In 1978, everyone in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was talking about the approaching Moscow Olympics because the sailing regatta was going to be held in their hometown! A recently formed band saw it as an opportunity to attract more attention and decided to write sailing-themed music. The creative leader Valdur Lehtla even named the band after the sailing class “Tornado” (“Tornaado” in Estonian). According to another legend, however, the name was adopted from his red Jolana Tornado guitar. Be as it may but during the next two years, the songs from their instrumental cycle "Regatta" (“Regatt” in Estonian) were played on both radio and television and even in other countries of the Eastern bloc. Nevertheless, these tunes have remained unreleased.

Valdur Lehtla and Jaan Rello were neighbours. Valdur’s father was a technology aficionado who built radios for the boys in the beginning of 1960s with which they could listen to Finnish radio shows. The boys were fascinated by the fresh Western music heard on the radio. Valdur wanted to play in a band of his own and found like-minded people in the factory where he worked. By the spring of 1963, they became one of the first Estonian rock’n’roll bands. Jaan also hung out with them and even appeared on the stage from time to time. Despite that, the neighbours started their first band together only after Valdur returned from the army in 1969. Merkuur (“Mercury”) played music for dancing in the culture club and their repertoire consisted mainly of cover versions of songs by Western pop and rock groups of the time. In 1973, Merkuur received a performing ban because their horn section was too loud. Everyone else stayed at home but Rello remained active in several bands until he was kicked out of the recently founded band Vitamiin (which became a popular group later on). This happened in the spring of 1978.

Jaan Rello had gained experience in managing a band, he knew how to organise concerts and how to get studio time in the radio studio. He told Lehtla that they should start playing together again. They spent the entire summer of 1978 writing songs for their new group, Tornaado. Lehtla had a 4-track tape recorder at home which they used for recording numerous demos which they brought to the rehearsal room for other musicians to try out and comment on. Usually Lehtla composed all the songs but Rello and later also the bass player Mart Telliskivi and the drummer Harri Klemm often added something of their own. Their songs were influenced, first and foremost, by Lehtla’s taste in music - he liked rock’n’roll, jazz, jazzrock and reggae. While writing their songs, the men listened to different kinds of music but they never wished to copy anyone directly and always tried to retain their originality. “Regatt” was greatly influenced by George Duke’s fusion albums from mid-70s but Tornaado’s unique fusion also blends together Jimmy Cliff, Donna Summer, George Benson, and Chuck Berry, among others.

“Regatt” was Tornaado’s first instrumental cycle which was recorded in 1979. Some of the tunes were recorded with the Estonian Radio studio bus from their rehearsal room and others in the Estonian Radio studio. After the Olympics, they started recording their cycle “Tallinn” but they only managed to complete two songs. By that time, Heino Möldre on the keyboards had joined the band. Later on, the percentage of songs with vocals in their repertoire started to increase. In 1982, the second singer Veera Mehilane joined the band to accompany the first singer Andi Muskat. In 1983, Tornaado got an opportunity to release a vinyl record under Melodiya, the only record company in the Soviet Union. This was very unexpected for the band and instead of instrumental tunes, they decided to include their latest pop hits on the vinyl. In addition to that, their 7” single is of very low quality and it did not sell well. In 1985, the bass player Mart Telliskivi left the band. The others tried to keep the band alive but it broke up the next year. Despite that, many of the members continued to make music.

Tornaado – Instrumentaaltsükkel “Regatt”

1 Tornaado
2 Jahiklass 470
3 Finn

1 Lendav Hollandlane
2 Soling
3 Star

Valdur Lehtla - guitar
Jaan Rello - guitar
Mart Telliskivi - bass
Harri Klemm - drums
Andi Muskat - vocals

All tracks written by Valdur Lehtla
Recorded at Tornaado rehearsal room and Eesti Raadio studio, Tallinn 1979
Remastered by Ebony Cuts

© Frotee 2013
℗ Eesti Rahvusringhääling 1979

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Frotee OÜ
Puiestee 11-3
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