SWEDISH '60s BANDS
Steampacket,Friends, Annabee-Nox  ,The Shanes,
The Con's Combo,The Beathovesns


STEAMPACKET

With a declared genius for a father (also in the field of music) like Povel Ramel, it was perhaps not so strange that Mikael Ramel also devoted himself to music.  As well, he was the right age (born in 1949) to get involved with pop music.  The fact that his talent was considerable was shown by the amazing singles You Just Gotta Know My Mind and Take Her Anytime.

Steampacket began as a popband at Solbacka school, in spite of the fact that the school authorities didnt care for pop music.  But as Mikael Ramel says, They had to get used to it.  In September 1965 the groups debut gig was at a party.

In the beginning their source of inspiration was English bands like the Beatles, Yardbirds, and Stones, but soon the Byrds also became an influence.  Luckily, the members of Steampacket finished school at the same time (two passed their high school exams, and two passed their secondary-school exams), so they could concentrate on pop music.

Naturally the press wrote a lot about the band because of the ties with Povel Ramel, but that wasnt the only reason Steampacket did so well.  Band member Rolf Scherrer had lived in Germany for a few years during his teens, and there he discovered a lot of soul-music, a style of music that hadnt hit Sweden yet.  Steampacket was also one of the first Swedish groups to travel to England on tour.  All of this gave the group a certain headstart on the competition on a musical level.  Even the press made note of their trip to England.

Steampacket discovered, however, that there already was an English band with the same name, so at home they put a II after their name, and in England they called themselves The Longboatmen in order not to be confused with their English counterpart.

Take Her Anytime has already been mentioned, and it also had the honour of being included on the compilation Searchin For Shakes.  Its a song that characterizes the sound of Sweden in 1966.  What doesnt come across, according to Staffan Winbergh, is that it could have been a much better song.  It was first recorded in England, and the whole group was really pleased with it.  On the way home to do the final mix in Sweden, half the material somehow disappeared.  No one knew what had happened; the only thing they knew was that all the band members thought it now sounded, to put it plainly, weird.  All the weight and fullness of the sound had disappeared.  Those who have heard the song can only try to imagine how it could have sounded.  Take Her Anytime was released in England under the group name The Longboatmen, and those 45s now fetch a four-digit figure at any auction sale.

In spite of Steampackets musical offerings, the public was for a long time quite indifferent, and when Lennart Hyland sponsored a popband competition, Mikael Ramel recorded Bara ett par dar (Just a Couple of Days) without the other band members.  Even though the song won the competition, it didnt go much further than that.

The group was then persuaded to record Viva LAmour, something which didnt suit Mikael Ramel at all.  He didnt even appear on the recording but the song became a hit anyway.  Steampacket also recorded a number of popsongs in Swedish, among them En värld av visioner (Happy Together) and Bi-ba-bi-do-ba (Nashville Cats).  The former was the result of winning Hylands popband competition.

By 1968, however, Steampacket had grown weary of always being short of money, and they did a last unforgettable gig on Jump In, where the group smashed their instruments in the best Who-style.  Mikael Ramel continued as a solo artist (he also had solo recordings in Swedish during the 60s) and was later a member of Fläsket Brinner. He also trained later as a music therapist and even built a studio.

Rolf Scherrer also continued with music full-time and played with Kebnekajse, Bush, and Jaguar.  Staffan Winbergh, who became a photographer, thinks that overall Steampacket was a very good group, but he suspects that the band sometimes made mistakes when recording.  Well, its difficult to agree with him on that point...
 
 

 
 
FRIENDS





In Stora PopbokenEwe have tried to retain the glitz and glamour of the E0s and E0s, but of course everything then was far from perfect Eparticularly after the careers of some artists and groups ended.  It must have been hard for a rock artist
from around 1959-60 (the majority of the lesser known rock artists in this book have either died as alcoholics or disappeared) to realize that his popularity had declined,just as it would for members of defunct pop groups around 1968-69.  In addition, many had been duped by unscrupulous managers and record companies.

