1985 - the big breakthrough

March 1985      

"Love Is Reason" is released only in Norway and sells approximately 2500 of the 3000 copies issued.      

April 1985      

Take On Me - Second Release   Love Is Reason

5       "Take On Me" is re-released in the UK; this time with a different mix, produced by Alan Tarney, and a different sleeve. Unfortunately this is still not enough and the single fails to make the Top 100, only reaching No.154 in the UK charts.

Saturday Superstore - pictures by Lesley Jeavons

6       a-ha are interviewed by Mike Read and perform "Take On Me" on the UK BBC TV-show "Saturday Superstore".
29       "Love is reason" reaches number 2 in the Norwegian single charts, topped by "USA for Africa".

Jeff Ayeroft from the mother-office of WEA, Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, who formerly signed artists such as The Police, Madonna and Prince, is made aware of a-ha and decides to give them a direct contract. In the meantime, Pål goes to visit his girlfriend, Lauren Savoy, in Boston, USA. During his trip he phones Warner Brothers in America and to his surprise, they are already extremely positive about "a-ha" and have big plans for a for a new video to accompany their single "Take On Me". Jeff Ayeroft flies the band over to Los Angeles for an experiment: he lets them walk through the corridors of the office to test the reaction of the girls working there. They provoke the effect he wanted to get: chaos!

Take On Me - video strip

The decision is made to re-record "Take On Me" with a different producer and to make a hundred-thousand pound semi-animated video to accompany the song. Jeff had seen an art cartoon ("Commuter" - later used in the "Train Of Thought" video) by Michael Patterson and had the idea of making a music video. Patterson, Steve Barron and Simon Field are hired for the video and spend the next three months drawing the cartoons and making a storyboard for the video. The remainder of the video is filmed in Kim's Cafe in Wandsworth, London. Once finished, the video is sent out to TV stations a month in advance of the single release. Due to the uniqueness (at that time) of the video, it quickly becomes much talked about and on high rotation. By the time the single is released, a-ha are already well known within the music industry and the single becomes very successful worldwide.      

Take On Me video   Take On Me - USA

"Take On Me" is released in America a few weeks after the video is first aired there; during this period a-ha go to America.      

June 1985      
20?       The US Billboard magazine praises a-ha's first album that has just been released in the States. In other single reviews, a-ha are described as very photogenic and compared to Howard Jones and Go West.

a-ha's first album "Hunting High And Low" is released in Norway where it goes to No.1. It stays in the Top 100 for 43 weeks.      
July 1985      
9?       "Take On Me" enters the US billboard charts at number 91 and a-ha are the first Norwegian artists ever to be in these charts. At the same time the video for "Take On Me" is at number 4 in the US-videocharts and the English record company is now willing to re-release the single for the third time.
?       a-ha are in London for interviews with Japanese journalists. Take On Me Japanese 7"
16?       The album "Hunting High And Low" enters the American Billboard charts at number 167. Again, a-ha are the first Norwegian artists to enter the US album chart. The single is currently at number 86 in the US chart.
23?       The album moves up to number 152 on the US chart and the single to number 79. The Norwegian newspapers are following the billboard charts closely and are reporting each week.
25       "Take On Me" is released in Japan.
30?       The single climbs up to number 67 in the US Billboard charts and the album is up to number 128. The video is shown as a pre-film in US-cinemas and even some Hardrock-radio stations as well as one punk-station are playing songs from the album.
August 1985      

a-ha spend some time at home in Oslo, Norway awaiting news of the success of their single "Take On Me". Meanwhile, manager Terry Slater, is planning a promotional tour of America.

