Rednex is a Swedish musical group whose style is a mix of American country music and modern Eurodance, with their appearance and stage names taking inspiration from the American redneck stereotypes. The band originally consisted of the lead singer Mary Joe (Annika Ljungberg), alongside Bobby Sue (Kent Olander), Ken Tacky (Arne Arstrand), Billy Ray (Jonas Nilsson) and Mup (Patrick Edenberg). Pat Reiniz (Patrick Edenberg) also served as the band's producer. The band has gone through multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with none of the members having an uninterrupted tenure.
The group enjoyed success throughout the 1990s with novelty hits such as "Cotton Eye Joe", "Old Pop in an Oak", "The Spirit of the Hawk" and "Wish You Were Here", which often topped the charts in several European countries.
1994–1995: Formation and Sex & Violins
Rednex was initially the brainchild of Swedish producers Janne Ericsson, Örjan "Öban" Öberg, and Patrick Edenberg, who decided to try mixing American country and folk with modern dance and pop music. The name "Rednex" was chosen as a deliberate misspelling of the word "rednecks". The band originally consisted of the lead singer Mary Joe (Annika Ljungberg), alongside Bobby Sue (Kent Olander), Ken Tacky (Arne Arstrand), Billy Ray (Jonas Nilsson) and Mup (Patrick Edenberg).
In 1994, Rednex reworked the traditional folk song "Cotton-Eyed Joe", retitled "Cotton Eye Joe", as a eurodance track, which became an international hit single. Edenberg was soon replaced by BB Stiff (Urban Landgren) after the "Cotton Eye Joe" release. The group's debut studio album titled Sex & Violins followed, spawning several more hit singles including "Old Pop in an Oak" and the ballad "Wish You Were Here". However, "Cotton Eye Joe" remains the group's only U.S. hit as of 2022 (#25 on the Billboard charts in March 1995). Two more tracks of the album, "Wild 'N Free" and "Rolling Home", have been released and became moderate hits. A promotional one-off single, the Nicole cover version "Ein Bisschen Frieden", has been released and labeled as "Collo Rossi" for the release.
1996–1997: Departure of Ljungberg and Riding Alone
In 1996 Rednex were featured on the charity single "Children", as part of the supergroup "Hand in Hand for Children". Later female lead singer Ljungberg was fired, partly due to disagreements with the other band members and went on to pursue a solo career. The rest of the band took a break from live performance and started working on new material. In 1997, the remaining four men released one more single, "Riding Alone", out of Sex & Violins, two years after the previous release "Rolling Home". Arstrand started a side project that same year called Explode, a progressive power metal band, and released the debut studio album Live Forever in Sweden.
1998–2000: Farm Out and controversial lineup changes
In autumn 1998, Whippy (Mia Löfgren) became the new female vocalist. They released their first single "The Way I Mate" in 1999. Soon after that release, Arstrand left the band, reducing the quintet to a quartet. The second studio album entitled Farm Out followed in 2000 and found some success in Europe, with the most successful single from the album, the second release "The Spirit of the Hawk", peaking #1 in the German Singles Chart. The album spawned a third and final single, the ballad "Hold Me for a While", which became a moderate success. In 2000, in the wake of Napster's rising presence in the music industry, co-founder Edenberg outlined a new strategy for Rednex. The group would become an entertainment group rather than just a band, so not to be solely dependent on record sales. As he presented this idea to the performers during the video shoot for "Hold Me For A While" in Kenya, he was met by great scepticism. Nilsson replied: "We will not become a goddamn circus act!". The aftermath of this conflict resulted in the whole band, all four members, Löfgren, Olander, Nilsson and Landgren, being replaced for the first time.
2001–2004: The Best of the West and more lineup changes
As of January 2001, the group now consisted of the female lead singer Scarlet (Julie-Anne Tulley, formerly known as Jules Tulley from Dreamhouse) from England, alongside the three male members Dagger (Anders Sandberg) from Sweden, Joe Cagg (Roy van der Haagen) and Jay Lee (Jean-Paul Engeln) from the Netherlands. It was the first time the band were not all Swedish. In 2001, the single "The Chase", the first single out of their 2002 first compilation album The Best of the West, has been released and charted in Germany and Switzerland. In 2002, the second and final single out of the album, a reworked 2002 remix of "Cotton Eye Joe", was released and made the Top 30 in Austria. In 2003, the two Dutchmen van der Haagen and Engeln were replaced by Ace Ratclaw (Tor Penten) from Sweden and Boneduster Crock (Björn Scheffler) from Germany. In October 2004, Tulley resigned from the group due to exhaustion.
