THE EARLY YEARS
JOHN TERRY NORUM was born on February 23rd, 1964 in Vardø, at the extreme northeast corner of Norway, on the Barents Sea only 40 miles from the Russian border, near the entrance to the Varangerfjord. Aged 1, his family moved to Sweden and he grew up in Upplands Väsby, a Stockholm’s suburb.
At the age of 8, he was a big fan of Elvis and Cliff Richard. Two years later, at the age of 10, he took his mother’s acoustic guitar off the wall and she showed him some stuff to do with it. John learned quickly and soon got his own guitar. But it was only when he heard “Strange Kind of a Woman” by Deep Purple that he decided to become a rockstar. Deep Purple wasn’t the only band that drew his interest: Kiss was his biggest influence.
In the Seventies, Swedish society encouraged young boys to take interest mainly in sports, whereas music – Rock music in particular – was badly considered or even taken to be as wasted time; it was, therefore, necessary to struggle not only for the success but also against the mentality and the prejudices of society. Many people considered that of musical success as a Swedish hopeless dream; the market was really restricted and there wasn’t space for young ambitious musicians, as well as the dream of having success beyond Sweden…
John Norum got his first band – DRAGONFLY – at the age of 12, in 1976; the band took the name from the street he was living in, Dragonvägen – with the drummer Tony Niemistö and Stefan Kéry (a singer and guitar player who later joined other punk bands, as Råger Mår, in the early Eighties, with Håkan Jan Haugland on drums, later Ian Haugland). Their first “live” performance took place in John’s bedroom, and they had Kiss make-up on their face. The room was covered with tinfoil and as his idol Kiss, he used some cylinders to create the smoke effect… Well, none could say John was a quiet boy…
When he was 14, his step-father Thomas Witt got John into recording with Eddie Meduza the leader of Eddie Meduza & The Roaring Cadillacs band, a Swedish rocker. He played the guitar solo in “PUNKJÄVLAR” (“Punk Bastards”), released as a single in 1978. John was a punk rocker himself, influenced by Sex Pistols, and the band he had at that time was called Dog Wayst; his name on stage was Johnny Fuckfaster.
At that epoch, he really thought that he would have remained faithful to punk music, but thank God things changed, for essentially two reasons: Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy, who captured his interest and the main result was that John founded a new band called WC together with his old friends, which were playing Covers of their favorite bands as Thin Lizzy, UFO and Status Quo: Tony Niemistö, Micke Kling and Jan-Erik Bäckström. Eddie Meduza’s albums reached gold-status as soon as they were released so it was definitely an early success; in 1979 John recorded two guitar solos (in “Punkjävlar” and in “I’m a Fighter”) for Eddie’s album “EDDIE MEDUZA & THE ROARING CADILLACS”.
Another big passion of John was moto racing, a passion that brought him to know Joakim Larsson and to become a great friend of his. They were about 16 years old. A bass player, Peter Olsson, asked John to join a band with him and a drummer, Werner. At the beginning the band worked as a trio, with John as singer and guitarist, then, after only two weeks the drummer left, being replaced by the Dragonfly and WC’s drummer Tony. Together they re-founded WC band. They got quite famous in the Stockholm area. The band got close to take part in a TV-show, but to do that they would have had to change the name – which of course they refused to do… Peter Olsson told his friends that the line up was ok but they needed a good singer. John thought of his friend Joakim Larsson, who was playing bass and singing in the band Roxanne.
With Joakim the band was complete and they called themselves FORCE, inspired by the new UFO release “Force It”. They started playing seriously at CentrumGården in Upplands Väsby, a center for young people in which Peter was working and where they did their first show. Joakim started writing some songs of incredible quality, composed at home with the acoustic guitar and then played in the studio with John’s electric guitar. They started having a considerable repertoire: “Strange”, “Midnight Show”, “Black Rose”, “H & H”, and “Rock On” that later became the beautiful “Farewell” of first Europe’s album. They also added a couple of Covers “Since You Been Gone” by Rainbow and “Lettin’ Go” by UFO, the only ones they played during live performances, preferring to concentrate on their own material. A little later, Force found another studio, Peter Olsson once again found an excellent place at the “Klockback” school, a school for people with mental retardation.
