Georg Wadenius Interview By Dave Callow
What have been some of the major influences on your style developing over the years?
Your name has appeared on recordings by one of the leading underground groups from Sweden, one of the top international groups, people like Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, and many others. Who have impressed you the most and why?
Are there any of your compositions which others have recorded but not on you own CDs?
No - they are all on my own
Cumulatively, spanning your entire career up to today, how many compositions are recorded but not yet released?
In terms of material for my own CDs, my back catalogue is about 25 tracks at this time. But this excludes my work for TV, theatre, and material for future solo CDs I will work on.
Do you choose to play any other instruments or specialize in guitar?
I have preferred to specialize in guitar. In the early days it was mostly bass, but from when I formed the first Made In Sweden group (1968) onwards, it changed to lead and mostly stayed that way.
How did it performing in public start ?
I started near to 1963. The earliest group was 4-piece, formed the next year with fellow medical students! A translation of the name is "The Fuses. I played bass, we performed at the Romanian holiday resort of Mamaya for about a month, and after that an album was released in that country. It included four Beatles inspired tracks.
I then worked as a studio musician in Sweden, almost always as a bass player. During that time, the most notable sessions I recorded on included those by Bjorn Jason Lind and Pough Rogfeldt. There were also appearances at the Eurofestivals in Sweden - for instance, I both played and arranged for Cornelius Vreeswijk.
By then it was about late 1967. Next thing I did was to form and lead the first version of the Made In Sweden group in 1968.
I understand you had a fair bit of success with that group.
Well, I won Grammy awards for the "With Love" and "Snakes In A Hole" albums.
Whilst you were leading this Made In Sweden line-up, you also released a children's album in 1969. How did "Hello Hello" ("Goda Goda") Metronome 0630-18872-2 come about?
Though I cannot remember it being released as an album, during the first year of leading Made In Sweden, I also wrote music for a children's play dryly entitled "Life Is Beautiful". Swedish TV programming got to know of it and sent me Barbo Lindgren's lyrics. These were inspirational, I wrote 6 pieces in one afternoon ! The following year, it merited huge radio play, became a cult hit, and my third Grammy award. To this day, you can go into several music store in Scandinavia, and they know this album.
Was there a change of direction after that for the next couple of years? The first edition of Made In Sweden had run its course, and you also had the cult hit to your name as a solo. I understand that you then composed the music to some more theatre?
During that time there was a mix of activities, music for a couple of plays (one called "Big Claes, Little Claes"), different performances, and various project partnerships including that with Carl-Axel and Monica Dominique.
Tell Us A Little About The Solar Plexus album E 154-34573/4 EMI label (1971)
That really grew out of the work with Car-Axel and Monica, of course. Though this band recorded more than one album, but I only played on the first as BS&T called. There was some spontaneous experimentation in studio that found its way onto the album.
1972 was a very busy year for you, I believe? You joined BS&T but before that you had been occupied with several projects?
As I mentioned, I had to leave Solar Plexus for BS&T, but at that time had also written music for two TV animation series. These were "The Man That Didn't Grow Up" and "Charlie's' Climbing Tree". The second of these continues to be shown all over the world to this day.
Before you joined BST how did you regard their music ? Of course, most had heard the second album, but what about, say, "Child Is Father To The Man" and "BS&T 4", the one just before you joined?
I thought the first album was distinctive, and the fourth had some strong songs.
How did you get the opportunity to join BS&T?
I met Stefan Grossman in Stockholm and came to know him. He knew BS&T in general, Steve Katz in particular, and recommended me. I was not auditioning for other bands then, but as it was a good opportunity, flew out to do so.
I understand that when you joined Richard Halligan and Fred Lipsius were still part of BS&T ?
"Crows Funeral" (Krabikaven), released on a single, was just in time to be arranged by Richard, and for both him and Freddie to participate on it. Freddie moved on because he seemed to want something new. (We played together again some ten years later on the Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour, though). Dick soon followed him because of his difficulties of having to fly long distance to our New York base from San Francisco.
1972 NEW BLOOD
Had the Doyle, Halligan, and Henderson line-up continued, in what ways do you think the music would have differed compared to "New Blood"
I think more blues influence would have been heard.
After "New Blood" was recorded - I note you co-arranged the track "Velvet" - more personnel changes followed?
After a while, Steve Katz perhaps came to feel somewhat marginalised and now I was there too, making three guitarists for the first time in the band. As for Chuck Winfield, he lost conviction, told us, and resigned before we could worry. He was decent about it.
Tom Malone, like Jerry, Lou and Larry before him, was recruited for his sheer musicianship. Though he is such a wide-ranging multi-instrumentalist, I think of him also as a brilliant trombonist.
1973 NO SWEAT and LIVE IN STOCKHOLM
Did your songwriting partnership with the formidable Cynthia Weil result in any other songs for BS&T but which were not recorded?
Two tracks. "Sometimes", which appeared some three years later on the "Where Do We Begin" album by the second Made In Sweden group, and "The Great White Hunter", which is unreleased.
Was there any other BS&T material that was not included for one reason or another ?
Another two. One became the title track to the "Where Do We Begin" album, the other was "Harriet" which appeared four years later on my first solo album.
More BS&T staff changes next ?
Jerry Fisher and Bill Tillman recommended Anthony Klatka. He had been recording and, particularly, arranging for Woody Herman. We were much aware of his arranging capabilities. (Ron McLure says for himself how he came to join the band in his interview on Jeremiah's website).
