The Hep Stars

The Hep Stars

The Hep Stars
Hep Stars, 1967. Left to right, Pettersson, Hedlund, Andersson, Frisk, front Hegland
Background information
Origin Sweden
Genres Beat, psychedelic rock
Years active 1963–1969
Labels Olga Records
Past members Janne Frisk
Lelle Hegland
Christer Pettersson
Hans Östlund
Svenne Hedlund
Benny Andersson

The Hep Stars was a Swedish rock group, formed in 1963 in Stockholm. During 1965-1966 the band was the most successful of contemporary 1960s Swedish pop groups performing in the English language. Outside The Nordic Countries the band is best known as a launching point for the keyboard player and composer Benny Andersson, who went on to enjoy worldwide success with ABBA.

The band was founded by the drummer Christer "Chrille" Pettersson (d.2006) and the bass guitarist Lennart "Lelle" Hegland with the keyboard player Hans Östlund and the guitarist-singer Jan "Janne" Frisk. At the height of their popularity, the line-up consisted of Hegland, Pettersson, Frisk and Sven "Svenne" Hedlund on lead vocals and Benny Andersson on keyboards.

The beginning

Originally, the band called themselves Quartet Yep. Their repertoire included various styles of music from Latin-dance to rock in order to get as many gigs as possible in varying venues. Influenced mainly by Frisk, their music started to veer towards rock 'n'roll and pop. The band decided a more intriguing name was in order and on Frisk's suggestion Hep Stars was chosen. The idea came from a line in the Bill Haley song "Razzle Dazzle" - "It's the hipster's dance" - with a slight alteration on written form. They started to get support gigs also closing in after the headline act. A typical gig had them playing for around four hours with one set of rock.[1]

Hegland called Hedlund to fill the singer's slot for Frisk who had temporarily joined a tour backing band for some extra money for a new guitar amp. The band quickly noticed Hedlund's abilities as both a singer and a frontman. On Frisk's return, they shared lead vocal for a period of time with Frisk singing the more straightforward rockers and Hedlund handling the ballads.

By summer 1964, they were performing to audiences of 2000. The rock-scene took note of them after one evening in Nalen, the most important rock club in Sweden during 1960s. The main act failed to appear and the Hep Stars, the support act filled in to great acclaim,[2] especially among rockers (or raggar as they were known in The Nordic Countries).[3] Their reputation started to spread through word-of-mouth.

At this point Hegland managed to persuade the music businessman and Olga-record label owner Åke Gerhard to be their manager.

After the group's first single ("Kana Kapila", 1964) the original keyboard player, Hans Östlund, was asked to leave because of relations growing sour especially with Hedlund and founder member Pettersson, who left the band fed up with squabbles. He was asked to rejoin and the band continued as a four piece for a short time in autumn 1964.[4]

Hedlund owed a van and occasionally drove other bands to gigs. One of these bands was Elverkets Spelmanslag so Hedlund saw Benny Andersson performing, making an impression with his quick runs and fill-ins. On Hedlund's suggestion Andersson was called for audition. In turn Andersson had earlier read a tabloid article about the camping car Hep Star used when touring and which could hold both band and the equipment. This assured him that Hep Stars had it going along with their assuring comments on the current scene.[5]

The band had become what is considered to be the classic line-up: Sven Hedlund (vocals), Jan Frisk (guitar/vocals), Benny Andersson (keyboards), Lennart Hegland (bass guitar) and Christer Pettersson (drums). The fans were soon to absorb their nicknames Svenne, Janne, Benny, Lelle and Chrille.


Hep Stars recorded their next three singles in one six-hour session without overdubs on three-track equipment.[6] They performed in the TV program Drop In in March 1965. In April, they had three songs in the radio playlist top 4 at the same time: "Cadillac", "Farmer John" and "Tribute To Buddy Holly". On the sales chart "Cadillac" and "Farmer" peaked at #1 for one week and four weeks respectively, while "Tribute" peaked at #5.[7] Hedlund became the band's figure-head and the first true pop star in Sweden, the band itself being headline material in tabloids and various youth-oriented magazines.