The thought of a demo was more and more present, and the Brown Glenmark Study in Djursholm let them record some songs with Thomas Witt at a good price. But the quality wasn’t as good as they thought, so they decided to wait for another chance.
At the beginning of 1981 the band had internal problems, Peter Olsson left the band for personal reasons, and the band remained without a bassist. While the band was in search of a new bass player, they recorded another demo in the same studio and Joakim was responsible also for the parts on bass. It was in this period that he started thinking that his name wasn’t right and found a stage name suitable for him: Joey Tempest, taken from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.
Now they needed a good bass player. John Norum asked John Levén, who was playing the rhythmic guitar in a local band in Upplands Väsby. He liked that guy very much – more for his personal qualities than for his ability in playing guitar – and he tried to convince him to play the bass. John Levén remembers when John Norum came to his home in a stormy night to talk with him about his project… John Levén thought about it for a while and then he decided to join the band as the bass player. In this way, the line up of the group that two years later would have been named “Europe” was complete.
The reputation of Force was growing more and more, they started performing live oftener… In 1981 Force took part in a contest at the Underground Club, now closed, that was situated in Stockholm, in Sergels Square. They didn’t win and this was a big disappointment to them, and not without consequences: in April of the same year, in fact, John Levén had an offer he couldn’t refuse, a proposal arrived from Yngve Malmsten (better known as Yngwie Malmsteen), a famous guitarist in Stockholm who asked him to play bass in his Rising Force when they were about to record the single for CBS. John accepted. So there was an exchange of bass players, John Levén joined Rising Force and John Norum asked Marcel Jacob, Rising Force former bass player, to replace John in Force.
There was also a change of location, the band was authorized to use a room inside the palace of TeleCompany in Dragonvagen; rehearsals and the songwriting became really serious… But Marcel Jacob didn’t remain for long with the band. He played in only two concerts with Force, one in Folkets Park and the other in CentrumGården. Joakim and Marcel composed together “Black Journey Into My Soul” that is in the second album of Europe, “WINGS OF TOMORROW”, renamed as “Scream Of Anger”. Marcel took part to the “The King Will Return” songwriting (he wrote the chorus beginning), contained in their debut album “EUROPE”. It was just for three months, then both the bands Force and Rising Force got back their original bass players.
THE WORLD SUCCESS
The boys were 18 years old when the Product Manager of CBS Thomas Erdtman decided to organize the greatest rock competition ever held in Sweden, a national Contest for emergent Rock bands, the Rock-SM, as the one organized in Norway by Arnt Pedersen. To do this, he left CBS it and he founded “Hot Records” as a base for the Contest rock. He found many sponsors and the cooperation of the famous newspaper Aftonbladet which was a great recall for every emerging band. Aftonbladet published the rule at the beginning of 1982: every band who intended to take part in it would have had to send a tape cassette with two original tracks. The response was great: 4000 bands answered. Among these, there was also Force, with each member unaware of their subscription. Joakim’s girlfriend, Anita Katila, initially convinced the band to record a demo tape and to participate.
They recorded five songs: “The King Will Return”, “Paradize Bay”, “Seven Doors Hotel”, “Children Of This Time” and “Rock On”. But the tape didn’t convince them and they renounced to participate. Anita sent the tape anyway, and they were selected for the second phase of the contest. Force worked hard for the competition and changed the name into EUROPE. Force wasn’t a good name to begin a rock career, they wanted a name that it could be recognized everywhere, and meant the same thing in the entire world… Another very interesting band participated in the same contest, a band with a very good left-handed drummer: the band was Trilogy and the drummer was Ian Haugland. Trilogy didn’t pass the second phase, while Europe reached quarter-finals in Uppsala. Semi-finals took place in Södertälje and Europe reached the finals. And at that time they had a big supporter group in their retinue. Joakim decided to start using his new name, Joey Tempest. Tony also decided to change his Finnish surname, so difficult to be pronounced, in Reno.
