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Jukka Tolonen

Jukka Tolonen
File:Jukka Tolonen.jpg
Jukka Tolonen
Background information
Birth name Jukka Jorma Tolonen
Born (1952-04-16) 16 April 1952 (age 64)
Origin Helsinki, Finland
Genres Progressive rock, jazz, blues, hymns
Instruments Guitar, piano
Years active 1966–present
Associated acts Tasavallan Presidentti

Jukka Jorma Tolonen (born 16 April 1952, Helsinki) is a Finnish jazz guitarist. Tolonen became famous as guitarist for the progressive rock band Tasavallan Presidentti (which means "president of the republic").

He had grown up playing the piano, but received his first guitar at age eleven. From 1966-67 Jukka Tolonen, at age fourteen, played guitar with Arto Sotavalta and the Rogues. Their first single, recorded in 1967, was "No Milk Today," backed by "Lady Jane." For several months in 1969 he was a member of the Eero Raittinen-Help band which eventually split up. It was then that Tolonen and drummer Vesa Aaltonen founded the group Tasavallan Presidentti with whom he toured and recorded several albums from 1969-1974. Their third album, Lambertland, reached number seven on the Finnish charts in 1972, followed by Milky Way Moses which peaked at number twelve in 1974. Tolonen also played on albums Tombstone Valentine (1970) and Fairyport (1971) by Wigwam.

His first solo album Tolonen!, recorded and released in 1971 while he was only nineteen years old, displayed his prowess on both guitar (electric and acoustic) and piano, and instrumental songwriting which comfortably segues from classical, jazz, folk, blues, and rock. Tolonen! peaked at number six on the Finnish charts in 1971, winning the Finnish Broadcasting Company's Album of the Year disk. Jukka's guitar solo on "Paradise," a hit single from Rauli 'Badding' Somerjoki's 1974 album "This is Rock and Roll," made it the most played song on Finnish radio for three subsequent years. "Windermere Avenue", a song from Tolonen's 1975 Hysterica album, became a minor radio hit in the USA. Also in 1975 he was asked to join ABBA as a session musician on tour, but he declined, due to the birth of his first child Dimitri and his concurrent solo career.

Tolonen is a virtuoso guitarist, who is highly respected in his native Finland as well as in Sweden, where he has lived for long periods. Among Tolonen's side projects are Guitarras Del Norte, Trio Tolonen, and Jukka Tolonen Band (JTB). He has used many different guitars over the years, such as the Gibson ES-335 and Ibanez Artist. Since the 1990s he has used Finnish handmade instruments by Ruokangas Guitars (electric) and Lottonen Guitars (acoustic).

Despite his earlier successes, Jukka Tolonen was eventually twice divorced, homeless, and drug-addicted. In May 2008 Tolonen was found guilty of stabbing his girlfriend and was sentenced to 27 months in jail for aggravated assault. When released in 2010, he told the media that he was quitting guitar playing due to osteoarthritis. While in prison Jukka Tolonen dedicated his life to Jesus Christ, and in 2011 he released Juudan Leijona ("Lion of Judah"), a CD of traditional Finnish hymns, in which he sings and plays piano, occasionally accompanied by other instruments and voices. He continues to perform live concerts of Christian music on piano along with other musicians and vocalists.

On 2 May 2014 Gateway Films released "Tolonen," a career-spanning documentary. A concurrent Tolonen CD was issued, featuring many young Finnish jazz and rock musicians' interpretations of Jukka Tolonen's songs.


  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Tasavallan Presidentti (1969)
  • Wigwam - Tombstone Valentine (1970)
  • Wigwam - Fairyport (1970)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Magneettimiehen kuolema (With Pekka Streng) (1970)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Tolonen! (1971)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Tasavallan Presidentti (II) (1971)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Lambertland (1972)
  • Nordic Jazz Quintet - Nordic Jazz Quintet (1972)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Summer Games (1973)
  • Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki - This is Rock and Roll (1974)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Milky Way Moses (1974)
  • Jukka Tolonen - The Hook (1974)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Hysterica (1975)
  • Eero Koivistoinen - The Front is Breaking (1975)
  • Charlie Mariano - Reflections (1975)
  • Jukka Tolonen Band - A Passenger to Paramaribo (1977)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Impressions (1975)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Crossection (all previously released tracks) (1976)
  • Jukka Tolonen Band - Montreux Boogie Live (1977)
  • Jukka Tolonen/Christian Sievert - After Three Days (1977)
  • Jukka Tolonen Band - JTB Jukka Tolonen - Mountain Stream 1978
  • Jukka Tolonen - High Flyin (1979)
  • Jukka Tolonen Band / JTB - Just Those Boys (1979)
  • JTB - Dums Have More Fun (1980)
  • Jukka Tolonen/Coste Apetrea - Touch Wood (1980)
  • Oreo Moon Walk - Don't Scream (1981)
  • Jukka Tolonen - In a This Year Time (1981)
  • Tolonen/Apetrea - Blue Rain (1982)
  • Bill's Boogie Band - Live and Lively at Cafe Metropol Helsinki (1985)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Radio Romance (1985)
  • Tolonen/Christian Sievert - Still Friends (1986)
  • Piirpauke - Zerenade (1987)
  • Jukka Tolonen Classics - The Rarest (1989)
  • Jukka Tolonen Trio - Last Mohican (1990)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Classics (compilation) (1990)
  • Jukka Tolonen Trio - Big Time (1994)
  • Pedro's Heavy Gentlemen - Reggae (1996)
  • Jukka Tolonen - On the Rocky Road - A Retrospective (1997)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Still Struggling For Freedom (2001)
  • Guitarras del NorteGuitarras del Norte (2004)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Cool Train – Tolonen plays Coltrane (2004)
  • Eddie Boyd in Finland – Mello' Hello! (2005)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Tasavallan Presidentti Six (2005, EP)
  • Tasavallan Presidentti - Six Complete (2006)
  • Jukka Tolonen - Juudan Leijona (2011)
  • (composer only) - Tolonen (2014)

See also