Thanks in part to the phenomenal success of ABBA, Sweden has suddenly become an important pop country. Some examples: Sven & Charlotte with their 'Bang-A-Boomerang', Harpo with 'Moviestar', Blue Swede with 'Hooked On A Feeling' and Bo Hansson with his music accompanying the book 'The Lord Of Rings'.
The Hep Stars were the frontrunners of this Swedish pop explosion. They were the first pop group from that country that scored hits all over Europe and whose records were released in America (on Dunhill).
The story of the Hep Stars begins at the end of 1963 when guitar player Lennart Heglund and drummer Christer Petersson ran into each other during their military service with the air force. Their mutual hobby music soon started to pay off, so that they decided to form a pop group after their military service. Jan Frisk was hired as a solo guitarist and he would also do the vocals. An organ player was hired as well, but the archives don't mention his name anymore. After a couple of months his job was taken over by Benny Andersson. It soon turned out that the band needed a proper singer as well, that was found in Sven Hedlund which completed the line up. Their first try on record failed. Their single 'Kana Kapila' was hardly noticed. That's why the boys started looking for good songs abroad. Soon the right songs were found and recorded, like Mike Berry's 'Tribute to Buddy Holly' (already then!), the ancient 'Farmer John' and 'Cadillac', which became their first truly big hit. This song was initially recorded by The Renegades, a British group that moved to Finland to find the success that they couldn't find in their home country. The Hep Stars recorded a cover of this song and that established their name.
At the end of 1965 a live album was released, called 'Hep Stars On Stage' and that record made clear why the Hep Stars were the most important Swedish group in 1965. The album is one of the finest rock 'n' roll live records and it even far outshines the group's studio albums from that time.
The first two Hep Stars albums mainly consisted of covers, but after a while they also started to compose songs themselves. Especially Benny Andersson and Sven Hedlund were very productive in that department. At this stage, the musical approach of the group also changed. The tough rock was exchanged for music that was more mellow. The big example of singer Sven Hedlund was Elvis Presley. Sven even recorded an album full of songs of his idol.
Around this time, Benny also met Björn Ulvaeus, the lead singer of the Swedish folk group the Hootenanny Singers. The first song they composed together can be found on the fourth Hep Stars album: 'Isn't It Easy To Say'.
The international breakthrough of the Hep Stars was finally achieved in 1968. 'Sunny Girl' became a hit in our country and soon Germany and the other countries on the European continent followed. The follow-up was 'Music Box', perhaps a little less striking but still good for a couple of decent chart placings. After this sudden success things started to go wrong with the Hep Stars. Singer Sven Hedlund brought in his American girlfriend Charlotte Walker. Charlotte is known from the American girl group The Sherries who scored a hit in 1962 with 'Pop-Pop-Pop-Pie', good for a gold record. A nice addition to the group, but not everyone agrees. Sven decides to leave the group with his girlfriend. Benny Andersson quits as well and that sealed the group's fate.
Sven started recording with Lotte and now they are a popular duo in Scandinavia, where they are known as Svenne & Lotta. Abroad they are simply called Sven & Charlotte. Meanwhile they have recorded two albums together that both achieved gold status for sales in Sweden and Denmark. Benny started working at Polar Records, Stig Anderson's record company, where he became a producer together with his friend Björn Ulvaeus. In 1970, they recorded an album together called 'Lycka' (Happiness) for which they called in their girlfriends to help them out. That album certainly brought happiness for Benny and Björn, because it was the start of a new success story.