Read the story of the Olsen Brothers written by music journalist Ove Nørhave
THE HISTORY OF OLSEN BROTHERS
Jorgen Olsen (born 15 March 1950) and Niels "Noller" Olsen (born 13 April 1954) originate from Odense, Denmark. They moved to Copenhagen with their parents and by the age of 12 and 8 respectively, they started a band called "The Kids" with Morten and Niels Thybo.
In 1965, they supported The Kinks on their visit to Denmark. In 1967, the Kids performed two songs in the movie "Masser af pigttråd". Later that year, The Kids won a musical contest in the Copenhagen Forum.
By 1970, the brothers were simply known as Olsen and changed band members regularly over the years. At one time, Erik Stephensen, now better known as a Danish TV manager and journalist, played the guitar in their band. At this time, Jorgen Olsen was writing most of the group's material.
At the beginning of 1972, Jorgen and Noller auditioned for the hippie musical "Hair" and both got roles. Jorgen had a lead role and on the subsequent album he sang five of the songs and even released the title song in Danish, together with Eddie Skoller.
The brothers had great success in Hair and following this, they contacted managers and record companies to present their own material. The material was very good, and the Olsen Brothers recorded their first album "Olsen" in London with Peter Knight's Orchestra.
Released in 1972 and with all songs in English, this was their first album to sell more than 100,000 copies in Denmark. Suddenly the Olsen Brothers were the greatest all-time Danish pop idols.
This famous duo performed all over Europe - from Copenhagen's Tivoli to Knokke in Belgium. Two singles were released from their first album: "Angelina" and "Jimmy Loves Me". Both singles became great hits on the Danish charts.
By 1973, the Olsen Brothers' posters were to be seen in the rooms of every teenage girl in the country. The hardworking duo had a tight schedule: they played festivals and performed on TV and radio shows in Denmark, at Montreux in Switzerland, Rostock in Germany and Sopot in Poland.
The two singles, "Vienna Express" and the title track from the newest album "For What We Are" were released in 1973. After releasing the single "My Sweet Baby", the brothers wanted to move away from their pop image and by 1974 had released "For the Children of the World" in collaboration with UNICEF. In the same year, the Olsen Brothers performed in Japan at the World Popular Music Festival and in many other places around the world.
In 1975, their only release was the single "Kodachrome"/"Den dag det skete" on which the B-side was their first song in Danish. The brothers needed a pause and after a year, they came back to their worried fans with a lot of new releases; two albums "Back On The Track" and "You're the One" and six very exciting single releases: "Only Lies", "Crack Brain Madonna", "Music Is My Only Friend", You're the One", King Of Rock'n'Roll" and "I Just Saw An Angel".
By the end of 1977, the Olsen Brothers were definitely "back on track" and once again made a big hit at the World Popular Music Festival in Japan. The year 1978 was fairly relaxed and they released a new single "San Francisco"/"Marie" (she was actually very popular in the Olsen family, as you will see later). The single was the first Olsen Brothers release with a Danish song on the A-side and became one of their most sold singles ever. From "Dans, dans, dans", the 1979 album, the title track was released as a single and both single and album remained best-sellers on the charts that year.
All in all, the 1970s were a great period for the Olsen Brothers. Their only release in 1980 was the hit single "Laila" and after a 12-month pause, the duo was back in full force in 1982. The new singles "Marie-Marie" (she's back)/"Feels Like I'm Crazy" (no. 21 in Germany) and "Louise" were some of their most successful releases in Denmark as well as in Germany. The single "Neon Madonna" was their long-awaited 1984 release becoming a huge success in Denmark and Germany. In 1985, "Rejsen til solen"/"The Game Is Over" was released as a single in Denmark.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, their numbers, especially "Marie Marie", were to be found on almost 2 million records sold in Germany. In 1986 they once again participated in the Danish song contest with the number "Fællessang i parken", distributed as a single with "Rejsen til solen" on the B side.
In 1987, for a concept album, "Rockstalgi", the Olsen Brothers recorded new versions of their 1960 classic favourites (something like David Bowie's "Pin Ups" LP), including "I Saw Her Standing There", "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and "Hello Mary Lou". A great success, the album sold more than 25,000 copies in Denmark alone.
In 1989, Jorgen Olsen decided to work alone and performed the song "Fugle" in the Danish song contest. He released his first solo album in 1990, "Det stille ocean" and performed again in the Danish song contest with the song "Berlin".
The Olsen Brothers have participated in the Danish song contest seven times, with Jorgen Olsen being a solo performer in two of them.Throughout the nineties, the Olsen Brothers have mainly concentrated on their civil jobs in education. But in 1994, our heroes were back with a new release on their new album label, CMC Records. The album, "Latest And Greatest" was packed with Olsen hits and a couple of new songs. The single release from that album was "Flyvende sommer" - their first single release in almost ten years. Needless to say, both album and single enjoyed great success. The Olsen Brothers were busy again. They played live and prepared a TV talk show with themselves as hosts and many Danish celebrities and stars as guests.
In 2000, they won the European Song Contest with the song "Fly On The Wings Of Love" (in Danish "Smuk som et stjerneskud") and have again become stars throughout Europe with the winning tune and the album "Wings Of Love", a degree of success seldom enjoyed by Danish performers.
In 2001 the Olsen Brothers found the time to record an album which in every way was worthy to follow "Fly On The Wings Of Love".
"Walk Right Back" consisted solely of new songs. The title song was performed by the Olsen Brothers at the Eurovision Song Contest 2002 hosted in Denmark due to the Olsen Brothers victory in 2000.
The new album was well received by the audience as well as by the radio stations.
And having spent a great deal of time and efforts on this album the Olsen Brothers decided to take some time off to spend with their families before they, in the beginning of 2002, started recording the album "Songs" which was released on the 5th of August 2002.
For the Olsen Brothers this album was an old dream coming true. They recorded their own versions of their favourite songs from their youth. "Love Grows" (Where My Rosemary Goes), "Cecilia", "Mr. Tamourine Man", "Daydream Believer", "No Milk Today" and more – all songs that they wish they had written themselves. The CD was recorded with a live orchestra consisting of some of Denmark's finest musicians (Poul Halberg on guitar, Jette Schandorf on bass, Olle Nyberg on piano, Jan Sivertsen on drums and Jacob Andersen, percussion) and was a huge success – not only in Denmark but in Norway and Sweden as well.
Same year, by popular demand, the Olsen Brothers released a special album just for the German market – the Olsen Brothers translated into German language on the album "Weil Nur De Liebe Zählt".
The massive success of "Songs" could not be disregarded and it felt very natural for the brothers to follow up with "More Songs", released in 2003. Same style and atmosphere characterized this album, which was released not only on CD but also on a CD including a bonus DVD. All together "Songs" and "More Songs" has sold more than 120.000 copies in Denmark.
This is the story so far but yet another chapter is in the making as the Olsen Brothers are in the process of recording the first studio album since "Walk Right Back". The album is titled "Our New Songs" and contains brand new hits to be released on the 28th of February 2005.
This year the Olsen Brothers celebrate their 40th jubilee, and not just that; Jørgen and Noller Olsen - and 13 other former European Song Contest contestants - have been voted into the great 50th Congratulations Jubilee Show scheduled for 22. October at Forum, Copenhagen.
”Fly On The Wings Of Love”, the Olsen Brothers ' winning entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm in 2000 , is in with a chance of being voted the best Eurovision Song Contest entry of all time.
In honour of the occasion, the Olsen Brothers have decided to release an outstanding new jubilee album - “Celebration” - with the most popular tracks from an impressive career. The album will be released on October 17, 2005.