I found the quote above while scrolling through my Facebook-feed, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you share my passion for music. “Rock stars” have made me the person that I am today. Their music has been the soundtrack of my existence, and that’s a pretty big deal.
My first experience of loss was when I was 7, and Elvis died. I remember it very clearly. It was a regular weekday and I went with dad to a local mall. He used to buy a newspaper, get a coffee and read the paper. Well, that day he met a friend there so while they were talking I grabbed the newspaper and saw the headline: “Elvis has died“.
Elvis was my first “real” idol. I couldn’t believe that someone like that could die. Stars, musicians, celebrities – in my mind, they weren’t like regular, mortal people. They were above that, somehow.
And in a way, I guess they are. They never die. For all I know, he could be alive and well, making music. I never met him anyway and probably never would.
But that first shock stuck in my mind. Death was something I had very little experience of at the time. All my relatives were still alive, nobody had died, loved ones, friends – all there. I felt like life was so long that it was almost “forever”.
Well, the second shock came three years later, when I was ten. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I was such a dedicated Beatles-fan, it was true love, like a teenage crush, just something that made my heart sing. Beatles and their music – that was like celebrating Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday every single day. That’s the best way I could describe it.
One day, our teacher came to class, looking like something really terrible happened. He didn’t say much, and he was usually a very talkative man.
He went straight to the record player that was in the left corner of the class room, and put on John Lennon‘s latest album, “Double Fantasy” and the first words of “Just like starting over” filled the room.
He lit a candle and said: “John Lennon has been shot. He’s dead”.
Our teacher was a big music fan as well. He used to play songs he liked for us. He was the one who introduced me to Simon and Garfunkel and many other classic artists.
I felt like throwing up. John?! Dead?! He was BEYOND DEATH. So many thoughts and emotions that I couldn’t get a grip of. I was still too young to understand, I cried all day.
My heart was in a thousand pieces, I knew every song, every little detail in every Beatles song, Lennon song…. I didn’t have any other hobbies or passions back then. I focused ALL my time and love on music. And there WAS no other music in my world, but the Beatles. I was still exploring other types of music, which maybe wasn’t typical for other 10-year olds who were interested in mainstream Top 40 type of music. I don’t know where that came from really…
I played Beatles records all day that day, and just cried till I could barely breathe. It was the end of the world. John Lennon?! The greatest of them ALL! “You’ve got to hide your love away” from the “Help!”-album felt like a voice from the other side.
My mother came home, yelled at me because I hadn’t done the dishes, which was my chore. She had no understanding whatsoever of my grief, she thought I was just being ridiculous. It only made things worse that I had nobody to talk to who felt the same and would understand where I was coming from.
The third really big strike was when Ronnie James Dio passed away. I remember being in Split, Croatia with my dad at the time, and someone texted me the news, cause I didn’t have access to WiFi.
I felt so horrible, wanted to just crawl up in a corner and cry, or just call someone, anyone, and vent for a few hours. But I couldn’t. I was in an environment where nobody would get it. At ALL.
My dad was the most wonderful person on the planet, but he couldn’t understand what he called “idol worship”. He used to say “they are just people, no better than you or me!”. What do you say to that? Dad and I lived on different planets sometimes…
I remember texting my friend Kevin in Florida about it, he was just as devastated as I was. The news of Dio’s death hit us all hard. He was one of the true greats of hard rock/heavy metal. Not only that, but this time I was an adult and had personal memories and references. I had met Dio as a fan and as a journalist, and he was always kind. It felt so wrong that he had to go.
Most recently we lost an icon – Lemmy, and one of the biggest pop/rock geniuses of all time, David Bowie.
I don’t think anyone was surprised that it was time for Lemmy to say goodbye, I’m sure he wasn’t either. With Lemmy, it wasn’t so much his music, cause I was never a huge fan of Motörhead, but it was because he was genuine and real. He symbolized rock’n’roll like nobody else, he lived like most people only dream of, with the integrity of very few on the music business. It was a HUGE loss. He was just the coolest, baddest of them ALL.
[Filmed this one summer at Sweden Rock when I was fortunate enough to be invited to side stage to watch the show]
I spent the evening at the local rock club, Dr Feelgood’s, with about 100 other fans, watching Lemmy’s memorial service on a big screen in the darkness, feeling sad but at the same time a feeling of peace and happiness because it was a celebration of life more than anything. The way it should be.
David Bowie… I cried again. I can’t imagine the music world without Bowie. The music he created, the spectacle, the piece of ART he made of himself…. will never be surpassed. They don’t make artists like that anymore. I still feel incredibly sad when I think about it.
I couldn’t watch his last video “Lazarus”. It broke my heart, I felt horrible. Will never watch it again. It’s just so bizarre. Even in death he speaks, it’s as if it was all perfectly staged and timed. “Let’s make this video, then let’s release the album on my birthday, then let me go and die a few days later and nobody will ever forget it – and I left my own goodbye message”…
At the same time… The band in the sky will kick heavenly ass, and I can’t wait to get my front row ticket to an angel choir consisting of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie for instance.
For a musician, death is not the end. It’s the beginning of ETERNITY. It’s when they truly become bigger than EVER.
For a musician, dying is the way to sell more albums and becoming a legend.
