History in English
Pepe Willberg (b. 1946) belongs to “The Beatles” generation.He is one of the few pop artists in Finland whose career spans uninterruptedly from the early 60’s all the way to this day. Pepe received his first guitar at 13. In 1962 a now-legendary group called The Islanders was founded, and Pepe became its second guitarist. Very soon he was pushed in front of the mic told by the others: “ Now you sing! ”. So he did, and the singer’s career was launched in the midst of the relentless Beatlemania and a flood of British guitar groups. That career was going to turn out iconic in the history of the Finnish pop and rock scene.
In 1965 a new group known as The Jormas was formed. It was very popular in Scandinavia, and even toured in Germany. At one point Jormas was no. 6 on the Swedish IDOLNYTT-magazine’s list, above even The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.Pepe broke through as a solo pop singer the following year1966, when he recorded the Finnish version of the international hit“To Make A Big Man Cry”.
In 1967, he also recorded the Finnish version of the Beatles’ legendary “Penny Lane.” The ingeniously localized lyrics tell the story in an amazingly precise way, culturally transferred from its original setting to a downtown-Helsinki neighborhood with a similar profile.
His following ensemble, “Pepe and the Paradise”, was formed in 1969. During the 70’s the group recorded many hits and would-be evergreens in Finland, some of them composed by Pepe himself. In the early 1980’s the artist’s career took a more independent path with freelancing, and a focus on composing and songwriting also for other Finnish pop music artists.
In 1998 Pepe’s career hit another milestone when a pop quartet called “The Masters“ was formed in the spirit of the Back To The Sixties revival. In addition to Pepe, the group consisted of such stars as Pave Maijanen, Kirka Babitzin and Heikki Harma also known as Hector. The success and popularity of this group was astounding, with sold-out concerts in various arenas including Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium.
A live double-CD titled “The Masters in the Arena” reached staggering sales figures in Finland.
2006 the Finnish rendition of “To Make A Big Man Cry,” turned 40. A special commemorative tour was arranged, along with a nostalgic recording in which he sang 30 of his most popular all-time classics in an updated, fresh way, reaching a whole new generation of fans.
In 2007 Pepe performed with the rest of the original Jormas group at the Finlandia Hall at an international Golden Sixties concert, arranged by Hans Edler.
In 2012 Pepe Willberg had been a part of the Finnish pop music scene for 50 years. The anniversary tour’s memoreable concerts, also captured on tape, brought together all the legendary groups rom his long career.
Pepe Willberg is a true living legend. He is still going strong, supported by a great number of fans from several generations.
His new album Pepe & Saimaa has come out in spring 2014 and gained big popularity everywhere in Finland and proceeded to sell gold by the end of summer.
In the respected Emma Gala (The Finish music awards ) 2015
Pepe won the award for The Best Male Artist, and the album
Pepe & Saimaa won awards for The Best Rock Album and
In the leading British music magazine MOJO, Kieron Tyler has
picked Pepe & Saimaa as the best album of the year.