Hans Olson
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Hans Olson

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.[1][2] 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).[3][4] In 1996, Olson was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.[5][6] Both Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix New Times named Olson as one of the most influential musicians in Arizona.[7][8]

Musical style and influences

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.[9][10][11] His early inspirations were Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Muddy Waters. He is currently endorsed by Lee Oskar harmonicas.


Early years

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.[10] At the age of six, he watched Gene Kelly dance on TV and decided he wanted to be in show business.[1] At the age of nine, Olson heard the music of Johnny Cash and decided he wanted to become a musician.[4] He began playing music at the age of 12[12] and by 13, Olson was playing gigs, which offered the opportunity to be away from his alcoholic stepfather.[13] In his early teens, Olson became depressed and began drinking alcohol and using drugs.

Teenage years

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".[10] 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.[10]

Music career

In 1971, Olson was hired to perform radio commercials for Kirk's Electronics in Tempe, Arizona. Over the years he recorded several station identification ads for Phoenix, Arizona area radio stations.

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.[14] 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.[15]

In 1980, he toured coast to coast with Dave Mason; they played over 100 shows together. The same year, his album, Hans Olson Sings the Blues, reached No. 3 on the local Tower Records sales chart.[13]

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.[16]

In 1982, Olson toured with Brownie McGhee, playing harmonica and guitar.[13] This same year, Tom Fogerty recorded one of Olson's songs as the title track on his Fantasy Records release album, Deal it Out.[17]

In the mid 1980s Olson was part of the quartet, Hans Olson and the Rhythm Masters.[18]

In 1986 Olson helped found the Sun Club, a former hub of the Tempe music scene.[1] 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.[1]

In 1988, Olson helped to establish and organize the Phoenix Blues Society.

In 1990, Olson sang the opening and closing theme for the Burt Reynold's television series, Evening Shade.[19]

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.[13]

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.[20] He also performed at the Free Wheels Festival in France. He won "Best Solo Act" of the year at the Arizona Entertainment Awards show.[21] 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."[22]

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.[13]

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.

Olson's music has been released on many different record labels, including Virgin Records in Europe, Fervor Records in Phoenix, Arizona, and his own label, Sun Club Records.


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

TV and film credits

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
Army Wives 501 TV Lifetime 3/6/2011
Chicago Fire 315 TV NBC 2/17/2015
Chicago Fire 205 TV NBC 10/15/2013
"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
Stevie TV TV VH1 7/1/2013
"On the Porch Blues" Comic Book Men 101 TV AMC 2/12/2012
"Mean Disposition" Comic Book Men 105 TV AMC 3/11/2012
Outlaw Chronicles TV History 9/1/2015
"These Blues and Me" Comic Book Men 105 TV AMC 3/11/2012
"Something Bad" Haven 403 TV SyFy 9/27/2013
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
"Western Winds" Justified 412 TV FX 2/17/2015
"Hard Time" Justified 412 TV FX 3/26/2013
"Freeway Boogie" Mr. Pig Film Independent 1/26/2016
"50s Ups and 50s Downs" NCIS 1217 TV CBS 3/10/2015
Chicago Justice 105 TV NBC 3/19/2017
"The Sun's Going Down on Me" One Tree Hill 812 TV The CW 1/25/2011
Chicago PD 504 TV NBC 10/18/2017
Vaugand TV French Network Television 7/1/2013
"Someday" Stevie TV TV VH1 7/1/2013
Suburgatory 112 TV ABC 1/18/2012
"Sail On" Goliath 103 SVOD Amazon 10/14/2016
"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:

On tour

Olson has toured, performed, been an opening act for, and/or recorded with the following musicians (and others):


  1. ^ a b c d Golosinski, Matt (5 October 1995). "HARD-KNOCK MANLOCAL LEGEND HANS OLSON IS A MASTER OF THE BLUES--BUT WILL HE EVER GET CONTROL OF HIS DESTINY?". Phoenixnewtimes.com. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Vining, Bonnie (March 11, 2010). "Veteran Musician, Singer Hans Olson Performs Saturday". The Arizona Republic.
  3. ^ McClellan, Jennifer (June 30, 2010). "Top Things to Do This Weekend: Hans Olson Band". The Arizona Republic. p. 118.
  4. ^ a b Finnerly, Megan (June 30, 2005). "Valley's Olson Has 'Lived the Blues'". The Arizona Republic. p. 75.
  5. ^ "Hans Olson". Azblueshof.com. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "1/18: Arizona Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony". azcentral. Retrieved .
  7. ^ D'Andrea, Niki. "25 Influential Arizona Musicians | Valley News". Retrieved .
  8. ^ Leatherman, Benjamin (2016-06-20). "Arizona's 50 Most Influential Musicians". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved .
  9. ^ Mattox, Brie (November 26, 2010). "Concert Will Raise Funds for Music Hall of Fame". The Arizona Republic. p. 352.
  10. ^ a b c d Rodgers, Larry (September 5, 1999). "No Regrets: Bluesman Hans Olson looks back on 30-year Career". The Arizona Republic.
  11. ^ Geis, Georgia (January 4, 2002). "Hans Will Hang Close to Home". The Arizona Republic.
  12. ^ Krampert, Peter (2016). The Encyclopedia of the Harmonica. Mel Bay Publications. p. 132.
  13. ^ a b c d e Caputo, Salvatore (2 September 1999). "Deep Blues". Phoenixnewtimes.com. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ "Hans Olson - Western Winds". Discogs. Retrieved .
  15. ^ Woodbury, Jason P. (2012-02-09). "100 Years of Music That Defined Arizona". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "Hans Olson - The Aspen Tapes". Discogs. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "Tom Fogerty - Deal It Out". Discogs. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Sounds". The Arizona Republic. June 24, 1984. p. 94.
  19. ^ "Hans Olson plays Old Town Cottonwood". Verde Independent. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "1993 - Blues Peer". Blues Peer (in Dutch). Retrieved .
  21. ^ Joel Samuel (2008-09-15), Hans Olson Live @ The Arizona Entertainment Awards 1993, retrieved
  22. ^ "The Music of the Wild West - Original TV Soundtrack | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  23. ^ "Music by Hans Olson". Tunefind.com. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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