1974 - MIRROR IMAGE
What happened for DCT to rejoin? What was the sequence of events?
Jerry LaCroix did not like to share lead vocal duties. Anyway, Luther Kent replaced him for just a few months. Then Jerry Fisher wanted to stop touring, and in the end Ken and Jerry left pretty much at the same time. Bobby, together with the band's manager Fred Heller, engineered David back as a "fait accompli" in the hope of restoring the former level of business anyway.
Luther Kent is a BS&T name I am not familiar with.
He came from New Orleans, physically he is a very big man ! I would like to mention that since you asked about staff changes, I have tried to help, but should point out that really, this is something that each individual should tell you for themselves. I can only give my best understanding of how things were back then.
Anything else about 1975 we could know about?
Well, I wrote the music to a TV show called "The Man Who Didn't Want To grow Up".
1975-6 NEW CITY / LIVE AND IMPROVISED
I was a little surprised you did not write with DCT or others in the various line-ups
At that time I was inclined to be a loner as far as composing is concerned
During that phase of your career, who were your closest musical allies?
Since leaving, have you attended any BS&T reunion concerts?
Up till now, no concerts, though Jerry Fisher, Tom, Lou and myself met up socially in New York a while back. Also, I made a point of meeting up with Ron when he was in Stockholm in 1998 playing jazz with a Swedish quartet.
After BS&T there was a second edition of Made In Sweden. This line-up seemed more democratic?
Yes, we planned it that way. I recruited other notable names into the group like Tommy Korberg who was the vocalist for "Chess". In order to make the album as strong as possible, we all contributed. We recorded "Where Do We Begin" (Love LRCD 207) (1976)
What came next?
By 1977 I had been in leading national and international groups. It was time to record another solo album. It was titled simply with my own name. Released in 1978 by the EMI company's Frituna label in Sweden (code Frituna 01252), it includes a solo version of "Where Do We Begin"
I also recorded a follow up to the cult hit "Hello Hello (Goda Goda)" called "Kiss Kiss, True True (Puss Puss, Sant Sant
After completing a contract to perform on the prestige New York TV show "Saturday Night Live" Band, you then played with Simon and Garfunkel on their reunion tour (with Fred Lipsius). Next was another solo album "Cleo" (Four Leaf Clover FLC-CD 5097) (1987). You recorded the first three tracks during 1984 in New York but there was a gap of three years before the other four were laid down in Stockholm and the album released. Why the gap?
Two reasons. First, a lot of good opportunities came my way during the interim years. Second, huge publicity costs. By the way, a couple of points of interest are that the title track developed out of the main theme for the prestigious "Clio" advertisement awards programme that I wrote, and a short promo "Cleo" video has now been released by the Four Leaf Clover label in Stockholm.
1996 onwards GeWaDoKa and other
I remember you composed music for two plays and a TV Series, but next there was a partnership ?
Doug Katsaros and I got together to record "Left Turn From The Right Lane" BMG 74321 49830 2 (1997). This is to be re-released in Spring '99 under our own names, remaining on the BMG label. The music is good, it is just that it was originally released under the name GeWaDoKa whereas our own full names are better known.
I understand you have done just a few concerts for the children's music market in Sweden ?
"Hello Hello (Goda Goda)" was a landmark in the Swedish music industry, and remains well known by the general public today. It would not be sense not to maintain public interest in that aspect of my music
I notice that all the Made In Sweden albums are sung in English. Are English translations of the Swedish lyrics on "Godda Godda" (Hello Hello) , " Solar Plexus" and "Puss Puss, Sant Sant" (Kiss Kiss, True True) available?
Not at this time.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
"Left Turn From The Right Lane" included just one track "Slick Willie" where you do lead vocals. Is there any conscious decision as to increasing content of vocal work for future ?
Looking back at that album, perhaps I regret not singing more. As to the future, no fixed plan is in place, rather it will depend on the nature of what I am working on at the time.
You produced "Cleo" , and were one of the 3 producers for "Left Turn". Do you plan to do more production work from now on, thus exerting greater control on musical direction?
I will continue to produce my own work, but also to increase my productions for other Scandinavian artists.
How about doing artwork /photography for CD & sleeve notes
This has not really been where my best results are!
Do you intend now to focus on work as a solo artist ? Or is variety including TV & film track work planned?
It is very different for me in Sweden. Whereas in America, work could change almost daily. In Scandinavia I have almost an entire year filled in advance, and including quite a wide variety. Just a few examples are plans to supervise some guitar masterclasses, disciplining myself to compose more, and also to spend some weeks recording new material.
Of course, things can always change, so don't hold me to this! That having said, though, at this time one of the initiatives I am considering is the possibility of a commercial website.
The website likely could take quite some time to get organized. I hope it will be hosted locally to myself so I can easily update details of my forthcoming appearances, but also add other information.
In terms of new music, I hope to be doing three or four albums, reflecting my love of variety. It is not all of them, but just some of the concepts include one in a more meditative style, somewhat like Swedish and Norwegian folk music, but contributing original elements. Also another but in a big band jazz style, including appropriate new arrangements of some of my work from "Cleo" and "Hello Hello". Again, my solos would be out front.
Georg, many thanks for your time.
Copyright 1999 David Callow