Some of these artists had problems adapting to everyday life out in so-called normal society, and after drugs came into Swedish pop life in a big way, within a few years many artists disappeared completely.  It seems unnecessary to write about how this or that artist or former band member ended up with the needle, the pill bottle, or the
liquor store as his only friend, but we have made some exceptions.  One of them is the group Friends, where a couple of the members disappeared after their career ended.
But the groups singer, Anders Peedu, realized that the story of Friends could also serve as a warning to others.

Friends was a tough rhythm n blues group who even at the beginning of their career managed to get some headlines, but those headlines werent always about their music. Friends began by winning second place in a competition at Kingside to choose Stockholms Rolling Stones.  (It was the Merrymen who won first place.)  Later that same year the press wrote about FriendsEyoung drummer, 12-year-old Thomas Skogsberg,
who was not allowed by the authorities to play drums after 8 oclock in the evening. It was considered too strenuous for a 12-year-old boy to work so late!  But Friends got the most attention after they began performing a bit of striptease on stage,
though fans thought the group was too talented to have to resort to that kind of stunt.

While many musicians have cited Friends as one of the better bands, the group didnt get their big breakthrough.  One reason was because, just like The Namelosers, Friends refused to compromise when it came to their song material.  According to Anders Peedu, the group was once asked to record Cadillac,Ebut a couple of the band members wanted
to concentrate on other material.  Friends also had a chance for that breakthrough when they appeared on the TV show Hylands Hörna,Ebut a technical problem caused interference, and the only sound that reached TV viewers was an annoying hum.

Then things went really wrong for the group.  One of the band members drank himself to death, and another ended up in a mental hospital as a result of prolonged drug abuse.Anders Peedu is very critical of the industry: Friends is an example of what can happen when young, in many cases very talented people end up in the clutches of exploiters in an always ruthless record and entertainment industry, where extortion of artists for a quick profit is the rule rather than the exception.  It was stupid so-called adults who helped to kill those members of Friends.E/font>

Singles:
1965 Empty Handed/It Aint Necessarily So
1965 Git It/Talking About You
1966 Hes In Town/Joe McCartney

ANNAABEE-NOX

Vällingby/Stockholm

Ola Hammarlund (vocals), Kent Millholt (guitar), Rolf Bood (now Sundberg) (guitar), Carl-Erik Swartz (bass guitar), Hans Södergren (drummer), Ulf Åslund (bass guitar), Björn Widing (guitar)

The group was formed in February 1963 by Kent Millholt, Carl-Erik Swartz, and Rolf Bood.  Before their first engagement at the Storstugan in Vaxholm, they also recruited Hans Södergren.  At first the group called themselves Sparklings and some time later Snuffs.  Ola Hammarlund often shared a rehearsal location with Annaabee-Nox members at the youth centre in Östermalm.  They were very impressed with his vocal abilities, and soon Hammarlund became a member of the band, a Noxare.E/font>

Youll surely be wondering why a group would give itself as unlikely a name as Annaabee-Nox, but its not strange at all Eaccording to one newspaper, you needed only to say the word konstisbanaE(a skating rink) backwards. . .

In January 1964 they debuted with their new lineup.  The groups look and image were well-suited to the 1960s, with their long hair and sensational costumes, and their reputation spread quickly around Stockholm.  The groups first manager was Jörgen Viking, but he was soon replaced by Lennart Lindström, who also was manager for, among others, the group Shanes.  Lindström arranged a record contract for Annaabee-Nox with EMI Records, and in August of 1965 their debut single, Where Have You Been,Ewas released.

By this time the group wanted to conquer the rest of Sweden, and Lennart Lindström booked them as part of his group tours.  The first tour included Shanes, Strangers, together with folksinger Thorstein Bergman.  In such company you had to stand out Eor so thought Annaabee-Nox Eand they had costumes made in all the colours of the rainbow!  They even practisedEthese same stage shows.  Local newspapers wrote long articles about the band, and both Annaabee-Nox members and manager Lindström were more than pleased.  Less pleased, however, were rival bands, who refused to go on stage after Annaabee-Nox appearances.

Nothing was against the rules when it came to winning over an audience.  During a group tour, Annaabee-Nox ended every performance with Buzz Cliffords old hit Baby SittinEBoogie.Enbsp; Before that song , Kent Millholt made his entry on stage in a baby carriage and dressed in baby clothes.  Now, he could have stopped at this fairly inoffensive antic, but Kent didnt limit himself to that.  As part of the show he also faked urinating in a chamber pot that he carried with him and then poured the contents over Ola Hammarlund.  He then finished the song by hitting Hammarlund on the head with the chamber pot!

