Today is the 36th birthday of bassist Bragi Olafsson, who was born in Reykjavik,
Iceland. Olafsson is best known for his work in the Sugarcubes, the avant-garde
pop band from Iceland that brought fame to quirky singer Björk, who went on to
solo success with her unique brand of dance-pop.
The Sugarcubes, who favored strange, offbeat melodies, came together in 1986,
reportedly on the day that Björk gave birth to her son. But, before the group formed,
the Sugarcubes' members had played together in different combinations in various
Icelandic groups. Olafsson and Einar Örn Benediktsson (trumpet/vocals)
had released records on Benediktsson's own label, Gramm.
In 1987, the Sugarcubes signed to One Little Indian in the U.K. and Elektra Records in
the U.S. The next year, they issued their debut, Life's Too Good, which received
raves on both sides of the Atlantic. The single "Birthday" became a college-radio hit and
the press began focusing on lead vocalist Björk's unusual presence and talent.
This caused tension within the ranks, as did the troubles Björk was having with her
husband, Sugarcubes guitarist Thór Eldon Jonsson. The couple divorced and, in
1989, Jonsson married keyboardist Margret "Magga" Ornolfsdottir, who soon joined the
group. In the meantime, Olafsson divorced his wife, the twin sister of Sugarcubes
drummer Sigtryggur "Siggi" Baldursson's wife, and married Benediktsson, becoming the
first openly gay, wedded couple in pop-music history.
The Sugarcubes released their second album, Here Today, Tomorrow, Next
Week! in 1989. Chiefly because it featured more vocals by Benediktsson, the album
was received far less positively by music critics. But the band soon embarked on an
international tour, after which each member went his own way for a time. In 1992, the
Sugarcubes issued Stick Around for Joy, which was greeted with even more
acclaim than their debut, but which was less popular because of its lack of a big single.
Frustrated with their personal clashes and lack of career momentum, the Sugarcubes
disbanded soon after. Around the same time, the band issued a last album of remixes,
entitled It's-It, which included versions of songs such as "Leash on Love,"
"Regina" and "Blue-Eyed Pop."
In 1993, Björk began her highly visible and successful solo career and is now
considered an important pop-music innovator. Olafsson, meanwhile, has
concentrated on Bad Taste Ltd., the company formed by the Sugarcubes to publish
poetry and sign other bands.
Other birthdays: Mike Hugg (Manfred Mann), 56; Michael James Kale (the Guess Who),
55; Denis Payton (the Dave Clark Five), 55; Eric Carmen, 49; Erik Braunn (Iron Butterfly),
48; Joe Jackson, 44; Charlie Sexton (Arc Angels), 30; Ali (A Tribe Called Quest), 28; and
Chris Kelly (Kris Kross), 20.