6?       The album climbs to number 89 in the US charts, while the single is at number 57.
13?       The album is at number 75 and the single at number 48 in the US Billboard charts.
20?       "Take On Me" is at number 38 and "Hunting High And Low" is at 62 in the US charts.
23?       a-ha meet the Norwegian press in Oslo and they reveal that they still have no money.
24       Aftenposten has a report on a-ha's history so far.
27?       Again, "Take On Me" climbs in the US charts, this time to number 28, the album is at number 57 and has already sold 250.000 copies, while the video is at number 1 in the MTV-playcharts.
30       a-ha go to the States for the first time to promote their single and album. First they go to Los Angeles to recover from the jetlag and to have a rest before the promotion begins. A reporter team from Aftenposten follows them around for two weeks, lots of pictures are taken (including around the swimming pool at the hotel Sheraton Universal in Burbank, LA) which are published later in the Autumn. Four big TV-shows plus promotion in LA and New York are planned. Terry Slater selects exactly which shows they should be on - he says no to the Johnny Carson show because it is to family orientated. They also get the first offer for a Hollywood film during this period.
September 1985      
"Take On Me" is again released in Norway; this time it goes to number 1 in the charts and stays in the Top 100 for 16 weeks.      
3       The first part of a-ha's promotional tour is spent doing radio shows; the first is with the Radio Station "KROQ" (which they chose as it was the first station to play "Take On Me" regularly), here they are interviewed for live radio by disc jockey, Richard Blade and there are people ringing in to ask questions. a-ha also sing Happy Birthday in chorus for a girl called Laurel. There are screaming teenagers waiting in the parking area for a-ha to arrive and five of them have the chance to go into the studio to get hugs and autographs of the band during the live show.
The next Radio interview is for the Station "KIIS". After this a-ha go to the "CBS" studios for a further radio interview; here they meet up with Paul Young who invites them to a concert and party the following day.
4       In the morning, the TV show "Solid Gold" is recorded at the Universal Studios. Dionne Warwick hosts the show and a-ha perform "Take On Me" with Gina from the Go-Go's on drums. On the way to the Japanese Sushi restaurant afterwards, they find a new game: see how often they can get "Take On Me" on the different radiostations available in the limousine!
a-ha are one of the very few white bands to perform on the American TV Show "Soul Train"; they mime to "Take On Me". In the evening a-ha attend Paul Young's concert. They sneak in when it's dark, but cause chaos when people begin to realise it's them. At the private party afterwards, a-ha meet up with other stars like King, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Britt Ekland, Paul Young. a-ha think about asking Dionne Warwick if she would pose for a photo with them, but before they get the chance, she asks for an autograph and a photo with them. They are the first to leave the party under orders by manager Terry Slater!

Party with Dionne Warwick and Elton John - Photo taken from the book a-ha The Story So Far by Tor Marcussen, 1986   On American Bandstand - Photo taken from the book a-ha The Story So Far by Tor Marcussen, 1986

6       a-ha appear on a further U.S. TV programme, "American Bandstand", where they are interviewed by Dick Clark and perform "Take On Me", again with Gina from the Go-Go's on drums. They also mime to "Train Of Thought" which they hadn't mimed to before. The hired dancers for the show wait around afterwards for autographs. After the show, there is a quick celebration for Pål's birthday, then a-ha are off to see "Lone Justice" and Chris Isaak in concert.
7       The promotional tour continues; a-ha go to Miami for a sales conference organised by Warner Brothers, then they head off for New York. In New York, more promotion is planned and they do more photosessions and interviews, amongst them "Rolling Stone" magazine and Andy Warhols interview. a-ha and Aftenposten are invited to a private Warner Bros. party at the Palladium for David Lee Roth whose first solo album is being released. George Michael and Brooke Shields are also amongst the guests of this party.
12?       On their last day in New York, Morten and Magne are interviewed by NRK's Reporter Oddvar Stenstrøm in Manhattan (broadcast on "Lørdagsrevyen" on 21st September).

Train Of Thought video strip

13       a-ha go to the "MTV" awards where they see Tina Turner amongst other people. After this promotion, a-ha return to Los Angeles to film the video for their forthcoming single "Train Of Thought". The video is again a semi-animated video and includes an original piece of film made by Michael Patterson called "commuter". The video is directed by Candace Reckinger and Michael Patterson and filmed by Michael's wife.

