Date stamp Saturday 12 March 1988, and after a slow but steady three-month ascent up the American Billboard charts, Never Gonna Give You Up, the debut single from a 22-year old Lancashire lad called Rick Astley, reaches the summit of the US charts. Did you fall in love?
It’s the first 45 both written and produced by the British production team of Stock Aitken Waterman—the self-styled “hit factory” that had made their name producing low budget hi-NRG pop hits for the likes of gay faves Divine, Dead Or Alive and Bananarama—to reach No.1 in the States. Lest we forget, You Spin Me Round (1985) and Venus (1986) were chart-topping singles in the UK and US respectively, but SAW were restricted to producer credits only.
Never Gonna Give You Up had already been Britain’s biggest selling single of 1987, famously deposing Michael Jackson’s comeback record, the Siedah Garrett duet I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, from the top spot, but, relentlessly indiscriminate in its chart domination, also keeping a much greater pop pairing from the top: Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield’s What Have I Done To Deserve This?
What have they indeed.
As if you needed further proof of SAW’s depressing ubiquity, that very same mid March week — the chart dated week ending 32 years ago to this very day in fact — saw the UK’s singles chart dominated by further 45s from their stable, headed by Vylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky at 1, Rick Astley’s fourth single Together Forever at 2 and Mel & Kim’s That’s The Way It Is bringing up the rear at 10.
Incidentally, the song that Never Gonna Give You Up deposed Stateside was none other than fellow Brit George Michael’s Father Figure, which coincidentally, had been the very same single that deprived What Have I Done To Deserve This? from the US top spot a good seven months after Astley’s track had done the same dastardly deed across the pond.
By the end of March ‘88, Nordic teen pop sensations a-ha would release their ninth single Stay On These Roads. Being the poster-sized object of millions of knicker-wetting schoolgirl fantasies has a finite duration though, and the song would be the last time they would trouble the upper reaches of the charts in Britain.
From Dublin, Dundee and Humberside, bedroom walls across the land were about to replace the Norwegian heartthrobs with another tasty Levi’s-loving trio that had burst on to the fickle pop firmament, because 1988 was the year of bleach blond brotherly love, of Grolsch bottle-topped Doctor Martens and… and the other one Smash Hits used to like to call Ken. Ladies and gentlemen, Bros were about to get famous.
Cue one of the few jokes I can still remember from the
What’s got 200 legs and no pubic hair?
Front row of a Bros concert.
For the record, the other one still indelibly imprinted on my juvenile memory is:
What does Sinéad O’Connor do after she’s brushed her hair?
Pull her knickers back up.
Hmmm, I sense a theme developing.
I know I’m probably tangentially talking but there is a point to this, because, during a long night putting the music world to rights, George Michael himself told me that he can pinpoint the year that pop music went down the dumper. In his view, the year that manufactured factory farmed pop took over the upper echelons of the charts was 1988 itself, and, explaining the rise of Simon Cowell, Pop Idol and X Factor and all the other related horrors can be traced back fairly and squarely to 1988… and the two camps he blamed most were Stock Aitken Waterman and Bros.
“The last really big teen pop band that were proper musicians were a-ha. And they had pretty much filled the void that existed after I split Wham!,” he told me over a couple of spliffs at his palatial abode in Highgate. OK, more than a couple, but you get the picture. Finger on the commercial pop pulse like few others, he continued…
“You can trace the death of intelligent pop when bands who wrote and played on their records to when Bros took over from a-ha. I liked a-ha. They played all their own instruments, and Morten was a really good singer, too.”
So there you have it, George Michael was a closet a-ha fan. But he wasn’t alone in the celebrity endorsement stakes because so was Morrissey. In fact, back then the newly solo Smiths singer was so besotted with chiselled cheekbones of Morten Harket, their swoonsome frontman, that he even travelled to Louisiana to slobber over them in concert. No doubt the hairless front row assumed he was parenting one of them.
“I went to see a-ha in America. I really liked their records, but when I saw them it was this constant deafening squeal. Not even a respectable scream; it was an indecent squeal which completely drowned out the musicians… and which totally threw them off their racks because they seemed totally embarrassed by all these screaming girls.” – Morrissey, 1987
For the record, modest Morten finally mentioned Morrissey in a 2012 interview, and he didn’t exactly beat around the gladioli.
