There is ONE singer, that has been on the absolute, untouchable number ONE position on my list of great singers for 26 years now, and that is TONY MARTIN. In my opinion the most underrated singer of all time. One day people will be asking themselves howcome his name wasn’t in neon lights just as much as his predecessors, such as Ronnie James Dio who people mostly compared him to.
Dio is a legend. He was lucky enough to be at the right place, at the right time, as was Ozzy, obviously… But it seems that in the world of metal, your level of fame and pedigree is what puts you on the map, not necessarily talent.
As much as I love and respect Dio, I can easily say that Tony Martin’s voice has SO much more to offer.
I can listen to those Black Sabbath-albums that he sang on, over and over again, at repeat, year in, year out, and I never ever grow tired of it! On the contrary, I’m so amazed by his abilities, it’s like I’m almost looking for SOME kind of imperfection, but there simply are no imperfections.
That voice is as massive and powerful as an earthquake, it’s strong as a rock, it’s crystal clear, so full of colors and variations, little details that you keep discovering and rediscovering every time you listen to him sing. I just love that VOICE.
To me, THAT is the ULTIMATE heavy metal voice. Nobody comes even close, and that includes my teenage heroes Halford, Dio, Coverdale – all those guys. They all have their strengths, no doubt about it, but looking at the whole picture, I’d say that Tony Martin kicked everbody’s ass over and over again.
I tried to get my hands on EVERYTHING he had sung on. I’m happy to own quite a lot of his work. To this day I think it’s nothing but scandalous that it’s difficult to get hold of the Black Sabbath-albums with Tony Martin on vocals. What a freaking WASTE!
I had to buy crappy Russian “bootleg”-versions on eBay a few months ago because my original CD’s and vinyls have been played so much that they are barely playable anymore. Cause you can’t find “Tyr” or “Headless Cross” in stores anymore. And those are without a DOUBT among the best albums Sabbath ever made. Every era has it’s own charm, but this is an era that I get the feeling is being swept under the carpet for whatever strange reason.
I remember that I wasn’t that interested in Black Sabbath when I first went to see them. I had heard the Ozzy stuff and it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I liked Ozzy better as a solo artist. And the Dio era wasn’t my thing either. But the newspaper I was working for back in 1989 sent me to the KB Hall in Copenhagen to review the show – and that was almost a religious experience. That VOICE absolutely blew me away!
I travelled all over the place to see Sabbath after that. Well, as long as Tony was singing. They took Ronnie back there for an album, and then (thank god) brought Tony Martin back again.
Back in those days, Internet was brand new, and I was just learning how to create webpages in html and the simple html-editors that were available at the time. So, in 1997 I created Tony Martin’s first webpage. Not too many artists HAD an “official” page back then, it was a lot less organized than it is today.
Unfortunately, the contact and professional friendship with Tony went sour, to say the least. Looking back, I admit that a lot of it was my own fault. I can be a stubborn person and at the time, I was very much “my way or the highway”. Tony was the same way, but in this case he had every right to be cause it was supposed to be HIS page. So yeah – that was almost 20 years ago and people change. I learned a lot since then but it still bugs me that it had to go so wrong, because I’ve always admired his voice.
Listening to the way he would phrase something, how he would sing even on the consonants (usually singers sing with a vibrato mainly on vowels – it’s easy to sing an “aaaaaaa” or “eeeee” with a vibrato, but Tony would do that even on consonants.
If you listen to for instance the beginning of “Feels Good To Me” – the first sentence “The chapter is opened and the pages are turned / The writings say many things but who was concerned“. He actually has a vibrato on the “nnnddd” in “opened” and the same thing on all those words in that first line. That is pretty rare. And then he goes straight to a high note, only to take it right back down again, and it’s just so smooth and so pleasing for the ears. The man is a vocal genious and I’m glad that I was lucky enough to experience his time with Sabbath. I can only hope that more people get a chance to discover this “undercover gem”. He deserves SO much more credit than he got.
Just take a listen and I hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as I’ve done for the past 3 decades!
