Mixing slick production with sensitive, often naïve lyrics, Ted Gärdestad moved from a position as child star to become a Swedish teen idol in the '70s. But his feeling for melodies took him further than that, and he effectively filled the gap between the progressive movement's experiments and ABBA's disco-pop. Managing the difficult transition from child star to teen idol he later failed to make much impact on a more mature audience and went quiet in the '80s. After a troubled decade he tried to make a comeback in the early '90s, but soon disappeared again before taking his life in 1997.
Ted Gärdestad was born in suburban Stockholm in 1956 and started to compose music at the age of six. At the age of eight he played his own compositions on national television, and at ten he was the star of a national TV series. In his early teens, Gärdestad started to write pop songs to which his brother Kenneth Gärdestad wrote the lyrics, a practice that would continue throughout their entire career. In 1971, now 15 years old, Gärdestad signed a contract with Polar and later that year his debut album, Undringar, was released, produced by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA.
When the single "Jag Vill Ha En Egen Måne" charted, the emotional and cute Gärdestad soon became a teen idol. Following albums, containing major hits like "Sol Vind Och Vatten" and "Eiffeltornet," sold very well. Gärdestad held the position as one of the most important Swedish mainstream pop artists throughout the '70s but was restricted to a domestic market by the Swedish lyrics. In 1978, he went to Hollywood to record his first album entirely in English, taking along help from Jeff Porcaro and Jay Gradon. But Blue Virgin Isle failed to make much impression either at home or abroad. Returning to Sweden, Gärdestad released Stormvarning in 1981 before disappearing from the music scene for 12 years.
If uneventful musically, these 12 years meant dramatic changes in Gärdestad's private life. Joining the Bhagwan sect, he moved to Oregon, returning when the sect disintegrated. After coming home, something happened that would affect the entire nation as well as having tragic effects for Gärdestad personally: Olof Palme, the Swedish Prime Minister, was murdered. A suspect mentioned Gärdestad's name during an interrogation and the information leaked to the press. The accusations were without substance but the rumors that followed took their toll on the sensitive and unstable former star, who went into a deep depression. In 1993, he tried a comeback and, in 1994, he released his first new album in 13 years, Äntligen På Väg, but was unable to get his career running and sank back into depression. In 1997, Gärdestad took his life, throwing himself in front of a suburban train. ~ Lars Lovén