The day of the finals was on December 13th, National Swedish holiday, at Grona Lund, in Stockholm. Europe vs. Café Midnatt, among judges there were Thomas Erdtman and some celebrities as Michael Rickfors, Thomas Ledin and Hasse Carlsson. Europe won everything! Not only the Championship but the two major prizes to Joey Tempest as the best lead singer and to John Norum as the best guitarist. The final prize was to record an album for Hot Records. Their new manager Thomas Erdtman tried to convince them to sing in Swedish, and maybe polish their music and look a bit. Joey was just about to do it but John didn’t agree at all. John and Thomas have never been in good terms since the very beginning…
Hot Records reached an agreement with Grammfon AB Electra and the first album of Europe, “EUROPE”, was recorded in a studio in Kista, few kilometers north of Stockholm. The songs were long, lyrics were complicated and melodies were pure hard Rock, influenced by UFO, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple but totally revised in a personal and particular way.
Budget was low, only 100.000 Crowns (about 9.000 Euro) and at that time, the Swedish hard Rock production was at the beginning and it was very hard to find a producer or a technician who was able to mix that kind of music: the band together with the technician of Rock SM and Erdtman himself did their best. A fact worth mentioning is that it was recorded in one weekend only, most of it was recorded live in the studio and for example, “Boyazont” took 30 minutes only to be recorded. When the album was released at the end of February 1983, nobody considered the possibility Europe could become such a well-known name in the entire world: conquering the Swedish market was already a very difficult target to reach at that time.
Europe became very famous after their victory, reviews were really good and the album sold about 30.000 copies during the first weeks, which was good in Sweden for a Hard Rock band. They were invited to the famous Swedish TV show “Casablanca”, and that night they performed “Children Of This Time”: this increased the interest of the audience towards Europe and the band started a Swedish Tour reaching 25 public parks warming up the night. Meantime as in a dream, in London a Japanese Rock journalist, Masa Itoh, found by chance a copy of the LP “EUROPE” in a shop of importation albums. He was shocked, and when he went back to Tokyo, he contacted a friend of him at Victor Records, T.T. Tsutsumi, who called immediately Hot Records and Tomas Erdtman because he wanted to release the album in Japan. The possibility of international success was finally concrete! In Japan the single “SEVEN DOORS HOTEL” was a big success: it became a best seller and Europe made a video for “In The Future To Come”. It seems that the video wasn’t so good and Japanese TV was the only one that broadcast it. It was also released “LYIN’ EYES” as single, withdrawn shortly after.
In November John went again on a tour with Eddie Meduza and The Roaring Cadillacs for two months and in that occasion, it was recorded the album “DÅREN É LÖS – THE ROARING CADILLAC’S LIVE”.
On February 23rd, 1984 “WINGS OF TOMORROW” was released, it sold 60.000-70.000 copies in Sweden only. Three more singles were released: “DREAMER”, “STORMWIND” and “OPEN YOUR HEART”. Gunnar Michaeli, from the band Avalon – better known as Mic Michaeli – was brought in to play live keyboards during the upcoming promotional tour, and he became the 5th member of the band. Without the band knowing, Thomas Erdtman fired Tony by letter. Håkan Jan Haugland (Ian Haugland for short) was brought in.
In the same year, John recorded two more guitar solos (in “Hold Your Fire” and in “California”) for Eddie Meduza’s album “WEST A FOOL AWAY”.
In 1985 there were two projects that Europe was involved in. They starred in a 30 minutes movie directed by Staffan Hildebrand and made by the Social Democrats Union – LO, it was called “ON THE LOOSE” and Europe’s role it was just to be themselves. Joey wrote and recorded three songs for the film: the title track, “Rock The Night” and “Broken Dreams”. “ROCK THE NIGHT” was however released again later with the whole band playing. In the name of LO (Trade Union Conference), they made a quite embarrassing tour with only these three new songs.
Later in the same year, Joey wrote “GIVE A HELPING HAND” for SWEDISH METAL AID, a benefit single for the starving in Ethiopia. The élite of the Swedish hard Rock bands gathered to record that single, and on top of that, there were six lead singers: Robert Ernlund (Treat), Björn Lodin (Bedlam), Malin Ekholm (Aphrodite), Tommy Nilsson (Easy Action), Joakim Lundholm (220 Volt) and Joey Tempest. The music was performed by members of Treat and Easy Action. This was also the first time Joey worked with Kjell Lövbom (better known as Kee Marcello) from Easy Action, who produced the single. John sang in the choir consisting of 150 members from different bands.
