The Walkers Biography

A Danish Glamrock Fairytale



By Søren H. Nicolaisen


Try 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.

I’ts pretty hard to believe – isn’t it?  

However, 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 Walkers”.

Since 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.

Nevertheless, 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.




In 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.

After 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.




Rumors 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 rockband.

Now 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.

The 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.

Well, 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.

No 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” Archies.

The release was scheduled for January 1970.

On 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.

In 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.

In 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!

Despite 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..

The 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.

Though 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 absolutely nothing.


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”
He could see a large hitpotentiale in "Marry Me" and through his connections, the band got a recording contract with “Philips” and Johnny Reimar production company “Magnet Music”. They must really have believed in this project, as Poul Denhardt received a music publishing contract and an advance of nothing less than 1,000 Danish Kroner (200 USD).

Jan 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' doings. On the 20th October 1971 the Walkers was in Metronome Studio to record. Metronome had an 8-track studio (against Tommy's only 2 tracks) which allowed the band to achieve a much better sound on the record. "Marry Me" and "For You Heaven" was re-recorded, and now sounded much better. In the budget there was even place for 2 girls to back up the group. One of them was a very young girl, Sanne Salomonsen, who later turned out to be among the greatest Danish singers, today known as The Danish Rock-mama.

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. Yet on the Danish chart, The Walkers still didn’t earn much, but played an awful lot of jobs. It was roughly the same places as last year. The amount of fans grew slowly but steadily - and several Danish “Pop Magazines” now brought nice articles about the band. The Walkers felt, that the world was now wide open for the band, so concerts abroad was arranged.




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.

The 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.

In 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!

The 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.

Walker's 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 70s.



The Walkers was now at the absolute top in Danish glam rock, nothing more, nothing less.

73 '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”.

Strangely, 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.

Now 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.

But 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.

Once 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. 

The Walkers was invited to be warm-up band for an international glamrock group, doing 4 concerts in Denmark, in Vejle, Aalborg, Viborg and Copenhagen.

The 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!

After 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" more appropriate.

The song was recorded the 27th August 1973 and stayed at the charts for months, 3 weeks peaking at no. 1.

After 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."

In 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 Bolan, etc.

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.

Later 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 knows.

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.




It 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.

With 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.

Nevertheless, 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.

After 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.

Walker 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 the majors.
29th January 1977 Walkers plays the last concert at Forum in Copenhagen. A glam rock era in Denmark is gone.

Since 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.






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