guitarist - song writer - producer

A life in music


Biography of Tommy Denander

Many have asked Tommy to write a book about his life but he feels it's too soon since he is only 47 years old and so many great things are happening every new year, but one day it will happen.


This is a short biography over Tommy's life and career, it will be done longer over time.



"My grand mother said to me when i was young,-

If your dreams don't scare you they are not big enough...

So I decided then to dream very big and always do my very best to make all my dreams come true no matter how big and scary they were, and it's worked out really great so far I have to say!" - Tommy

Born March 10th, 1968.

Tommy started playing guitar in 1973 at the age of five on a big acoustic Levin that belonged to his mom and after seeing a poster of KISS ”Alive” in 1975 he knew that his calling in life would be music.






He started playing in local bands at nine and did his first shows at school dances at 1978 when he was ten, this was also the year that Van Halen and Toto released their first albums and they had a big impact on Tommy.






At twelve he started doing small guitar sessions for friends in their 4 track home studios and the dream of becoming a studio musician was born.

He joined his first professional band at fourteen called ATC, the band managed to get signed to Polygram Vertigo and Tommy recorded his first album ”Cut In Ice” with the band.

The album was praised in Swedish media and also caught the interested of media and fans around Europe, USA and Japan.

What stood out most in all reviews and articles was the guitar work of the young ”wonderkid” Denander, something that created tension later on within the band because there was often only focus on Tommy.




Knowing that ”pop star” wasn’t the goal in his life, Tommy used what ever little fame he got from the media to get his foot into the much more interesting world of studio sessions and this was the time around the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album that featured Eddie Van Halen’s classic solo on ”Beat It” so Tommy was often hired to add Van Halen type solos to pop albums.


In 1987 the chance to move to Los Angeles came very quickly but the timing was perfect and Tommy jumped on the chance.

He loved LA and quickly made a name for himself among bigger producers, song writers and musicians, ”it was 5 of the very best years in my life when i lived in LA” - Tommy says.


In 1991 Tommy got signed to Sony and recorded the first Radioactive album with Jeff Porcaro, Mike Porcaro, Steve Porcaro and David Paich from Toto as his backing band.

Feeling very unhappy with Sony’s plans for the album he bough the masters back from them and during ten years managed to get a long list of legendary guests to appear on it before it was released in 2001.

Names like David Foster, Bobby Kimball, Fergie Frederiksen, Joseph Williams, Fee Waybill, Greg Phillinganes, Jason Scheff, Alex Ligertwood, Bruce Gaitsch, Michael Thompson, Dean Parks, Dave Boruff, Vince DiCola and many more.

The album was a huge success and charted in several countries.









But after the big riots and changes to the whole music climate in 1992 Tommy decided to move back to Sweden again.

He bought his first professional studio and combined session work, touring and running the studio for several years.


Tommy explaines -

”It was a very tough time in many ways, first of all the happy 80’s were over and music felt so depressing with all the grunge and rap taking over plus it was really hard to run a studio and make money.

I was truly working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week until it almost killed me…for real!!!


I made this deal with Stockholm city, they paid local bands about 450 dollars to be spent making an EP in my studio so almost every weekend for over 3 years i recorded 3-4 song EP’s for the worst bands you can imagine, punk, pop, rock, hard rock, grunge and metal bands that barely could play, really couldn’t sing or write good songs…just to pay my bills.”


Bad economy and a few other though things in life led to Tommy ”hitting the wall” really hard in 1993, only 25 years old!.

He ended up being very ill for ten long years which today he calls ”the worst and the best time of my life”.


”It forced me to look really hard at my life, my work and in so many ways grow up which can be hard when you get into show business at such a young age but i wouldn’t be who i am today if it weren’t for those tough ten years” - Tommy says.


He still managed to write and record a lot of albums during the years he was sick including his classic first solo albums ”Less Is More” (featuring the Toto guys) and ”Skeleton” as well as Prisoner, Rainmaker and many more.











The last 12 years since he got back on his feet again have been the most productive and successful by far and after 33 years as a professional musician he has appeared on more than 2800 albums, countless singles and many movies including Gorillas In The Mist with Sigourney Weaver (nominated for 5 Oscars and won 2 Golden Globes), Baltic Storm with Donald Sutherland and the great Tim Burton classic Alice In Wonderland with Johnny Depp, Christopher Lee, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter that earned over 1 billion dollars and won 2 Oscars and many other awards, the soundtrack album was a number 1 on Billboard in USA.










Tommy has appeared on albums or recordings with Michael Jackson, Paul Stanley, Alice Cooper, Ricky Martin, Celine Dion, Peter Cetera, Santana, BB King, Pat Boone, Jimi Jamison, Bill Champlin, Fee Waybill, Ke$ha, Bobby Kimball, Fergie Frederiksen, House Of Lords, and 100’s more.





The albums and singles have together been awarded with close to 70 gold or platinum awards plus one Diamond award for Ricky Martin.



He is band leader for original Toto singer Bobby Kimball’s band and he runs his own project Legends Of Rock featuring many of the greatest classic rock singers in the world like Bobby Kimball, Joe Lynn Turner, Graham Bonnet, Mickey Thomas, Steve Augeri, Steve Walsh, Fee Waybill, Eric Martin, Tommy Funderburk, Fran Cosmo, Robin McAuley, Alex Ligertwood, Bill Champlin, Tony Martin, Jean Beauvoir, Robin Beck and more, and in 2014 they sadly lost their two dear friends Fergie Frederiksen (Toto) and Jimi Jamison (Survivor) who also were members.


Tommy is also head of A&R and handles international affairs for the great Swedish company X-Level that owns the oldest and biggest recording studio in Sweden.


With the whole world as his work place and no limits to working in most styles of music as musician, song writer or producer Tommy has become a unique work force in the music business.



Copyright Tommy Denander 2015