In August, John played in collaboration with Joey as a producer, in his sister Tone Norum’s debut single “STRANDED” – that became a big hit – and in her first album “ONE OF A KIND”. John played also in the other single “CAN’T YOU STAY”.
John teamed up with some other rockers and they did a small tour called “The Boys Are Back In Town” – as a tribute to Phil Lynott, dead on 4th January 1986.
“THE FINAL COUNTDOWN” was recorded, but its release was delayed. Yet another tour (booked before the album was delayed) without the new album backing them up. Everyone knew the 3rd album would be the most important. Were they just another one-album band, could they repeat the success or was it just pure luck with “WINGS OF TOMORROW”? But then – on May 26th, 1986 “THE FINAL COUNTDOWN” was released and sold gold before it hit the shops (thanks to the single) and in two months it sold 100.000 copies in Sweden only, and 7 million copies in the world.
They did a tour in Japan: Scandinavia and Japan were in love with Europe. New tour in Sweden – TV filmed a show on the first leg (in Solna on May 27th) and it was broadcast two months later just to hype them even more. Wherever you went that summer you heard “THE FINAL COUNTDOWN” being played. It was on the top of all the charts and in everyone’s mind… While Europe opened their eyes and saw this amazing band, so a tour took place there as well. Just one video clip featuring John was released: “THE FINAL COUNTDOWN”, filmed in Solnahallen, Solna (Sweden), and other singles were released: “LOVE CHASER” (later reissued with “CARRIE” as the lead track; “Love Chaser” was played in the Japanese movie “Pride One”) and “CHEROKEE”.
THE SOLO CAREER
But John decided that he had had enough of the cute image, play-back, TV shows, etc and he told the band he’d quit. He gave them enough time to find a replacement. Kee Marcello became the new Europe guitarist. Last John’s performance live with Europe was in Amsterdam on October 31st, 1986. The show was broadcast live on Sky Channel. On November 1st he was on his own.
Immediately after leaving Europe John formed a new band. His bassist friend Marcel Jacob (ex-Power and Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman) joined it. The first single “LET ME LOVE YOU” was released on October 16th, 1987 (it reached the 2nd place in the Swedish charts), and on the same month 29th came out “TOTAL CONTROL”. John showed his great affection for Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy by recording Lizzy songs as B-sides. The band was, besides John and Marcel, drummers Henrik “Hempo” Hildén (ex-Trash) and Peter Hermansson (220 Volt), vocalist Göran Edman (ex-Madison and Glory) and Mats Lindfors on rhythm guitar and keyboards. “TOTAL CONTROL” is dedicated to Tommy Östervik, one of John’s friends and heroes, who drowned the same night as Europe played the show that later was broadcast on Swedish TV. The tour started on February 2nd, 1988 and finished on March 19th supporting Ace Frehley at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in March (part of that show has been released as Ace Frehley “12 PICKS”). Two more singles and video clips were released to promote this album: “LOVE IS MEANT (TO LAST FOREVER)” and “BACK ON THE STREETS”.
Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) partnered with John Norum with the intention of a long term band project – Hughes/Norum – as reported in an interview with Swedish music magazine Okej with the journalist Anders Tegner, who introduced Glenn to John in London. John and Glenn started to rehearse with members of Norum’s solo band. Glenn was a vocalist as well as the bass player. John, Glenn, Mats and Hempo played only one live show at Rock SM on May 21st, 1988 which was broadcast on Swedish National TV. Songs played included “I Got Your Number”, “Reach For The Sky” and “Still The Night”. Glenn’s first words when entering the stage were “…it’s been a long time, but it’s great to be back. Please let me present my new partner, John Norum – great don’t you think?”. Due to Glenn’s still on-going battle with substance abuse, the partnership never flourished and this appearance marked the end of the planned project.
Two months later, John played with Yngwie Malmsteen as guest musicians in Tone Norum’s album “THIS TIME”, which was produced by Joey Tempest again.
Marcel and Göran were brought in again for a late summer tour in the Northern Sweden and Norway.
In 1988 John got in touch with Don Dokken for the first time; in September 1989 John moved to Los Angeles and he was brought in as the new guitarist of Dokken. As things turned out though, Don Dokken wasn’t allowed to use his family name as a band name again, instead, it became to be a DON DOKKEN solo album.
