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Pretty Maids

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Back in 1981 Ken Hammer, a young man from Horsens was crazy about Heavy Rock and his guitar. With his friend Ronnie Atkins, he started what would turn out to be the foundation of Pretty Maids. In the beginning cover songs were the basics in the band’s material, but soon this wasn’t good enough. Ken Hammer and Ronnie Atkins started to write their own songs, and as every other beginner Pretty Maids had a dream of releasing their own material and playing live gigs.

In 1982 they recorded a demo tape at their own expense which they presented to several record companies. Pretty Maids ended up at an English record company. In 1983 the EP Pretty Maids was released on Bullet Records. In December the same year Pretty Maids toured England and was proclaimed by the British music press proclaimed as the new Heavy band of the year. The success was so overwhelming that the record company had to set up a fan club. Pretty Maids also supported the legendary band Black Sabbath on their Scandinavian Tour in 1983. Ian Gillian, who at the time was the lead singer in Black Sabbath and a former member of Deep Purple, recommended Pretty Maids to a radio producer in London. As a result, a four-track live recording was made at the famous “BBC Friday Night Rock Show”.

Pretty Maids was signed to CBS Records in 1984. The EP was remixed and released throughout Scandinavia. Peter Collins (guitar) and John Darrow (bass) were sacked and replaced by Ricky Hansson (guitar) and Allan Delong (bass). In June Pretty Maids started the recordings of Red, Hot and Heavy in The PUK Studios in Denmark with producers Billy Cross and Tommy Hansen. It was released in October 1984 and achieved great success all over Europe. Before Pretty Maids went on tour Ricky Hansson was out and Peter Collins was back in.

After touring for the remainder of 1985, Pretty Maids went to the U.S. in July 1986 for the first time. They ended up at The Bearsville Studio inWoodstock, New York, and recorded Future World with producer Eddie Kramer (Kiss, Jimi Hendrix, among others). Ken and Ronnie went to San Fransisco to team up with Kevin Elson (Europe, Journey) who mixed  four tracks. Back in Copenhagen Ronnie and Ken finished the rest of the album with Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica). Future World was released all over the world in April 1987 and was followed up by a world tour. The tour included three weeks as opening act for Deep Purple as well as the Monsters of Rock Festival in Germany. Future World was the commercial break though.

In the spring of 1988 Pretty Maids started working on new material and in January 1989 they went back to the U.S. to meet with producer Roger Glover (Deep Purple, Rainbow). Together the three of them arranged a pre-production of the fourth album. In March the recordings started in the PUK studio in Denmark, with the album release scheduled for August that same year. This unfortunately did not happen as drummer Phil More was involved in a car accident during the recordings. The seriousness of the accident postponed the release until 1990. Everybody in the band was shocked but the recordings started again when Ian Paice from Deep Purple came in from London and offered his assistance. In August 1989 Ken and Ronnie went to the Hit Factory Studios and spent three weeks mixing the album with Roger Glover. The result was not quite what the band expected and in September Ken, Ronnie, Roger and Henrik Nilsson met at Werner Studio in Copenhagen and remixed the album. At the same time Alan Owen left the band for personal reasons. Jump the Gun was released April 1990 and Phil More was back and Pretty Maids went on tour after three years of silence. After a numerous concerts throughout the world and in support of Alice Cooper, Ricky Marx, Allan Delong and Phil More left the band for various reasons.

With the loss of three members, the future looked quite uncertain for Pretty Maids in 1991. But after a few weeks Ken and Ronnie refused to pack it in and started to write new material again. During the spring they recruited two new members - Michael Fast (drums) and the quite younger Kenn Jackson (bass). With this new four-piece line up, as well as a lot of renewed energy, Pretty Maids once again teamed up with producer Flemming Rasmussen to make a strong and quick follow up to the 1990 Jump the Gun album. The result was Sin-Decade, released in April 1992. It received a boisterous welcome, and with the single “Please Don’t Leave Me” riding high in the charts Pretty Maids toured Europe and Japan from August and throughout the year. The band released the acoustic album Offside in 1992.

During the spring of 1994 material for the next album was completed and in July Pretty Maids once again hooked up with producer Flemming Rasmussen for the recordings that led to the Scream album, released in Japan in 1994 and in Europe in 1995. Scream proved that Pretty Maids was back on track, keeping up with traditions with a much more guitar- oriented and hard-hitting album than the last one. In the summer they played a couple of festivals throughout Europe and in autumn the long-waited first official Pretty Maids’ live album, Screamin’ Live, was released. Apart from an appearance at the Roskilde Festival(DK) as well as a few other sporadic gigs Pretty Maids spent most of 1996 recharging their batteries and writing new stuff for their next album. Finally in November Ronnie and Ken teamed up with Red, Hot and Heavy’s producer, Tommy Hansen, to see if the old chemistry still was there - it was!

The next album, Spooked, was released in April 1997 and the band kept the promises they made in several interviews and returned with a heavy music attack of Danish dynamite. Spooked was highly praised by fans and critics throughout the world and immediately regarded as a Pretty Maids’ classic.

After these numerous studio albums and a world wide career, it was time for a best-of collection gathering the pieces of the past on one album. The Best of:  Back to Back was released in October 1998.

In 2000 the Danish heavy rockers released the album Carpe Diem, with a more melodic approach than their previous offerings. Even though it didn’t go down too well with certain factions of their fan-base, Carpe Diem is still a classic album which has all the Pretty Maids’ trademarks in abundance.

Pretty Maids released Planet Panic (2002), which was a trip back to the heavier sides of their catalogue.

In 2003 their management company, Rock On, went bankrupt due to some very unwise business moves in September 2002. This left Pretty Maids in a very bad financial situation and also left them with a lot of legal problems as well as lot of business and copyright mess.

Lead guitarist Ken Hammer was struck by a heart attack on December 6, 2003. He has recovered completely and has been on stage numerous times since the incident.

As of July 2005 drummer Michael Fast (since 1991) decided to leave before the recording of Wake Up to the Real World - an album that was originally intended to be released in 2005, but the initial recordings was postponed to the summer of 2006. In April 2006, new drummer Allan Tschicaja (Royal Hunt, Kingdom Come) was announced as Michael Fast's replacement.

In 2006, keyboardist Morten Sandager (Mercenary) joined Pretty Maids.


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