Unfortunately, Annaabee-Nox were never really able to turn their energy and zaniness into record sales, and they remained conspicuously absent from the charts.  A further decline in their career came about when the group changed production companies and signed with TagesErecording company, Segat.  The company didnt book Annaabee-Nox to the extent the group would have liked, which gave rise to disagreements that eventually led to the breakup of the band.

In 1966 Carl-Erik Swarz left the group and was replaced by Ulf Åslund from Blue Clinters.  Then Ola Hammarlund left also.  After the suggestive single Anna Be NiceE(the groups best song together with the Tommy Blom and Göran Lagerberg composition Playboy On The RunE, the group split up.  They made a brief comeback in 1974 by appearing at Club Malmen in Stockholm, at an event that was called Pop 65-69.E/font>

The Shanes



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 year song Tio I Topp  KvällstoppenE/font>
1963 Gunfight Saloon 10 18
1964  Keep-A-Knockin 7 8
1964 Let Me Show You Who I Am 1 10
1965 I Don't Want Your Love  6 14
1966 Blue Feeling  6 6
1966 Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo 2 2
1967 Can I Trust You 2 5
1967 Let Me Tell Yah 7 17
1967 Chris-Craft No. 9 9 24
1967 Drip-Drop 2 12
1967 Save The Last Dance For Me 4 9
1968 Cara Mia  5 5

 

Staffan Berggren (guitar/vocals), Tommy Wahlberg (guitar/vocals), Svante Elfgren (bass guitar), Tor-Erik Rautio (drummer), Lennart Grahn (vocals), Kit Sundqvist (electric organ/piano/vocals), Rolf Carvenius (various wind instruments)

Twenty-five years later it is easy to think that the Shanes should have made better use of their talent.  They had among them, of course, more than enough songwriters.  In the beginning Staffan Berggrens rhythm-and-blues-influenced songs dominated.  After he had been sacked from the band, Tor-Erik Rautio declared on the album The ShanegangEthat he and Lennart Grahn would astound Sweden!  However, their collaboration didnt last too long.  In 1966 Kit Sundqvist began to stand out more and more as the most important songwriter.

So there was plenty of talent in the group, and singles like Let Me Show You Who I Am,EI Dont Want Your Love,EChris-Craft No. 9,Eand Drip-DropEsound first-rate even today.  However, the group recorded many other songs (Dont Try To  Make A Fool Of Me,EPeople Dont Like Me,ELike Before,ENobody,EHey There, Sunbeams,Ejust to name a few) which definitely did not do very well as singles.  Yet the group chose songs like Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo,E Save The Last Dance For Me,Eand Cara Mia,Eand even the albums contain perhaps too many well-known cover songs.  As with so many other groups, there wasnt too much time left over for recording, and when they did get the chance in a proper studio in London, the result was songs like Chris-Craft No. 9.Enbsp; Its a shame that there wasnt more time for such work.

The Shanes were the first of four big pop groups (the others were Hep Stars, Tages, and Ola & The Janglers) to emerge in Sweden.  Tor-Erik Rautio, Tommy Wahlberg, and Stefan Nordin began to practise together when they were young, but Nordin didnt stay with the group very long.  Instead, Rautio and Wahlberg joined Staffan Berggren and Svante Elfgren, and now the group just needed a name.  One evening Staffan Berggren saw the George Stevens film Shane,Eand the bands name was decided.  The ShanesEpopularity grew even more, and in the spring of 1963 on their debut single they played the instrumental tune Gunfight Saloon.Enbsp; Surprisingly, it went to the Top Ten, though the song only stayed there a week.

Many of the ShanesEearly singles were instrumental tunes with cowboy themes in the titles.  One exception was Oh, Wow!Efrom the fall of 1963, which could be considered the first Swedish pop song of the 1960s.  In the fall of 1964 the lineup grew with the addition of Lennart Grahn, who earlier had played with a band from Luleå, Sweden, called the Marshalls.  Grahn recounted in an interview that for a long time he had dreamed of becoming a member of the Shanes and was thrilled when his wish came true.

