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Meet the 80s band a-ha [PHOTOS/VIDEOS]

a-ha hi lo
Hunting High And Low (1985) (amazon.com photo)

A-ha (written: a-ha) on (most of) their albums and singles, was formed in Olso Norway, in 1982.

The band was formed by Morten Harket (vocals), Magne Furuhomen (keyboards), and Pal Waaktaar (guitars).

In trying to come up with a name, the guys were originally focusing on Norwegian words that could be easily spoken in English. But, they scrapped that idea when Harket spotted a song in Waaktaar’s songbook called “A-ha.”

A-ha had their greatest success with their debut album “Hunting High and Low,” which was released in 1985.  The album went to #1 in their native Norway, #2 in England, and #15 here in the U.S.

“Take on Me” (one of Jersey’s Favorite Hits) and “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” became #1 international hits!

NOTE: In the US, “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.” went to #20 on the pop charts in early 1986.

Its October 9, 1985, and the guys are winding down in their London hotel room after a long day. They’re surfing though the TV channels, and thinking about getting up early to wrap production on “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.” video, when the phone rings. This is how the band finds out that they’re #1!  With the success of “Take On Me,” a-ha becomes the first Norwegian band to reach #1 on the American charts!

Its interesting to note that an early version of “Take On Me” predates the band! Waaktaar called it “The Juicy Fruit Song.” It was re-named “Lesson One” when it was first recorded by a-ha. After some re-writing, multiple re-recordings, and three releases, it achieved the worldwide #1 status.

The song’s popularity was helped by heavy MTV play of this pencil-sketch animation/live action combination video. The process is called “rotoscoping.”  It was nominated for 8 MTV Music Video Awards in 1986. It won 6 of those awards, including “Best New Artists In A Video” and “Best Concept Video.” It was also nominated for “Best Video Of The Year” at the 1986 American Music Awards.

A-ha also earned a Best New Artist Grammy nomination in 1985.

For the rest of the 1980s, and into the 1990s, the band remained active, but with litle stateside notice.

a-ha promo
“Crying In The Rain” promo copy. A 1991 attempted return to the U.S. charts. (Craig Allen photo)

In 1994, after their 5th album, “Memorial Beach” failed to achieve commerial success, a-ha went on “hiatus.”

After appearing at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 1998, the band returned to the studio to record their 6th album, “Minor Earth Major Sky,” which was released in 2000. Followup albums seven, eight and nine also did well in Norway and throughout Europe, but failed to achieve notice in the U.S.

In January 2009, 25 years after its release, ”Take On Me” was awarded the Norwegian “Spelleman Award” as “Hit Of All Time.”

In October 2009, a-ha announced that they would split up after the 2010 “Ending On A High Note Tour.” A box set (DVD and CD) of this tour (63 cities, 21 countries) has been released. The band then played together for the last time in Olso on August 21, 2011, at a national service dedicated to to the victims of the 2011 Norway attacks.

Selling 36 million albums to date, a-ha is the biggest music export from Norway!

All three members will be appointed “Officer of the First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.” The award is granted for distinguished services to Norway and mankind.” The ceremony is set for November 6th.

But wait…thats not the end!

a-ha now
a-ha today. (Stian Andersen/facebook a-ha official site photo)

A-ha 30th Anniversary Celebrations took place this past weekend in Oslo, Norway.

Get solo work details, and NEW album info, at the official a-ha website here!

Surprise!

In short, “Foot Of The Mountain,” was released July 13th. The 10-song album was recorded in cities around the world, including Oslo and New York City, where Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (as he is now known) has lived for the last 15 years. He notes that the band spent 5 weeks in Hoboken recording the first draft of the new album.  A Jersey/a-ha connection!

So, the a-ha story goes on…

…and you thought these guys were “80s one hit wonders…”  A-HA!

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