The Walkers Biography
A Danish Glamrock Fairytale
Søren H. Nicolaisen
to imagine a Danish glamrock band making a 60 million copy selling
glamrock-hitsong – A song that seemes to keep alive for decades, still being
well-known by many many people around the world, Oh-lala.
pretty hard to believe – isn’t it?
that’s the amazing fact, and yet not the whole truth anyway. No, it wasn’t
Oh-lala, but “Sha-la-la-la-la”, which most people today recognize as being a
monster 1999 hit by the dutch eurodance pop group “Vengaboys”. BUT, it was
actually composed and released back in 1973 in Denmark, written by Poul Denhardt
and Torben Lendager, two members of the leading danish glamrock band “The
the song was illegally monstercopied, and sold in major scales mainly in the
South-East Asia, and then, in 1999 rearranged by Vengaboys, it’s supposed that
the total sales reaches about 60 millions sold copies! Pink Floyd only did
“only” 45 million copies of “Dark Side of the Moon”. However, the song
only made it to the 4th position at the Danish chart
“Tipparaden”. Though, most danes today consider “Sha-la-la-la-la” as
being among the best Walkers songs ever done.
this wasn’t at all the beginning
of “the Walkers”, we must go way back in time.
It was at the age of the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix and
the time when all the hippies made love and not war.
1968 in a suburbian town to Copenhagen, called Brønshøj, two young lads, Poul
Denhardt and Gert Michelsen tried to start a band, still missing a bassist. Jan
Kanstrup Hansen was the man, and together with his friend Torben Lendager, the
most famous Danish fab-four glamrock band was a reality.
only 24 days of playing together, their first “concert” took place, in a
youth club I Husum, just outside Copenhagen. Nobody could stop the rumours, that
a new fascinating group, with an excellent sceneappeal was established,
consequently the great opportunity of playing in a variety of famous Copenhagen
Clubs, was a at the hands of the Walkers.
about this exciting new group spread like wildfire, and one job took another. At
the end of January 1970, The Walkers performed in “Jomfruburet”, in the
center of Copenhagen, a very prestigious place to perform for an upcoming
it went really well for the band. A management and booking agreement with Holger
Hagelberg Booking was made. He let the band perform in a place called Valhalla
in a Theme park called “Bakken”, a mile north of Copenhagen. In addition to
this, a lot of concerts throughout the country were arranged.
Band was now ready for their first record. It was the TONO studioes, which was
the first to give a chance to the band. The first two songs recorded was “Let
It Be Me”, and “Save Your Heart for Me”. As the TONO studios went bankrupt
only a few weeks after the recording, unfortunately the records never
got released. A bankruptcy that
hardly could be blamed on the Walkers.
that wasn’t the best start for The Walkers, but on the 24th
September 1969, the band gave it another chance. This time the recordings took
place at “The Seebach Studios”, run by the remarkable composer/
songwriter/producer and much more, Mr. Tommy Seebach. Tommy
should soon turn out to be of the greatest importance to the Walkers,
with his unique handling of untraditional instruments like a
minimoog-synthesizer, and other funny futuristic stuff.
Bankruptcies in sight this time, the first official single was a reality, The
titles were "Bang-Shang-A-Lang" and "Suddenly". The latter a
BeeGees tune, and the first was a song, originally made by the “Sugar Sugar”
release was scheduled for January 1970.
the concert front, the autumn of 1969 brought the first visit to Jutland, and
the first appearance of several throughout the country. A
visit to South-Jutland in November, ended up sending Walkers to the
detentionhouse after a violent altercation with a local organizer, who appeared
not to have the agreed funds to the group. What he didn’t know was that the
leadsinger Torben Lendager was Danish boxingchampion! But he learned.
On the 26th January 1970 "Bang-Shang-a-Lang" was published by EMI-Records. The band expected (of course) the big success, but actually the single sold only 695 copies, so today it’s a rarity.
the weekdays, the band played at a lot of Copenhagen clubs like Jomfruburet,
Club 6, Le Caroussel, Valhalla, and in the weekends they played throughout the
country at festivals, ballrooms, youthclubs etc.
May 1970, a new place called “Krudthuset” was started in The Tivoli Garden
in Copenhagen. Now it
became more and more "legal" for younger fans to idol worship the
musicians. Idol worship of Walkers began here, and even the strictconservative
newspaper “Berlingske Tidende”, took the band to the cover, showing ecstatic
fans who wanted to touch and hug their idols. A very unusual thing in that
specific newspaper, at that time!
the relative failure of the record front, EMI agreed in publishing another
single, so the 9th & 10th and 15th July was spent in “The Seebach Sound
studio” to create the single "Looky Looky" which was
"borrowed" from Giorgio Moroder - since the world known producer of
Donna Summer’s music, and more..
B-side was a cover version of "Baby, Won’t You Leave Me Alone" - a
minor hit for the English group "The Web".
