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Megas

Megas

Megas

Magnús Þór Jónsson, who later became known as Megas, was born in Reykjavik on April 7, 1945, approximately a year after Iceland gained its independence from Denmark and when the nation’s capital was in the process of changing from a small town to a city.  Megas studied piano as a youth, and like so many others became enamoured of Elvis Presley and rock’n roll in the 50s.  He began to write songs at an early age, some of which found their way on his albums in the 70s.  Megas also showed early promise as a painter, a craft which he has pursued intermittently ever since.

While in college, Megas soon acquired a reputation as a bohemian who wrote outrageous short stories and poems for the school paper.  In 1968, he published the sheet music and lyrics to 14 of his songs, many of which would later appear on his earliest albums. 
In 1972, Icelandic students in Oslo, Norway, financed the recording and release of Megas’ first, eponymous album. The music, played by Norwegian folk musicians, was tuneful and melodic, but the lyrics caused a lot of controversy. In them, Megas dealt with Icelandic history and its sacred cows in an irreverant and mocking fashion. 

Megas’ music was promptly banned from Icelandic national radio, but he quickly became an icon of the counterculture. The next two albums, Millilending (1975) and Fram og aftur Blindgötuna (1976) featured heavier, more rock-based backing, and the lyrics were unlike anything heard before; a mixture of surreal wordplay, sarcastic revisionist history, social commentary, drug-culture references and allusions to classical literature. 

For 1977’s Á bleikum náttkjólum, Megas teamed up with popular 70s folk-rock band Spilverk þjóðanna. The album, which has been voted the best Icelandic album ever made, includes a variety of musical styles, including what many consider to be the first Icelandic punk song.  After releasing an album of children’s songs and a double live album, Megas took an extended leave from music making.  In the late 70s and early 80s, he worked as a dock worker and graduated from arts school.

In 1983, Megas started to make tentative forays back into the music world, appearing as guest on other people’s albums and appearing at the occasional concert, including collaborations with new wave rockers Kukl, who would soon turn into The Sugarcubes.  In 1986, all his albums, plus rare and unreleased material, were released in a box set and that same year, Í góðri trú, his first new album in seven years, was released to much acclaim.

Since then, Megas has remained one of Iceland’s most vital, prolific and controversial artists, releasing several albums, besides writing an epic novel and a play. His entire catalogue up to 1990 was rereleased in 2002, remastered and with bonus tracks, probably the most ambitious Icelandic rerelease series undertaken.
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