ABBA's Janne Schaffer, Five Man Electrical Band Kelly Lang


Sweden's greatest guitarist - Janne Schaffer

Let’s head to Sweden to meet that country’s most famous songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work playing with the smash hit group, ABBA. In our interview from Stockholm, Janne Schaffer talks of his experience building his own guitar in school when he was just 12 years old. He tells us stories of how his disapproving father came to a gig one night to haul him off the stage and how he had to continue practicing and playing in secret. He talks about how he formed a friendship with ABBA’s Benny Andersson and how it was, in part, his efforts that brought Agnetha and Anni-Frid into the group. Janne has a great story to tell that also includes hanging out and recording with artists like Bob Marley and Johnny Nash

Janne Schaffer works with Beny Andersson to create Abba

As one of the most prominent guitarists and session musicians in Sweden, Janne Schaffer has played with almost everyone at home, and quite a few important bands abroad. He also successfully pursued a career as a solo artist in the ’70s, when he topped the charts and won some recognition abroad. For a younger generation in Sweden, Schaffer is probably most well-known for being the guitar-playing zebra in Electric Banana Band, a platinum-selling band from a children’s television show.

Schaffer was born in Stockholm just after the war. During the ’60s, he was a member of a number of pop bands, including Noisemen, Chicks, and Ted and the Caracas, none of them becoming very well-known. After touring for a while, he returned to school and Stockholm, where he formed the Sleepstones. It was now around 1970, his career as a session musician began, and very soon his reputation earned him the top jobs in Sweden.

Recording 'I Can See Clearly Now' with Johnny Nash

During the ’70s, Schaffer played with famous artists like Ted Gärdestad, Cornelis Wresvijk, and Barbro Hörberg, as well as with international stars like Bob Marley, ABBA, and Johnny Nash.

In 1973, Schaffer released his self-titled solo debut. The album topped the charts, and playing keyboards on it was Björn J:son Lindh, whom Schaffer would work with a lot during most of the ’70s and ’80s. The second album, Janne Schaffer’s Andra, also did well, in fact good enough for his third album, Katharsis, to be released to good reviews worldwide. In the late ’70s, Schaffer played at a number of big jazz festivals. Earmeal from 1979 was recorded together with the brothers and father Porcaro from Toto. Schaffer formed his own record company in 1984. Through the ’80s and ’90s, he wrote film scores and worked together with classical composers. In 1997  the Electric Banana Band reunited.

Electric Banana Band

My chat with Janne Schaffer

What to watch in cinema? Kompromat

This French thriller is a modern-day nail biter with a feel of those classic pictures of the 70’s when the cold war was constantly in the background and the Russians were always the bad guys, well guess what? They’re back and maybe a touch too evil. Kompromat focuses on the life of a French diplomat posted to Siberia who attracts the attention of the Russian Secret Service, which has a host of sinister agendas and coerces his wife to give false evidence against him. Matthew is framed and then locked up in a genuinely scary and brutal, Russian prison, the stuff of nightmares. He later escapes from home detention and his life on the run becomes the plot of this gripping film. He works tirelessly to evade a national manhunt, becomes a pawn in the game of geopolitics and eventually is left to fend for himself. Along the way be has an unlikely relationship with a local Siberian woman. The film is not without it’s flaws but it is compelling and without spoiling it too much, I can tell you the ending will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and holding your breath at same time.

Five Man Electrical Band - SIGNS

The Five Man Electrical Band (known as The Staccatos from 1963 to 1968) is a Canadian rock band from Ottawa, Ontario. They had many hits in Canada, including the top 10 entries “Half Past Midnight” (1967) (as The Staccatos), “Absolutely Right” (1971) and “I’m a Stranger Here” (1972). Internationally, they are best known for their 1971 hit single, Signs.

The band’s first two singles both charted in the mid-50s in Canada. The group’s 1970 album Good-byes and Butterflies created a minor controversy with a front cover picture that featured a marijuana plant; the album was withdrawn and subsequently reissued with a new cover. In 1971, the band had their first international success when their label reissued the second single “Hello Melinda, Goodbye with Signs on the ‘B’ side. Disc jockeys and the public immediately took to “Signs” (written by Les Emmerson); it reached No. 4 in Canada, No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and went to No. 1 in Australia for nearly two months. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In the next few years a number of charting singles were released: “Absolutely Right”, “Money Back Guarantee”, “Werewolf”, “I’m A Stranger Here”, and a few others, all written by Emmerson. Outside of Canada, most were minor hits, but the band continued with a steady flow of releases and concert dates.

The band disbanded a short time later but in 1986, Les Emmerson reformed the group for a series of concert and festival appearances, and continued to tour with them over the following decades. Emmerson retained the rights to the band’s recordings, and has licensed several best-of compilations on CD. The band Tesla also scored a hit with a cover of the song “Signs” on their album in the 1990s. More recently, Fatboy Slim released a 2005 single called Don’t Let the Man Get You Down, based on a looped sample from Signs – specifically the opening line, “And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply.

Signs revived by 1990's group Tesla

Watch my chat with Steve and Mike here

Meet Country Singer Kelly Lang

Infused with soul and passion, singer-songwriter Kelly Lang stands out amongst the best. Having graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, Lang has performed with legends of entertainment spanning all genres of music including Sir Barry Gibb, Ronnie Milsap, Mickey Gilley, George Strait, Brenda Lee, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, TG Sheppard and many more. Her story opens on the road with her father, Velton Lang, the road manager of country legend, Conway Twitty. This is when country music began to take a hold of Lang’s heart. She recorded her first Billboard single, ‘Lady, Lady’ at the age of 15. Bringing her rare distinguished vocal style to the finals of ‘Star Search’, she generated great recognition from mainstream audiences. She works relentlessly balancing a busy career as a performing artist, accomplished songwriter and producer. 

A few of Lang’s songs have been featured in the movie ‘The Deal’, starring Burt Reynolds and have been recorded by artists such as Lorrie Morgan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Crystal Gayle, George Jones, B.J. Thomas, TG Sheppard, The Oak Ridge Boys and Ricky Skaggs. She was invited by Sir Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees to perform “Islands In The Stream” in honour of Kenny Rogers induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame as well as the Grand Ole Opry.

A 16 year breast cancer survivor, Lang lives each day with great enthusiasm and appreciation for life. Here she tells me her story and introduces us to her latest album.

Here’s our interview below

Leave a Reply