Reijo Taipale is a popular Finnish iskelmä (schlager) performer, best known and most loved for his tangos. Finnish schlager music, unlike its Central European cousin, is often represented by melancholy and melodramatic ballads and frequently includes elements of both Nordic folk music and Argentine tangos. Reijo Taipale was born March 9, 1940, to a farming family. He started singing at age 12, and in the following decade he was very successful in local singing competitions. His idol was Olavi Virta, perhaps the finest tango singer ever from Finland. One of Taipale's first hits was the quintessential 1962 recording of the classic Finnish tango "Satumaa" (Dreamland). This Unto Mononen song was even covered by Frank Zappa later on, and popular songs referencing the song were successfully released in the 2000s by Maija Vilkkumaa and Tuomari Nurmio. Taipale has said he has performed the song over 6,000 times in concert since his initial recording.
The singer was very successful for most of the '60s, but during the following decade, his studio recordings started losing sales. Taipale has always been, regardless of his chart success, in high demand for group dance events. Dancing is a traditional and very popular pastime in Finland, and these ballroom dances (in name, mostly, as the events are also held on large outdoor stages in the summer) often feature tangos, waltzes, foxtrot, jive, samba, rhumba, and many other styles, as well as variations and combinations of the above. Taipale consistently continues to tour around Finland, performing at usually a dozen or more monthly events. Since the '80s his main collaborator has been accordionist Erkki Friman.
Taipale's bad luck with studio material held until the mid-'80s, at which time his collection Ruusu Joka Vuodesta (A Rose for Each Year) sold gold and was then followed by a series of highly popular recordings. He has recorded with the Shadows-like instrumental band Mustangs, and he made a platinum-selling duet album, Kulkukoirat (Stray Dogs), with the modern schlager singer Topi Sorsakoski. He has also ventured into pop music by recording a translation of the popular Swedish band Kent's song "Dom Andra." For decades now, Reijo Taipale has been a strong proponent of Finnish tango and has performed his style of traditional Finnish music all over the world, from South America to Russia. ~ JT Lindroos