A project Tony did with guitarist Mischa Calvin. Another example of his amazing voice:
Headless Cross – great song and the best lineup ever..
From his solo-alabum “Back Where I Belong” – another CD that I played over and over and over again! Brian May can be heard in the harmonies – it’s very “Queen-ish”. :D
Tony’s pre-Sabbath material, early 80’s – more melodic stuff:
I was inspired by a friend to remember some of my fondest metal moments. Those that truly put a smile on my face when I think back on them.
A lot of those memories have to do with mutual appreciation. No matter where we are in life and what our roles are in the music biz, we all started out as fans. You can play cool and pretend that you don’t care, but I’m not kidding myself. If it’s an artist that I’ve admired since I was a kid, he or she will still make me feel like a star struck teenager to some degree.
So…. These are some of those “smile”-moments. :D
1. DAVID COVERDALE
David always puts a smile on my face. I consider the interview I did with him on the “Farewell tour” the best interview I have ever done. The circumstances were perfect. When it comes to David Coverdale, I was a fan first and foremost, and I always will be.
I was the last person on his interview schedule that day, so there was no stress. He was in a great mood, very open and incredibly easy to talk to. We talked about everything: Serious things, funny things, deep things…
The interview took place in a luxurious suite at the Sheraton in Stockholm. It didn’t feel like an actual interview. It felt like a conversation with a friend. Looking back on that today makes me feel so privileged and it was a day I will never forget.
But even apart from that interview (and a few other conversations with him), David always makes me smile. There has not been ONE single gig or press conference where he hasn’t spotted me within minutes, smiled up to his ears and adressed me by name. Or from the stage in front of thousands of people (several times through the years. Sometimes he’s had little dialogs with me from the stage, the last one being at the Graspop festival a few years ago, and of COURSE I had turned off my camera just minutes before…).
At press conferences he’s sometimes treated me like I was the only journalist present, or explained to the others, while pointing at me: “SHE will know, cause she’s followed my work for a long time…“.
I’m sure he does what with other, select people worldwide too, he’s just that type of person, but from my perspective it’s pretty darn fantastic because I’ve always looked up to David Coverdale.
So – he’s my #1 source for smiles in the metal world. :D
2. ROB HALFORD
A few years ago, I had been assigned to write the Judas Priest cover story for Sweden Rock Magazine. Since it was an in-depth piece, I ended up calling Rob several times that year (and also speaking with K.K and Glenn). In the end, he started joking and talking to me like we were the best of friends.
He’s always been one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, but particularly after those conversations things have been very relaxed and down-to-earth with Rob.
When I went to London earlier this year for an exclusive interview with Rob at Sony Music‘s offices, I was the only reporter who was privileged enough to get a one-to-one interview with The Metal God that day. And he was happy to see me. I’m no longer some anonymous nobody, he knows me by name.
Yes I’m like a kid. Judas Priest is the reason I’m even here in this rock’n’roll circus, Rob has a huge part in who I am today and the kind of life I’ve had. I’ve got a million Priest-stories from hanging out with the band through the years, but it’s enough to just say that every single one of those occasions makes me smile and feel incredibly lucky!
3. SEBASTIAN BACH
Baz is not an “idol” like that. It started out that way, when I was a big fan of the energetic, amazing Skid Row. But he and I are the same generation and had a lot in common (especially our love for Priest!) so we became friends. There are many “smile on my face” memories from the Skid Row-days but one of the more recent ones (even if it was a few years ago) was when Sebastian returned to Sweden to play at Sweden Rock Festival back in 2005. He hadn’t been in Sweden since the Subhuman Race Tour in 1995. I was really looking forward to seeing him again.
So, a few friends of mine and I were at the hotel Ronneby Brunn, hanging out, having a few drinks, when the band started coming in through the main entrance. I went over to Metal Mike, who I’d met with Halford, a really cool guy, and he said that Sebastian was outside collecting his bags, he’d be in soon.
I didn’t want to just stand there like an idiot so I went aside, figured that I’d let him check in in peace and quiet.
