Skip to comments.ACE OF BASE'S SECRET NAZI PAST
Posted on 04/24/2013 2:05:51 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The internet has left us with unprecedented skepticism toward innocence. In the age of Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, it seems literally impossible for any public figure to exist without at least one skeleton clawing its way out of the closet. We even expect simple pleasures, like reggae-inflected Swedish pop group Ace of Base, to have a few secrets kicking around.
Well, they've got one.
Ulf Ekberg, a founding member of Ace of Base, started his career as a neo-Nazi skinhead.
Not only that, he created a platform for his ideals through his Nazi punk band, Commit Suiside, which sang songs with "explicit racist lyrics." How explicit you might ask? Here's a little example:
"Män i vita kåporna på vägen tågar. Vi njuter när vi huvudena av niggrerna sågar/ Svartskalle, vi hatar dig! Ut, ut, ut, ut! Nordens folk, vakna nu! Skjut, skjut, skjut, skjut!"
"Men in white hoods march down the road, we enjoy ourselves when we're sawing off niggers heads/ Immigrant, we hate you! Out, out, out, out! Nordic people, wake up now! Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot!"
In addition to performing with Commit Suiside, Ekberg was also a member of the Sweden Democrats, a political party that has publicly "rejected" any ties to neo-Nazism. This is interesting, considering the fact that the group was founded by Nazis, and active members still maintain connections with contemporary hate groups. For example, Anders Klarström, the former head of the Sweden Democrats. Funny enough, Klarström was also a member of Commit Suiside with Ekberg. Around the time that the band disbanded in 1986, Klarström was convicted of illegal firearms possession, as well as sending death threats to a Jewish theater director and entertainer named Hagge Geigert, who was publicly outspoken against racism and neo-Nazism. At the time, Klarström referred to Geigert as a "Jew pig," and threatened to burn him.
In 1998, a small Swedish record label called Flashback Records released Uffe Was a Nazi!, a limited-edition collection of Ekberg's output with Commit Suiside. The cover is a photograph of Ekberg giving the Nazi salute. Although only 1,000 CDs were produced, it was an extremely damaging attack on Ekberg's Nazi past and has become a major collector's item. Uffe Was a Nazi! includes five songs, like "Rör inte vårt land," which translates to "Don't Touch Our Country," and "Vit makt, svartskalleslakt!" which translates to "White Power, Black Skull Slaughter." It also, amazingly, finds the band rethinking the white-power, skinhead-punk act Skrewdriver's "Smash the IRA," translating the lyrics to German and renaming it "Smash the VPK." The VPK, or "Left Party," is a socialist and feminist party in Sweden:
Here's how Ekberg found his way into Ace of Base. In August of 1990, a Gothenburg musician named Jonas Berggren was hours from playing a show with his band, who'd been performing for several years as either CAD, Tech-Noir, or Kalinin Prospect. At the last minute, their bass player decided to ditch the show to go watch the Rolling Stones on the other side of town, so Berggren asked his friend Ekberg to fill in. A few weeks later they dubbed their new lineup Ace of Base, and the rest is history: "All That She Wants" blows up, Happy Nation/The Sign sells 23 million copies, and the group becomes one of the decade's most beloved pop acts.
It's unclear whether or not Berggren, or the rest of Ace of Base, knew about Ekberg's previous dalliances with neo-Nazism when they asked him to join. For some reason it's not really spoken about today, so when you tell your friends about this stuff, you can expect some jaws hitting the floor. Ekberg's response has been fairly noncommittal. In a 1997 documentary, he is quoted saying "I told everyone I really regret what I did. I've closed that book. I don't want to even talk about it, that time does not exist in me any more. I closed it and I threw the book away in 1987. I took the experience from it, I learned from it. But that life is not me. It's somebody else."
Today, according to his website, Ekberg is "a visionary leader and an eminent businessman." Ekberg is still in Ace of Base, but he's also working for a strategic-marketing company called Result, which has teamed with partners like BMW, Fiat, IBM, and LinkedIn. In 2002, Ekberg founded another entertainment-marketing company called Legion Network (now defunct), and worked with Canon, Motorola, and Nokia. From 2002 to 2005, he was an advisor to Nokia on their global music and fashion strategy.