“He almost had an erection around me! We met up in New Orleans sometime in the Eighties… he thought it was a bit difficult I think, the whole thing. He said something… I thought he was decidedly on the gay side.”
Well, this is Morten in the ’80s, so… cough, cough… you wood, wouldn’t you. Gay men then. They clearly had a bit of a thing for a-ha, but the majority of the knicker-wetting masses were mainly the fairer sex. If you are a female over the age of 40 – or possibly even a bit younger – these three men will almost certainly need no introduction.
When their debut single, the grammatically suspect Take On Me, smashed its way into the charts back in September 1985—the very same month I started college, when Dancing In The Street, David Bowie & Mick Jagger’s charity camp-off for Live Aid, sat at the top of the “hit parade” for its entire duration—overnight their handsome good looks (well, two of them) and impressively muscular physiques (well, the same two) soldered themselves on to the memory of several million lovestruck fans. For those fleeting but heady years, they plastered their bedrooms with the striking Vikings, sported trademark leather wristbands, ripped 501s and rejoiced in the perfection of glacial synthesised pop that only Europeans could muster. I should know, because for a brief period my sister was one of them.
There were certain records of Stella’s that I enjoyed playing almost as much if not more than she did. In fact, a-ha’s debut album Hunting High And Low was one of several slabs of vinyl I actively encouraged her to buy. My reasoning was simple: I really liked the singles extracted from it, but aged 16 to my sister’s 12 going on 13, I worried that a-ha just wouldn’t be cool or credible enough to sit alongside David Bowie and Blondie in my own carefully curated record collection.
Most male teens would have done the same.
Pet Shop Boys, another new act who made their first impression on the chart with West End Girls the week after Take On Me had peaked at No.2 (held off by the hideous Jennifer Rush and her date rape anthem The Power Of Love) I could get away with because a) they didn’t have lots of screaming girls dominating their fanbase, and that’s because b) the inscrutable synth duo weren’t particularly pin up material, so could c) present themselves with almost almost punk anti-pop star attitude.
The funny thing with a-ha is that we had been privy to an earlier, more bombastic version of Take On Me — the 1984 one with the blue backdropped video — a good year earlier. I have to point out though, that it’s a complete misnomer that this original and very ordinary performance clip went virtually unseen. It was receiving a healthy rotation on Sky Trax, Rupert Murdoch’s fledgling pan-European Sky Channel, and which was only available to cable viewers in selected new towns in Britain, though I‘m sure the fact the band were continental helped their satellite transmissions. Which kind of proves that, even with its not quite there yet early mix, the song that would become of the defining and most loved songs of the 1980s was already deemed to be pretty decent even without the later cutting edge video that helped sales enormously.
Neither of us junior Paffords felt compelled to buy Take On Me at the time, but had the new TV station been as widely available as it would become when satellite dishes took off in the 1990s, the song’s chart position would have better reflected its considerable VJ airplay. Certainly it’ll have done a lot better than its 137 chart placing (reputed UK sales, 300 copies), and perhaps the upgraded version that everybody knows would never have happened. Which means no comic book video. Perish the thought.
Three and a half decades, two splits and a “farewell” tour later… and the boys are on the road celebrating the 35th anniversary of their debut, which also means I’m attending my first proper a-ha concert. I say proper as I did bag a last minute ticket to something carefully billed as “An evening with Morten Harket, Savoy and Magne F” — a live showcase of the trio’s individual solo careers — at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2008. Of course they succumbed to the inevitable and dashed off a quartet of a-ha songs together in the encore, but in February 2020 in Sydney this is the real deal. And guess what? They’ve brought together Rick Astley for the ride. Oh, the irony.
You’ve probably worked out by now that I’ve never been keen on Rick’s music, and may or may not have called him Prick Astley back in the crappo days of Stock Aitken Waterman. Oh well.
I should point out that I have absolutely nothing against Rick personally. Quite the opposite in fact. During two distinct periods a decade apart in London I got to know him a bit; coincidentally, both times the year before I emigrated, first to The Netherlands and then to Australia, so our friendship was fleeting, but as firm as his trained out bod was at the time.
In 2001, I found myself standing next to Rick Astley at a Soft Cell reunion concert at the then shiny and new Ocean venue in Hackney, as you do. He was shorter and with darker hair than I imagined, wearing spectacles but outrageously well preserved with those neatly scrubbed boy-next-door looks still intact and remarkably unlined.