Other Swedish bands such as Tages and Shanes who largely wrote their own songs made a remark on Hep Stars using cover versions. This motivated Andersson to try to write songs for the band. Also it was a hard job to try to find fresh songs to the band's repertoire. The first song he introduced to band was "No Response" which reached #3 in the charts.[8] The band was at the height of popularity, especially among rock audiences, during 1965-1966 with both cover and original songs. In 1966, they performed 150 gigs in Sweden only. The popularity grew rapidly and the band was highly successful also in Norway and Finland making several tours in both countries.[9]

Mainstream success, break up

"I Natt Jag Drömde" a Swedish version of "Last Night I Had A Strangest Dream" was a massive hit in Sweden but, being a folk-song, divided the band to a degree. It also caused confusion among rock-oriented fans. The band continued playing up to 200 gigs in 1967. However, problems arose when the back-up organisation made a less than adequate job with the tax authorities and in the general running of the business. At the same time, the general economic situation in the country started to stagnate towards the end of 1960s. Together, they forced the band to navigate towards a wider audience and the showband scene. The American singer Charlotte Walker joined 1968.

This move contradicted especially with Frisk who was eventually asked to leave early in 1969 due to diminishing interest. Björn Ulvaeus from Hootenanny Singers stepped in. The original member leaving the band led to mixed feelings and the decision was made to call it the day after fulfilling the tour contracts. The band played its last gig in August 1969 after which Andersson, Ulvaeus, Walker and Hedlund left the band. It went through several line-up changes before finally breaking up in the early 1970s with Hegland the only original member.


Andersson and Ulvaeus continued with Hedlund and Walker making a show-tour with the comedian Finn Alberth. After that, Hedlund and Walker formed the duo Svenne & Lotta, who recorded the Swedish original of the ABBA song "Bang A Boomerang". They established themselves and enjoyed considerable success especially in Denmark and in mid-Europe.

Having established their partnership in Hep Stars. Andersson and Ulvaeus continued both as a songwriting team for the Polar record company as well as the duo Björn & Benny, which eventually led to ABBA.

After a break Frisk, Hegland and Pettersson formed Gummibandet and released three albums in the 1970s. In the 1980s, a wave of 1960s nostalgia swept Sweden and the members had a discussion about re-forming the Hep Stars. They made some successful tours with Benneth Fagerlund replacing Andersson on keyboards.[10] In 1990, Hegland stepped down, with Fagerlund following suit a few years later.

For the 40th anniversary collection, Cadillac Madness (40 years 40 hits 1964-2004), they re-recorded some of their hits as well as some new songs. Jan Frisk, Charlotte Walker and Sven Hedlund occasionally play concerts together with guest musicians under the Hep Stars flag.

Notes on songwriting

Songs written by Benny Andersson:

  • 1. No Response (Benny Andersson)
  • 2. Sunny Girl (Benny Andersson)
  • 3. Consolation (Benny Andersson)
  • 4. Sound of Eve (Benny Andersson)
  • 5. Isn't It Easy To Say (Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus)
  • 6. Lady Lady (Benny Andersson)
  • 7. Wedding (Benny Andersson & Svenne Hedlund)
  • 8. She Will Love You (Benny Andersson & Svenne Hedlund)
  • 9. Like You Used to Do (Benny Andersson & Svenne Hedlund)
  • 10. It's Nice To Be Back (Benny Andersson)
  • 11. Sagan om lilla Sofi (Benny Andersson & Lars Berghagen)
  • 12. Flower in My Garden (Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus)
  • 13. Suddenly Tomorrow is Today (Benny Andersson & Lars Berghagen)
  • 14. Songs We Sang (Benny Andersson & Lars Berghagen)
  • 15. It's Been a Long Long Time (Lars Berghagen & Benny Andersson)
  • 16. Speleman (Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus & Cornelis Wreeswijk)
  • 17. Precis som alla andra (Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus)

The album The Hep Stars (1966) is probably the most ABBA related of the pre-ABBA period. It is a must-have for students of the songwriting of Andersson and Ulvaeus. It includes several songs written by Andersson and "Isn't It Easy To Say", the first joint composition by him and his new friend Ulvaeus, then a member of the acoustic group Hootenanny Singers, who mainly sang in the Swedish language. On the same album there was another song, "No Time", written by Ulvaeus alone. "No Time" was also recorded by the Hootenanny Singers in an acoustic version. Andersson and Ulvaeus also wrote two songs for the album Hep Stars På Svenska - "Speleman" and "Precis Som Alla Andra" - and "Flower in My Garden" which appeared on the album Songs We Sang 68.[11]

Among the hits were "I natt jag drömde" (a Swedish version of "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream"), Mike Berry's "Tribute to Buddy Holly" (#4, Sweden), "Malaika" (with lyrics in Swahili), "Wedding", "Consolation", "Cadillac" (#1, Sweden), "Farmer John" (#2, Sweden), "No Response" and "Sunny Girl". The group's last hit in 1969 was a cover of "Speedy Gonzales".


