45 Special was opened on 21 September 1990, originally by five music-oriented gentlemen, but ever since 8 September 1992 the executive threesome has consisted of Ibo Sulkala, concert promoter and jack-of-all-trades in the Oulu music scene (e.g. the director of Kuusrock Rock Festival back in the day), along with former musicians Kepa Salmirinne and Elmo Harju, respectively the vocalist and bass player of legendary heavy metal group Zero Nine.
The bar was established because Rattori-Lupi, by then the most famous restaurant in Oulu, had just been closed down and all the rock-oriented people in town were missing a favourable joint where even a rocker is considered a human being. The musical style, which was originally founded on very puritan basic rock, has changed over the years so much that the selection can no longer be described by any single music term. Actually the only expression that works now is “good music”.
The basic idea behind the bar has always been that anyone should get along with anyone else at 45 Special, be it a “suit” vs. “heavy”, black vs. white, striped vs. spotted etc. Whoever or whatever you are, titles or status make no difference at 45.
Originally, the 45 Special “look” was designed by Veli-Matti Sormunen, but the latest changes to the second floor and the basement have been drawn up in 2001 and 2006 by Tuomas Mujunen.
For the first seven years, the bar was set in two levels (street and basement), until in May 2007 new space became available on the second floor, also known as “the attic”. This addition opened whole new possibilities especially for live music purposes, and in their current form the premises allow almost any artist to perform at 45 Special.