A&E » Arts

THOR, God of Thunderous Rock




WHERE: Garfinkel's

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 21

He is a mighty Norse god. A blond, muscled protector of the common people, so beloved by those of the heathen pre-Christian Northern Europe that the fifth day of the week is named for him. He is often mistaken for a god of battle due to his association with Mjollnir, an indestructible war hammer, a weapon that never misses its mark and always returns to its master's hands.

But despite the lightning caused by the flash of Mjollnir, and the great rumble of thunder heard by his chariot, this is a peaceful god, one even linked to growth and fertility. Thor. Known by many names and roles: Tor, Donar, Oku-Thor, Atli, Thunar and Vingthor. He is the Enemy of the Midgard Serpent, Slayer of Giants, Man's Well-wisher. And in the 20th century, THOR is the god of thunderous rock and roll.

Jon Thor is not of deity blood, nor does he reside in the heavens, but this ambitious artist does enjoy the comparisons with his mythical namesake, the most obvious of which is his physique. The blond, chiselled mortal could have very well been the model for so many statues of the god. But this is the result of years spent as a professional bodybuilder. A former Mr. Canada and Mr. USA, Jon Thor has competed against the likes of Louie Ferrigno (TV's The Incredible Hulk) in Mr. Universe.

"I used to listen to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath at the gym while I trained to psych myself up and eventually I put a show together called Bodyrock and that was the building block to (the band) THOR," Jon recalls.

As the god associated with weather, Thor is sometimes portrayed as brooding and as equally jovial. Despite his ferocious stage presence, which includes bending steel with his teeth and blowing up hot water bottles with sheer lung power, Jon laughs easily about his "checkered past."

"A five-piece dance band with a new disco sound," reads an old newspaper clipping with Jon in full flex, microphone in hand.

"I've gone through many phases in my life," he chuckles. "THOR very quickly became what it is today, thunderous rock. But what I do is very tongue in cheek. Obviously I can't go into banks dressed as THOR. It's like an alter ego, a character."

That character includes full warrior regalia: tunic, breastplate, hammer and even pillar and chariot props. But his kitschy style can't detract from his powerful, fist-pumping anthems, songs that have survived and thrived over the span of 20 years. THOR's popularity is almost cultish, a loyal following of rock fans, not unlike the image of Thor, a god of the people.

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