This single was released on 11th September 1970 - and the band was sure that now – this was a the real breakthrough HIT. But only 702 copies sold – It didn’t even make it to the charts, not even in small Denmark. Today this is yet another Walkers rarity.
the band never sold many copies of their records, a third test was tried. This
time the band tried to do one of their own songs, “Marry Me”, instead of
cover versions. This seemed to look like a success, but as the songs were
presented Mr. Per Sørensen at the EMI he declined, as this band obviously sold
Nothing isn’t always the way it looks, so the group member Jan Kanstrup presented the new song for a friend, who was the managing director of “Intersong”
had an amazing ability to facilitate contacts to the press and Television, and
with great energy trying to convince the "right" people about the
Walkers first big hit was ready for release. It simply had to be a hit, and it
was. In December the song took the second place in the charts, surpassed only by
the British group of Middle of the Road - "Soley, Soley". 6 weeks on
the chart, of which 4 in second place.
With a delighted Jonny Reimar as managing director of “Magnet Music”, and the new manager Steen Wittrock, The Walkers were ready. In mid February the band went into studio to record a new single. This time, a with a melody called, "Dabadie Dabadio". This was a really happy-go-lucky song.
song is still very popular in Walkers' concerts, but it was also the last time
The Walkers recorded foreign material.
After the release in March, “Dabadie Dabadio" went all the way to the top. 9 weeks on the list, of which 5 as number 1 in the chart "Tipparaden.
June 1972 the next hit "Rosie" followed the previous two.
"Rosie" unfortunately not lived up to the two previous hits, only 2
weeks on the chart, highest position at number 6, not quite much. In return,
idols became more and more to the band's concerts, and life as Popstars seemed
to fit Jan, Torben, Kurt and Poul well.
Plans for overseas-tour began to buzz around the band. 22nd of February 1970 the band had actually played a concert at the venue Revolution, with Rod Stewart & Faces (then the Small Faces). Doing concerts with Mr. Stewart, it seemed obvious for the band that an international career was just round the corner. The Walkers were ready – like always!
new single "Sunshine” was released, only one week before the release of
the band's first album. Sunshine was a great sing-song that almost any Danish
schoolgirl, with hardly no english skills at all - was able to memorize.
"Sunshine all the time, sun keeps shining all the summer time" was the
happy Walkers message, to their fans, and everybody else. And the sun did shine,
as the song reached the top of the Danish charts at the end of 1972. The sun was
shining still warmer at The Walkers.
first album contained the first 4 singles, including B-sides, plus 4
bonustracks. The album received a silver plate, which was very nice back in the
The Walkers was now at the absolute top in Danish glam rock, nothing more, nothing less.
'was the year when the band's biggest hit ever was recorded and released. People
all around the world is still able to sing along to "Sha-la-la-la-la",
which, as previously described are sold in up to 60 million copies throughout
the ages, but primarily as pirated copy of Southeast Asia, and much much later
put forward by the Dutch Eurodance band Vengaboys. You Know it – come on, sing along with me,
“sha-la-la-la-la….sha-la-la in the mooorning, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la in
the eeevening……, sha-la-la-la just for youuuu”.
the song didn’t do very well in Denmark back in 1973, although most people
today expect the song to be one of the most famous Walkers song ever. The song
reached only a disappointing 4th position in the Danish charts.
it was time to get TV on the pitch. Young long-haired music was rare to find in
TV's programme schedules at that time, and certainly not in a program like
“Musikhjørnet” (The Music Corner) which mostly concerned with the more
serious classical part of the music.
on the 30th March 1973 a longer feature on the group in the "Musikhjørnet",
which among included an interview with group members, was shown on the screen.
The timing was almost perfect, with "Sha-la-la-la-la" released the
very same day. Well, yes, the Walkers knew how to deal with the medias.
again, the band wanted to reach the stars in an international career. A big shot
in Denmark was almost like being a big shot in the whole world, and the band
went to Malmoe, in Sweden, just 2 miles sailing distance from Copenhagen, but
anyway, this wasn’t Denmark, it was Sweden, and Sweden was international. Not
many sweedes remember the Danish occupation of the neighbouring band, but during
the summer of ’73, things really began to brighten up for the group.
Walkers was invited to be warm-up band for an international glamrock group,
doing 4 concerts in Denmark, in Vejle, Aalborg, Viborg and Copenhagen.
band was nobody else but “The Sweet”. It couldn’t be bigger (Well well,
unless you were to “Slade” of course).
It was some terrific and very instructive days for Walkers. First time in real mega set-up, with light and sound far beyond the ordinary, and even with Brian Connolly - Steve, Andy and Mick - THE SWEET!
these concerts, The Walkers-sound, and appearance developed to be much more
“Sweet-like”, and this new appearance definitely inspired the band's biggest
hit ever "Fire".
"Fire" was released on the 28th September 1973. Originally the group
had named the song "Juliet", but inspired by Tommy Seebach terrific
handling of his MiniMoog-synthesizer that is used extensively in the song, they
found the title "Fire"
song was recorded the 27th August 1973 and stayed at the charts for months, 3
weeks peaking at no. 1.
the tour with Sweet, the Walkers made their own tour. In November ‘73 the
group went on tour in England, a total of 17 concerts. However, not many knew
about the Danish superglamgroup "Walkers" in the U.K. and certainly
not the record company Polygram, who would otherwise have been launched
"Fire" as the group's international breakthrough. The tour went well
and made for real The Walkers into a "glam-term, but not an international
breakthrough this time."