2005–2006: Return of Ljungberg and Comeback
In 2006, original female vocalist Ljungberg returned as Tulley's replacement in the group, she was assigned exclusive rights to license the Rednex trademark until January 1, 2009. During this period the group's focus shifted towards Scandinavia. In January 2005, Ljungberg fired Scheffler, replacing him with her husband Snake (Jens Sylsjö). In 2006, Sandberg was also fired and replaced by Maverick (Anders Lundström). Four former members, Scheffler and Sandberg, alongside Tulley and van der Haagen, and later in April 2007 joined by Penten, also a former Rednex member, began to tour under the name "Rednex Tribute".
Focusing on live performance in Scandinavia, Rednex appeared at the 2005 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, in Helsinki. On March 11, 2006 Rednex entered the song "Mama, Take Me Home" in Semifinal 4 of the Swedish Melodifestivalen in Gothenburg. They qualified for the final via the Second Chance Round, finishing an overall sixth in the final. "Mama, Take Me Home" was subsequently released as the first single in a few European countries. The band's Scandinavian comeback continued as they released the second single "Fe Fi (The Old Man Died)" in November 2006, after having performed it at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. The single was surprisingly successful, peaking #4 in the Swedish Single chart.
2009–2011: Second departure of Ljungberg and Singles
On January 1, 2009, after the end of Ljungberg's management licence, control of the Rednex brand returned to the band's founders. The remaining Rednex personnel Ljungberg, Lundström and Sylsjö were fired by the returning management following a dispute, and were replaced by members of the "Rednex Tribute" (Tulley, Sandberg, Penten and van der Haagen), all themselves former official Rednex. It was the second time the whole lineup had been replaced simultaneously. In January 2010, Rednex released a new single, "Devil's On The Loose", in a partnership with The Pirate Bay for free and legal download worldwide. A video for the track was recorded in August 2009 in Norrbyggeby, Sweden. The song was released as the first single from the planned album Saturday Night Beaver, which to date remains shelved due low single sales. Tulley soon also left Rednex for a second time, and was replaced by Dakotah (Nadja Flood), former singer in the Swedish dansband Nova, making her the fourth official female lead singer of Rednex.
2012–2014: Second departure of Tulley and Singles
In January 2012, Rednex announced that they had dissolved the concept of a permanent band, intending instead to use a larger pool of characters from which one female and three male performers would be chosen for each performance. Rednex claimed that this idea was "totally unproven and unheard of in the music industry". The pool of performers in 2012 included permanent members Flood, Sandberg, van der Haagen and Penten alongside possible replacements Scheffler, new male member Rufus Jones and new female vocalists Abby Hick and Misty Mae. At the time of the dissolution of the permanent Rednex lineup Tulley again left the band.
The second single "Racing" was released in May 2012. This was followed in November 2012 by "The End". The video for "The End" was recorded on September 2, 2012 at Garay Utca, the "ghetto of Budapest", and is a "flowumentary". Rednex refuted the notion that "The End" is related to 2012 doomsday theories. The band in these two videos now consisted of Flood, van der Haagen, Sandberg and Penten with Rufus Jones making a cameo appearance in "The End" video.
2015–2017: Return of Löfgren
In 2015, it was announced that second female singer Löfgren would replace Flood and rejoin the band. Also, Scheffler returned to the group. On New Year's Day, Rednex recorded a music video for "Innit for the Money". The single for "Innit for the Money" followed in 2016.
In February performers Cassidy, Rattler, and Pervis the Palergator joined the band. Cassidy left Rednex 3 months later.
Rednex made their debut on a North American stage in Carson City, Nevada, to honor fallen Deputy Carl Howell.
On New Year's Eve 2017, Rednex played for the fourth time at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, in front of an audience of more than one million.
2018–present: Manly Man, livestream and performer turbulence
In early 2018 the Rednex performer pool grew to include 17 people, the highest number so far. Added to the pool were Zoe, Moe Lester the Limp and Jiggie McClagganahan.
The single and video Manly Man was released in July 2018. The video was recorded in Jelcz-Laskowice, Poland. The main characters are Dagger and Misty Mae, though all 25 Rednex performers through history are featured at some point through video flashbacks.
During 2018, Rednex started a live streaming channel on Twitch. After a series of tests, the premiere happened on August 10 in connection to a show in Berlin. In the press release they claimed to be the first pop band, with a worldwide hit to their name, to live stream themselves 24/7 in connection to all their shows. During the same weekend, August 10-12th, Rednex performed with three different line-ups in three different territories, totaling 13 performers, which was a new record. Zoe, Moe Lester the Limp, Spades and Pervis the Palergator did shows in Romania and Hungary, while Billy Ray, Ace Ratclaw, Boneduster Crock, Misty Mae and Jiggie McClagganahan did shows in East Germany (Berlin & Schwerin), and Abby Hick, Rattler, Cash and Joe Cagg did shows in West Germany (Bonn & Frankfurt).
In September Abby Hick, Rattler, Boneduster Crock and Joe Cagg left Rednex. Whippy, Billy Ray and BB Stiff became reserves, reducing the pool to 10 performers. The band was still for sale for €2,000,000.