Born in Ludvika, Sweden, the son of a politician, (his father Hilding) and an office clerk, (his mother Ragnhild) Kee and his 4 year older sister Ingela moved first to Falun and later on Umeå, were they finally settled down in the neighbourhood of Västerslätt. Praying on his sisters records, Kee enjoyed listening to BEATLES and immensely popular Swedish pop group equivalents HEP STARS, (with Benny Andersson from ABBA on keyboards) during his early years.
Growing up in the 70’s got him into different hard rock groups like; DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP, SWEETand KISS. Together with childhood friend Anders Hedlund he hanged out in the Haga neighbourhood in Umeå (where they moved in 1971), playing tennis using garage doors as bounce-offs, (a very popular activity for kids in Umeå in the 70’s) he and Anders started playing the guitar on their tennis rackets! Having a great deal of imagination, the two formed a band,”the Arabian Slickers” (!?) before even owning instruments, (or even being able to play them for that matter!) Together with neighbourhood friend Peo, supposevely the presumptive bass player, they made a pact to somehow get instruments and make their rock star dreams come true. (They often talked about performing at their school, wearing make-up in the fashion of KISS or SWEET.) However, due to unpredictable teenage parameters the two others fell out of the pact, and Kee was the only one to follow through. After receiving his first electric guitar as a Christmas gift in –74, a used 200 sek Hagström Impala, Kee never let it out of sight. At first he connected it to his tape recorder, using it as an amplifier. After eventually getting sick of the piercing solid state distortion from his cheap NATIONAL cassette tape recorder, he bought himself a used self assembled HIFI tube amplifier, called ”HIT KIT”(!) from neighbour Ingemar Harr. With some help from his father he also assembled a 20 inch speaker cabinet kit in the garage.
After practising every free minute and learning a lot of riffs and chords, Kee felt it was time to find other ambitious musicians to jam with. After consulting with a former classmate from Västerslätt, PEDER BERGDAHL, he moved his stuff to the cellar of Peder’s parents house.
Their repertoire consisted of a couple of early Kee titles, notably ”Sveriges Riksbank”, (Bank of Sweden) which probably was the first Kee original ever, ”Breadfan” of BUDGIE and ”Hog Farm” of Swedish rocker PUGH ROGEFELDT.
Eventually realizing that the duo needed some bottom end to their sound, they asked bass man KAJ BACKMAN who agreed and made the trio complete. By the name of JOKER they did their premiere gig at Kaj’s school; Mimerskolan.
Part from Kee’s amp catching fire and a couple of strings breaking, the gig was a success!
Back in Peder’s cellar during a rehearsal the band split up. After a disagreement over the arrangements of Kee’s song ”Grandmothers old underwear”, Kee and Kaj took their equipment and took off to never come back! (The disagreement came down to be about whether is should be one or two accents on the crash cymbals in the breakdown part!)
TORBJÖRN HARR, Kee’s best friend, decided to buy a drum kit and join the band. Joined did also Sven Lövbom, his cousin. Getting new quarters in somewhat the same neighbourhood made it possible for the band to rehearse more regularly. Feeling ready for a name change, they went through hundreds of ideas before deciding for STETSON CODY GROUP, which was a cheap Western pocket book alias for some unidentified author.
Kee bought a Japanese Les Paul copy named ”Buck and Ricket”(Almost like Rikkenbakker backwards!) in the 70’s a lot of less serious guitar companies made cheap copies of Gibsons and Fenders and named them to something that would sound , for the amateur customer, confusingly similar. The most extreme consequence of this must have been GANSON, a cheap dead ringer for GIBSON Les Paul!
He also borrowed money from his parents and bought a brand new TRAYNOR 100 Watt tube amplifier and a used MARSHALL 4*12 cabinet.
Kee’s musical taste changed by socializing with these music loving players. After getting turned on to JOHN McLAUGHLIN and his band MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA by drummer Tobba Harr, he got into CHICK COREA’S RETURN TO FOREVER, FRANK ZAPPA, PINK FLOYD, SANTANA and NEAL SCHON’S JOURNEY. He also loved everything released by TODD RUNDGREN or THE TUBES.
With the access to a rehearsal place, the band evolved rapidly. Playing solely songs written by Kee and Sven, they developed their unique sound. After years of hitting all possible gig spots in the northern parts of Sweden, they felt they wanted to move on. Subsequently, in 1977 they received a scholarship for best Rock/Jazz group in Sweden from Rikskonserter, which lead to a live record and a nation wide tour. Living of the scholarship money, together with additional funding from ABF in Umeå, the group got the chance to become professional musicians for a year. This was a turning point for Kee. Although he always knew that he wanted to become a professional guitar player, when the scholarship year ended, he realized just how MUCH he wanted it.
Along these years Kee met JOHAN NORBERG, a very skillfull jazz guitar player. During a trip in Greece, they formed their acoustic guitar duo NORBOM HILKE. Their repertoire consisted mostly of self composed instrumental pieces, but also challenging equilibriums like JOHN COLTRANE’s classic GIANT STEPS. Performing at the jazz club in Umeå, dressed in white Indian cotton clothing, they had Arabian carpets and candelabras on stage! The few performances they had were considered classis events in Umeå. Their duo was a great instrument for developing their techniques and the start of a great friendship.