At the close of 1964 the Shanes recorded Let Me Show You Who I Am,Eand by then it had been a while since the group had been in the Top Ten.  The band members knew that an election was to take place in Luleå.  They drove there and set themselves up across the street from where the voting would take place.  The band members saw to it that the young people who were voting noticed them, and they signed lots of autographs.  In the election the Shanes got 97 percent of the votes in Luleå... (Involved in similar well-known incidents were Lee Kings and the Science Poption; even the Hep Stars made a little coup in Uppsala in 1965.)

But at the beginning of 1965 the Shanes got their big breakthrough, and for a period of two and a half years the group traveled around Sweden and were chased by hysterical fans.  The only cloud in the sky was when Staffan Berggren was fired from the group and replaced by Stockholmer Kit Sundqvist (all the band members now lived in Stockholm.).  The other members had thought that Berggren was much too dominant and that he wanted to play songs that were too difficult.  He was also the least popular member in the band.  (Berggren ended up in the group Violents for a short time.)  Berggrens importance, however, should not be underestimated.  He was the groups most hardworking composer in the beginning, in a class by himself.

Then there came the discussion about long hair.  In 1965 the members of the Shanes had hair considerably longer than the BeatlesE and the press was not kind towards the group.  Long-haired scumEwas one of the abusive terms heard, and it was not always so easy for the group to get into restaurants.

PJ Proby critiqued the ShanesE song Its Allright BabeE These fellows remind me of the Yardbirds, although they are much better than the Yardbirds.  The lead singer reminds me of the great Eric Burdon from the Animals.  A good record from a group that knows its business.E/font>

Besides a few little incidents, nothing seemed to be able to shake the popularity of the Shanes.  In the spring of 1967, however, came shocking news: four of the band members were forced to do their military service.  Kit Sundqvist, who was younger than the others, asked to be able to join the others (which he eventually got to do).  During their military service in Boden, the group strengthened their popularity with the hit songs Save The Last Dance For MeEand Cara Mia.Enbsp; When their military service was over, however, they discovered to their surprise that the Swedish pop tideEunfortunately was on its way out.  A number of groups had broken up, and others realized that they would have to sing in Swedish to remain popular.

The Shanes instead wanted to update and modernize in a different way and took in Rolf Carvenius to play various wind instruments.  He toured with the group during 1968 and 1969, but in the end the group realized that that meant surrendering to Swedish top-40 music.  Svante Elfgren and Tor-Erik Rautio left the group after a time, while the rest made a few singles in Swedish, among them a version of Lady MadonnaE(Hej Fröken SommarE, but without having much success with them.  Besides, on the recordings it was German studio musicians who played backup.  To use studio musicians was then very common.  Rolf CarveniusEdescription sums up the phenomenon very well: After we made a recording, Anders HenkanEHenriksson would bring in Lasse Samuelsons band or some other one and they would play. In this way, you never knew if you were included or not.  They could let me play saxophone for an hour, but when the record came out in the end, you didnt hear any saxophone.  You thought: Well, I didnt get to be on it this time.E/font>

In 1969 Bildjournalen did an interview with TorraERautio, who at the time was working as a youth leader.  He summed up the development of pop music from 1964 to 1969 quite well: Pop is not dead.  As music... perhaps.  But pop changed while we stood still.  It broadened, grew deeper.  It became clothing, things, a whole world, a lifestyle, protests.  Pop still lives and is becoming more political now.  Soon pop will be just politics.E/font>

About 10 years after the group disbanded, the Shanes began to play again (although of the former members it was only Lennart Grahn and Tommy Wahlberg) and has become one of our most popular dance bands.

But certainly we still wonder how that perfect pop record would have sounded...

The CONS COMBO
Katrineholm/Argentina














Katrineholm: Ingemar Söderlund (vocals), Conny Söderlund (guitar/vocals), Johannes Ljungkvist (guitar), Ulf Hellqvist (bass), Nils Sandström (saxophone), Christer Söderlund (drums)
Argentina: Conny Söderlund (guitar/vocals), Bo Gathu (bass), Owe Monk (Johansson) (electric organ/piano/vocals)

Four hundred TV appearances in five years!  No, we are not talking about Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, or Madonna.  Of the almost 500 biographies in this book, the story of Cons Combo is certainly the most unique.  Now, being on TV is perhaps not so sensational.  For example, it probably takes quite a while to count up the number of times the Beatles and Rolling Stones were on television.  But that number likely doesnt come close to the around 400 (!) times that Cons Combo appeared on TV Eand this was during a time period of only five years!