The album with Don Dokken ” UP FROM THE ASHES” was released in 1990, with the following tour in Japan.
The line up included also former Accept bassist Peter Baltes. Two singles and video clips were released to promote this album: “MIRROR MIRROR” and “STAY”.
In the same year, CBS released “LIVE IN STOCKHOLM”, with 3 tracks (“Eternal Flame”, “Don’t Believe a Word” and “Blind”) recorded live in March 1988 and one track (“Free Birds in Flight”) recorded in 1987.
John put also in a brief appearance with Don Dokken in Tommy Chong’s first solo production “FAR OUT MAN” (also known as “SOUL MAN II”).
As a result of the work with Glenn Hughes “L.A. BLUES AUTHORITY” and “FACE THE TRUTH” were released in 1992. The main vocal parts on the “Face The Truth” album were handled by Glenn. Hempo Hildén once more supplied the drums, although Mothörhead man Mikkey Dee also guested. The album featured a faithful cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Opium Trail” for good measure. On the “Face The Truth” European version, there’s a duet with Joey Tempest: “WE WILL BE STRONG” – with Peter Baltes on bass again – was released as a first single and a video was made for it. With the right promotion, this could have been a hit all over the world… But someone put the lid on, hits never been his thing. Two singles more were released: “FACE THE TRUTH” and “IN YOUR EYES”.
In 1992 Joey hung around John quite a lot, Europe had split up (or was taking a long break as they preferred to state) and Joey wanted to reform original Europe’s line-up. John had no plans in that direction, he enjoyed California far too much as well as the life as an independent solo artist; he pointed out the benefits of being on his own: to decide over his own material, the directions, the musicians and have it in his own pace. And so it happened, for both. In August John joined Joey Tempest on stage at the Waterfestival in Stockholm. One would be expected to see them announced, but it was all in a moment of surprise so still today nobody seems to know about it.
John didn’t enter Swedish ground again until January 1994 when he teamed up with some Swedish rockers to do a “The Boys Are Back In Town” tour over 10 days, it began in Stockholm on 4th and ended in Malmö on 14th. They performed all sorts of rock classics including “The Sun Goes Down”, “Don’t Believe a Word” and “Bad Reputation” by Thin Lizzy. They also performed “People Get Ready” by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart’s fame, to name but a few.
John also played as a guest guitarist in Phantom Blue’s album “BUILT TO PERFORM” (with his girlfriend Michelle Meldrum, lead guitarist, who became his wife in 1995) and in the Deep Purple’s tribute “SMOKE ON THE WATER – A TRIBUTE” in which he played “Stormbringer” with Glenn Hughes as singer.
In July he recorded his 3rd solo album, “ANOTHER DESTINATION”, with Kelly Keeling (of Baton Rouge and Blue Murder fame), Fleetwood Mac bassist Tom Lilly and former Gary Moore’s drummer Gary Ferguson. It was released in Japan on July 1995. Only one promo single and videoclip was released before this album, “STRANGE DAYS”. And it was time for Sweden again. The tour kicked off in Göteborg on March 31st and took them around the Country. With John on this tour were Kelly Keeling and Michelle Meldrum. She teamed up with the boys on “Bad Reputation”. John Levén from Europe played bass and Niclas Sigevall from Electric Boys played drums.
On August 1995 at a Tribute concert held in Los Angeles at The Palace, he teamed up with Carmine Appice (former King Cobra, Blue Murder, etc). John recorded “Massacre” for a Thin Lizzy tribute album called “THE LIZZY SONGS – A TRIBUTE TO PHIL LYNOTT” (then released in 1997). In the same year, John recorded also “Right To Respect” for Joey Tempest’s solo album and single “A PLACE TO CALL HOME”.
Surprisingly, John would then team up with UFO lynch-pins Phil Mogg and Pete Way in late 1995 following Michael Schenker’s disappearance. The liaison was brief due to Schenker’s enforcement of a contract stipulating the band could only be titled UFO with his involvement. And the “Walk On Water” tour went belly-up.
In 1996 he recorded “Cold Gin” for the tribute album “SPACEWALK – A SALUTE TO ACE FREHLEY”.