In 1979 Kee and Sven moved to Stockholm, the capitol of Sweden. (Johan Norberg moved their –78) Having realized that it was impossible to become a rock star in Umeå, the cousins felt the urge to broaden their views. After teaming up with bass player Ola Johansson and drummer Lasse Hajagos, (later replaced by Affe Byberg), and finally Olle Westberg on Keyboards, they formed D’ACCORD.
Two singles for two different labels later the band split up. Although Kee was in a constellation with the most skilful musicians he had ever played with until then, he still didn’t feel that he was heading for the right direction.
After playing the guitar for KEE & the KICK (and producing a single for the group) and a collaboration with Ingvar Larsson called SILVER, (that released a song named ”En Gång Till”), Kee started to work with Peo Thyrén (ALEX TYRONE) and Freddie Hansson from Pop/Punk group NOICE. On tour with the band Alex and Kee started to talk about forming a band, with influences by their early GLAM heroes, like SWEET, SLADE, KISS and NEW YORK DOLLS.
Between tour dates they would take either the ferry or a discount train ride to LONDON, where they were looking for musicians for what would later become EASY ACTION. They were chrashing at their friends houses and spending their days at TRIDENT STUDIOS, which was run by D.J/ drummer/ publisher RUSTY EGAN, (from British group VISAGE).However, after being robbed in their sleep by a fellow passenger during a trip between Stockholm and London they got stopped in the British immigration. Since the authorities were though on illegal workers, after discovering that they didn’t have any money, Kee And Alex got arrested and thrown out of the country. That was the end of the London project!
After realizing that it would be impossible to go back to England, they regrouped and started to look for musicians in Stockholm. After a night at the rock club RITZ, they invited ZINNIE ZAN, later to become the lead singer, to Alex’s apartment to check out some 4 track demo songs they had recorded.
He liked what he heard, and soon Zinnie’s friend, guitar player Danny Wilde and NOICE drummer Freddie Von Gerber made the group complete. They recorded a mini-LP, which was a hip thing for new rock acts to do at the time, and they got substantial airplay with ”Number One” and ”We Go Rocking”. Later they added songs to it and released their first full length album on Tandan Records. Shortly after this Danny Wilde quit the group, and he was replaced by Chris Lynn, who became a full member after some touring with the band.
Their manager, SANJI TANDAN, met SEYMOUR STEIN from SIRE Records in Midem, and eventually got them signed there. A Swedish baby band getting a direct US major label deal was nothing less than sensational in 1982. Feeding of the publicity, the band had some successful tours, but moderate selling figures. They recorded a video clip for ”We Go Rocking” in London and made a legendary one hour television documentary/special for the Swedish Television. After both participating and performing in Swedish cult movie director MATS HELGE’s film ”BLOOD TRACKS”, the band had different ideas on how to proceed. This resulted in lead singer Zinnie Zan leaving the band.
After hearing rumours about Tommy Nilsson being back in Sweden after some years in Paris, France, pursuing a career there, Kee and Alex invited him to Soundtrade Studios for a ”session job”. It was really a relaxed way of auditioning Tommy, with no strings attached if it wouldn’t have worked. But it worked great, and soon Easy Action mark II was a fact. The new constellation released their first single and heavily rotating ”Rosie” , and Kee got the job producing SWEDISH METAL AID, a benefit project for the starving people of Ethiopia. Pretty much all the hard rock acts of Sweden participated in this project. Together with NICLAS FLYCKT, the engineer that Kee preferred to always work with, he made the project happen. This was the first time he worked with JOEY TEMPEST, who wrote the song; ”GIVE A HELPING HAND”. The collaboration turned out great, and it sold platinum.
Easy Action now started to work for KGR Music, and recorded and mixed most of ”THAT MAKES ONE” in their studio. During this time Kee also produced MIKAEL RICKFORS self entitled album, which eventually sold gold. During the final stages of mixing ”THAT MAKES ONE”, on their way to a photo shoot for the album cover, Kee received a phone call from THOMAS ERDTMAN, EUROPE’s manager.
At first he thought that Erdtman wanted manage Easy Action. It was all over the Swedish media that Erdtman got them a major label deal with CBS (nowadays SONY) and that Europe’s song THE FINAL COUNTDOWN was climbing the Dutch charts. When he realized that he was asked to replace JOHN NORUM in EUROPE, he got stunned. This was not an easy decision. Not only was he aware of that, if he joined, would have to give up the album he had put down such an amount of blood, sweat and tears in. He was also sceptic to jump onto a train moving in full speed. The Final Countdown album was already recorded, and people most likely wanted to hear Norum’s guitar parts live. After a long discussion Kee said no thanks. Erdtman wanted him to think about it over the weekend and get back to him. During that weekend Kee changed his mind.
To be continued…