This time it’s only been a week since last post and today i’m gonna tell you about Janne Schaffer a guy who probably was on of the first the hear Hold the Line outside Toto and the studio crew. I’ll get back to that later but as always first things first.
He was born in Stockholm, Sweden at September 24th in 1945. The musical side came from his father whom played with different orchestras in Stockholm and before picking up the guitar he tried out piano during the time in school. At it was actually in school during the crafs he made his first guitar, way to go! His first group came with some guys from the neighbourhood where he grew up. During the 1960:s he was a member of some other groups with different swedish artists/musicians. No point namedropping guys no one outside Sweden never heard of. Then in 1973 he began cooperating with a swedish composer/musician called Björn J:son Lindh and they this was a partnership that lasted for 40 years until Björn passed away in 2013.
Photo: Courtsey of Lasse Lagerberg Jazzfoto. http://www.lassefagerberg.se/Jazzfoto.htm
It doesn’t matter if it’s in the mid 1970:s (picture above) or today Janne still have the same pose when playing and one his things is that he always moves the tounge when he’s playing.
During the 1970:s he played with many different bands all with some of the finest cats in Sweden. Then in 1980 in the mid of some recording sessions a friend of Janne called and said he’d been in contact with the tv-network, believe it or not but still in the year 1980 we only had one tv-network in Sweden and only 2 channels! Anyway his friend said he needed someone to write music to his lyrics for the childrens tv-show which would been broadcasting during christmas 1980. The theme was the jungle and Janne agreed and asked the guys in the studio if they were intrested and he told them that they were gonna have jungle inspired costumes plus having make up!
The original Electric Banana Band in action 1980 left to right: Lasse “Tigern” (the Tiger) Åberg, Janne “Zebran” (the Zebra) Schaffer, Per “Giraffen” (the Giraffe) Lindvall, hidden behind the drum kit ,Klasse “Little Arne” Möllberg, Peter “Pantern” (the Panther) Ljung (keyboards), Tommy “Geoparden” (the Cheetah) Cassemar.
The guys went all in for this thing and immediately created a certain cult status in Sweden which they still got. Many of the songs were on a “preserving nature theme” and also telling children to always wear a helmet when driving a moped and to always check both directions when crossing a street. If they didn’t the “Accident” (Olyckan in Swedish) might be there and he was a like evil/bad guy! I remember watching that show on the mornings when having a christmas break from school, man those were the days! They still are playing on festivals during the summer months in Sweden and today EEB are Lasse, Klasse and Janne, picture below.
So back to Janne’s solo career again, sometime in the mid 1970:s he made an album, not quite sure wich, which somehow mananged to find it’s way to some Hollywood record company hot shot. This guy contacted Janne and asked if he’d wanna record an album in Hollywood! Janne got all excited and thought like ” Duh! Hollywood, recording, dream come true who wouldn’t?!” So next question what guys he wanted and he thought for himself “hm don’t know anyone in Hollywood and so he started to thinking on what albums he got home and then he remembered a name whose style/groove he liked, Jeff Porcaro yes THE Jeff Porcaro! The record company agreed and said “sure we give you Jeff” and then when the sessions were about to start they had no bass player. Jeff was quick to reply “hey guys my brother Mike he plays the bass i’ll give him a call!” But they also needed a keyboard player and Jeff again “guys my second brother Steve plays the piano i’ll have him come over here and by the way my father Joe he plays the percussion i make him come as well!”
Jeff and Janne discussing something during the Earmeal sessions.
So there he was in a recording studio in Hollywood with the entire Porcaro family and this is actually something quite rare having all family members on the same album. The most known examples are Toto IV and Toto The Seventh One. And after the sessions Jeff asked if Janne wanna come over to their studio and listen to something they just recorded. Not like he had any better plans so he joined the guys over to their studio. What he got to hear was a instrumental like demo outtake of a song had not yet reached it’s final mix but it was soon to be released and it would be the immediately breakthrough for a band that would become famous under the name Toto… If he had wanted to i’m sure Janne could’ve made it as sessionplayer in either L.A. or NYC like his fellow guitar colleauge and country man Georg “Jojje” Wadenius but Janne has always like suffering from beeing very homesick. As you probably understand he went back home to Stockholm and Sweden again.
While in Hollywood Janne couldn’t quite forget the stuff Jeff played for him so he wrote a kinda rip off to “Hold the Line” for a swedish singer called Ted Gärdestad. He sang this song “Satellit” (Satellite) in the annual swedish song contest “Melodifestivalen”.
Above is the english version of the “Hold the Line rip off” and on this version we got 4 familliar names…Jeff Porcaro, David Hungate, Steve Porcaro, Steve Lukather! I believe this album was recorded during the Earmeal sessions since it’s also mainly recorded in Hollywood. Besides these 4 founding Toto members we also have some other bad cats but ain’t gonna mention them. What do i mean with rip off you might wonder, well i assume you have heard “Hold the Line more than once and listen to “Satellite” and compare. It’s not like Janne copied the Toto hit note by note more he copied “the feeling”, the way the song is performed. How it begins with a like piano intro. I ain’t accusing Janne here cause he admits he “stole” the idea for “Satellite” from the classic Toto song.
Another pic from the Earmeal sessions, left to right: Joe Porcaro, Janne, Mike Porcaro, Jeff Porcaro.
I mentioned Janne’s “partner in crime” for 40 years Björn J:son Lindh and he recorded an instrumental tune in 1980 featuring Janne and it’s a super beatufiful tune, a song that’s so wonderful arranged/produced. It keeps building and building and since i love it and it features Janne i’ll add it as bonus here despite that it ain’t slick at all at least according to me but who really cares!
Despite he never lived in America he has still played with some cool cats like Bob Marley, Gabor Szabo, Art Pepper, ABBA, Johnny Nash, Brenda Russell.
Thou he never liked beeing too far away from home he still tours around Sweden and playing on festivals or as in many cases during December when he often plays in churches. He says there’s a certain feeling and atmosphere, spirit in churches and not to mention the acoustics. If i was to describe his music today i’d say it’s more like Folk music inspired. To pic today’s song was easy you had to pic one from the Earmeal album and the one i’ve choosed is called “It’s Never Too Late”.
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