Of course, many people will wonder why theyve never even heard of this group.  Well, were not talking here about Swedish or European TV.  This is South American TV, in particular Argentinean TV.  The members of Cons Combo spent nine years in Argentina, with side trips to other South American countries.  There are certainly not many music collectors who know that the group made a number of singles as well as three albums during their time in Argentina, but the group were pretty much superstars in that country Eone of our first and certainly least-known pop exports.

All of this was a long way from the groups beginnings back in Katrineholm in the early 1960s.  It was the Söderlund brothers who started the band, and eventually their cousin, Ingemar Söderlund, became a guest performer in the group.  Though Ingemar had his own record contract, he was not really a pop or rock singer.  However, before Ingemar joined Cons Combo, they made an EP that Owe Monk had put on the Swedish charts as a member of the duo the Vagabonds called Sommar i StockholmE(Summer in Stockholm).

Some years later Conny Söderlund, Bo Gathu, and Owe Monk met two fellows from the South American group Lecuona Cuban Boys.  They got together and did a tour in Finland.  Osvaido Venini then suggested that they should travel to Argentina, where there were plenty of gigs, and Cons Combo made the unique decision to move there.  Although Venini himself left after only a year in Argentina, it turned out that there was plenty of work and record contracts there for Cons Combo.  During their busiest period, the group appeared three times a week on TV.  The members even became good friends with the beatnik group the Shakers (who have achieved cult status among collectors of 1960s pop music with their album Break It AllE from Uruguay.

In 1968 Cons Combo represented Sweden at a song festival that took place in Brazil.  There were 34 countries taking part (Canada was represented by Paul Anka), and Cons Combo won 10th place.  Just like the Beatles, Cons Combo even had their own guru to encourage the group (although he probably was more interested in just being a groupie).

Argentinean singles were played at 33 rpm, something unusual which could lead to misunderstandings.  When Conny Söderlund appeared solo on a TV program from Los Angeles around 1969-70, he was to lip-sync one of the singles by Cons Combo.  A problem arose when someone set the record at 45 rpm.  Just at that moment, punk music was invented.

In the mid-1970s the members of the group moved back to Sweden, but they can certainly feel very pleased with their pioneering achievements.
 

TheBEATHOVENS

Bengt Andersson (now Toll)(vocals/guitar), Pontus Olsson (guitar/vocals), Bo Palmqvist (bass/vocals), Karl-Arne Linder (drums), Hans Melin (guitar/vocals), Ulf Widding (vocals/guitar)

For Christmas in 1963 Pontus Olsson got the best Christmas present that a teenager could get in those days, a guitar.  A few months later the Beathovens debuted at the Gillet club in Motala.  The boys were skilled musicians and had already been playing classical music for some time.  The group took their name from a Stockholm band called the Beethovens.  (There was also a Danish band called the Beethovens.)

The Beathovens were a band that were ahead of their time, coming, as they did, from small-town Sweden.  Among other things, they experimented with light-shows on stage and music from Bach to the Stones.  The people in Motala werent always impressed, and they found the groups name somewhat offensive.  However, the band worked hard to get record contracts, and to help them, they had an energetic manager, Per Månson.  They recorded a demo of Let Me Go,Eand a producer at Triola, Beppo Gräsman (a former member of Gals & Pals), became interested.

The problem for the Beathovens was that they didnt come from the big city,E and they were never really given a chance to show what they could do.  In interviews they also complained about how booking agents in Stockholm froze out all the groups who didnt live there Egave them poor wages and treated them unfairly.
 
 

original article from Stora Popboken translated by H.Mcneill

Tages/Blond
Hepstars
Namelosers

Steampacket,Friends, Annabee-Nox  ,The Shanes,
The Con's Combo,The Beathovesns

English Translation of Stora Popboken 3 CD

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