Swedish instrumental group The Spotnicks originated from a duo called The Rebels, featuring Bo Starander (guitar/vocals), and Björn Thelin (bass). They were joined by lead guitarist Bo Winberg and became Rock-Teddy and the Blue Caps in 1957 before adding drummer Ove Johansson in 1958 and becoming The Frazers.
Signing a recording contract in 1961, they changed their name to The Spotnicks (a play on the name of the Russian satellite Sputnik). Playing instrumentals in a similar style to The Shadows, they soon became the first Swedish group to enjoy international success.
One of their early singles, Orange Blossom Special, became their first international hit, making the Top 30 in the UK Singles Chart in 1962 and reaching #1 in Australia.
They recorded their first album, The Spotnicks in London, Out-a Space, in 1962 and began wearing their trademark spacesuits on stage. Further hits included Rocket Man (based on a Soviet/Russian folk march called Polyushko-poly) and Hava Nagila (their biggest UK hit, where it reached #13).
They appeared in the Amicus film Just for Fun (1963), continued to tour widely, and recorded their second album, The Spotnicks in Paris. That year, drummer Ove Johansson departed and was replaced by Englishman Derek Skinner.
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 in hospital from having his tonsils removed.
In 1964 and 1965, The Spotnicks reached #1 in Japan in 1966 with Karelia. In 1965 the band was joined by organist/vocalist Peter Winsnes. Nicol left in February 1967 and was replaced by Tommy Tausis. Thelin also left in 1967 and was replaced by Magnus Hellsberg.
Winsnes left in 1968 and organist Goran Samuelsson joined in 1969. Following numerous personnel changes, the group split up in 1970 after releasing their fifteenth album, The Spotnicks Back in the Race.
The band remained popular in Japan, though, and Winberg formed a new version of The Spotnicks in 1971 at the request of a Japanese record label. Winberg continued to lead touring versions of The Spotnicks, occasionally including Lander and Thelin, until playing their very last concert on 30 March 2019 at Musikens Hus, Gothenburg.
Bo Winberg died on 3 January 2020. Bob Lander died on 3 May 2020.
Bob Lander (Bob Starander)