When Sebastian walked in – it was in the middle of the night, maybe 2 am, he looked tired and he was carrying a shitload of bags. One suitcase in each hand, bags on top of those and more bags hanging from each shoulder. At first he was just scanning the place with no particular goal or focus, but the minute his eyes landed on me, his reaction was so priceless that I’ll never forget it.
He screamed, in his typical Sebastian manner: “DANIELA!!!” and literally just dropped both those cabin bags so they just landed on the lobby floor, then dropped the bags hanging from his shoulders, so it was all in one big PILE right there on the floor, in the middle of the main hotel lobby – and with two steps he walked over to me, hugged me so hard that I thought he’d break my ribs.
“It’s been ten years!” he said and was sincerely happy to see a familiar face. I’ve honestly never felt more longed for or appreciated in my life. :) That was just such a sincere, happy reaction and I’m still smiling when I think about those bags just lying there in one huge pile on the marble floor.
There have been many similar occasions though. In New York, when he was performing with Steve Stevens at the jazz club Iridium, he dedicated a song to me which I never even noticed, and asked me backstage afterwards if I had heard his dedication. Basically, he can be the most appreciative person on the planet, then again, sometimes he barely notices one’s existence, it all depends, but all in all, this guy knows how to make me smile for the most part! :)
4. LITA FORD
That was a meeting I never thought would even take place. Lita has been my #1 female rolemodel since I first got the Out for Blood-album. I missed her when she played in Sweden or Denmark a few times either because shows were cancelled (she was supposed to come here with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow but the show was cancelled because the venue was too small for Rainbow’s…uh, rainbow-prop. :)).
Second time she was here with Bon Jovi I couldn’t go cause I had a gig of my own with my band. Then she disappeared to a desert island, literally, with her family for years and I guess we all thought that was it. Lita Ford, as we knew her, was gone.
However, last year she got on a plane and toured Europe. When Sweden Rock asked if I wanted to do an interview with her, I danced around the apartment like an idiot. FINALLY!
When I got to KB in Malmo, my home town (yeah, even THAT!) she was sound checking and I waited for her to finish. She came over, said we could go upstairs to the backstage area and do the interview. It was a hot day in July and we were DYING up there, it was unbearably hot. But, it was the most relaxing, unpretentious meeting I’ve ever had with an artist. Lita was down to earth, open, funny and very easy to talk to.
There were moments where I even forgot that I was sitting there with an artist that I’ve admired since I was a teenager. It was a great chemistry and she didn’t hesitate to speak about difficult or personal things. Much like with David Coverdale, it wasn’t one of those usual “come in, get out after 20 minutes“-type of interviews. We sat there for over an hour and she was in no hurry at all. On the contrary. Even after the cameras had been switched off (it was a video interview as well – still not fully edited…) she kept talking.
One thing you’re always worried about when you meet an artist you grew up with, is if they’re going to disappoint you IRL. She didn’t. Fantastic meeting, great person and a really good interview situation. And I got those old vinyls signed too (better late than never!)
5. TONY MARTIN (Black Sabbath)
I got to know Tony Martin when he was touring with Black Sabbath all over Europe. To this day I think he’s the best heavy metal vocalist ever, and the most underrated one for sure.
When Sabbath came to Copenhagen, I headed over to their hotel to get a chance to hang out a bit with Tony. I remember Tony Iommi and Geoff Nicholls (keyboards) coming out of the elevator with big smiles, letting me know that Tony was on his way (then we kept passing Tony and Geoff on the pedestrian street Stroget a few times, later on that day).
Tony came down and pretty much needed a guide to show him where he could buy a new leather jacket and he also needed to find an exchange office. So, off we went. It was a slightly chilly and cloudy day, so I remember telling him that if he wanted to walk into HMV to check if they had Sabbath’s latest album, he might want to take his sunglasses off if he just wanted to blend in. :) Luckily for HMV, they had all the Tony Martin-Sabbath albums. ;)
He visited a few leather-shops but couldn’t find what he was looking for. It was just nice walking through Copenhagen talking. I was a huge fan of his voice, and I thought he was a cool person to hang out with so that day is stuck in my mind to this day.