But things get even more cryptic. Ekberg is also an active member of the German Marshall Fund's Asia Program think tank. Keep in mind, the GMF was formed in the spirit of (and named after) the Marshall Plan, the post-WWII, US-led economic-incentive program geared toward preventing the spread of Soviet communism and opening up recovering nations to democracy.
What does all this mean? It's simply incredible that this stuff hasn't gotten out, especially since it's hidden directly in plain sight. While researching this article, I spoke with many other journalists who had never heard this story. In fact, I've never heard anyone make reference to this secret history ever in my life. Not to get all Conspiracy Theory about it, but I just can't imagine a full recovery from this sort of hatred. What's also frightening is that Ekberg has now carved himself a position of extreme authority and influence. For many years, he was directly responsible for the ways in which brands and consumers connect, and is currently involved in a grant program specific to geopolitical ideology.
Did Ekberg use Ace of Base's success as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and erase his neo-Nazi past? I'm not sure, and part of me doubts it, but at press time, I can safely say I'll never be able to enjoy "The Sign," "Don't Turn Around," or "All That She Wants" in the same way, ever again.
Nowadays, Swedish nazists are more like Ralf Wadmann. Who joined Al Shabaab as one of their leaders.
The band went downhill further when they tossed the two original ladies out.
One wonders what the deal was.
Somebody saw the sign.
Oops, forgot my / sarc sparc
I remember them. They were supposed to be the next ABBA.
Very gay music but they must have been a smash in Europe.
We are lucky enough to be shielded from much of the Euro-tras because it would never make it on our charts. If Hasellhoff can get gold records in Germany then anything goes in Europe, not accounting for talent.
I find it rather amusing that the Swedish music scene consists mostly of throwaway pop acts and extreme metal bands.
I’d expect to hear something like this about a member of, say, Amon Amarth, but not about a guy in Ace of Base.
Speaking of ABBA, Frida's father was a German Wehrmacht soldier who was stationed in Norway during the war. Of course, that wasn't exactly a way to be very popular in Norway after the war, so that explains how she ultimately wound up in Sweden.
Ace of Base WAS the two ladies. The guys were just the background music.
I had heard this story more than 10 years ago. It is not a big secret.
A sad thing I heard was that the lead singer (the blonde) was stalked or threatened by fans or something like that and she started to put herself in the background in later videos. It was just some thing I heard — not sure if it really happened or not.
They were the next ABBA or Roxette. Luckily, I don’t think there have been any other since then.
I wouldn’t out the Cardigans in that category at all. Or Annie, or Peter, Bjorn, and John.
I remember a few years back there was a Swedish band called “The Hives” that had a song I liked called, “Hate to Say I Told You So.”
I just remembered the video because the bass player looked kind of like Ron Jeremy.
I kinda liked the Hellacopters for a while.
Amon Amarth is viking metal. Rage Against The Machine is far more towards the KKK than Amon Amarth are.
Yeah, teh ladies later sued teh guys for using “Ace of Base” for their name, so some slight band name alteratiosn were seen.
Especially since this was known 20 years ago!
Why hold his past against him? If those things were in his youth then let it be.
FWIW most young musicians are whores to whatever is going to get them a payday.
A-ha guilty of war crimes?
The Cardigans sentenced to death in absentia?
Come to think of it, for some people, Mamma Mia was a crime against humanity.
And what was Roxette trying to tell us with that whole black leather fixation?
If you charge $2500 to play covers at a wedding, but play your own material for next to nothing at a club.... you might be a professional musician!
Well, this guy obviously was/is (?) scum, but Mr. Shapiro could look into the lyrics of many a U.S. band to find racism.
Well Kurt Waldheim was able to pretty much erase his Nazi past to become Secretary General of the UN.
What did you have in mind? Toto? REO Speedwagon? Air Supply? (I know, they are Australian)
Fixed it....been there done that, night after night, until I finally wised up and went to engineering school.
The best comment about the group was someone who wondered why, at the tail end of the video for The Sign, one of the girls appeared to flick a booger. At the time, he described them as “the biggest thing since ABBA”, except for the booger flicking thing.
I wonder if Annie Lennox has returned to her own planet.
I thought Lennox was from China?