Charlie Norman

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Charlie Norman in the early 1940s.
Norman (right) as the leader of a local band in Ludvika in 1942. To the left alto player Filip Jansson.

Charlie Norman (né Karl-Erik Albert Norman 4 October 1920 in Ludvika, Sweden – 12 August 2005 in Danderyd, Sweden) was a Swedish musician and entertainer.

Life and career[edit]

Norman is largely regarded as Sweden's leading boogie-woogie piano player in the 1940s, but also an accomplished all-round pianist. His first TV-show was in 1947 accompanying Edith Piaf. He was known for a distinctive nasal intonation and is the father of, stand-up comedian, Lennie Norman.

Norman was intrigued by music at a young age and played the trumpet in his school orchestra. At this time, he was also studying the piano.

Norman's parents did not want him to take up a career as a musician without first securing a "proper" trade. So, to please his parents, he began work as a lathe operator qualifying at ASEA. In his spare time he played the piano in a dance orchestra that he started. He and his dance orchestra entered an orchestra competition in Borlänge in 1937, Charlie’s prowess as a pianist was recognized and he was invited to join "Sven Fors's dance band Estonians".

Norman performed in his first professional job in the summer of 1937 at "Societetsrestaurangen" in Varberg. Following this performance, he took engagements with orchestra conductors Håkan von Eichwald and Seymour Österwall.

In 1942, Norman was hit by TBC and ended up in the hospital for an extended period of time.

At about the same time, Norman began writing arrangements for recording sessions and also prepared a correspondence course in arranging for dance orchestras.

By the beginning of 1940, Norman was already a very skilled boogie woogie pianist and this musical genre became his most popular of his compositions, it became his signature. Charlie Norman's boogie woogie playing style became a great success when he released a record in 1942.

Norman ended up in a violent controversy in 1949 when he re-arranged Edvard Grieg’s classical "Anitras Dance" as "Anitras Dance Boogie". There was a huge outcry from The Grieg Foundation in Norway and his record company, Metronome, which was forced to withdraw the remaining copies. By then the record had already sold in excess of 10,000 copies and the "Anitras Dance Boogie" became one of the most requested pieces in Norman's repertoire.

During 1940, Norman made several appearances abroad, including his television debut in Paris in 1947, on a program that also featured the legendary star Edith Piaf.

In 1949, Norman put together an orchestra to entertain the American Military at the officer's club in Frankfurt.

Starting in 1950, Norman reached an ever increasing audience through his radio broadcasts. He did the popular radio series "Nattugglan" which was followed by "The Charlie Norman Show" and "Charlie In School".

In 1951, Norman formed a trio with Rolf Berg and Hasse Burman where they performed at many different venues.

Norman made many recordings with the popular Swedish singer Alice Babs and they attained Sweden's first gold record. His collaboration with Alice became very successful and lasted for many years. In 1990, Norman successfully persuaded Alice to make a comeback after a lengthy retirement in Spain.

Norman contributed to the popular radio program "Dagens Revy" along with Gösta Bernhard, Sickan Carlsson and Stig Järrel.

In television, Norman contributed to children’s programs and the family program "Small Town". He wrote many film scores, for both short films and full length features such as "The Pot Travel", "That One Beds…" and "Dangerous Freedom". He also wrote the score for the American television series, "Foreign Intrigue" that was shown in Sweden for 50 episodes.

Not only was Norman a great pianist, but he also had an excellent sense of humour, often being compared with Victor Borge. He wrote most of his material.

During the 1970s and 1980s Norman teamed up with his comedian son, Lennie Norman and Ronnie Gardiner for ten winter seasons on the Canary Islands where they entertained Swedish tourists. Norman also appeared in restaurant shows at the Berns and Bacchi Wapen restaurants in Stockholm, and at Restaurant Trägårn in Gothenburg and Kronprinsen in Malmö.

In recent years, Norman often played with Robert Wells, a great admirer of Norman's.

Norman was awarded the SKAP-Stipendiet in 1966 and became the 1993 Fred Winter-Stipendiat. In 1997, he received the Lisebergsapplåden.

Discography[edit]

  • 195? - “Trudy” (EP, Norway) (as “Charlie Norman Quartet”)
  • 1965 - Charlie Norman Show
  • 1968 - Charlie Norman Show på Berns - Banne mej!
  • 1970 - Charlie
  • 1971 - Tribute to Fats Waller
  • 1973 - Garner och hemvävt
  • 1975 - Charlie live
  • 1977 - En glad X-Mas
  • 1980 - Charlie Norman går på party
  • 2001 - 1 timme,12 minuter & 24 sekunder
  • 2003 - En salig röra

Film music[edit]

  • 1957 - Som man bäddar...
  • 1956 - Foreign Intrigue
  • 1955 - Danssalongen
  • 1954 - Farlig frihet
  • 1952 - Farlig kurva
  • 1952 - Oppåt med gröna hissen
  • 1952 - Han glömde henne aldrig
  • 1950 - Kastrullresan
  • 1948 - Kvinnan gör mig galen

Film roles[edit]

  • 1964 - Tre dar på luffen
  • 1953 - Kungen av Dalarna
  • 1952 - Drömsemester
  • 1949 - Kvinnan som försvann