His body language was intriguing. Obviously not wanting to draw attention to himself, he was much quieter and unassuming than the flamboyant and pretty obviously gay friends he’d arrived with.
Career-wise, Astley had been virtually non-existent for so many years, deciding teeny-bop pop wasn’t for him and shifting gears into occasional soul tinged adult-contemporary releases and a fair amount of reclusiveness. His most recent album was eight years old and had flopped badly.
The internet phenomenon of Rick Rolling that inexplicably turned Never Gonna Give You Up into one of its founding memes and kickstarted his second pop at the cherry, was still several years away. Naturally, to catch him in the so-called “wilderness years” I was more than a little intrigued. I was News Editor for MOJO Collections magazine at the time, so with one eye on a story and another looking for clues to establish if, in fact, he’d become a Friend of Dorothy, I struck up a conversation with him.
He was such delightful company he allowed me to conduct an impromptu hastily-scribbled interview with him on the spot; the two of us getting on so well that we exchanged emails and became pen pals, and later, when I moved to Richmond, Surrey* in 2012 for my final year living in Britain, gym buddies too. A lovely, sweet man, and quite a tight little body on him, too. And in case you’re wondering, he was very happily married to his wife Lene. Still is, in fact.
“Rick came through that Stock Aitken Waterman pop machine. He’s got the respect he deserved all long later in his career. That’s something we can relate to. Coming back in 2000, we finally got a lot of cred from a new generation of musicians like Coldplay, Travis and Keane. There’s bound to be some crossover between our fans and his fans, a celebration of a certain time for the people in the room.” Mags Furuholmen, February 2020
So, on 26 February, celebrating my six years in Australia what better way to celebrate than a delightful double header: a-ha with very special guest Rick Astley. Ker-ching! The housewives of Sydney were getting creamy.
The city’s First State Super Theatre at the International Convention Centre complex opened in 2016 to replace the old Entertainment Centre where everyone from Elton John to Eurythmics, Roxette and Vylie Kylie had captured a live record for their respective tours. Good sight-lines apparently. Oh, Bowie did Glass Spider there too. Unfortunately.
With its fan-shaped layout designed to give the audience even better sight-lines than those traditional arenas of old, the widely and impressively tiered First State has a capacity of 9,000 and so feels more like the mega oversized theatres of Vegas than somewhere to catch Priscilla or Mamma Mia.
Just after 7:30, Rick took the trip down Stock Aitken Waterman memory lane when he launched his set with Together Forever, getting the people onboard with immediate effect, and backed by a slick four-piece band and two backup singers
Then he went straight into a new track called Beautiful Life. No one wants to hear the new stuff, right? Wrong. The song was smooth slice of clipped funk and kept the throng on their feet and clapping along. Astley, dare I say it, was a cool customer. Enthusiastic in a kind of slightly less cheesy wedding singer mode, energetically darting all over the stage and clearly having a great time, casually twirling or flipping his mic in his hands between lyrics, his smooth baritone effortlessly belting out his hits. He joked around, slipping in a couple of Carry On-style one liners and thanked the a-ha team for “not being assholes.”
I’ve often had a hard time watching someone I’ve known in the real world doing their stage “act”. It’s sort of the same person, only exaggerated innumerable times, sometimes disconcertingly so at the best of times. But Rick was kind of what I was expecting. Still sweet, humble, and hilariously self-deprecating. The years have been good to him, physically and vocally.
With his rich soulful croon sounding a bit like a cross between Elton John and Rag’n’Bone Man at times, the rest of the set continued the mixture of old and new along with a mashup of Take Me To Your Heart and Rihanna’s We Found Love. Recounting his teens sharing limos on tour with local legends INXS, Astley launched into a decent cover of the band’s 1987 smash New Sensation, before finishing his set with something from the same year, yup, the career-definer that is Never Gonna Give You Up.
OK, I concede, I was on my feet by then. It’s a decent if repetitive song made better by it being sung by one of very few great vocalists that emanated from the SAW stable. It’s how Rick rolls.
Catching a-ha’s 35th anniversary tour to celebrate Hunting High And Low is especially poignant. Their first ever live shows kicked off in Australia in June 1986 promoting the very same debut album (the Top Of The Pops clip above is actually from January 1986 and was the very week they replaced West End Girls at No.1), and after a concert at Sydney’s State Theatre two days before my seventeenth birthday they left the country never to return… until now.
