Fact of the Month: First meeting with Tommy

It’s no secret that Sigmund Groven’s main musical inspiration in the early days was Tommy Reilly (1919 – 2000). Sigmund met Tommy for the first time through radio; on this day – January 14 – in 1956, Sigmund heard Tommy’s music for the first time ever. While waiting for NRK’s children’s programme Lørdagsbarnetimen (Saturday Children Hour), Sigmund heard Tommy Reilly play Firefly. Although he got his first harmonica three years earlier, it was this event that lit the harmonica fire in the nine year old Sigmund.

sigmund groven tommy reilly 1966 foto olav groven

Sigmund and Tommy in 1966. (Photo by Olav Groven.)

Aged 14, Sigmund met Tommy Reilly in person, and the Canadian-born, England-based musician would become his teacher and mentor. From age 17, Sigmund was taking classes with Tommy, who would later visit several times in Sigmund’s home, where fish soup and cloudberries were a favourite treat (probably not mixed together).

In 1966 the two performed on TV together, and in 1967 Sigmund produced Tommy’s LP Colours of my life. In 1969 Sigmund performed solo on Tommy’s album Tommy Reilly plays Fried Walter, which was also produced by Sigmund. In 1970 the duo made 5 TV programmes for Norway’s NRK about the harmonica. In 1976, Sigmund and Tommy made an album together, Music for two harmonicas. The two friends never stopped to collaborate, and as late as 1999 they performed on stage together, at the Dartington Music Festival in England.

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