The same year, on December 21st, “WORLDS AWAY” (with Kelly Keeling and Peter Baltes back on board) was released in Japan; the album was released in Sweden through Svensk Musik Distribution (M-D) on May 16th, 1997 and “WHERE THE GRASS IS GREEN” was released as a single to support the album. John Norum kicked off a pre-tour in Karlskrona Sweden on April 24th, 1997. One of the four dates took place in Upplands Väsby.
At the end of 1997, John did some more work briefly with Don Dokken after George Lynch had left the band: he went to the States for just over a month to finish the tour. John put together a live band for a Japanese tour, these shows were recorded for the “FACE IT LIVE ‘97” album. Joining him onstage were Michael Schenker Group and Great King Rat vocalist Leif Sundin and his Great King Rat colleague Anders Fästader (previously known as Anders Nilsson).
“FACE IT LIVE ‘97” was released by Zero in Japan. The album was released later in Sweden too, but once again a wrong promotion killed it. Shrapnel took off four tracks and released it in the US. In the same year, on October “CHANNEL MIND RADIO – GUITAR ZEUS 2″ by Carmine Appice was released, in which John played “Nothing”.
In 1998 John toured in Sweden with his JOHN NORUM GROUP (JNG).
He almost got to tour with UFO under the name Lights Out, but as Michael Schenker heard the rumors he returned to the band.
JNG were: Hempo Hildén on drums, Leif Sundin as a vocalist, Anders Fästader on bass and John on guitars. On June 5th JNG performed at Sweden Rock Festival in Karlshamn. On the same month and only for a single date, Ian Haugland was the drummer and Stefan Rodin the bass player.
In the same year, John recorded 2 tracks for “ABOVE & BEYOND” by Midnight Sun, a Swedish metal band.
In March 1999, during the Italian tour, the drummer Thomas Broman and the bass player John Léven joined the JNG. In August he performed as a guest guitar player with Brian “Robbo” Robertson (Thin Lizzy, Mothörhead, Wild Horses) in the last Lotus’ gig in Sala (Sweden). In the same month, with his wife Michelle, Robbo, Leif Sundin and Marcel Jacob, John played in a magnificent jam session at Anchor Pub in Stockholm.
Between 1999 and 2000 the line up changed again, with Thomas Broman and Leif Sundin as confirmed members and the guitarist Fredrik Åkesson as a guest and Marcel Jacob alternated to John Levén on bass.
In June 1999 John performed live with Motörhead as a special guest at Sweden Rock Festival in Norje, he played the last song of the set, “Killed By Death”.
In August he toured in Finland and Sweden with Five Fifteen and Lotus. John was the guest artist on the last gig in Sala, Sweden. Actually, Lotus was technically a trio but for this latest outing, the seven years old band recruited former Thin Lizzy guitar specialist Brian Robertson and the Swedish guitar hero John Norum does a brief guest spot here as well in “Peace in Mind”.
In October, during the release party at Valand in Gothenburg for Lotus CD “A Taster For The Big One”, Lizzy’s “Gonna Creep Up On You” was one of the highlights from the gig and once again John played guitar on the encores.
In the meantime, John’s album “SLIPPED INTO TOMORROW” was released in Japan.
John recorded also “Eighteen” for the tribute album “HUMANARY STEW – A TRIBUTE TO ALICE COOPER”.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM
1999 was the year of the incredible Millennium Gig for the New Year’s Eve, with all the Europe members reunited for a special night: John Norum together with Joey Tempest, John Levén, Ian Haugland, Mic Michaeli, and Kee Marcello. No one could have been happier with “Rock The Night” flowing all over Stockholm and on TV too. Just before the clock struck midnight the famous and world-known hymn began… “The Final Countdown” echoed everywhere! The new Millennium didn’t produce more events like that, but the band gathered at Hard Rock Café in Stockholm to receive a gold award as well as open a permanent exhibition. No deal with the band about playing on stage that night, but John Norum, John Levén Ian Haugland and Kee Marcello with Bo and Anders Lindmark from Dalton have been so kind to join the band on stage in a very nice 3-minutes-jam of “Rock the night” while later on, Joey Tempest and Mic Michaeli surprised all the presents jumping on stage like felines and stealing microphone and keys and completing the song brilliantly! It happened on April 14th, 2000.
