The trio at the heart of A-ha met in 1980 in Oslo, Norway, and decided to concentrate on producing a commercial form of music. Travelling to England in 1982, Waaktaar and Furuholmen tried (unsuccessfully) to secure a record deal.
Undaunted, the trio located to London in 1983 where they shared a flat and continued to work on original material and record demo’s.
While recording one such demo at Rendezvous Studios, they came to the attention of former record company executive Terry Slater, who became their manager and arranged a series of showcase auditions for record companies at a London rehearsal studio. By Christmas they were signed to a worldwide contract by Warner Brothers.
Take On Me was released in the UK in October 1984 (after a successful Norwegian release). It sold approximately 300 copies. In 1985, the band re-mixed the single with a different producer and re-released it in the UK, but it failed to chart once more.
Disillusioned, the trio elected to spend the northern summer in Oslo. Meanwhile, Warner released Take On Me in the USA, deciding to spend $100,000 on a ground-breaking semi-animated video to help secure airplay on MTV.
By October 85, Take On Me had topped the US chart and (on the third attempt in Britain) hit #2 in the UK. Their debut album (Hunting High and Low) reached #2 in the UK and #15 in the US.
The album highlighted the band’s melodic synth-based pop style and Harket’s distinctive, smooth (often falsetto) voice.
Over the next five years A-ha toured the world, won numerous awards (primarily for their videos) and racked up 13 consecutive Top 30 singles, including their theme to the 1987 James Bond movie The Living Daylights.
But by the mid-90s the band had all but ceased to exist, with the original trio moving on to a number of (far less successful) musical ventures.
In 2000, the trio got back together for their first new album in seven years, Minor Earth, Major Sky.