Swedish Webbkarta
HOOTENANNY Logo history 1961-69
The group was formed in 1961 in Västervik under the name West Bay Singers. Tonny Roth received a request from Hansi Schwarz if he wanted to be the bands bassist. Tonny would like that, but on one condition, that also Björn (Ulvaeus) was allowed to become a member. The answer was a firm no from Hansi, but he later changed his mind and Björn was accepted as the bands guitarist and singer. Stikkan Anderson, the famous song- the lyricist, music publisher and founder of the record label Polar became interested in the group and tied them to his record label. He now became the bands manager. The name West Bay Singers was changed to Hootenanny Singers. Stikkan had heard of a folk pop wave in the US with the same name. It was various bands in the US that had the audience singing along to the song.

The members of the Hootenanny Singers were now Hansi Schwarz, Björn Ulvaeus, Johan Karlberg and Tonny Roth. In 1963 they went to the finals in a talent competition arranged by The Swedish Radio. A talent hunt with different various features and Hootenanny Singers was one of the winners. The groups first album contained among other, Dan Anderssons poem Jag Väntar Vid Min Mila set to music. Swedish songs were interspersed with American ones folk music. The Kingston Trio and Brothers Four were the major sources of inspiration for the group.

During the 1960s, Hootenanny Singers were extremely popular in Sweden. In 1964 Hootenanny Singers debuted in the hugely popular TV program Hylands Hörna. They performed Dan Anderssons poem, set to music Jag Väntar Vid Min Mila. The program had a huge impact when it was the only TV channel that existed in Sweden at this time. The group played nearly 168 gigs in the Public Parks in one summer. Hootenanny Singers had a total of 40 songs on the Svensktoppen (Swedish Top Chart) among others, Gabrielle, I Lunden Gröna, Marianne, Mårten Gås and again a poem set to music by Dan Andersson, Omkring Tiggarn Från Luossa. It was on the Swedish Top Chart for a full 52 weeks with one second place as highest placement. It meant a new record for the number of weeks a tune was on Swedish Top Chart, a record that stood until 1989–1990 when the record was broken by the song De Sista Ljuva Åren with the dance band Lasse Stefanz and the singer Christina Lindberg.

In 1966, three of the members of the Hootenanny Singers was forced to do their mandatory military service in Sweden for about 1 year and the night before it was time for registration, the band stayed at the Rally hotel in Linköping. They wanted to party hard before enrollment. Joining the party was The Hep Stars. This is where Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson met for the first time. They discovered quite soon that they had similar ideas about writing lyrics and music and maybe could they develop and do something together. Unknowingly, they probably sowed the seed for ABBA at this meeting. In Linköping has this evening been immortalized with a bench outside the old Rally hotel where the gang stayed.The bench is made of dark wood with two B's facing each other.

At the end of the 1960s, Johan Karlberg left the group. Tonny Roth and Hansi Schwarz settled in Lund for studies, while Björn ended up in Stockholm. In 1974, the Hootenanny Singers disbanded. The group was resurrected in 1979 with original members Hansi Schwarz and Tonny Roth, plus two new additions named Martin Arnoldi and Eoin Clancy. They recorded two records in 1979 and 1982. They went on tour in the Public Parks again, but it was a lukewarm reception. It could not be recreated the popularity of the 1960s and the Hootenanny Singers were shut down for good.

Johan Karlberg died on 16 August 1992. Hansi Schwarz was the founder of Västervik's music festival and he hosted it annually until
his death in 2013. Tonny Roth is a retired medical doctor. Björn formed ABBA together with Benny, Annifrid and Agnetha. The group
ended in 1982. Björn and ABBA have made a comeback as avatars in ABBA'S VOYAGE which premiered in London in 2022.

  • Members during the years 1964-1969 as well as 1979-1982.
  • Björn Ulvaeus, vocals and guitar etc.
  • Hansi Schwarz, vocals and guitar etc.
  • Johan Karlberg, vocals and guitar etc.
  • Tonny Roth, vocals and bass guitar etc.
  • Martin Arnoldi, 1979-1982
  • Eoin Clancy, 1979-1982
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