Take On Me - Third Release   Take On Me - Limited Edition

16       "Take On Me" is released for the third time in the UK, this time it is helped along with the new video which has already been played a lot on the Sky TV music channel "MTV". 50,000 copies are produced and sent out with a sticker "The U.S. Smash hit".
21       The first report by the journalists who followed a-ha on their US promotion tour is printed in the Norwegian newspaper "Aftenposten". The Norwegian NRK TV news "Lørdagsrevyen" shows a feature about a-ha in New York.
22       Third time lucky and a-ha make it into the UK charts at number 55 with their third release of "Take On Me".
24?       "Take On Me" climbs up to number 7 on the US Billboards charts and the album to number 30.

Morten returns to Oslo, Norway for his brother's (Gunvald) wedding; while Pål and Mags visit their girlfriends Lauren Savoy and Heidi Rydjord.

After three weeks of promotion in the States, a-ha are back in Norway and are called by "Rolling Stone" magazine who wants to sponsor their flight back to the US for a middlepage-feature. Manager Terry Slater says "no" as a-ha are going to London this week and then on to Australia and Japan.

27       a-ha's performance of "Take On Me" on "Solid Gold" is broadcasted in Australia. "Take On Me" is at number 1 on the US Sky Channel's "Video hit Line".
a-ha do two different interviews about their success in America and the UK; these interviews are released in the UK on 12" picture discs, "Baktabak" and "Tell Tales", in 1986 and 1988 respectively.      
October 1985      
1?       a-ha go up again in the US charts, this week, the single is at number 4 and the album at number 26.
5       An interview between a-ha and Rick Dees is broadcast on the American Radio "Weekly Top 40" as "Take On Me" has just moved up to number 2 in the charts. This interview is broadcast on local UK Radio.
7?       The single goes up to number 3 in the US Billboard chart.

The Sun Always Shines On TV video strip

9       Production starts on a-ha's next video "The Sun Always Shines On TV" which is filmed in a cathedral full of Mannequins in Teddington (SW London) and takes three days. This video is again directed by Steve Barron and starts off where "Take On Me" ends. The drummer seen in this video is Lindsay Elliot.
Late in the evening, a-ha get a call to say that "Take On Me" will be at number 1 in the American Billboard chart next week. At the time of the news, they are sitting in an apart-hotel in London. Magne's comment: "The Beatles needed two singles to get a number one." There are celebrations all round, for which Aftenposten buys the champagne, although they can't party too hard as they have to be at the film set for "The Sun Always Shines On TV" video the next morning!

a-ha are interviewed for the Australian TV show "Countdown" advertising that they will be next week's special guests.

11       After the announcment of the number one hit in the States, Norwegian companies are saying that they want a-ha to advertise for their products: the clothes factory "Dalen" and the sardin-can factory "Norwegian Foods Ldt. A/S" want to raise their profit in the States with the help of a-ha.
a-ha leave for Australia to do some more promotion. When they arrive in Sydney a-ha take a few days off to combat their jet lag before the intense programme of TV, radio and newspaper interviews begin. During their days off, a-ha do some sightseeing and visit the operahouse and some beaches, although the weather is rainy. Australia welcomes them with limousines and bodyguards at their disposal.
12       An interview between a-ha and Pat Sharp is broadcast in the UK on the sky programme "Sky Trax".

"Take On Me" top of the billboard, for the week ending October 19, 1985

14?       It's official, a-ha are at the top of the US Billboard Chart. They stay at the top for a total of 4 weeks. However, in Norway they still aren't at the top of the charts, beaten there by The Monroes.

In Sydney, a-ha are interviewed walking round a swimming pool and are interviewed for the TV-show "Countdown". They perform "Take On Me" and "Train Of Thought"; Morten writes autographs during the performance. a-ha also announce the other artists on the show. are are also interviewed for the TV-show "Sounds".