In 2020, the band are riding the crest of a wave powered by the evergreen appeal of Take On Me. The song, with its groundbreaking, pioneering video, defines the word iconic and the reach of online streaming has reactivated engagement levels enormously — the Steve Barron-directed comic book clip has its own level of fame so ubiquitous that it apparently averages almost half a million views on YouTube per day.
It must have been immensely satisfying to find that new celebrity fans were coming out of the woodwork, too. Kanye West, U2, Radiohead, Leonard Cohen, Robbie Williams, Oasis, The Killers, Keane and Coldplay have all dropped major compliments or cited the band as an inspiration. Not just excitable women and gayers after all then.
U2’s Adam Clayton, the latter of whom described the Nordic trio as “a rather misunderstood band. They were looked upon as a group for teenage girls, but in reality they were a very creative band.” For years poor old Morten Harket had been insisting he was a serious artist, and grumbling about all the attention to his wretched cheekbones. And now, at last, vindication. If Chris Martin can credit a-ha as a formative creative influence, repeatedly referring to them as one of his “favourite bands of all time, ”won’t the world now take him seriously too?
This is the rub. I posted something on Facebook which described a-ha as an under-rated band, only to be admonished by a super fan of theirs (the same one I accompanied to that Albert Hall “solo” show. Hi Becci!) that they were nothing of the sort, and citing the news just a week earlier that Take On Me has achieved a rare status; its video was one of only two 1980s clips to to pass 1 billion views.
Alas, she’d just made my point for me. Take On Me is such a huge epochal singular moment that gained a life of its own, so much so that in the eyes of the majority of the general public that probably won’t even read this article, it’s overshadowed their career to the massive detriment of their other excellent material. Therefore they get pigeon-holed as an ‘80s act, and anything after then is indeed under-rated and, heaven forbid, barely remembered.
It’s also evident from their interviews that the band are sore that many journalists missed the depth of those songs at the time, but “People never saw past the cheekbones and the glossy surface,” complains Furuholmen. “The problem is you want it all, don’t you? If you have success you want credibility, and if you have credibility you want success.”
Chart-stormers such as The Sun Always Shines on TV and Hunting High And Low were symphonic masterpieces, grounded in classical theory and powerful prog-rock overtures, and rich with harmonic language. This was a band whose formative influences were Jimi Hendrix and The Doors after all. Funnily enough, it was Harket’s constant ligging at Steve Strange’s Camden Palace club night when he first arrived in London that turned him on to electronic synth-based music; Soft Cell in particular. See, they do have something in common with Rick after all.
In recent years, a good proportion of their audience probably veered away from swooning over Scandi rockers in favour of Scandi home interiors and nights watching Scandi thrillers on Netflix. Nevertheless, those with a modicum of taste are in love with a-ha again, a bit like back in the mid ‘80s when between Take On me and my personal fave The Sun Always Shines On TV they topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and a further 40-odd countries. This time the hairier clientele have a better appreciation of their musicianship rather than mere poster boys to get sticky over.
As I write this, Canadian singer songwriter The Weeknd, who wasn’t even born when Take On Me was released, is currently sitting atop of the charts with his cover version of the song, helpfully retitled Blinding Lights, which even managed to knock Billie Ellish’s Bond theme off her perch after just a week.
So it’s with a heightened degree of anticipation that a-ha make their long awaited return down under. Unlike many other more dated ‘80s hits, Take On Me has certainly stood the test of time, and judging by the cheers and screams from the thousands of fans so have the band. As I hadn’t physically held Hunting High And Low in my hands since I left home, I’d completely forgotten the sequencing of the LP. So when the opening bars of that surging, synthesised LinnDrum blast out just after 9pm, there’s a scurry of screams, hormonal release and whipping the phones out as the lime green lasered light – go! – reveals the band on stage, the propulsive kick drum pounding the ground as synth legend’s Mags Furuholmen jaunty synth riff danced over the top.
I immediately assumed it was a Bowie doing Space Oddity type moment, ie “I’m so sick to death of this one, let’s get it out the way first.” I was half right. A little research threw up that Pål Waaktaar-Savoy, the band’s main songwriter and lead guitarist, does like to get it out of the way, but it’s also the opening track of the album, and tonight Matthew, they’re playing it in its entirely, and in the original running order.
