How Peter Sweval, the Bassist of Looking Glass and Starz, Died of AIDS

Peter Sweval was a talented musician who played bass and sang vocals for two popular rock bands in the 1970s: Looking Glass and Starz. He had a successful career that spanned several hit songs, albums, and tours. However, his life was cut short by a devastating disease that claimed many lives in the 1980s and 1990s: AIDS. In this article, we will explore the cause of death of Peter Sweval, his musical achievements, and his legacy.

The Rise of Looking Glass

Peter Sweval was born on April 13, 1948, in New Jersey. He started playing music at a young age and joined a band called Looking Glass in 1969, along with drummer Jeffrey Grob, guitarist Elliot Lurie, and keyboardist Larry Gonsky. The band was part of the Jersey Shore sound, a blend of pop, rock, and country influences.

Looking Glass had their breakthrough in 1972, when their song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 charts. The song was written by Lurie and was inspired by a barmaid he met in Maryland. The song was catchy, romantic, and featured Sweval’s distinctive backing vocals.

Looking Glass followed up their success with another Top 40 hit, “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne”, in 1973. The song was also written by Lurie and was about a young couple who wanted to escape their small town. The song showcased Sweval’s bass playing and harmony singing.

However, Looking Glass faced some challenges in their career. Their label, Epic Records, did not promote them well and tried to make them record more songs like “Brandy”. The band also had some internal conflicts and creative differences. Lurie left the band in 1974 to pursue a solo career. He was replaced by Michael Lee Smith, the elder brother of actor Rex Smith.

The Transition to Starz

Sweval and Grob decided to change the direction of the band and recruited two new guitarists: Brendan Harkin and Richie Ranno. They also changed their name to Fallen Angels and later to Starz. Starz was a hard rock band that had a heavier sound and more aggressive attitude than Looking Glass.

Starz signed with Capitol Records and released four albums between 1976 and 1978: Starz, Violation, Attention Shoppers!, and Coliseum Rock. The band had a loyal fan base and toured with acts like Kiss, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and Rush. Some of their songs, such as “Cherry Baby”, “Pull the Plug”, and “So Young So Bad”, became cult classics.

Sweval played bass and sang lead vocals on some tracks for the first three albums. He also co-wrote some songs with Smith, Harkin, and Ranno. He was known for his energetic stage presence and flamboyant style. He often wore makeup, leather outfits, and feather boas.

However, Starz also faced some difficulties in their career. Their label did not support them enough and did not give them enough radio airplay or publicity. The band also had some legal disputes with their manager, Bill Aucoin, who also managed Kiss. Sweval left the band in 1978 due to personal reasons.

The Death of Peter Sweval

After leaving Starz, Sweval moved to Los Angeles and worked as a producer for some bands. He also formed a new band called Skatt Bros., which was a disco-rock group that had a gay-themed image. Skatt Bros. had a minor hit with “Walk the Night” in 1979.

Sweval contracted HIV sometime in the 1980s. At that time, there was no effective treatment or cure for the disease, which caused severe damage to the immune system. Sweval died of AIDS-related complications on January 23, 1990, at the age of 41.

Sweval’s death was mourned by his family, friends, fans, and former bandmates. His ashes were scattered off the coast of Southern California by his brother John.

The Legacy of Peter Sweval

Peter Sweval was a talented musician who contributed to the success of two rock bands: Looking Glass and Starz. He played bass with skill and passion and sang with soul and harmony. He wrote songs that expressed his emotions and experiences. He performed with charisma and flair.

Sweval’s music has influenced many artists who came after him. Some of them include Jon Bon Jovi, Nikki Sixx, Lars Ulrich, Ginger Wildheart, Joe Elliott, Ace Frehley, Sebastian Bach, Dee Snider, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Billy Squier, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Pat Benatar, Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister, and many more.

Sweval’s music has also been featured in movies, TV shows, video games, and commercials. Some of them include Guardians of the Galaxy, Charlie’s Angels, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Supernatural, Breaking Bad, Grand Theft Auto, Guitar Hero, and many more.

Sweval’s music has also been covered by many artists. Some of them include Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Offspring, Smash Mouth, Bowling for Soup, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, and many more.

Sweval’s music has also been celebrated by his fans and peers. In 1995, he was honored at a 70s reunion concert in New York, where Looking Glass performed with Lurie. In 2003, Lurie reformed Looking Glass with new members. In 2004, Starz reunited with Smith, Harkin, Ranno, and Grob. In 2014, Starz released a live album called Live in Action.

Peter Sweval was a star who shone brightly in the rock scene of the 1970s. He left behind a legacy of music that continues to inspire and entertain people today. He was a fine musician and a fine man. He will always be remembered.

Doms Desk

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