In June, JNG and Brian Robertson performed together at Sweden Rock Festival in Karlshamn. John worked again with Midnight Sun recording “Dreams” for their album “NEMESIS” and he toured with them as a guest guitarist at least for one show in Stockholm.
In May 2001 John teamed up with former Thin Lizzy and Motörhead guitarist Brian Robertson for a short series of Norwegian dates performing Thin Lizzy and his own songs. Featured in the live band was Street Legal and Da Vinci man Bjorn Boge on vocals and on bass “Wild Willy” Bendiksen of Bad Habits and The Snakes.
In the summer of 2001, John joined Don Dokken again, filling the gap left by a departing Reb Beach. This time only Don Dokken and Mick Brown were left from the original band. On bass was Barry Spark. In June DOKKEN featuring John performed at Sweden Rock Festival in Karlshamn. Later, they did a sort of “best of Dokken” tour in the US, recorded a new album called “LONG WAY HOME” and then went on tour in Europe. John’s arm was injured in an accident during that tour and he was replaced by Alex DeRosso.
John worked again with his wife Michelle in her new Meldrum band’s debut album “LOADED MENTAL CANNON”, recording “Through Shattered Eyes”.
He recorded also “What Cost War” for Jeff Pilson’s War & Peace album “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL”.
In 2002 two singles taken from “LONG WAY HOME” were released: “SUNLESS DAYS” (as a promo-only) and “LITTLE GIRL”. The 13th od December, three-fifths of the most celebrated EUROPE lineup – guitarist John Norum, bassist John Levén, and drummer Ian Haugland – reunited on stage at the Hard Rock Café in Stockholm, Sweden to perform the EUROPE classic “Rock The Night” and a version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll”. The gig, which took place as part of the Christmas show of local radio station Rockklassiker 106.7, also featured an appearance by Lion’s Share guitarist Lars Chriss, who played with Haugland during the regular set before Norum and Levén joined the duo for the explosive finale.
In March 2003, UFO had officially recruited John Norum as a replacement for Michael Schenker. However, in typical fashion, a matter of months passed before Norum issued a statement declining UFO’s offer of employment.
In the same year, he toured with Whitesnake.
He would soon be back in the limelight, teaming back up with EUROPE for a reformation of the classic line up: on October 2nd, 2003 Europe finally announced their reunion and that they were going to record a new album and headline at the Sweden Rock Festival 2004! The line up would be the same of the TFC era; Kee Marcello was asked to join the band for the summer tour, but then projects changed from both the parts: Europe members weren’t so sure of their previous idea and Kee was more and more involved in his musical projects, so the Millennium Gig – with both the Europe guitarists on stage – become the very rare event.
With the largest audience ever at SRF and broadcast live on national radio Europe got back on track, the title track of the new album “START FROM THE DARK” proved them to lean towards the heavier stuff. The album was released on September 22nd, 2004.
The same day, John and Michelle’s son Jake Thomas was born.
Two singles and videos – “GOT TO HAVE FAITH” and “HERO” (dedicated to Phil Lynott) were released and the “Start From The Dark” tour in 89 dates reached all the Europe, the US, Russia and Japan. The first gig was in Hamar (Norway) on June 1st, 2004 and the last one in Brasov (Romania), on August 20th, 2005.
While writing material for the “START FROM THE DARK” album, John also worked on his solo album “OPTIMUS” that was released on John’s birthday, on February 23rd, 2005. No single was released. Bass tracks were handled by Thomas Torberg, additional guitar by Fredrik Åkesson of Tiamat, Talisman and Krux, keyboards by Mats Lindfors with drums coming from Paatos and Buckspony man Richard “Hux Flux” Nettermalm.
In 2005 John worked with Kelly Keeling recording “Nothing” for his new “GIVING SIGHT TO THE EYE”. In the same year, John also contributed with his interpretation of “Stay With Me” (voice and guitars) to a Frank Marino tribute album released by WildMess Records and entitled “SECONDHAND SMOKE”.
In October 2006 the new Europe album “SECRET SOCIETY” was released and a few weeks later it was released the first single “ALWAYS THE PRETENDERS”. The same day of the album’s release, the new world tour started in Lund, Sweden, and it ended with two great performances at the Dalhalla, in Rättvik, Sweden, the 1st of September 2007. The songs performed during the first of the two nights were recorded and released on the web. On the 25th of April, 2008 it was published Europe’s first official tourbook, with pics taken during their last two world tours.