They tore through the song’s earworm verse, the curious phrasing of the lyrics as enigmatically intriguing now as they were 35 years ago. The big moment getting closer and closer as the verse capped off with its endearingly strange question, “I’ll be coming for your love, okay?”.
“Take on Meeeee,” Harket sang beginning the ascent, before the band repeated the line back albeit from a much lower, safer footing. “Take me ooooon,” he sang inching up. The band dropped into half time. “I’ll be goooooooone,” he crooned, slipping on the first word but grabbing the second and assuredly scaling up the third to coo the next line.
“In a day or…”
The band redlined back up to full speed. The crowd held its breath. And then Harket, with one hand casually stuffed in his jeans pocket, sang like a broken hearted angel returning to heaven.
Truly transcendent. Even if the effort did leave him noticeably reeling.
Rather than the usual anticipation of a massive hit – will it be an encore? – it’s all too soon passed by after a frenzy of middle-aged bopping. There’s always a risk with playing an album in track order but for a-ha it’s riskier than most; most of their early hit songs are over before the album is halfway through.
Tracking time since the Eighties, the audience is curious to see how they’ve turned out. The boys are mainly clad in black leather jackets and jeans, though not so high-waisted. It’s heartwarming to see that at 60, Morten has retained his impressively taut physique — only Sting or Billy Idol could give him a run for his money in the fit elder statesmen of music stakes — and his voice remains transcendent at times, bell-like with a crispness and clarity of expression that soars, and still with that endearingly posh diction that shows itself on certain vowel sounds (think “keyholes” on Cry Wolf and you’ll know what I mean: like many Northern Europeans, if they haven’t picked up their English from American media they tend to sound like an upper crust aristocrat holed up in a castle).
Keyboardist Mags has aged pretty well too, and as the least introverted of the three appears to be the orchestrator and time-keeper, conducting the band and the crowd with precision; the only one to engage with the crowd with any kind of ease and regularity, doing so with his trademark wit and quirky little quips.
Pål, or Paul as he likes to be known, is still as stick-thin as ever, and saying precisely nothing throughout the show, he remained studiously devoted to his guitar duties looking like a cross between a scarecrow and an elf.
The sun may always shine on TV but tonight it’s the bitter chill of a Scandinavian winter. The musicians are serious, not overplaying for the fun of a nostalgic revved-up crowd, and while the music is technically precise, the trio are often as far removed as possible from each other on stage, hard to frame together in a photo for all the smartphone junkies surrounding me. None of them could be accused of being natural showmen. They rarely engage with each other, little islands adrift, and Morten in particular lacks the shy smouldering smile and the lingering looks that got all those hearts pounding years ago. Now he just looks brooding, sullen, and, well, a bit stiff.
When Take On me revved up, he entered the stage wearing his glasses, placed them by the drum kit and then, save for a couple of songs, doesn’t pick them up again until they walk off stage for the final time. If he’s worried about dressing room security something tells me if any middle aged fangirl or boy would be more interested in his undergarments than over the nose spectacles.
Amid the dolorous sonic textures, Love Is Reason is, dare I say it, almost perky. Its top-line synth melody, ironically, wouldn’t be out of place on a Stock Aitken Waterman hit.
Arguably the LP’s finest moment is the astonishing The Sun Always Shines On TV, a-ha’s only UK No.1 single, which swells into a turbulent rocker; Furuholmen’s mid-section turnaround is another dazzling move.
On the face of it, the fizzing I Dream Myself Alive would seem equally upbeat but Harket can’t resist plunging into the depths of despair (“Right from the start, I knew this world would break my heart”). What lingers through the songs is that undeniable sense of melancholy that only Scandinavians can really pull off. Even at their cheesiest ABBA had it, and as Morten sings, “Here I stand and face the rain. I know that nothing’s gonna be the same again,” songs become, decades later, no longer poppy and deceptively upbeat.
The highlights are where the songs slow down, Hunting High And Low with acoustic guitar and moody lighting, the only point where Morten briefly reaches out to engage with the crowd and encourage a sing-along. He even gave a half smile at the song’s completion, which would turn out to be a rare moment of warmth tonight.
