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Morten Harket is best known for being lead singer of the Norwegian pop band A-ha, which produced the 1980s hit "Take On Me" and its innovative music video.
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Singer Morten Harket was born on September 14, 1959, in the town of Kongsberg, Norway. He was part of the Norwegian pop band A-ha along with Magne Furuholmen (keyboards) and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars). Although Harket and his band performed and produced music up until 2011, they are best known for their sound in the 1980s, especially the megahit "Take on Me" and its accompanying groundbreaking music video.
Morten Harket was the second-born of five children. His father, Reidar, was a chief physician at a hospital, and his mother, Henny, was a home economics teacher. Harket has three brothers and one sister. He described his early school years as challenging. The young boy was known to daydream, caught up more in his fantasies than in reality. He also found himself the victim of schoolyard bullies.
While Harket managed to improve his social skills, he still continued to struggle to focus in school. The one subject he seemed to excel in was his Christianity class. This inspired Harket to study at a theological seminary. He was strongly drawn to the ministry as a profession, but one thing spoke to him even more: music.
Harket adored music since his preschool days, and this appreciation seemed to run in the family. His father had contemplated becoming a classical pianist. Harket took piano lessons for a spell too, but lacked the discipline to practice. He preferred composing and improvising instead. It was artists like Jimi Hendrix and Uriah Heep that really inspired him to pursue music, especially to sing.
In 1982, Harket joined his first band, the blues/soul group Souldier Blue, as a singer. Keyboardist Magne Furuholmen (also known as Mags) approached him about joining him and guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (formerly known as Pål Waaktaar) in a new band, but Harket played hard to get at first. Later that year he was swayed, leaving Souldier Blue for this opportunity. As for the band's name, Morten saw it in Waaktaar-Savoy's notebook. The guitarist was pondering using "a-ha" as well as "a-hem" for a song name. Harket was sold on A-ha as the group's name instead, because it came across as positive, simple and unique.
Just one year later, Harket and A-ha found themselves with a manager, Terry Slater, and a recording contract with Warner Brothers. It took the group more than eight weeks to record their first album, Hunting High and Low. On October 19, 1984, A-ha released a song from the album, "Take on Me," as a single. It debuted on the U.S. Billboard chart at No. 91 in 1985. This was historic, as A-ha became the first Norwegian act to make the U.S. charts. The hit continued to soar, thanks to an innovative music video unlike anything that had ever appeared before on MTV.
The video concept was the brainchild of Warner Brothers Senior Vice President Jeff Ayeroff, who envisioned a lifelike comic-strip character sketched in pencil that brings a real-life girl into his world. This exec tapped animator Michael Patterson and introduced him to Steve Barron, the director behind Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" music video.
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