fickle Heart — Sniff 'n' the Tears'. Sniffnthetears.com. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  6. ^'An Interview with Paul Roberts'. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  7. ^'Mike Taylor (10)'. Discogs. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  8. ^'Jennifer Maidman Credits'. AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  9. ^ abKent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 280. ISBN0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 511. ISBN1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]

  • Sniff 'n' the Tears discography at Discogs
Retrieved from 'https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sniff_%27n%27_the_Tears&oldid=995723113'

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