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
Norman is generally considered to be Sweden's leading boogie-woogie piano player, but also an accomplished all-round pianist, whose first TV-show was 1947 accompanying Edith Piaf. He was known for a distinctive nasal intonation and was the father of stand-up comedian Lennie Norman.
Charlie Norman was attracted to music early on, played the trumpet in his school orchestra and also studied piano.
His parents did not want him to take up a career as a musician without first securing a "proper" trade. So he began work as a lathe operator qualifying at ASEA. In his spare time he played the piano in his own dance orchestra and in an orchestra competition in Borlänge in 1937, Charlie’s prowess as a pianist was recognised and he was invited to join Sven Fors's dance band Estonians.
He did his first professional job in the summer of 1937 at "Societetsrestaurangen" in Varberg, following which he took engagements with orchestra conductors Håkan von Eichwald and Seymour Österwall.
Charlie was hit by TBC and ended up in hospital in 1942 for an extended period of time.
About the same time he began writing arrangements for recording sessions, and also prepared a correspondence course in arranging for dance orchestras.
By the beginning of 1940 he was already a very skilled boogie woogie pianist, and this musical genre became his signature. Charlie Normans boogie woogie playing became a great success when released on record in 1942.
He 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 the record company, Metronome 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 Charlie's repertoire.
During 1940 he made several appearances abroad, including his television debut in Paris in 1947, on a programme that also featured the legendary star Edith Piaf.
In 1949 he formed an orchestra to entertain the American Military at the officer's club in Frankfurt.
Starting in 1950 Charlie 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 he formed a trio with Rolf Berg and Hasse Burman and performed at many different theatres and showcases.
He made many recordings with the popular Swedish singer Alice Babs and they attained Sweden's first gold record. His collaboration with Alice was very successful and lasted for many years. In 1990 Charlie successfully persuaded Alice to make a comeback after a lengthy retirement in Spain.
He contributed to the popular radio program "Dagens Revy" along with Gösta Bernhard, Sickan Carlsson and Stig Järrel.
On television, he contributed to children’s programmes and the family programme Small Town. He scored and wrote much film music, both for short films and full length features such as The Pot Travel, That One Beds… and Dangerous Freedom. He also scored the music for the American television series, Foreign Intrigue that was shown in Sweden for 50 episodes.
Not only was Charlie Norman he a great pianist, but he had an excellent sense of humour, often being compared with Victor Borge. He wrote most of his material.
During the 1970s and 1980s he teamed up with his comedian son, Lennie Norman and Ronnie Gardiner for ten winter seasons on the Canary Islands where they entertained Swedish tourists. He also appeared in restaurant shows at the Berns and Bacchi Wapen restaurants in Stockholm, at Restaurant Trägårn in Gothenburg and Kronprinsen in Malmö.
In recent years he often played with Robert Wells, a great admirer of Charlie. Charlie was awarded the SKAP-Stipendiet 1966 and became the 1993 Fred Winter-Stipendiat. In 1997 he received the Lisebergsapplåden.