COUNTRY EXPRESS 1974-
It's quite a while since the August night in 1974 when the utmost most popular country band in Finland, Country Express, saw its first daylight, or better, its first dawn, at the small coastal town of Karjaa in southern Finland. A long term dream had come true for seven youngsters, 22-33 years of age then, who had been waiting for the moment for years and years already. Who could have imagined what would become of this group during years to come? And who had believed that Country Express would still be going strong after 40 years...
Performance number six at the amusement park "Liseberg", Gothenburg, Sweden in September 1975 was a success: Country Express won the contest of the best country group in Scandinavia! That victory made even Finns interested in this, uptil then, quite unknown musical style called Country and Western.
The first album, plainly called "Country Express" and containing the smash hit "Daddy Frank", went gold in a couple of months, and was long the one and only golden country album in Finland. Country Express has recorded six albums in all and a collection including two original songs. All songs are sung in English.
Tours have taken the group all over Finland, from Hanko in S to Ivalo in the utmost N, from Vaasa in W to Joensuu next to the Russian border in E. Numerous appereances on Finnish TV , radio and charts have made Country Express familiar even to an audience who hasn't had the ability to see the group live. "Daddy Frank played the guitar and the French harp..." can even today be heard on people's lips and on the radio!
Quite a few international highlights should be mentioned; twice the Wembley Festival , London, U.K., live on Norwegian television, a couple of concerts in Zürich, Switzerland, the Country Festival in Utrecht, NL, tours in Holland and Sweden, and numerous gigs on ferries to Sweden and Germany.
Country Express was invited to the Country Music Fan-fair, Nashville, Tennessee in 1978 to perform at the International Show . But well in Nashville the group was given, besides of clubs and television , the opportunity to do one song at Grand Ol' Opry . This particular song was "Ride me down easy, Lord" and Country Express still is the only Finnish group who ever performed on this "holy" stage!
Country Express was voted " Finland's Star of the Year" by the English journal Music Week in 1976.
Country Express arranged eleven international (GB, NL, D, U.S.A., S, N) country festivals, called Country Cavalcade , at Karjaa 1977-1987. They were a success and three of them were shown on Finnish TV. That could be called promotion, promotion for country music far in the North.
Country Express is still, over 40 years since the start, at its full strength! We had the opportunity to meet up with a lot of old friends in 2015. Gigs booked for 2016 ...See you somewhere!
Original Line-up 1974 Göran Grönqvist (founder) Pedal Steel Guitar Stig "Kigge" Tötterman † 5.11.1985 Vocals Ingmar Grönqvist Bass guitar Börje Björkqvist Acoustic guitar, background vocals Rolf Löfberg Lead guitar, background vocals Guy Laine Lead guitar, background vocals Ragnar "Mats" Wentzel † 24.6.2013 Drums Line-up 2016 Rolf Löfberg Lead guitar, background vocals Ingolf Backman Bass guitar, background vocals Benny Törnroos Vocals, acoustic guitar Guy Laine Lead guitar, background vocals Christian "Popp" Gustafsson Pedal Steel Guitar Roger "Rogga" Liljestrand Drums Other members throughout the years Uffe Enberg Vocals, lead guitar Carina Juselius-Werle Vocals Jan Björklund Drums Kim Magnusson Drums Stefan Holmberg † 16.2.2001 FOH Sound engineer