He was starving so we went to this Italian restaurant. I hadn’t counted on that, so my wallet was pretty much empty. Oh, well, I thought I could always find whatever was cheapest on the menu. Us Swedes aren’t used to the guy paying unless it’s a date, and this wasn’t a date. So I assumed that I would be paying for my own food and drinks.
I got a glass of cheap wine that tasted horrible. Tony immediately noticed my expression and asked if the wine was ok. I lied and said that it was fine, but he didn’t buy it. So he called the waitress and went “the lady doesn’t like her wine. Do you have anything else?” I was panicking because whatever else they had was out of my price range that particular day.
Anyway, as we were waiting for that wine, I said that one of my favorite songs, where I really loved his vocals, was a song from the album Eternal Idol, the title track. Next thing I know, he starts singing it, right there, a capella in the restaurant…
“No one said it had to be this way
Why are we the victims of their
Dying world is killing us so slowly
I believe no god may save us now
Can’t you see what I see
Sinners say your prayers tonite
Your judgement day is here”
I was in seventh heaven. Having your favorite singer in the world singing especially for you like that was beyond any expectation. Will never forget that. What an amazing moment that was.
[There’s no actual video to that particular song – but listen to this, this is amazing!]
This was pretty recent, but still one of those things I know I will look back on in a few years and think of with a big smile.
I was in Seoul, Korea for that one-off Ozzy show and had spent almost an hour trying to get my backstage pass that Gus G had asked the tour manager to leave for me in the VIP booth (apparently I was the only guest too. I’m guessing they didn’t know anyone in Korea. :) ).
That whole “going backstage“-thing seemed unthinkable to most of the security people I spoke to. Their attitude was “you can’t just go back there and meet the band?!?!“.
Yes I can, that’s what this pass is for – and if you show me where to go. :)
It took forever, involved a whole bunch of people and so finally I was escorted through a private steel elevator by two security guys on segways – one in front of me and one behind me (in case I would try to…run away??). Through doors and more security – I was finally let in to the backstage area and they went to go find Gus. I was so incredibly happy and relieved when I finally saw him – a familiar, friendly face in a far away land. :D
After watching the Korean superstar Psy, we went to the dressing room (Blasko, Tommy Clufetos, Billy Morrison, Adam Wakeman, Gus and me) and just sat there, talking while Gus was warming up. Ozzy was on his way and it was a little bit as if the president was coming, the crew very anxious to make sure he would be pleased with everything.
But Ozzy is a simple guy. :) Instead of sitting alone in his own dressing room, he suddenly showed up in the doorway of the band’s dressing room with this HUGE boyish smile that we all know and love, and immediately cracked a joke that had everybody laughing.
I was sitting on this 2-seat couch and he just crashed right beside me, going “You’re Gus’ manager, right?” I tried to explain that I was just a friend but he was already on the next subject (I’m smiling even as I’m writing this right now).
It was totally relaxed and simple. It didn’t really dawn on me until afterwards, that I was sitting backstage in Korea (of all places!) with Ozzy and his band, being the only guest there. I never expected that, cause I was there to see Gus.
People pay big bucks for those meet & greets with Ozzy, so I had ruled out the possibility of bumping into Ozzy at all.
The smile-factor was simply that it was so normal and so “every day-ish”. No big deal, no cameras, autographs, selfies, people running around adoring anyone. Just a bunch of people relaxing, cracking jokes. You can never plan that, when it happens it happens. And I cherish those moments more than anything.
Four days of LOUD! Sweden Rock Festival is now over and this is when work begins for me (and many others). Reviews to hand in. Articles to write. Videos and photos to upload. Blogs to write.
All of that, just not enough hours in a day to do it!
But I will be back as soon as I’m done with the Priority One assignments. Mainly the Rob Halford interviews that I did recently – face to face in London and by phone during the festival, that I really want to do my best with.
One of the most lasting impressions of the festival this year, is that ROCKERS NEVER seem to AGE!
