Last night with the gang
By: Anders Tengner
- No. 25, 1986
OKEJ was there when John said goodbye to the guys!
On top of the charts almost all over Europe: "The Final Countdown" is an enormous Euro-hit. "What a great time to leave EUROPE," John thought and left, just when the results of six years of hard work started showing. No, he didnít really think that, the guitarist who surprisingly actually did leave EUROPE just when it looks like they are going to win the battle for Europe.
The end in Holland
Already when they were in Japan, John Norum decided to leave the band.
That was when he for real felt that he didnít fit into the band any more.
EUROPE were fully booked for their first, and really important, promotion tour through
Europe, and John stayed and finished the tour, which he knew would be the last one he did with his friends from Upplands Všsby.
The end destination was Amsterdam in Holland.
OKEJ met EUROPE at the Hotel Sonesta right next to the central station in this fantastic city, unlike any other European capital. The day before that, EUROPE had done their second last TV show in Madrid, Spain, and now only the actual leaving was to be done Ė the final.
Itís October 31, 1986. Itís raining in Amsterdam. Of course. Itís been raining in several of the cities that EUROPE have visited during this promotion tour. But a little rain wonít stop us from peeping at the red-light districts just to the right of the central station. Here the citizens of Amsterdam are walking about, not as much looking for some fun as just enjoying the atmosphere, which is unique in itself. The channels of Amsterdam add a distinct charm to the fun districts. But there isnít so much time left for the tourist activities.
At the nightclub "Escape", Sky Channelís technician is working almost in panic to get things ready for the nightís live sent opening. A bunch of artists have shown up. We see Howard Jones walking by, and sitting next to us, with a cup of coffee, are several of the members of Cutting Crew. EUROPE have come to the club straight from the airport. They've got three rehearsals before itís time for the live transmission. In a nearby hotel, two rooms have been made available as dressing rooms because the club has only got one extra room, which a Dutch dance band is using.
We have brought along some articles from Swedish newspapers discussing Keeís break up with Easy Action.
"Hmm", John says thoughtfully while reading the article. "To think it would cause so much fuss." He looks thoughtful as he sits there in the hotel bed with a bottle of Dutch beer. Does he think about tonightís show? The last one heíll ever do with EUROPE.
"No," he says firmly. "I donít regret my decision. It will feel great to get this over with. It has been quite frustrating to travel around and only do TV shows. Itís really not my style."
Mic, Ian and Jompa (John Levťn), who are in the same room, are looking through the last couple of issues of OKEJ, commenting on the different articles.
"Look at the lighting Iron Maiden has got," Jompa sighs. "You think they'll get everything with them to Sweden?"
Itís time to go down to the stage for the first rehearsal. "The Final Countdown" booms out of the speakers, and the countdown has begun for real. Now the inescapable end is only a few hours away.
John bets everything. He gives it all and makes Thomas laugh wholeheartedly.
"Look at him," he says with both happiness and bitterness in his eyes. "Now the fellow is really doing it!!"
They have had their fights, Thomas and John. The last couple of months have also been frustrating for both of them. But now when itís all over, it would be strange if the strong feelings between them all wouldnít come out. They have lived together for the last four years. Thomas has been more than a manager. He has also been the father, and a father has the right to be angry, like the kids also can be. John breaks a chord. He laughs, makes an annoyed swing with the guitar and doesnít care. He is not on live. After another rehearsal itís time for the dressed rehearsal.
"Oh dear, now we have to put on our stage clothes," a tired Mic says and hurries with the half buttoned pants into the room to change quickly. In the back, Howard Jones is standing, looking at EUROPEís second last performance with John Norum on the guitar. He doesnít know anything. Nobody but us in the crowd knows anything, and everything looks as innocent as it can be.
Here we get a well needed food break. CBS offers dinner in the hotelís fancy restaurant. Dutch food is probably the best you can find in Europe. Just coming home from Paris, by most people thought of as the gastronomic eldorado, I could only laugh at the French food art when I sit at a table in Amsterdam. The Dutch make their food with care. If you choose, like we did, a well-grilled Chateaubriand, you get an exquisite dish. Well-grilled, but never burned. Spiced with love and served with exquisite discretion from Europeís most service minded servants. An excellent red wine tops off the dream.
"Smell this," Thomas says, who is sharing a bottle of Spanish wine from one of the better districts, with Jompa. "Do you know this special earth odor?"
Thomas knows his wine, and his cigars too. When the clock strikes 12, heíll be
36 years old, and the band and Bosse Norling has a very good present to give him:
An exquisite cigar case with built-in air moister and thermometer, made in
expensive wood and full of the best cigars Holland has.
We go to "Escape" together, which now, right after nine oíclock, is completely full. All of the famous people from Amsterdam are here to open the new club. Sky Channelís cameras are ready, the lighting is ready. There are only few minutes until they go on air. EUROPE gets their makeup put on, and we get seated in the salon, listening to the real final countdown.
From several TV monitors we can follow the transmission. Between two taped parts Ianís drum kit and Micís keyboards are carried onto the stage. They havenít got a whole lot of time to get the instruments ready. Then the video fades out and EUROPE are on stage, which slowly is filled with smoke. Mick Wall, who normally works for "Kerrang", is working for Sky Channel today, and he walks up to Joey through the cheering audience.
"You are pretty high up on the charts now," he says.
Joey smiles and looks into the camera. "Of course, we are number one in several countries, it feels so great."
"And here they are, live on Sky Channel: EUROPE and "The Final Countdown"."
If he knew how right he was, Mick. It really is the ending countdown, which has started before our eyes. Now John has only few minutes left of his career in EUROPE. It feels kind of bitter. This is the last time Joey goes forward to the smiling John and sings the chorus together with him. This is the last time John turns himself inside out in the exploding solo.
The smoke and the light add a bizarre feeling to the quintet on stage. When "The Final Countdown" ends, "Rock the Night" begins. Johnís very last song with EUROPE Ė ever!
The end couldnít possibly have been better. EUROPE leaves the stage in a big sky of smoke after a really emotional show. I donít know what John was thinking when the last notes went out. I donít know what Joey was thinking either. All I know was that it was over now. The End. Finite!
"Thank God for that," John sighs, sweating all over from the hard work on stage. "Now I will go home and rest."
I ask Mic how heís feeling. "It feels good. Of course itís a bit sad, but we knew it would be like this. We had fun, thatís what counts. Now we have to look forward."
The next day EUROPE went home again. There their new guitarist Kee Marcello was waiting. They'll continue together with him.
John went home to his apartment in SŲder and rested. When they will meet again, no one knows.
Another chapter in the story of EUROPE has ended. A new one can startÖ