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 100 chart). 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. Sniff ‘n’ The Tears are 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.
An early version of Sniff ‘n’ The Tears had been gigging in England as early as 1973. 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.
A few years later, the drummer from a band called Moon, Luigi Salvoni, listened to some demos that he and Roberts had cut in about 1975 for a French record label. 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). 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. However, Sniff ‘n’ The Tears 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 Miffy Smith (who, as a guest musician, had played the Moog solo on “Driver’s Seat”).