Gone are the surfin’ days with The Astronauts

The American surf community suffered a huge loss in late November when two members of Boulder, Colorado group The Astronauts sadly died in just a few days from each other – vocalist-guitarist “Rich” Fifield on November 18, and drummer Jim Gallagher on November 20, 2021. Bassist Jon Patterson, the last original Astronaut, luckily is still with us, while the other two guitarists from the best-known line-up have also deceased, Dennis Lindsey in 1991 and Bob Demmon in 2010. Mark Bretz who was involved with the group as a singer and a pianist during their final years in 1967-1968, passed away in 1999.

Except for operating as a worldwide “role model” of a typical surf music band – without spending a moment near the sea or even the waves – in a way, The Astronauts also “brought” blues music to Finland! In the mid 1960s, then the newly formed Finnish guitar group Eero ja Jussi & The Boys (featuring the lead singing brothers Eero and Jussi Raittinen) cut their English cover version of T-Bone Walker’s Stormy Monday Blues – which they had in fact directly borrowed from The Astronauts’ LP “Everything Is A-OK!” (1964). The Boys’ historical recording appeared on the band’s debut album “Numero 1” (Number 1) in 1965.

Warm thanks and regards to “Stormy” Patterson, who once assisted in compiling the accompanying discography.

The Astronauts discography on WDD

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The Finnish licence releases of the 1950’s-1960’s

The records of foreign artists pressed in Finland are at the same time one of the most fascinating but also more unexplored areas of the Finnish collection history. The so-called import or license publications lived their golden age in the 1950s and 1960s, when not only foreign shellac and vinyl products were imported, but they were also produced in large quantities in local factories under international user agreements. In only a few cases did domestic companies still ended up releasing license material as complete serials of their own. In most cases, the music was selected for recordings by random sampling, mainly from previous catalogs of Great Britain, Germany and other Nordic countries – songs that were believed to be of most interest to Finnish music consumers. In addition to self-evident global million seller hits, this selection also included many obscurities, which existence in Finland can be considered at least illogical choices in today’s light.

The majority of the world’s best-known record companies, including e.g. Capitol, RCA, London, Parlophone, His Master’s Voice, Mercury, Liberty and Columbia, were represented in Finland by certain major music groups, such as Fazer Music, Levytukku, Pohjoismainen Sähkö, Scandia-Musiikki and R.E. Westerlund. The group also included actors focused on individual record brands, such as Discophon, which managed RCA’s domestic rights since 1958, as well as several international companies’ own ”branches” established in Finland. The record supply of the time can thus be described as at least reasonable.

Finnish-made picture sleeves, on the other hand, were not particularly common in our seven inch single and EP releases. Only a few domestic companies designed and printed their covers themselves, some resorting to materials imported from elsewhere, while others were content to bring the recordings to record stores in mere unidentified universal covers. However, all sorts of fascinating things were also achieved on this front.

The Finnish 78 rpm singles, licence & domestic series / international artists
The Finnish 45 rpm singles, licence series / international artists
The Finnish 45 rpm singles, domestic series / international artists
The Finnish 45 rpm EP’s, licence series / international artists
The Finnish 45 rpm EP’s, domestic series / international artists
The Finnish 33 1/3 rpm LP’s, licence & domestic series / international artists

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Introduction: Welcome to the world of WangDangDula!

Welcome to the deepest, the darkest and the most unexplored side of rock’n’roll jungle!

Ok, what you’re going to find here is simply loads and loads of information on “original” rock’n’roll, blues and rhythm’n’blues, mostly dating back to the 1950’s and the 1960’s. Basically all this stuff has been compiled as a hobby and primarily for my own private purposes and pleasure, but sure, I do hope that there are other people as well who might find the contents of this website useful and educational, perhaps even slightly entertaining.

I don’t consider myself an actual music expert. In any case, what it comes to discographical research, I’ll of course intend to be as comprehensive as I can. On the contrary, what I’m very aware of, is a number of errors and absences that still exist in my studies – and while I’m trying to do my best to get rid of them, please keep in mind that also a helping hand will always be valuable, needed and appreciated. In other words, if you have anything to add or to correct, don’t hesitate to contact me either by e-mail or using the comments form located underneath every separate WDD listing and blog post.

Please do also note that I don’t necessarily own all the records that are listed here. The main idea of Wang Dang Dula is to give you highly detailed recording/releasing data of an ever-growing group of more or less unordinary artists and bands – from an independent record collector’s view, obviously. Therefore, I’m not selling anything. I’m not trading anything. I’m not advertising anything or anyone. I have no association with the record labels mentioned here. I do not burn cd-rom copies for anyone. I do not send mp3 files to anyone. I’m not suggesting you to purchase any bootleg or pirate releases either – and I really don’t know where anyone would be able to get them. If you are interested in buying some of these items, then just do so by being in touch with the actual record dealers and companies, or by trying your luck with some of those various online auctions and other web market places that are trading music worldwide.

The wangdangdula.com domain was launched in 2005. However, the web page itself has been around – on several different network platforms – already since 1998, which makes it one of the oldest still active roots music oriented discography sites in our universe. The time-consuming process of transferring old data to this new WordPress template is currently underway. Do note that the previous “MBnet site” still exists as well, but it won’t be updated anymore.

Pete Hoppula, the author

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