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Brett Smiley

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Though he released just one single, made just one TV appearance, and has barely been sighted in public in over a quarter of a century, Brett Smiley can rightfully claim to rank among the true legends of glam rock. American born, but a thoroughbred Anglophile, Smiley (that is his real name, incidentally) spent four years with the touring company of the stageshow Oliver before moving into pop music. In 1972, an aspiring manager tried launching him on the U.K., only to find there was no room past the then-prevalent mania for the Osmonds and David Cassidy. Smiley returned to the U.S., moving between Seattle, Hollywood, and New York, and recorded a set of demos with future Knack supremo Doug Fieger's band Sky. They failed to land a deal, but did catch the ear of Andrew Loog Oldham, former manager/producer of the Rolling Stones. In early 1974, Oldham arranged a 100,000 dollar record deal with the U.K. Anchor label; Smiley's debut single, the effervescent "Va Va Va Voom" was recorded in London with Steve Marriott laying down some blistering guitar. They then traveled to Nashville to begin work on an album -- the sessions moved to New York and back to London before the set was completed. In the meantime, Smiley made his TV debut on Britain's Russell Harty - Plus that October and was pictured on the cover of the music paper Disc. "Va Va Va Voom," however, bombed in the U.K. and a projected U.S. release through Sire fell apart soon after. Anchor then withdrew their support, shelving the album release before the recordings had even been paid for. Smiley returned to the States, where he now lives in New York and continues to perform on a semi-regular basis. He reunited with Oldham during the late '80s for a handful of recordings, but they, too, remain unreleased. ~ Dave Thompson

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