Laid Back are a Danish electronic music duo from Copenhagen, formed in 1979. The duo consists of John Guldberg (vocals, guitar, bass) and Tim Stahl (vocals, keyboards, drums, bass). They are best known for the hits "Sunshine Reggae", "Bakerman" and "White Horse" from 1982 and 1983, respectively.
Guldberg and Stahl met in the mid-1970s, and played together in a group called The Starbox Band. After a poorly-received show supporting The Kinks, the band split up, but the duo continued working together. Guldberg set up a small studio in downtown Copenhagen where the two musicians began exploring the possibilities that were being opened up by new technologies, such as multitrack tape recorders, synthesizers and drum machines.
Their debut album, simply titled Laid Back, was released in 1981, and the single "Maybe I'm Crazy" became a number-one hit in Denmark. The next year, the single "Sunshine Reggae" was released, and became another chart-topper in their home country; it was later included on the band's second album, Keep Smiling, in 1983, and went on to become a number-one single in Italy, West Germany, and nineteen other countries around the world. In the US, however, it was the single's B-side that became the band's only big hit. "White Horse" is a funk-influenced dance track with a memorable bassline and ambiguous, drug- and/or sex-themed lyrics ("white horse" being a slang for heroin) that became popular in US clubs). After the song was re-released as an A-side on both 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl, it went on to spend three weeks at number one on Billboard's National Disco Action charts; it was also a crossover success, reaching the top five on the Hot Black Singles chart while peaking at number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1984. Its relatively poor performance on the Hot 100 is most likely due to the track's controversial lyrics (including the word "bitch"), which prevented it from receiving radio airplay in much of the country. In 1988, the English group New Order (with whom Laid Back admire each other) re-ordered their best-selling album Technique, heavily influenced by Laid Back's style, especially the song "Fine Time" in which their singer Bernard Sumner paid tribute to Laid Back's singing style, singing at some times on top voice, others singing or even talking with over-deep voice. In 1989, the American rap act 2 Live Crew sampled "White Horse" heavily for their single "Get the Fuck Out of My House"; it was later sampled for Monifah's 1998 hit "Touch It".
Laid Back's next two albums, Play It Straight (1985) and See You in the Lobby (1987), and singles such as "Abu Dhabi" and "Tricky Kind of Thing", were released to little fanfare and limited chart success. The duo made a return to the European charts in 1989 with the single "Bakerman" (featuring Danish singer Hanne Boel), which peaked at number nine on the West German chart, and number 44 in the United Kingdom in early 1990. It was accompanied by an unusual video, directed by Lars von Trier, which featured the band skydiving while "playing" their instruments. Hoping to capitalize on this success, their label re-released "White Horse" (as "White Horse '89") with new remixes, although this was a commercial disappointment.
Over the course of the following two decades, Laid Back continues to work together, and have since released four albums, a handful of singles, and two greatest hits albums (Laidest Greatest in 1995 and Good Vibes - The Very Best of Laid Back in 2008). The duo also composed the soundtrack of the 2001 feature film Flyvende Farmor, for which they were awarded a Robert, the Danish equivalent of an Oscar. That same year, an exhibition of the band's artwork, including pieces that appeared on their records and promotional posters, took place in Copenhagen. In 2003 they featured on the track 'Tango' by Danish band Hæst, produced by Umpff. They continue to make sporadic live performances, as well, including high-profile shows at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004, and the Roskilde Festival in 2005. A remix of "Bakerman" by British DJ Shaun Baker reached number one in Greenland in 2006.
In 2010 Laid Back returned with the single "Cocaine Cool".