16       a-ha are interviewed on the Australian TV show "Razzmatazz" in Adelaide. Parts of this interview is also shown in 1986 during their Australian tour.
The intense promotion results in "Take On Me" being in 9th position in the Australian charts. The same week, a-ha are still at number 1 in the States (and the LP is at Gold status in the US); number 5 in England and at last at the top of the Norwegian charts. In the Hot Adult Contemporany, the American charts for adults, a-ha are in their sixth week and at number 4.
17       a-ha are on "3XY Hot Hits" in Australia. a-ha in Japan
19       "Aftenposten" prints a huge report on a-ha in their A-Magasinet. The report covers the band in California, being top of the charts, filming their new video for "The Sun Always Shines On TV" and their promotion in Australia. The US Billboard Magazine, with "Take On Me" at number 1, is released.
20       "Take On Me" reaches its highest position of number 2 in the UK charts; it is kept off the top spot for 3 weeks by "The Power Of Love" by Jennifer Rush.
21       a-ha go to Japan from Australia for a week of promotion.
23       a-ha are interviewed on "Sound market" in Japan.
26?       a-ha's performance of "Take On Me" and "Train Of Thought" is broadcast on the Australian TV Show "Countdown".
27       In Kyoto, a-ha are at the Kigomizu-Temple and do some promotion. Hunting High And Low
28       The album "Hunting High And Low" is released in the UK; it is produced by Tony Mansfield, John Ratcliff and Alan Tarney with a-ha and is mixed by John Ratcliff with a-ha.
a-ha perform "The Blue Sky" and "Train Of Thought" on the Japanese TV show "Rock TV - Funky Tomato"

One of the recordings a-ha made whilst in Japan is broadcast on Japanese TV. They perform "Take On Me" and Morten pulls a Japanese girl up on stage, holding her during the performance and Magne puts on the interviewer's hat.

November 1985      

After Japan, a-ha do some promotion in Scandinavia: In Sweden, Jon Skolmen interviews a-ha (for "Heja Norge?"), they sing the folksong "Per Spellmann" and perform "Take On Me" and "Train Of Thought". Later, Jon Skolmen looks back at this interview as one of the highlights of his career.

At the beginning of November, the album "Hunting High And Low" is released on CD in Norway and goes straight to number 1 in the Top 10 CD-list. The 2,000 copies released sell out straight away and the shops await for the next 3,000 copies to be produced.

a-ha are interviewed on the UK TV show "Good Morning Britain" and the video for "The Sun Always Shines On TV" is premiered on the programme.

2       a-ha return from Japan and take a couple of days off to get over their jetlag. Morten goes to Norway for the wedding of his brother Håkon with Agneta.
3       The album "Hunting High And Low" first enters the UK charts.
5       In London, a-ha perform "Take On Me" on the UK music TV show "Top Of The Pops"; to be broadcast on 7.11.85.
6       a-ha do a press conference on the terrace of the Grand Hotel in Oslo. It's the first press conference in Norway since their number one hit.

Press Conference, Grand Hotel   The Sun Always Shines On T.V. USA 12"

7       a-ha's performance of "Take On Me" is broadcast on "Top Of The Pops".
8       The Norwegian radio show "Etter Skoletid" (NRK) broadcasts an interview with Morten, recorded at the press conference in Oslo, in which he speaks about the music industry in England and the States and about their plans for the future. Songs included in the show are "The Blue Sky" and "The Sun Always Shines On TV".
11       The second single, "The Sun Always Shines On TV" is released in the States.
15       a-ha are guests on the Swedish TV show "Nöjesmassakern".
16       Part of an interview between a-ha, Rita Westvik and Turid Øversveen on "Lørdagssirkus" is broadcast. More of the interview will be broadcast on the first NRK show dedicated to a-ha "Norsk pop på verdenstoppen" in January.
18?       The album "Hunting High And Low" enters the Top 30 US Billboard Compact disc charts at number 25.
21?       At Fornebu airport (Oslo), a-ha meet the Norwegian Eurovision winners "Bobbysocks". a-ha are on their way for another promotional tour of Europe.
22       The UK morning TV show "TV-AM" follow a-ha around for a day (broadcast 24.12.85), and they are interviewed in a pub for a broadcast via satellite on the American news network "NBC". A report of this day is printed in the UK music magazine "Smash Hits". The Sun Always Shines On TV Japanese 7"
24       From Munich, Germany, Morten speaks to Norwegian journalists on the phone to inform them that a-ha won 7 out of 10 of the US-magazine "Billboard" prizes.
26       A 20 minute programme on is broadcast on English TV.
27       On the TV show "P.I.T." in Zimmern, Germany,
a-ha mime to "Take On Me".
28       "The Sun Always Shines On TV" is released in Japan.

a-ha are interviewed at a bus stop in London and the video for "Take On Me" is shown.