During that winter, John recorded his long-awaited new solo album, which was released on May 17, 2010. “PLAY YARD BLUES” is a fantastic collection of John Norum originals as well as some covers.
This album shows a little different side of John. The trademark sound and riffing are definitely there but John also follows a more bluesy approach in several songs. With the success of the recent Europe album, this album will find its way to his already massive fanbase as well as to an audience of say Frank Marino.
Mic Michaeli, Thomas Broman, Tomas Thorberg e Leif Sundin worked at it together with John.
John performed with Europe once again in Sibiu, Romania, the 31st of December, 2007 and later at the Nalen in Stockholm, the 26th of January, 2008: it was an extraordinary event called “ALMOST UNPLUGGED”, a semi-acoustic concert that was webcast entirely on the official site. During that night, they played some songs of the band that influenced their career: Thin Lizzy, UFO, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. The 17th of September the CD was released, and the 8th of December the double vinyl was released in a special limited colored edition.
On the 21st of May, John’s wife Michelle Meldrum suddenly passed away, as a result of a cystic growth that restricted oxygen and blood flow to her brain, rendering her braindead. In loving respect of her memory, Europe canceled their appearance at the first of the planned festivals of the summer tour, in Norway, expected 10 days later.
During the summer tour, Europe featured as support act of Deep Purple’s Swedish dates, and during the second night, in Ystad, John Norum jammed with Steve Morse and then played “Smoke on the Water” with Deep Purple.
In December 2008, it was time for Europe to enter the studio and to start the recording of the new album “LAST LOOK AT EDEN”, that was released in spring 2009 and that was followed by another world tour started in Chile. Two singles and video clips were released on the web to promote the album: “LAST LOOK AT EDEN” and “NEW LOVE IN TOWN”.
The same year another great tragedy shook John’s life: Marcel Jacob was found dead in his home in Kristineberg, Stockholm, on July 21, 2009. Marcel took his own life at the age of 45, after many years of personal and health issues he was battling.
The second of guitarist Janne Stark’s tributes to the Seventies was released on Grooveyard Records in February 2010. The album, simply entitled “MOUNTAIN OF POWER – VOLUME TWO”, features John Norum showing his love for Frank Marino in a guitar-overdriven cover of “Talkin’ ’bout a Feeling”.
In March 2010 Mascot Records has released the compilation “WHERE BLUES MEETS ROCK”, with John’s new solo track “Let It Shine”.
On May 17, 2010 Mascot Records has released “PLAY YARD BLUES”, latest John Norum’s solo album.
In December, Norwegian guitarist Håvard Pedersen’s new album titled “NEVER FELT SO GOOD” and featuring John playing and singing the Thin Lizzy’s cover “Still in Love With You”, was released by Cinematicworld Records.
Back from a successful tour in Japan and Taiwan, a European summer tour and a tour in South America, he has left again for the UK, for the Balls ‘n’ Banners tour, last February 2011. A “BALLS ‘N’ BANNERS” CD + DVD live of the show in London was released during the summer, followed by the Earbook “LIVE LOOK AT EDEN” released by Edel, in a MINI, MAXI, and LIMITED (signed) edition.
John and his mates have also rocked again Europe in Belgium, Finland, Italy, Austria, Sweden (on tour with the band Takida, and Joe Bonamassa starring during the show in Stockholm), Portugal, Spain and Norway for the last leg of the Eden tour.
In October 2011 the band started recording the new album “BAG OF BONES”, that it was released this April 18th on Gain/Sony (Scandinavia), EarMusic (Europe) and Victor (Japan), in vinyl and CD edition. A few weeks earlier, the 9th of March, the first single “Not Supposed to Sing the Blues” was released only in the digital version.
On April 19, 2012, John proudly announced the birth of Jim Henry Norum, born April 16th from his Swedish fiancée Camilla Wåhlander.
On May 1st the BOB Europe’s world tour has started in Wroclaw (Poland), and ended in Helsinki (Finland) on December 21st.
(more to come)
Written and updated by Francesca Bevilacqua @ Norumaniacs Planet – updated 2012