My first band was called Green Onions and was started in 1966. We played
soul and blues from the start and had several gigs with good response. One
night we were booked in on a dance floor outside Bergen who was usually
listepop and folk. After three songs on stage began some "tough guys" in the
audience to throw bricks at us, and we had to escape out of the room through
the back door!
In 1968 we started Alfonso Band. Blues were now more accepted as a dance /
concert music. We had many jobs, but with a constantly changing the lineup.
From 1970 I was for long periods in London. I worked as a street musician
and was also at many festivals and clubs. I saw and heard most of what is
played live in England at that time. I lived on the "vagabond" and was so
called Hungry John.
In 1975 I started Bergen Blues Band together with Per Jørgensen (guitar),
Edvard Askeland (bass), Kåre Sandvik (piano) and Willy Korneliussen (tr). I
played bass in Alfonso Band, but when we got Edward, who were the best bass
player, I sold the bass. The other band was also to be "the best" on their
instruments in the city, so the band got a good start. One of the strengths
was that we presented self-composed material. I have ever made about a
hundred songs. The band released three LPs: Bergen Blues Band (1980),
Another Blues (1981) and Blues Hit Me (1983). When we released our first LP,
we ended up right on the charts. At that time there was something called Top
Europe. We were in the 5th place there. My perhaps the best song, Jump 'n
Shout' n Dance, was number 1 in Ireland. The three LP sold a total of over
60,000 items. We toured all over Scandinavia. Our songs were played on the
radio in the USA and Australia. I was in a meeting we Capitol / EMI in Los
Angeles and we were very close to being launched by a major company.
As the music started the interest in the BBB to diverge too much, and I
started as a result of the Hungry John and The Blue Shadows in 1985. We
recorded 3 CD's: Nice Guys (1986), Live (1990) and Hungry John and The Blue
Shadows (1991). We had the same crew on all the plates: Bjorn Aasheim
(guitar), Arild Seim (guitar), Atle Mjørlang (bass) and Gunnar Bergström
(tr) in addition to the undersigned.
In 1983/84, I was in Tor Einar Jacobsen's project, the Chicago Blues
Meeting. I had great experiences with this band in the U.S. in 1983, where
we among other things, was recorded in Chess Studios in Chicago. Here I
played with, among others Sven Zetterberg, Sunnyland Slim, Knut Reiersrud,
Bob Strøget, Kristin Berglund, SP Leary, and Zora Young. (Chess Studio is
now a museum. I was there visiting in summer). In 1984 we toured with the
band in Norway. The two LP from the time the Blues Meeting in Chicago and
the Chicago Blues meeting in Scandinavia.
During the same period we also had band Blues Union with this line in 1983:
Ole Thomsen (guitar), Pete York of Spencer Davis Group (tr), Colin
Hodgkinson (bass) and me on harmonica and vocals. In 1984, Colin started in
Whitesnake and Mel Thorpe and Bill Coleman came on bass and sax / flute. We
toured in Norway and Germany. We were offered a recording contract, but were
never able to agree with the company on conditions.
Who you play with now?
Today I play with my band Hungry John with Atle Johannessen (guitar), axle
(bass) and Gunnar Bergström (tr). Since I work full time with the blues, I
have time to several projects in parallel. The first priority is Hungry John
Cooper band that we first of all. Moreover, I have a program about blues
history as I run by the Norwegian Concert traveling around the schools. I
also have a band in Finland, Wentus Blues Band, which I travel with at
times. I also work alone and have guest appearances with friends.
Anecdotes - Great experiences
The fact that I met and became friends with Alexis Korner ("The British
blues father") has meant a lot to me. We played together several times, and
I was once "one of the guys." Korner was also the reason why I was asked to
join the band to Pete York. Suddenly, we played in Germany for a full house!
In -70 I heard Son House and Alan Wilson at 100 Club in London and Canned
Heat with the original crew. In 1983 I met Paul Butterfield in the Lone Star
in New York. I bought me a whiskey, and the result was that we ended 3 days
"on a drunk." (Colin Hodgkinson played with Butterfield.)
Blues Meeting in Chicago was a wonderful experience: Plate Shooting plus
two-month tour in the United States. We were in many jam sessions and played
support for Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz. I could write a long story only
from the trip!
Atle Johannessen and I was in Chicago again last summer. We played such at
Buddy Guy's Legend and Blue Monday.
I use both Lee Oskar and the Marine Band. Lee Oskar is most easily performed
and can be recommended for beginners, while the Marine Band is a little
harder to bend notes. Choice of harmonica is eventually a matter of taste, I
also play chromatic harmonica.
Amplifiers and accessories
I play em JMS Harmonica amplifier and an astatic microfon. I am very pleased
with JMS'en, big fat sound and no feedback problems. If you use the amp on
harmonica, there should be a tube of at least 40W and four 10-inch speakers.
I also have a Fender Super Reverb amp. I also play directly in ON if I want
a pure acoustic sound.
Tips to Mouth Players
Never borrow over mouth game! The Perón. Play carefully in the beginning of
new games, and step in when they're recorded. Wipe the like of the games
after use, so they are not wet with saliva. When they last longer. I have my
game around. 2 years. The chromatic last longer. I have a Hohner chromatic
I've had in 30 years, and it is as good as new! Advice to the other band
members: If you do not hear the harmonica when it is down solo ...... sku