|King Drapes, The Finnish Teddy Boys
The story of the King Drapes goes way back to 1992. It was then that Anu-Katja Savolainen, Sami Savolainen (both essential members of King Drapes to this day) and Markku Salminen began to play together in southern Finland. Early 1993 saw the trio renting a new rehearsal room and filling out the line-up with bass guitarist Sami Waurio and drummer Jarmo Merisaari. After some rehearsing of a cover-based repertoire, the band were cut short after just one gig under the name "Lost & Found", when Sami and Anu-Katja moved to another town.
In the spring of 1994, Anu-Katja & Sami moved back to Turku and began gathering another band. Markku Salminen returned as sax-player, Viktor Söderlund was recruited as drummer and Jukka Nurmi joined the ranks on upright bass. This band was named "Crazy Lee". The name had come from the bankrobber in a western movie. From the very beginning, the quintet were searching for their own style, again playing covers, mainly of the more country-sided rockabilly stuff.
In September of that same year, bass-player Jukka took a break due to his studies. Rainer Kulatunga was recruited and in came Pasi Karppinen as another singer, who added a heap more of well-known rock 'n' roll standards. After several months of reherseal, the 6-piece band took the stage at a local restaurant in November 1994. From December '94 until June '95 they had an additional member, a keyboard played named Mika Lyytinen, in their ranks. During this time they made their first demotape, cutting four originals and two covers. The tape received favourable reviews. On stage Crazy Lee played 90% covers. The rest of 1995 saw a few personnel changes again: Jukka Nurmi returned on bass, replacing Rainer Kulatunga. Out went drummer Viktor and in came Juha Schali, formerly a member of The Wheelers. Just before the year was through, Pasi too left the band.
Soon after, January 1996 saw a change of name to "Uptown Feature". They wen't into the studio and made another tape, which included four self penned tunes. That September, Jukka Nurmi left the band again and a bass-guitarist Jussi Peltonen was drafted. There was a little change in sound with electric bass rather than upright, and the departure of saxophonist Markku Salminen.
In February 1997 the foursome were back in the studio where they recorded 9 songs, almost live in just one day. Pasi Karppinen was also present and Sami took the opportunity to add new guitarplay to those earlier recordings from July '96. These 13 songs were released on the bands debut CD, which comprised of twelve originals and just one cover. The album sold out during the very same year.
As summer came, Jussi left and the combo became a trio. Anu-Katja, who had played bass years before, took over the bass duties. The band shifted to more of a "Teddy Boy Rock 'n' Roll" sound. This sound wasn't really illustrated by the name, so Sami came up with the moniker "King Drapes", and here they are: Anu-Katja Savolainen, Sami Savolainen and Juha Schali. In February 1998 the King Drapes entered the studio and recorded some self penned material in Finnish and English. The future was set for the British Ted-styled King Drapes, and a tape was sent to King Ed Records, Germany, resulting very quickly in the release of an EP "Cat On The Roof" in May 1998.
During 1998 the King Drapes played gigs in Finland and Sweden, they were on National Finnish television and they played at national Finnish hit-contest. In October and December 1998 the King Drapes entered the studio again and recorded 18 songs, mostly originals: 12 for the King Ed debut album on Castle Records and 5 songs for English Fury Records, to be released on forthcoming compilation albums, and one original song which is still unreleased.
In December 1998 Juha Schali left the band, just 2 days before the next gig and Anu-Katja and Sami had to do the gig on their own, they borrowed the drummer from their support act and the gig wen't rather well. At the same time the German Dynamite Magazine released one of King Drapes' songs,"Maria" on their single series (number 19). In February 1999 drummer Petri Ketola joined the band and the King Drapes started gigging again.
Petri only did about 10-12 gigs with King Drapeswhen Sami and Anu-Katja decided to let him go. Soon after this, a new drummer Rickard Malm joined the band. In October 1999 Fury Records released 3 of King Drapes' songs ("BSA","Emma" and "Goin' Down That Road") on their "1,2,3,4 Listen To The Teddyboy Roar" compilation CD. In December 1999 Run Wild Records from the USA released one King Drapes song "Good Old Man" on their Friday Nite Rumble Volume 4 compilation. The song got good radio airplay in Houston Texas.
In February 2000 the King Drapes released their first full album titled "My Rocker", which comprised 8 originals and 4 covers. At the same time the band got booked to the 9th Teddyboy Weekender at Great Yarmouth, UK. In 2001 The King Drapes got two cd's out in Finland, where they are known as "Anu & The King Drapes", because they also do rock 'n' roll records in Finnish language. The future looks bright for the band: they have started to recieve fan letters and messages from various countries, as well as inquiries to play in other european countries.
Adapted from a story by Marc Fenech for Southern & Rocking Music