I guess one can always speculate in what the reasons might be that a 50-year old rocker usually looks way younger and cooler than a 50-yeear old non-rocker.
My guess is that when you have a passion for something, when you have something that you love to do – you forget to grow old. The grandfathers of metal, Black Sabbath, dispite living tougher lives than most (drug- and alcohol abuse, deadly diseases and what have you…) they look cool as hell and they’ve all still got their HAIR!
Tony Iommi is 66 years old, it’s hard to believe. Very classy, still looking good.
Billy Idol is easily the sexiest 58-year old dude I’ve ever seen…! And I don’t even like blonde guys (or guys older than me for that matter!). But come – ON…! Are you kidding? Most people his age look older – Billy Idol never got the memo.
Last year the festival had Rick Springfield visiting. He is 64! Yes. Sixty-fucking-FOUR!!!
Madam X reunited after 30 years and I remember their “outrageous” look from way back when. That tall, monster-looking bassplayer guy Godzilla was, in my teenage mind, a metal version of Chewbacca with that crazy “fingers in the socket”-do.
Now, all these years later, when he’s passed 50 with one, two or six years, he looks like THIS:
Doesn’t look like a “fifty-something” to me.
Some people seem to age in the opposite direction and just look better and better as the years go by.
These dudes are more fit than some guys in their freaking twenties! Man…!
And it’s not only the MALE rockers. The FEMALE ones are not getting a day older either. Since we’re on the subject Madam X – this is drummer Roxy Petrucci, 52 – and cooler than ever! Her sister Maxine never let herself go either.
And last but not least, for now – Robin Beck, 59 (!!!!) years old. Yeah right?!
They sold their souls to rock’n’roll… For eternal youth!
We’re a few days into 2014 already and I never really had time to do the usual look in the rearview mirror to summarize what 2013 was like for me.
Compared to the past 5 years, it was less eventful than usual, and a lot of it has to do with my father’s passing. I cancelled some gigs I had planned to go to and well, just wasn’t in the mood for anything really, but there were still a few highlights in 2013.
January started with Gothenburg Sound Festival where I met up with FIREWIND-drummer JO NUNEZ who was playing with NIGHTRAGE.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the US to see a few FIREWIND-shows and meet up with the new singer KELLY SUNDOWN CARPENTER for an interview at the Gramercy in NYC. Went to Atlanta and the Masquerade as well, pretty cool venue.
Got stuck in a blizzard the day I was supposed to fly home from JFK via Toronto, and made it home in the very last minute. Drama!
Swedish bands CRAZY LIXX & H.E.A.T played at KB, show got interrupted by the fire alarm and the club was evacuated.
Went to beautiful ICELAND with my friend Henny, that was a trip I won’t forget anytime soon – Iceland is a fairy tale country and I hope they never let the ways of the “outside world” change what they’ve accomplished. It’s amazing.
[This isn’t even Photoshopped – it actually looks like that!]
Gigs, there were a few. IRON MAIDEN played at Malmo Stadion, I spent all day in line to get a front row spot. Well worth it!
MEGADETH played at Vega in Copenhagen, they had just released Super Collider and played the title track from that album live for the first time. Dave Mustaine also brought a kid up on stage, not a usual sight at Megadeth shows. :)
STEVE HARRIS and his British Lion played at KB in Malmo, and although the attendance was low, to say the least, it was insanely cool to see a musician of his caliber that up close! I got dust from his sneakers in my face when he stomped on his monitor, he was THAT close. It wasn’t as bad as people say, the band had a good time and that’s what I remember the most.
Another memorable gig was PAUL GILBERT in Gothenburg, at Sticky Fingers. Been a fan since forever, Paul is amazing. There are some fantastic shredders in the world, but Paul is unique. I love his goofy style, his dry sense of humor, his playing, his way of interacting with the crowd… It was a great show.
After Apollo Papathanasio’s departure from Firewind, I decided to keep track of his other projects, so I went to Hamburg, Germany to visit my friend Su and see Apollo with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS. A few months later made a last minute decision to see the band in Thessaloniki, Greece as well.