With the slightly forced manners of an aloof man playing the pop star through gritted teeth, the world would have a job to take Morten Harket as seriously as he does. I don’t know if it’s jet lag, a bad back or just a bad mood, but for such an expressive, characterful vocalist Morten is a surprisingly wooden performer, doing precious little on stage other than the singing thing. And tonight he has a few problems in that department too.
I notice he’s fiddling with the in-ear monitor in his right ear rather too much for comfort. “I can’t fully hear myself,” he tells the crowd and, more importantly, the sound technicians stage left, adding that there’s “A bit of an ice pick coming through from outside,”
An interesting if chilling metaphor, especially considering Leon Trotsky spent a year of his exile in Norway not long before his assassination.
Sadly, this would be the theme for the evening. Barely a song went by when he wasn’t fiddling with said ear-piece, as well as making silent signals to the sound desk (presumably to adjust his ‘mix’ in the ear monitor). Apart from a couple off slightly off moments early on it didn’t seem to affect the pitching of his beautiful as ever vocals, thankfully, but as for his mood, well, that’s another story. He’ll barely say another word the entire show, or move in time to the music. Mags bounces, Paul taps his feet, but the singer just stands there. Christ, Morten, even Neil Tennant allows himself the odd slap of the thigh occasionally.
Of course, the songs are excellent nonetheless. And the live shows aren’t going to completely ignore the subsequent hits that confirmed a-ha as global megastars, and the second set serves up a selection of post-1985 cherry picks, beginning with the haunting Crying In The Rain against a stormy-blue back projection.
The fact that they recorded this Carole King classic made famous by the Everly Brothers at all was and still is completely out of character for the band, who didn’t generally other people’s songs. Still don’t in fact. Though if you cast your mind back to the time it was done —1990 — I’m certain it would have been a record company idea to bag a surefire hit for a band in commercial decline.
And who had led the way in dashing off carbon copies of old rock and roll ballads from the Fifties and Sixties? Oh, only Stock Aitken Waterman via Kylie, Jason and someone called Rick Astley.
The elegiac Stay On These Roads showcased the famous high notes to perfection and the radiant rocker I’ve Been Losing You reminded me how a-ha’s first few singles are up there with the likes of Roxy Music and Kate Bush as one of the most audaciously assured starts to a musical career ever.
Their imperial phase pretty much ended with the song that closes tonight’s show, a note perfect version of their James Bond theme The Living Daylights, which was just as thrilling as the film itself, if not more so.
The genuinely appreciative audience reignited their love for the resurgent a-ha. And what the trio lack in onstage charisma, they more than make up for in the song department. Rick Astley in reverse then, and inexplicably together forever.
a-ha: The Movie is set to be broadcast in theatres around the world on November 26 via Esther van Messel’s First Hand Films
BONUS: In late 2012, I decided I wanted to live in the leafy outer London fringes of Richmond & Twickenham area for my last year living in Britain. Among the numerous properties I viewed (largely via the ever popular spareroom.co.uk) was a house share at The Boathouse in Ranelagh Drive, which had been covered to rooms after The Who’s Pete Townsend put it up for sale some four years previously.
I knew the building had a long and illustrious history as Townsend’s Eel Pie then Oceanic Studios, but I only discovered in the course of researching this article that a-ha had recorded the Hunting High And Low album there in 1984, and that they had even posed for pictures on the balcony of what is now a bedroom, but not any old bedroom; the actual one that I was interested in renting.
Naturally, I loved the idea of having my own private outdoor terrace that looked directly down on to the River Thames (with the historic Richmond Lock and Twickhenham Bridge directly behind it, to the right of the pic) but alas, all the shared areas felt very much like student accommodation. And the place smelled damp. No fun in winter, which it was. So I ended up taking something on the fourth floor of a mansion block on Richmond Hill, just a bit further upstream.
Four doors along was Jerry Hall, in the family home she acquired in the divorce from Mick Jagger, and a little further up the road was Pete Townsend himself, who was now the owner of the far grander The Wick, and where the Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock And Roll had been demoed by Jagger, Bowie and Ron Wood. Townsend was a quite an admirer of Morten’s voice back in the day (and possibly other features too) so it’s all good.
BONUS 2: If you ever find yourself in Oslo, you could do worse than a visit or stay at The Thief, the only designated Design Hotel in Norway and one in which Magne is closely involved with: the lobby is strewn with his artworks, and his pan-European supergroup project Apparatjik have also designed an entire suite. I warn you, it’s pricy.