Starz was formed out of the ashes of an early 1970s pop music band, Looking Glass, which had the #1 hit single "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" in the summer of 1972. After the official breakup of Looking Glass, two of the remaining members (Peter Sweval and Jeff Grob) formed Starz as a heavy metal band. Starz was signed to Capitol Records in 1976. The original line up included vocalist Michael Lee Smith (brother of Rex Smith, vocalist for REX, and later a popular actor), Richie Ranno (formerly with Stories) on guitar, Brendan Harkin on guitar, Peter Sweval (Piet Sweval) (b. 13 April 1948, Toms River, New Jersey) on bass, and Joe. X. Dube (Jeff Grob) on drums.
Their major hit single was "Cherry Baby" in the spring of 1977, from the album Violation, although they had several other songs chart in the lower half of the Billboard Hot 100. Most fans consider Violation their best album and compare it stylistically to Kiss (Kiss' manager, Bill Aucoin, was also Starz' manager) and Aerosmith. Their third album, Attention Shoppers!, is more in the vein of power pop than heavy metal, featuring a Cheap Trick influence in songs like "X-Ray Spex." Brendan Harkin and Peter Sweval left the band prior to the final album, Coliseum Rock, replaced by Bobby Messano on guitar and Orville Davis on bass.