Apollo also visited me in my home in Malmo for a video interview and a nice lunch. Awesome dude.
Of course, there were a bunch of FIREWIND shows this year as well. Rock in den Ruinen in Germany, SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, and of course, the tour of AUSTRALIA. I opted out of all other shows because I needed the $$ for Australia.
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL was a weird festival this year, it was only days after my father’s passing, but I had to go to fulfill my duties to Sweden Rock Magazine and also to my friend Su who was visiting from Germany, SRF was her bachelorette party.
Memorable interviews: DAVID COVERDALE (WHITESNAKE), love the man, he rocks!
[A short clip from that interview]
And finally meeting LITA FORD for the first time ever. She was great, I’m glad she didn’t turn out to be a bitch.
Also saw her shows in Gothenburg ad Sticky Fingers and Malmo, KB.
Went to the UK twice in May to see WHITESNAKE, Thunder and Journey. I could see Whitesnake a million times and it still never gets old. :)
GUS G came to Malmo for the SWEDISH METAL CONVENTION, had a great time with him and Andy R, thanks to Pontus for bringing him to the convention. Also met Tallee Savage and her sister Amanda, Jorn, Anders Johansson (YNGWIE, HAMMERFALL) and a bunch of other people.
(Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie), Pekka and Gus in the VIP-room)
Gus G and Paul DiAnno:
Straight after that…business class with Emirates to Sydney via Dubai, went on a safari, met koalas, saw the first Firewind show of the Australian tour, continued to Brisbane, met up with Clint, flew to Adelaide and then finally Melbourne. Stayed there for a week after the band had left. Met a few more koalas and then some really nice people at his BBQ party.
The free BAR in business class at my Emirates-flight to Sydney. :) It didn’t suck. ;)
Came home, got another tattoo and saw BLACK SABBATH in Copenhagen.
An old friend, singer of the Swedish sleaze-band NASTY IDOLS, Andy Pierce, passed away at the age of 45, something that I still can’t quite grasp…
Finished my year in the US visiting friends and checking out two gigs that I wrote about in my previous blog, both Savatage-related.
That was it – in a nutshell. Less travel than usual 2013 but I’m already looking forward to the Steel Panther European tour in the spring and Gus G’s solo-debut! Welcome 2014!
The Eurovision Song Contest 2013 is being held in my home town Malmö, Sweden – and there’s no way you can miss it! There are giant mirror balls and purple spotlights at the train station, there are stages and official ESC-merch in the heart of Malmö, people walking around with t-shirts and bags with the slogan on them: “We are one”.…
I used to watch this so called “music contest” when I was little, it was a family thing. But back then there were only 12 countries, maybe up to 20 tops, butnow it feels like every little godforsaken mini-country wants to be a part of it, and even countries that aren’t actually in Europe. It’s lost its appeal – it did years ago.
But this year, there’s a bit of rock’n’roll involved, which makes it slightly more interesting! :)
Two Black Sabbath-guys involved in one way or another.
Ex-Sabbath singer Tony Martin shared this pic earlier this morning:
His caption: I’m gonna be supporting my friend Bonnie Tyler In her Eurovision attempt this weekend. Wish ya the best of luck Bonnie … Go get em!!!!! .. Love ya!!!
Bonnie Tyler’s song is written by no other than Desmond Child (does he even need an introduction???) and produced by David Huff – known from the 80’s hard rock band, Giant (I loved their “I’ll See You In My Dreams” and “Believer“).
Competing for Armenia is the band Dorians, with a song written by no other than the mighty Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath).
The Dutch rock-chick Anouk is competing for Netherlands of course, with her song “Birds“. We all remember her for THIS mega-hit:
And Iceland is sending Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson who’ll be singing “Ég á líf” (I am alive). He’s a singer in an Icelandic progressive rock supergroup called Todmobile.
So – on stage or behind the scenes, there are rockers everywhere, even in the seemingly dorky Eurovision Song Contest.
Maybe gives it at least a little bit of cred…! :)