Sniff 'n' the Tears

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Sniff 'n' the Tears
Background information
OriginLondon, England
Years active1977–1983, 1992–present
LabelsChiswick Records (UK),
Atlantic Records (US)

Sniff 'n' the Tears are a British rock band best known for their 1978 song "Driver's Seat", a moderate hit in many countries (including No. 15 on the American Billboard Hot 100) (in September 1979).[2] The band is led by singer/songwriter Paul Roberts, the band's sole constant member.

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. Roberts, who had been concentrated on his career as a painter, agreed and Salvoni recruited some of the musicians from the demos to record Fickle Heart their debut album. When it became apparent that things were going well and that a band would be needed for live work and promotion, Sniff 'n' the Tears subsequently debuted in 1978 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] Both Salvoni and Netto had been in the band Moon, which issued two albums in the UK in 1975/76.

This line-up recorded the band's first album, Fickle Heart, which was produced by Salvoni. Guesting on the album as a backing vocalist was Noel McCalla, who had been Moon's lead singer.

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.

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 Keith Miller.

When naming the 1973 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's line-up consisted of Roberts, Netto, Dyche, South, and new keyboard player Keith Miller. 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 the contract ended with 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), while Loz Netto issued singles like "Fade Away" and "We Touch" (the latter song turning up in an episode of the Miami Vice television show).[8]

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 chart 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. The song also appeared in episode 10 of the second season of The Walking Dead, "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.[9]

A line-up of Roberts, Davidson, South, Langridge and new drummer Paul Robinson issued the album Random Elements in 2017. While Roberts remained the band's primary songwriter, for this album Davidson and Langridge also received co-writing credits on a number of tracks. Robinson had not only played on 'The Game's Up' but had toured with the group as their drummer in the late 1970s; this marked his official entry into the group 37 years later.

In 2020, Sniff 'n' the Tears (now consisting only of Roberts and Davidson) issued the album Jump, which consisted of new acoustic versions of a number of songs in the band's catalogue (including "Driver's Seat").


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album AUS[10] CAN US
1979 Fickle Heart 72 43 35
1980 The Game's Up - 77 -
1981 Love/Action - - 192
1982 Ride Blue Divide - - -
1992 No Damage Done - - -
2002 Underground - - -
2011 Downstream - - -
2017 Random Elements - - -
2020 Jump - - -


Year Album
1991 A Best of Sniff 'n' the Tears


Year Song UK [11] CAN NED US AUS[10]
1978 "New Lines on Love" - - - 108 -
1979 "Driver's Seat" 42 17 8 15 13
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" - - 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) 1978–79
  • Mick Dyche (guitars) 1978–81
  • Rick Fenn (guitars) 1980–81
  • 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
  • Andy Giddings (keyboards) 1992
  • Robin Langridge (keyboards) 2001–present
  • Noel McCalla (backing vocals) 1978–80


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jason Ankeny. "Sniff 'n' the Tears | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  2. ^ tolsen (2 January 2013). "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1106. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  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". Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  6. ^ "An Interview with Paul Roberts". December 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Mike Taylor (10)". Discogs. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  8. ^ Hindsley, Lars (27 December 2005). "Getting To Know Loz Netto".
  9. ^ "Jennifer Maidman | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  10. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 280. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 511. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]