Birgitta Andresen became famous as Bibbi Ander, the first Swedish female lead guitarist. She appeared on the SVT TV-programme Drop In and she and her band toured with Rock-Olga.
Birgitta Andresen was born in Örebro on 30 June 1946. Her father, Arne Andresen, had been a big band musician in his native Norway and had been forced to flee to Sweden after serving in Milorg (military resistance organisation) during the Second World War. Her mother, Maj-Britt, hailed from Örebro. Birgitta Andresen, who also had a sister, showed musical aptitude as a child and learned to play the piano at an early age. She suffered from a case of the measles as a child during which she endured lengthy periods of boredom. It was then she began to tinkle around on her mother’s old Levin guitar. When she was old enough to drive a moped she formed a new circle of friends, some of whom also played various instruments.
They started a band called The Defenders, in which Birgitta Andresen played lead guitar and sang, whilst Olle Holmberg played rhythm guitar, their bassist was Lars “Tobaks-Lasse” Eriksson, and Lars-Göran Läth was the drummer. The group found free rehearsal spaces at various youth clubs in exchange for putting on free performances from time to time. By the early 1960s The Defenders had become one of Örebro’s leading bands and Birgitta Andresen can thus clearly be called the first female lead guitarist in Sweden.
Mats Bahr, an actor and a comedian, and Rolf Inghamn, who was an impresario and an events organiser, discovered the band in 1963. Mats Bahr gave Birgitta Andresen a new name, namely Bibbi Ander, while Rolf Ingham invited The Defenders to support Rock-Olga on her 1964 tour. The band performed at Nalen with Burken and Rock-Ragge. As none of the band members could drive transport arrangements were left to Birgitta Andresen’s father Arne. By adding long wooden planks to his Opel Rekord roof-rack he could fit all the instruments on top of the car, covering them with a woven rag-rug. Birgitta Andresen was embarrassed when the band arrived at Nalen. It is probable that The Defenders were the first rural band to have the honour of performing at the highly-reputed establishment.
After the concert Birgitta Andresen’s guitar-playing was praised by the famous jazz musician Count Basie, who also expressed how “cool” it was that the lead guitarist was a woman. Bosse Billtén and Lasse Sarri of Sveriges Television had also been present at the concert and they invited Birgitta Andresen to appear on the youth TV-programme called Drop In, where was supported by The Telstars. The programme aired on 19 January 1964 when Birgitta Andresen was on tour in Denmark with Rock-Olga. That tour also took them to Finland, where they recorded a TV-show with Viktor Klimenko, and to Norway. Norsk TV recorded Birgitta Andresen performing with her father Arne on saxophone and her paternal uncle, Eugen, on accordion.
In 1965 the Expressen newspaper named Birgitta Andresen as “Årets popbrud” (pop-chick of the year) and that same year she gave birth to her daughter Susann. Following a break from performing Birgitta Andresen made a comeback in 1967, appearing at a pop show in Örebro at which Spencer Davis Group were the main attraction. She spent the whole summer of 1968 performing with a trio at Centric in Åhus. That same year she recorded a single with the tunes “En gång han var min kille” and “Kvällens rosor är röda”. During the autumn Birgitta Andresen and a big band toured throughout Sicily and this became a routine she repeated at various times for a six-year period.
When Bill Haley & His Comets performed at Idrottshuset in Örebro in 1972 Birgitta Andresen and her group were the warm-up act before Rockgreven & Rock’n’Roll Circus and Rock-Olga and Gauffins Dubbelblandning opened for the main act. The young audience let loose and began to dance in front of the stage. Whilst all the Swedish acts received good write-ups in the press afterwards the rock legend who was the star attraction was deemed to have been tired and emotionless.
In 1987 Birgitta Andresen and her husband Ingemar Wallin moved to Spain where she continued performing, albeit on a smaller scale. She was a club musician who played music to dance to for Scandinavian visitors to the Costa Blanca. She also worked as a translator and offered legal and financial advice to her countrymen. She returned to Sweden in 2010 and started a new band called The New Defenders in which her daughter, Susann Wallin, was also a member. Apart from having being named “Årets popbrud” Birgitta Andresen was also one of the Swedish celebrities whose name appeared on one of the Örebro city busses, namely route 26 which runs between Tybble and the transport hub.
Following a two-year fight with lung cancer Birgitta Andresen died on 20 September 2015. She was then 69 years old.