Jim Pembroke Dies Aged 75, Helped Internationalize Finnish Rock | Yle Uutiset

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Jim Pembroke appeared with Wigwam on a Nordic television music show in late 1974.

Image: Håkan Sandblom


british musician Jim pembroke, an important and long-term influence of Finnish rock, has died at the age of 75. Pembroke died on Saturday in the United States, where he had lived since the mid-1990s.

Pembroke was born in London, where he performed in blues bands before moving to Finland. He first came to Finland to visit a Finnish girlfriend around May 1 (Vappu) in 1965, settling there soon after.

The keyboardist and singer-songwriter has helped revolutionize and internationalize Finnish rock music with two prominent groups.

In 1967, he co-founded Blues Section with the saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen, guitarist Hasse Walli, bass player Måns Groundstroem and drummer Ronnie Österberg. They released a record, considered the first original Finnish rock album.

On the road with Wigwam, Gong and Hurriganes

The following year he and Österberg formed the progressive rock band Wigwam, with Pembroke as singer and lyricist. Later members included the acclaimed bassist Pekka Pohjola and guitarist Jukka Tolonen, who both achieved international fame as solo artists.

The band enjoyed some international success during their ten-year career, including a UK tour with Virgin Records teammates Gong, but broke up in 1978.

Pembroke went on to write lyrics for another successful prog band, Tasavallan Presidentti, with Tolonen and Groundstroem. He also wrote or co-wrote five Finnish entries for Eurovision for such figures as Kojo, Maarit and Riki sorsa.

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Pedro Hietanen (takana vasemmalla) soitti Riki Sorsan (edessä oikealla) Suomen Euroviisu-edustajaksi valitussa yhtyeessä vuonna 1981.

Pembroke (top right) as a member of Riki Sorsa’s group, which represented Finland in the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest (also starring Pedro Hietanen and Jukka Orma).

Image: Håkan Sandblom / Yle

He also composed songs for the rock band Hurriganes and played keyboards with them live, most notably while touring Sweden.

“Keep up the good times”

In 1996, Pembroke gave a few reunion concerts with Blues Section, celebrating his 40e birthday. At the end of 2018, he returned to Finland for a brief Wigwam 50th anniversary reunion tour.

Her daughter Emma Pembroke told Yle that her father suffered from long-standing health issues. He passed away peacefully at his home with his wife in Kansas City.

“He wanted to wish all his friends good luck and told them to ‘keep having good times’,” said Emma Pembroke.


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