Vazelina Bilopphøggers (Vazelina Auto Wreckers) is a Norwegian musical group best known for borrowing musical elements from, or outright covering, rock and pop classics rewritten, often with a bizarre humorous twist, in their distinctive native dialect. One of the most prolific and beloved Norwegian bands of all time — having performed continually for thirty years and counting — they have worked with many of their country's most important artists, and recorded a slew of hit singles and albums. They have also crossed over into comics, video games, and television, among them the TV2 Christmas serial Hjulkalender.
Vazelina Bilopphøggers was founded in Gjøvik, Oppland, Norway during December 1979. Initially a seven-piece group, the original line-up consisted of Eldar Vågan (guitar, vocals), Arnulf 'Høggern' Paulsen (drums), Jan Einar Johnsen (organ, saxophone, backing vocals), Bjørn Berg (lead vocals), Asgeir Hoel (electric bass), and backing vocalists Halvard Høynes and Bjørn Bogetvedt. This line-up won the district final of NM i Rock (a national rock band championship) but failed to place in the national finals. Their first big success came with the release of the single "Gi meg fri i kveld" (b/w "Bilopphøgger Boogie"), both sides of which became nationwide hits.
Come the time of the recording of their first studio album, Hoel and Høynes had left the band; Hoel was replaced by Torbjørn Nicolaysen. Their first long-player, 24 timers service, was released in 1980; after the supporting tour, Berg, Nicolaysen and Bogetvedt departed, being replaced by bassist Rune Endal, and singer/trumpeter Viggo Sandvik; this is considered their classic line-up, one which recorded several albums and singles revered as Norwegian classics. In 1991, however, Endal left the band, who decided to become a four-piece. Partaking in studio and in live performances but not considered official band members, are bassist Terje Methi and keyboardist Tor Welo.
In 1994, they appeared on the best-selling soundtrack for Don Bluth's animated film Rock-a-Doodle, for which several band members also provided voice acting. The album combined Vågan and Sandvik's translations of T.J. Kuenster's original songs with other Vazelina "originals", several of which have become regular compilation selections and live favorites. The same line-up released a number of successful albums (11 år uten kvinnfolk , Hææærli' på toppen ta væla , and Hjulkalender ).
2006 saw the unexpected departure of Viggo Sandvik, secondary lyricist and primary lead singer, by many considered the face of the band. Kjetil Fosseid was hired as the band's new co-lead vocalist, this line-up having released the 2007 album Bensin på bålet, and continuing to tour throughout Norway, more often with a focus on comedy revues than out-and-out live concerts.
Artistic influences include rockabilly legends such as Johnny Burnette, Buddy Holly, and Gene Vincent; consequently, their catalog is heavily based on music from the 50s and 60s, having rewritten songs made famous by dozens of artists such as Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley. Songs that are not outright cover versions often borrow recognizable hooks and chord progressions from famous songs, combined with original songwriting efforts. Songwriting credits are still accredited to the original songwriters.
Their rewritten lyrics, chiefly written by Eldar Vågan, often have little to nothing to do with a song's original lyrical content: for example, "Surfbrett" (a pastiche of The Beach Boys) is about crafting a plywood surfboard, and "Blålys" (a rewritten "Blue Moon") concerns getting one's license revoked for drunk driving.
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