Saturday, November 25, 2006
The already frail-looking Juice Leskinen with his old collaborator Mikko Alatalo in 2004
The icon of Finnish popular music has passed away. To be honest, I had been expecting this to happen for some time now, knowing Juice's well-publicised and all the time increasing health problems, caused by his decades of unhealthy living habits. The guy was a non-conformist bohemian to the bone but unfortunately that took place at the expense of his own health.
Actually, it has to be said I've never become a big fan of his music myself -- he was a very clever lyricist (though sometimes the style was admittedly lapsing too when he tried to be too clever for his own good and when, for example, a romantic couplet was followed by some obscene rhyme) but unfortunately musically most of his stuff leaves me quite cold -- even though living in Finland you really can't avoid hearing his songs all the time. So, though I've never bothered to get any of his albums, through radio and TV I too became familiar with most popular ditties (and OK, even learned to like) that have by now gained an evergreen status, and always enjoyed his Lennon-like quick and acerbic wit of those songs and his interviews. (A lot of those songs are comical or satirical, even though there is also a lot of typical Finnish melancholy with songs like 'Syksyn sävel' or 'Viidestoista yö'). Therefore, it could well be said I found myself quite sad on hearing the news of Juice's passing. I remember a comment from someone in 2001 when film-maker and comedian Spede Pasanen (another famous Finnish humourist also hailing from Savo province) died, that it's hard to imagine the world without Spede because it feels like he has always been around. I think this is also very much the case with Juice.
Juice Leskinen's creative output is undeniably a cornerstone in the history of all recorded Finnish music. I suppose Juice's (pronounced in Finnish way, "yoo-ee-seh") importance as a domestic Finnish institution is quite hard to explain to non-Finns because his work was based so much on the mastery and wordplays of Finnish language (he also published several volumes of prose and poetry).
Juice Leskinen in 1974 video clip @ YLE Elävä arkisto
Juice Leskinen performing in 1983 @ YouTube
Official site (in Finnish)
Obituary in English @ Helsingin Sanomat
Juice Leskinen info in English @ Wikipedia