Britain, the groupmembers purchased plateauboots, shiny colourful satinclothes,
preparing Denmark to watch glam and glitter like never before. The style was
sharp and clearly inspired by the biggest glambands, Sweet, Gary Glitter, Marc
For the second time, the band was in Danish television. Once more it was in the TV-programme “Musikhjørnet”, and that’s even at Christmas evening, wearing so much glitter that any Danish Christmas-tree glanced enviously to the television screen, and all of the families got their coffee bad throat, while teenagers forgot all about Christmas, - THE WALKERS WAS ON TELEVISION! (You should remember, that this was the time before MTV; and watching popidols on the screen, was very rare).
The group introduced their new single "Do the Yo-Yo" in “Musikhjørnet”, inspired by the time big trend, Coca-Cola Yo-Yo’s, which was in hands of any youngster in 1973.
The group's new album "A Show Just For You" came with a remarkable style shift. No dobt, that this was still glitter and glam, but the tunes were more rocking, than before. They’d probably once again leaning nicely to The Sweet, who’d just had a great hit with the reasonable rocking Hell raiser, and later big hit Ballroom Blitz.
"Do the Yo-Yo" and the sequel "Let's Go Let's Go Let's Rock’n’Roll" was also big Walkershits, the first somewhat larger than the sequel.
The theme of the album "A Show Just For You" was a rock group's ups and downs, with the conclusion that happiness is neither goods or gold. Walkers wanted the texts printed on the album, but Johnny Reimar recommended that instead were placed a wealth of idol photos, instead of something as meaningless as text!
Walkers surprised again with a distinctive style switch. One of the new trends were reggae, so why not continue the style as an innovative band and try it out in a genre like no other Danish bands had ever tried. "Little Kitty" was recorded, once again, with help from Tommy Seebach to some extent being attributed to the 5th Walkers-member.
"Little Kitty" was probably a big hit, however, never reached the first place, but in return stayed in the charts for quite a long period.
that year The Walkers was supporting group for Gary Glitter, during his tour in
Denmark. The group didn’t have much contact with Mr. Glitter himself, so it
was mainly his backing group "The Glitter Band", the Walkers had
contact with. Gary might have some other important jobs to do, meanwhile, who
Towards the end of 74, a video was produced, containing 5 of the group's songs, as yet another attempt to establish an international breakthrough. A quick trip to the DDR was, however, with a single television appearance in the broadcast "Rundfunk", but at home in Denmark, there was still no doubt about The Walkers position as the biggest band, ahead of Gasolin’, with which the band also played several double concerts.
Another new trend reached Denmark from abroad. It was a new craze started to take off to be "streaks", running around naked the streets, as long as possible without getting caught by the police. Also on the music scenes around, this was struck. Not at least members of “Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show” during a concert threw their clothes. Thus, youngsters could also find The Walkers naked, only wearing their guitars in the magazines, and their mummies strictly demanding the posters off the walls in the teenage chambers! So, the new song “Striptease” was absolutely suitable for the charts. It reached first place, and was a great hit. The Walkers female audience wasn’t pale to comply with the band's request, so during the concerts in late 74 and early 75, a large number of underwear were thrown at the band.
was 1975, and the age of Disco was to begin. The Walkers, who repeatedly had
proven its innovative capabilities, tried once more a style shift. Disco was
born, and Walkers would join this new trend. Gone with glitter and glam, and yet
a brand new discostyle. Torben Lendager and Poul Denhardt was now into Disco.
The new disco single "Wish I Could Give You Up" reached the Danish
charts, as a location on the chart, but wasn’t a big hit.
the bottom rankings, this was certainly not disco dream that had come true for
the former glamrock band.
On the concert front it was definitely not disco, as The Walkers toured with rock band Geordie, with the later famous lead singer of AC / DC, Brian Johnson.
a new disco-single was released, turning out to be one of the best selling
records. “Forever Together” was one of the group's biggest hits - but also
one of their last. “Forever Together” was produced by the producer Tony
Eyers. He’d been the producer for discostars like 5000 volts, Tina Charles and
others, so this simply had to be the last chance for an international
breakthrough for the Danish lads, but, no.
these records, the band played in Mallorca, and in DDR. The glam became less and
less. A few more singles were released, without increased sales.
appeared now on pig feasts in Majorca, and took a tour of East Germany, which
played for the political top, not just the glam there probably should have been.
It was released a few singles more without increased sales, disco was like not
to Walker, though "Forever Together" however was an Addictive Track of
29th January 1977 Walkers plays the last concert at Forum in Copenhagen. A glam rock era in Denmark is gone.
the dissolution of the band, it has been restores several times, and today The
Walkers exists as a 5-man group, with only Torben Lendager and Poul Denhardt as
the original members.
GLAMROCKING OF THE 70S - 2010
Thanks to Søren for this biography, partly taken from the CD Box "Walkers 40 Års Jubilæumsbox" from 2009 - used by permission from Poul Dehnhardt.
WALKERS on Wikipedia