Orange Blossom Special/Moonshot/The Rocket Man/Amapola
The Spotnicks was an instrumental rock group from Sweden that formed in 1961. Together with the Shadows and the Ventures, they were considered one of the most famous instrumental bands of the 1960s. They were famous for wearing "space suit" costumes on stage, and for their innovative electronic guitar sound. They released 43 albums, and sold more than 18 million records.
The Spotnicks originated from a duo, "The Rebels" (1956), formed by Bo Starander (11 March 1942 – 3 May 2020 rhythm guitar, vocals), and Björn Thelin (27 June 1942 – 24 January 2017; bass guitar). They were joined by lead guitarist Bo Winberg (born in Gothenburg, Sweden; 27 March 1939 – 3 January 2020), and became "Rock-Teddy and the Blue Caps" in 1957 in Gothenburg. In 1958 they added Ove Johansson (drums) (born 30 March 1940), changed their name to "The Frazers", and began playing regularly in local clubs. They signed a recording contract in 1961, and changed their name to "The Spotnicks", a play on the Russian satellite Sputnik as suggested by their manager, Roland Ferneborg. Starander was later known as Bob Lander.
They soon became the first Swedish group to have significant international success, in a similar style to The Shadows and The Ventures. They toured Europe, and one of their early records, "Orange Blossom Special", became their first big international hit, making the Top 30 in the UK Singles Chart in 1962 on the Oriole label, and reaching #1 in Australia. Around this time they began wearing their trademark "space suits" on stage. They recorded their first album, The Spotnicks in London, Out-a Space, in 1962. Further hits included "Rocket Man" (based on the Soviet/Russian folk march "Polyushko-polye"), and "Hava Nagila" (their biggest UK hit, where it made #13). Winberg also recorded solo, credited as 'The Shy Ones'.
In 1963, "Amapola" became one of their most successful singles in their home country, staying at #1 in Sweden for eight weeks. They appeared in the film Just for Fun, continued to tour widely, and recorded their second album, The Spotnicks in Paris. That year, drummer Ove Johansson left and was replaced by an Englishman, Derek Skinner (born 5 March 1944, London). Two years later, Skinner was replaced briefly by Jimmie Nicol, who had drummed with The Beatles on the Danish, Dutch and Australian leg of their 1964 tour, while Ringo Starr recovered from having his tonsils removed.
In 1964 and 1965, The Spotnicks expanded their popularity in Germany and Japan, reaching #1 in Japan in 1966 with "Karelia". Elsewhere, however, they became less successful as popular music tastes changed. In 1965 the band was joined by organist, vocalist Peter Winsnes (born 9 March 1944, Molndal, Sweden). Nicol left in February 1967 and was replaced by Tommy Tausis (born 22 March 1946). Thelin also left in 1967 and was replaced by Magnus Hellsberg (born 6 November 1944). Winsnes left in 1968 and organist Goran Samuelsson joined in 1969. The group, having undergone many personnel changes, split up in 1970 after releasing their fifteenth album, The Spotnicks Back in the Race. Yet the band was still popular in Japan, and it soon reformed under Winberg's control in 1971 at the request of a Japanese record label.
Winberg continued to lead versions of The Spotnicks, occasionally including Lander and/or Thelin, on tour and in recordings. In 2013, Winberg and Lander announced that they would be undertaking a final tour, finishing in May 2014. The Spotnicks played their very last concert on 30 March 2019, at Musikens Hus, Gothenburg. Winberg died on 3 January 2020. Lander died on 3 May 2020.