The rock star God forgot

Been home a few days cause of a bad case of torticollis. It hurts like a son-of-a-b****… Like that wasn’t enough, I’ve also gone partially deaf on my left ear. So, I’m good for nothing really, just sitting here bored to death.

When you can’t move, there’s not much you can do. But I started reading ex-EUROPE guitarist Kee Marcello‘s biography the other day and finished it last night. Couldn’t stop reading. 

I have to admit…. I thought I knew exactly what kind of bio it would be, considering the way it’s been marketed so far. I expected another “The Dirt“-wannabe bio, yet another story about rockers and their lifestyle where they’re mostly acting like reckless pigs. Feels like THAT story has been told over and over again in a million similar ways since the crazy days of Elvis….. I for one am getting pretty fed up with it.

Much to my surprise, this one wasn’t like that. I think it’s one of the rare books I’ve read that has managed to tell the unpretty story about how drugs, alcohol and sex-abuse can take over a normal guy’s life. It describes what it does, how it happens, what he’s thinking and the reasons behind his actions (even where he doesn’t know himself, you can still read between the lines). 

Most importantly, unlike “The Dirt”, Kee is not trying to make it look cool. He tells it like it is, but he also adds how meaningless it all really was. There are many great quotes in the book, this is one of my favorites:

“Before I got here, I was addicted to music. Rock’n’roll was my drug. Now I was snorting all kinds of shit, I had no limits anymore.” 

“I hated the drugs. But the drugs loved me.” 

“My moral perspective had become totally screwed. I had degenerated after several years at the very top in the international music industry. My boundries had changed, I constantly needed new kicks.”

That’s what I liked the most about this book. He is not hiding or trying to tell others how to live their lives, nor does he try to shove his own perspective on anyone. He is simply telling his story, with the lessons he learned. That’s the thing I felt lacked in “The Dirt” and I actually hate the fact it has somehow become a “bible” that tons of young guys think is COOL…

It’s damn uncool. In that case, I like Nikki Sixx‘ “Heroin Diaries” a lot more because it has a purpose.

But back to Kee’s bio. Even with the “shocking” stories, and namedropping (I for one missed the fact that Toto’s Steve Lukather was such a bad cocaine-addict….) he still manages to keep a healthy and refreshing self-distance. 

Even after being screwed financially more than once, and does get pissed about it, he still doesn’t strike me as bitter. Slightly sarcastic maybe, but not bitter. 

He tells the story about Europe’s manager Thomas Erdtman who refused to talk about money when he was asked. In the book Kee describes a short memory where Thomas deliberately avoids a straight question about where the money was, by pretending he never heard it and looked out the bus-window going: “I wonder if there are mountain goats here….”.

Shortly after Erdtman had been fired by Europe, he went bankrupt – or at least it seemed like it when he asked for financial help by calling colleagues in the middle of the night cause he had to check out from his luxury hotel and didn’t have the 15 000 that he needed to cover the bill. My god.

I met that man.

Many years ago, he arranged a talent search, just like the one that Europe once entered that made them famous. It was called “Rock-SM” (SM=Sverige Mästerskap=Swedish Championship).

I made it to the finals actually, ended up 2nd place. :-)
But anyway, there’s a photo of me with Europe’s manager Thomas Erdtman from the day of the Rock-SM finals – who would have known he was such a fuck-up.

Erdtman

Great book. I didn’t expect it to be what it was, I remember sighing thinking “Yea, another “look I can snort, blow, drink, smoke and get blowjobs by groupies too!!“-sort of bio…”. 

It wasn’t quite like that. I like the style in which it was written and the important points he makes, and the way he does it. I was never much of a Kee Marcello-fan. I was always a John Norum-fan.

That actually reminds me when I was sent to do an in-depth interview with singer Joey Tempest in Lund on their “Prisoners in Paradise” tour 1992. Everybody back then thought that Europe was this squeaky clean band and that Joey Tempest was this perfect son-in-law. I quickly learned that wasn’t the case.

It was almost impossible to interview him, cause it didn’t matter what I asked, he made everything to be about women. Like, if I asked him to go back and tell me his story, how it all began, he would sit there with a sleazy smile and go: “Well… I always loved WOMEN.…” and I don’t even remember what the hell he was talking about – I’ve got that interview on a cassette somewhere. I’ll see if I can find it.

[What I managed to get out of Joey (and Mic Michaeli) that could actually be used for an article…]

Europe

He actually made me feel slightly annoyed and uncomfortable, because I was WAY past my teenage Joey Tempest crush from 1984….. I was there to do a job and he made it impossible.

He asked if I was going to the show, and I didn’t want to tell him that I wasn’t cause I didn’t want to, so I just said that I didn’t have time to get a ticket so…. He shouted to his manager to get me two passes for the show and looked me straight in the eyes with that sleazy smile. Eeeewww!!

I think that Europe would like to forget about that evening backstage at Olympen because all the girls that were back there, were girls that I knew in one way or another. And none of them was a Europe-fan really, they had just gotten passes the “80’s way” – some roadie stuck it on them. So they just figured “What the hell…”.

Imag2543

One of them showed up in a John Norum t-shirt and told Kee Marcello: “You used to be pretty cool when you were in Easy Action….”. Ouch – two strikes in one.

Me and another girl were talking about Alice Cooper so when Joey walked over and tried to join the conversation, we pretty much ignored him until he left.

Then he tried to sign a girl’s wallet but she just screamed at him NOT to mess it up!

The other girls took all the free beer and drinks from the coolers and filled their bags and pockets with it and just split. There was nothing left in the backstage area.

I think there was ONE girl there, only 16 or 17, that was actually impressed by Europe and from what she told me the next day, she had slept with Joey. So he did get himself a piece of ass after all. 

I doubt it was the kind of “appreciation” they had been looking for, I think we all treated them pretty rude…. But this was a time when Europe were just not “cool” anymore. Most people were into Skid Row, Guns n Roses and those kind of bands. And the Europe-show that evening totally sucked too, mostly because the sound was terrible.

So, it was interesting reading about their heyday in Kee’s book, especially now looking back on my own memories of them. :)

I don’t know if the book has only been published in Swedish – but if so, hopefully there will be an English version out soon too, cause it’s definitely worth reading!

 

5 comments

  1. Daniela

    It was a surprise, and I like surprises. :) I hope it does get released in English too, it should be. Thank you for the Ramones-tip, I’ll check that out!

  2. Ronnie Soo

    Only ever saw Europe the once, in early 1987 at the Liverpool Empire and Kee Marcello had just taken over on guitar. Not that it mattered to the mostly teenage girl audience that night, since yours truly was in a minority of metal fans (I just remember a LOT of squealing between songs!) who noticed it wasn’t John Norum playing! The book could yet get published here, since Europe have seen a resurgence in popularity here with their last two UK tours selling out – didn’t get to see them but I should do, I’d probably like the gig a lot better now!

  3. White "Snake" Sabo

    I´m sure you already know this, but the official story about John Norum leaving because he wanted to have a solo career and didn´t get room for his songs etc was invented by management…. the band apparently fired him for being uncooperative and an alcoholic.I talked to Marcel Jacob (RIP) many years ago and he not only hinted at this, he was also clearly bitter about how his childhood buddy dumped him not once but twice when there was bigger money and world fame in the making – first for Glenn Hughes, then for Dokken…

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