Bo Hansson

Bo Hansson (April 10, 1943 – April 23, 2010) was a Swedish keyboardist and composer best known for his 1970 album Sagan om Ringen, released internationally as Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings. He first achieved national fame in the organ-psych duo Hansson & Karlsson.

Background, Early Career

He was born Bo Ingemar Gunnar Hansson in Stockholm and spent his early years in a remote village in Sweden’s northern pine forests. After a forced separation from his parents due to family finances, he reunited with them as a teenager in Stockholm, where he took to the capitol’s first wave of rock n’ roll. He first played guitar and scored one of his earliest in gigs in ‘Slim Notini’s Blues Gang, a founding Swedish R&B group.

In 1964, Hansson formed the R&B/beat group The Merrymen, which opened for the Rolling Stones on their first Scandinavian tour. The Merrymen cut two 1965 singles on Karusell: “Walking Down Lonesome Road” (b/w “Spider”) and “Searchin'” (b/w “Understand”). On the latter, they’re identified as The Merrymen With Boz, the “Boz” in question being a young Boz Scaggs, who busked in Sweden that year and even cut an album for the local market.

Hansson & Karlsson

In 1966, Hansson caught a show by American soul-jazz organist Jack McDuff at Stockholm’s Gyllene Cirkeln Club. Impressed by the sound and energy, he disbanded The Merrymen and purchased his own Hammond organ. Meanwhile, ex-Merrymen Bill Öhrström moved into A&R at Polydor Sweden and introduced Hansson to numerous musicians, including drummer Janne Carlsson.

Hansson and Carlsson formed the organ-rock duo Hansson & Karlsson, which gained national fame and released three albums on Polydor: Monument (1967), Rex (1968), and Man at the Moon (1969). They caught the attention of Jimi Hendrix, who jammed with the duo at Klub Filips in Stockholm in late 1967. He later recorded their song “Tax Free,” released in 1972 on the posthumous Hendrix comp War Heroes.

By 1969, Carlsson parlayed into TV work and comedy, where he found his calling. Hansson dissolved the partnership and started work on his first solo project.

Solo Career

Hansson drew his inspiration from the 1954 high fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by English author J.R.R. Tolkien. He spent several months in a sublet apartment, where he worked on instrumental material around the clock (prompting complaints that led to the subletter’s eviction.)

During the winter of 1969–70, Hansson borrowed a four-track recorder and set up studio in an island cottage, offshore from Stockholm. He enlisted veteran jazz drummer Rune Carlsson (Krzysztof Komeda, Attila Zoller, Freda Payne, Red Mitchell Trio) and engineer Anders Lind (Mecki Mark Men, Hansson & Karlsson, Harvester, Handgjort) for the project.

Lind enhanced the tapes at the Swedish Nation Radio headquarters, where he gained access to their eight-track recorder (the only one in Sweden at the time) and enlisted two session players, saxophonist Gunnar Bergsten (Sevda) and flutist Sten Bergman (Atlantic Ocean), both destined shortly afterward for Fläsket Brinner.

1970: Sagan Om Ringen

Hansson’s debut solo album, Sagan Om Ringen (Swedish for Lord of the Rings), was released in Sweden in December 1970 on Silence Records, established by Lind as the vinyl arm of his newly built studio. It features 11 numbers, all instrumental, including five two-part pieces. The cover displays a watercolor painting by Peter Lindblom.

Copies of Sagan Om Ringen filtered into the UK, where it caught the ear of music mogul Tony Stratton-Smith. He licensed the album for domestic and international release on his own label, Charisma Records (Genesis, Audience, Rare Bird, Lindisfarne, Van der Graaf Generator). This version, titled Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings, appeared in 1972 in the UK, US, and commonwealth markets. In the Netherlands, the album was issued on the Stateside label as In de Ban Van de Ring.

Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings (UK #34) sports a new cover, illustrated by Jane Furst. It shows a giant hand with a gold ring on the palm, rested on a valley with a castle-lined hill in the distance.

(more to come)


  • Sagan om Ringen [aka Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings] (1970)
  • Ur Trollkarlens Hatt [aka Magician’s Hat] (1972)
  • Mellanväsen [aka Attic Thoughts] (1975)
  • El-ahrairah (1977)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *