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Hans Olson (born July 3, 1952), is an American musician and songwriter. He is a singer and plays an amplified acoustic guitar and a harmonica in a neck rack. He is known as one of the best "harp-in-a-rack" players in the world. Olson helped to establish and organize the Phoenix Blues Society (1988), the Arizona Green Party (1991), the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame (1995), the Arizona Music Heritage Foundation and the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (2002). In 1996, Olson was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. Both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times named Olson as one of the most influential musicians in Arizona.
Olson usually performs solo, although he has played with many bands throughout his career. Olson combines a blend of blues, country, folk music and original songs. Olson has played with bands and artists such as The Allman Brothers, Tom Waits, ZZ Top, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Allison Kraus, Chuck Berry, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker, and John Fogerty.His early inspirations were Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Muddy Waters. He is currently endorsed by Lee Oskar harmonicas.
Olson was born in San Bernardino, California in 1952. At the age of five, his cousin threw an errant arrow which resulted in the loss of his eye. Olson's father died the same year. At the age of six, he watched Gene Kelly dance on TV and decided he wanted to be in show business.At the age of nine, Olson heard the music of Johnny Cash and decided he wanted to become a musician. He began playing music at the age of 12 and by 13, Olson was playing gigs, which offered the opportunity to be away from his alcoholic stepfather. In his early teens, Olson became depressed and began drinking alcohol and using drugs.
In 1967, Olson began his music career in San Bernardino, California as a lead singer in a Rock & Roll band. He also began performing solo gigs in coffee shops. As a stunt, he used to carry around a switch blade and cut his hand to "freak people out". On one occasion he was too intoxicated to realize he was holding a serrated steak knife, and he ended up cutting too deep and temporarily lost all movement in his left hand. Due to his injury and limited mobility, Olson started to play the harmonica because it only required the use of one hand. When his left hand eventually healed, he began to practice what became his trademark skill of playing the harmonica and the guitar at the same time.
In 1969, when he was 17 years old, Olson was disturbed by the news of Charles Manson's murder spree and the violence at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, and decided to move away from California. He moved to Arizona to complete his high school degree and pursue his music career.
In 1973, Olson was the opening act for The Allman Brothers and Boz Skaggs, with more than 22,000 people in attendance. The same year, he recorded his first album, Western Winds with Phoenix label, Joplin Records. In 2012, on the 100th anniversary of Arizona's statehood, the title song from this album was listed in the Phoenix New Times magazine as one of Arizona's 100 greatest songs.
In 1981, he recorded his album The Aspen Tapes with session musicians, Al Kooper, Albert Lee, and Mark Naftalin and produced by William E. McEuen, the manager and producer for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
In 1982, Olson toured with Brownie McGhee, playing harmonica and guitar. This same year, Tom Fogerty recorded one of Olson's songs as the title track on his Fantasy Records release album, Deal it Out.
In the mid 1980s Olson was part of the quartet, Hans Olson and the Rhythm Masters.
In 1986 Olson helped found the Sun Club, a former hub of the Tempe music scene.The Sun Club was fundamental in launching the careers of acts such as Dead Hot Workshop and the Gin Blossoms. After a few years, Olson filed for bankruptcy, and in 1992, the Sun Club closed.
In 1988, Olson helped to establish and organize the Phoenix Blues Society.
In 1991, he helped establish the Arizona Green Party.
In 1992, he toured as Michelle Shocked's opening act, and headlined a 40 day European tour, performing in France, Germany and Austria. Phoenix radio station, KZON, used his song "You Wish" to launch its programming.
In 1993, he performed at the Peer Rhythm and Blues Festival in Belgium along with Albert Collins, Delbert McClinton, The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, CJ Chenier, and The Jeff Healey Band.He also performed at the Free Wheels Festival in France. He won "Best Solo Act" of the year at the Arizona Entertainment Awards show. He also won "Best Solo Act" of the year in the Phoenix New Times Weekly, reader's choice awards. Several of his songs were played on the Time Warner mini-series "The Wild West."
In 1995, Olson helped create the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.
In 2000, he created the Sun Club Records label.
In 2002, he helped found the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.
In 2006, Olson signed with Fervor Records and has produced three full length albums and a music video for the label. Fervor also controls a vast majority of the Hans Olson back catalog.
Olson continues to perform and owns a recording studio in Arizona. His music has been placed in various TV shows, films, advertisements, and soundtracks for motion pictures.
|Artist||Album||Format||Record Label||CAT #||Release Date||Country|
|Hans Olson||Western Winds||LP||Joplin Records||LP-3266||1973||US|
|LP, Album, RE||Marshall Records||10320||1980||US|
|I'll Be Glad/Where Did it Go||Blond Sun Records||1001||1976||US|
|Blonde Sun Album||LP, Album||Blonde Sun Records||1002||1977||US|
|Sings The Blues||LP, Album||Creamo Records||1280||1980||US|
|The Aspen Tapes||7", EP||Blond Sun Records||42136||1983||US|
|Solo||Cassette||Blond Sun Records||1004|
|Hans Olson||CD, Album||Sky Ranch Records||SR 652314||1992||US|
|CD, Album||Sky Ranch Records, Virgin France||8390602, VI 390602||1992||US|
|Where's the Grey?||Cassette||Blond Sun Records||1005||1992|
|Blues Spotlight||VHS||Phoenix Blues Society||1994|
|Arizona Blues||CD||Willing Productions||WG951||1995||France|
|Kachina Blues||CD||Blond Sun Records||1006||1995|
|Other Sides||CD, Album||Willing Productions||WG 9801||1998||France|
|The Best of Hans Olson, Volume One||CD, Album||Sun Club Records||70882||2000|
|The Best of Hans Olson, Volume Two||CD, Album||Blond Sun Records||BS 1008||2003||US|
|The Best of Hans Olson||CD, Comp||Sun Club Records||SCR 70882||2000||US|
|Another Day with the Blues||Digital Only||Fervor Records||2007||US|
|Hard Time||Fervor Records||2009||US|
|Dust to Dust||Fervor Records||2013||US|
|Various||Wisdom For the Road||2003|
|Ominous Clouds||LP, album||Last Flash Records||71752||1982|
|All Star Rhythm & Blues||Comp. Cassette||Tempest Recording||1||1985|
|357 Miles East of L.A.||Comp. Cassette||Zia Records||1||1989|
|Totally Bueno||Comp. Cassette||Zia Records||2||1991|
|Southwest Holiday||Comp. Cassette||Fervor Records||FVRC01||1991|
|Arizona Unplugged||Comp. Cassette||Fervor Records||FVRC112||1992|
|Hijole!||Comp. Cassette||Zia Records||3||1992|
|Studio Z Live KZON Radio||Comp. Album||Indio Records||ICD-9302||1993|
|The Music of the Wild West||Comp. Album||Aspen Records||1994|
|Studio Brussels-Blues Town||Dino Music||DNCD1425||1995||Belgium|
|Desert Blues||Comp. Album||CDGB||1|
|Jazz, Rhythm & Groove||Comp. Album||Ooya Records||1997|
|Bluestown||Comp. Album||12th Street Records||TS3002||1998|
|The Music of the Wild West||Varese Sarabande Records||066821||2007|
|Blue Saguaro||Comp. Album||Fervor Records||1993|
|Sky Ranch: Discover America, Chapter 1||Comp. Album||1993|
|Shifting Gears||Artdream Entertainment||2003|
|2 Hours From Anywhere||Comp. Album||Perfect Circle Records||2003|
|Folk is Not a Four Letter Word, Vol. 2||2006|
|Justified||Comp.||Madison Gate Records||2015||US|
|Tom Fogerty||Deal It Out||Fantasy||1981|
|John McEuen & Hans Olson||Good Old Rebel||MP3||Varese Sarabande||2014|
|Steven Martin||The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo||2009|
|Artist||Song Title||Program||Episode #||Film/TV||Network||Airdate|
|Hans Olson||Opening and Closing Theme Song||Evening Shade||TV||CBS|
|"Another Day with the Blues"||Army Wives||710||TV||Lifetime||5/12/2013|
|"When I Get the Blues"||Being Human||110||TV||SyFy||3/28/2011|
|"Spirit of New Orleans"||Chicago Med||104||TV||NBC||12/8/2015|
|"All Night Boogie"||Comic Book Men||101||TV||AMC||2/12/2012|
|"On the Porch Blues"||Comic Book Men||101||TV||AMC||2/12/2012|
|"Mean Disposition"||Comic Book Men||105||TV||AMC||3/11/2012|
|"These Blues and Me"||Comic Book Men||105||TV||AMC||3/11/2012|
|Rock the Kasbah||Film||Open Road Films||10/22/2015|
|Vaugand||TV||French Network Television||7/1/2013|
|"Send You Back to Mama"||Justified||601||TV||FX||1/20/2015|
|"Freeway Boogie"||Mr. Pig||Film||Independent||1/26/2016|
|"50s Ups and 50s Downs"||NCIS||1217||TV||CBS||3/10/2015|
|"The Sun's Going Down on Me"||One Tree Hill||812||TV||The CW||1/25/2011|
|Vaugand||TV||French Network Television||7/1/2013|
|"Rich Man Poor Man"||Wynonna Earp||202||TV||SyFy||6/16/2017|
|"Earthman"||The Guest Book||1||TV||TBS||8/3/2017|
|"Dark Road"||Chanel x Barneys||Ad||12/12/2017|
His work can also be heard in the following shows:
Olson has toured, performed, been an opening act for, and/or recorded with the following musicians (and others):