I was born in 1946 in middleclass surroundings outside Stockholm, Sweden. Piano lessons in my youth went without any real progress.
Culturally Sweden was isolated with a state owned radio and later television with very limited output. It was like the eastern European states behind the iron curtain. At best, perhaps once a year a song with Louis Jordan or Big Joe Turner was heard on the radio.
Around 1956 records with Elvis Presley came to Sweden. Through my four year older brother I became absolute fascinated and soon had two other favourites whose records I also started to buy: Little Richard and Fats Domino. Still it was very rare to hear Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry on radio or in somebody’s home.
With Elvis in the army and Little Richard quitting R&R I lost interest around 1960 but after seeing the Beatles live in 1963 – while in England studying English – I started buying records again and Chuck Berry in particular.
Back in England in 1964-65 and 1967 I was exposed to many English blues cover-bands like Manfred Mann, Pretty Things, Tridents, Ten Years After, John Mayall and I saw the Rolling Stones, Animals, the Who and Jimi Hendrix while they visited Sweden.
I started buying the originals with blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and Bo Diddley. From 1964 I was attending the American Folk Blues Festivals yearly.
Around late 1964 I heard soul records by Otis Redding, James Brown and Solomon Burke. I was not yet aware that these were brand new recordings while the best blues now released in Europe in most cases were recorded in the 1950s.
In the spring of 1967 the Stax-Volt tour came to Sweden. Up until that time I was not that much different from other record collecting teenagers. Collecting records have been the number one hobby in Sweden for decades. If you heard a great song on the radio chances were that you might never hear it again unless you bought it.
Having bought a fair number of recordings with Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Arthur Conley, Eddie Floyd, Booker T & The MGs and the Mar-Keys I knew what to expect. But it was much better. I was ecstatic and made up my mind to go to America as soon as possible.
A few months later James Brown came to Sweden. It was showmanship at a level never witnessed in Europe before.