The Hep Stars released ten albums and 23 singles.[12]


  • 1965: We and Our Cadillac
  • 1965: Hep Stars on Stage
  • 1966: The Hep Stars
  • 1967: Jul med Hep Stars
  • 1968: Songs We Sang
  • 1968: It's Been a Long Long Time
  • 1969: Hep Stars På Svenska
  • 1970: How It All Started
  • 1971 California Maiden
  • 1990: Bästa (CD only)
Year Album Chart
2004 Cadillac Madness (40 Years - 40 Hits 1964-2004) 9
2012 Original Album Serien 40


  • 1964: "Kana Kapila" / "I Got A Woman"
  • 1964: "A Tribute to Buddy Holly" / "Bird Dog"
  • 1964: "If You Need Me" / "Summertime Blues"
  • 1965: "Donna" / "Farmer John"
  • 1965: "Cadillac" / "Mashed Potatoes"
  • 1965: "Bald Headed Woman" / "Lonesome Town"
  • 1965: "No Response" (Andersson)/ "Rented Tuxedo"
  • 1965: "So Mystifying" / "Young & Beautiful"
  • 1965: "Should I" / "I'll Never Quite Get Over You"
  • 1966: "Sunny Girl" (Andersson)/ "Hawaii"
  • 1966: "Wedding" (Andersson-Hedlund)/ "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again"
  • 1966: "I Natt Jag Drömde" (Swedish version of "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" Swedish lyrics Cornelis Wreeswijk) / "Jag Vet"
  • 1966: "Consolation" (Andersson)/ "Don't"
  • 1967: "Malaika" / "It's So Nice To Be Back"
  • 1967: "Christmas On my Mind" / "Jingle Bells"
  • 1967: "Mot Okänt Land" / "Någonting Har Hänt"
  • 1967: "She Will Love You" (Andersson-Hedlund)/ "Like You Used To Do" (Andersson-Hedlund)
  • 1968: "It's Been A Long Long Time" / "Musty Dusty"
  • 1968: "Det Finns En Stad" / "Sagan Om Lilla Sofi"
  • 1968: "Let It Be Me" / "Groovy Summertime"
  • 1968: "I Sagans Land" / "Tända På Varann"
  • 1968: "Holiday For Clowns" / "A Flower In My Garden"
  • 1969: "Speleman"(Andersson-Ulvaeus) / "Precis Som Alla Andra" (Andersson-Ulvaeus)
  • 1969: "Speedy Gonzales" / "Är Det Inte Karlek, Säg"

The book Cadillac Madness - den otroliga berättelsen om Hep Stars had a bonus CD with four unpublished songs from 1966-1967.

  • 1. 1966 Someday Someone (Andersson-Hedlund) - Band version
  • 2. 1966 Rag Doll (Bob Crewe-Bob Gaudio)
  • 3. 1966 Someday Someone - spinett version
  • 4. 1967 Massa's Mess (Benny Andersson, Lennart Fernholm, Jan Frisk, Christer Pettersson)

A studio jam with the road manager Fernholm on bass guitar.



  • Hep Stars, 1964-1969 EMI Svenska AB/Olga 7C1 38-35956/7 double album liner notes
  • Carl Markus Palm, ABBA ISBN 978-952-01-0260-9
  • Dan-Eric Landen, Carl Magnus Palm, Cadillac Madness, den otroliga berättelsen om Hep Stars, Premium Publishing, 2004, ISBN 91-89136-04-7 (in Swedish)
  • Jake Nyman, Onnenpäivät Suomen, Englannnin ja USA: n suosituimmat levyt vuosina 1955-1965, ISBN 951-9287-25-6 (in Finnish)

External links

  • Benny Before ABBA The Hep Stars international official website