December 1985

"The Sun Always Shines On TV", one of the last songs written for the album, is released in Norway; it reaches number 2 in the charts and stays in the Top 100 for 11 weeks.

Veien Til Topps 4       a-ha are pictured for the first time on the front cover of the UK magazine "Smash Hits" and there is a 3 page interview inside.
The first book on a-ha "We want the world and we want it now. Boka om a-ha" is released in Norway. It is written by the Aftenposten journalist Tor Marcussen who was invited to follow the band to Los Angeles, New York, London and Sydney during their promotional tour. Photographer Rolf M. Aagaard took most of the pictures and the book was published by Schibsteds Forlag (10,000 copies). Only a few days later, the book "Boken om a-ha - Veien til topps", written by Magne's mother Anne Lise Furuholmen Nøkleby, was released by Filetab Support Services A/S (40.000 copies). Both books sold well in Norway, Marcussen's book sold 6,000 copies in its first week and the first edition sold out in less than two months and more books are printed.
a-ha meeting the Queen at The Royal Celebration Of Youth 6       The nominations for the Norwegian "Spellemanspris" are published: "Hunting High And Low" is nominated as best pop album (together with albums by Egil Eldøen and The Monroes) and as Årets Spellemann. The other nominations for this category include Jonas Fjeld Band, Jon Eberson Group, Terje Rypdal and Knut Buem. The ceremony will be on 18 January 1986.
8       At "The Royal Celebration Of Youth" New Year's Gala in Harrogate, England, a-ha perform "The Sun Always Shines On TV". They are introduced to the Queen of England afterwards (the show is broadcast on UK TV on 1.1.86). a-ha spend the next couple of weeks on holiday; Pål and Mags go off to Africa until Christmas and Morten goes back to Norway.

The Sun Always Shines On TV   The Sun Always Shines On TV - Picture Disc

16       "The Sun Always Shines On TV" is released in the UK; the B-side to which is the otherwise unreleased "Driftwood" and Steve Thompson has also done a remix of "The Sun Always Shines On TV".
18       The winners of the "Smash Hits Readers Poll" are announced; a-ha win "Best Video" for "Take On Me" and are voted the "Most Promising New Act". They also feature in the line up in the "Best Single" category, coming second with "Take On Me" and "Best Group" category, coming sixth.
21       a-ha's performance of "Take On Me" on the French TV show "Demain C'est Dimanche" is broadcast.
22       "The Sun Always Shines On TV" enters the UK charts.
31       "The Sun Always Shines On TV" is performed in the "Top Of The Pops" studio in London; broadcast on 2.1.86. In London, a-ha start work on their second album.

45 R.P.M. "Take On Me" reaches No.1 in more than 12 countries including USA, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and No.2 in England and Japan. It sells 4.5 million copies world-wide and is the nineth best selling single of 1985.

Also in 1985, the mini album "45 R.P.M. Club" containing mixes of "The Sun Always Shines On TV", "Take On Me" and the track "Driftwood" is released on CD, cassette and LP in Japan only.

At the American Music Awards, a-ha are nominated but do not win. They are in London at that time and Morten reads the nominees via satellite from London.

Other TV appearances from 1985 or 1986: a-ha perform "Take On Me" on the Italian TV-shows "Pentalon Bis" and "Discoring" and on French TV shows, one where Morten doesn't have a microphone and one with a chequred floor. a-ha are interviewed in a bar and perform "The Sun Always Shines On TV" on the French TV show "Cocoricocoboy". a-ha are interviewed in a seated hall ("Try Fact"?) and on another show, Desirée Nosbusch announces a-ha and plays keyboards with them on "Take On Me" (but gets offended when Morten kicks her teddy bear into the crowd). Mags on Diskuteket - Photo from NRK

Pål is asked by Gyldendahl Publishing House if he would provide them with a poem book. Although he agrees to the idea, he doesn't hear from them again.

Mags is interviewed for the Norwegian TV show "Diskuteket" (NRK) - early / summer 1985?

Continue the story: 1986