Saturday, January 15, 2011


The Hep Stars

Click above to hear "She Will Love You."

They were dubbed by the musical press as "The Swedish Beatles," and while they certainly had the hair, their musical output was closer to Buddy Holly than the Fab Four. The group formed in 1963 with Svenne Hedlund (lead vocals), Janne Frisk (guitar), the late Christer Pettersson (drums), Lelle Hegland (bass) and Hans Östlund on keyboards. Following the release of their first single, Östlund left the band and was replaced by future ABBA maestro Benny Andersson.

While little known outside of Scandinavia, the popularity of The Hep Stars at home should not be underestimated. Flocks of screaming girls followed the band from venue to venue, creating a scene reminiscent of Beatlemania in the UK. While their (mostly) English lyrics were a bit clumsy at times (Andersson later admitted that he simply translated the Swedish word-for-word from a dictionary), musically the band was quite accomplished.
As the band evolved and changed focus (to the chagrin of some band members), Hedlund's wife Charlotte "Lotta" Walker came on board (Walker was an American-born singer who had performed with The Sherrys) and the band adopted a more standard pop sound.

Hedlund, Andersson and Walker would leave the group in 1969, and the band fell apart. Hedlund and Walker formed the cabaret pop duo "Svenne and Lotta," while Andersson joined Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad to form the legendary ABBA.

The Hep Stars had their biggest hit with "Sunny Girl," which was one of the first songs Andersson claims to be especially proud of. The song, along with other hits such as "Cadillac" and "Speedy Gonzales" turns up quite regularly on compilation CDs, while lesser-known tracks such as the rollicking "She Will Love You" (which comes across as a marriage of Buddy Holly and Herman's Hermits) are often forgotten. Until now!

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