It’s all the way it should be. Thank you for the music, all you guys and gals up there…. or down below, wherever you all gather for your afterlife jamsessions… Without you, I would be nothing.
I finally feel that it’s okay to cry. We all stand united in life and in death. I never say “Rest in peace” to any rocker. They weren’t made for resting in THIS life and they certainly won’t be resting on the other side.
Ronnie Dio is probably one of those people who’s been in most rockers’ lives since the word go. He left this life 3 years ago, but rock’n’roll heroes never really “die”.
I remember Ronnie as being a very kind and polite man with a great sense of humor.
[Ronnie, press conference at Sweden Rock Festival 2005]
He was just one of those people who always had TIME for everybody. I never saw him brush off people without a very good reason (I never saw him do that at all, but I would imagine that if he ever did, there would have had to be a reason).
Many years ago we had an interview scheduled with Ronnie in Malmo and the band was late. When they showed up at KB, there wasn’t even time for a proper sound check, and we had almost given up on the idea of getting an interview.
I was convinced that we could just forget about it. Ronnie walked over with a smile, said that it was very tight with his time, but if we thought we would be able to do it in 5-10 minutes, then he would be happy to do it. And then he apologized over and over again for the situation being what it was.
He left his contact e-mail and offered to answer any questions that we still might have at a better time. He kept his promise.
Most artists would have told us that they couldn’t do it, and left it at that. Ronnie chose to find a solution, eventhough he really didn’t have to.
Years before that, I was at SAS Radisson Hotel in Malmö with some friends, and Ronnie came out of the elevator. I guess we all must have looked like a swarm of flies when we all tried to get an autograph before he left. He smiled, didn’t act stressed or annoyed at all, he just enjoyed meeting people. Always time for a kind word and for a photo or whatever it was people wanted.
Nobody is perfect and I’m sure that Ronnie wasn’t a ”perfect” person either, but I’ve only ever seen him as a kind and very professional man. On stage he always blew me away. He made everything look so easy. When he moved, it was as if he was walking on little clouds or something, he was just a very unique artist in every sense of the word.
I remember the day he passed, I was in Croatia and had very limited access to the Internet, and it was too expensive to call somebody in Sweden.
It was such a shock when I got the news, felt like a family member was gone. I couldn’t believe it, was so low all day and the worst part was that I had nobody to talk to about it.
My dad is great, but he knows nothing about music and you can’t explain to someone who’s not a part of this whole rock’n’roll lifestyle how it feels and why. To him, it would just be ”some artist” so why would that affect me at all. Basically, I couldn’t vent it anywhere. I got a text from a friend over in the States, I remember that much. It just said something like ”I’m so sad”, he felt the same way – as did the whole heavy metal community all over the planet.
It was a sad day. The King of Rock’n’Roll, The Man On The Silver Mountain, lost his battle against ”the dragon” – cancer.
But people like Ronnie never really cease to exist. They live on in the hearts of millions of people all over the world. I’m sure he’s up there having a great time with all the other greats who left us to join the band in the sky….
Like I said in the last Sweden Rock Memories-post, there is a LOT more where that came from.
I found a whole bunch of photos and videos that I thought I’d share with you.
This one, for instance, is a classic…! It’s from Sweden Rock Festival 2006.
Venom had just finished their set and they had actually left the stage maybe 10-15 minutes before this was filmed. THIS Venom-fan apparently never even noticed that. He was TOTALLY into his headbanging, whether or not it was accompanied by the soothing sounds of…Venom:
Or this – Skid Row were doing a spontaneous photo-shoot outside the press-tent. They were actually posing for the photographer when I walked by and Scotti just walked out of the group-shot cause he was so happy to see me…! :-)
These guys are really like old friends, we “grew up together”. I met them for the first time in 1989, we were all in our early 20’s and our careers had just begun. I love them, the most wonderful guys one could imagine:
Rachel Bolan on stage before the show:
So what else have we got here…. On stage during Lita Ford’s set. Jon Oliva’s Pain played that year, I think it was 2009, and their dressing rooms were right next to Lita’s.Since JOP’s bassplayer Kevin is a good friend, he knows that I am a HUGE Lita-fan (well, check out the URL for this blog “lita77777” – guess where the “lita” part comes from ;-)). So, he just grabbed me by the hand and pretty much dragged me up on stage during her show. There I was, as close as I’ll ever be during a Lita Ford-concert. :) Thank you Kevin, one of those things that will definitely stay in my memory for a long time! :)
Kevin behind the stage, about to go up there and rock people’s asses off:
Jon Oliva’s tour manager Anett on the stage during early sound check:
And why not a few clips from some of the press conferences…. there is just so much more, I need to find all that stuff – press conferences with Ronnie Dio, Sebastian Bach, Heart…. Every band that’s ever had a press conference at Sweden Rock Festival… Well, pretty much. It’s all here somewhere.
Judas Priest-short clip from 2008:
Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P):
And just some random photos of artists, fans, stage area, backstage area and just other…stuff!
Guest pass (for Alice Cooper), typical Sweden Rock fans, Spike (Quireboys), Suzi Quatro, backstage-bar, stage (Heaven and Hell), Meatloaf, Nightwish, Wilson-sisters of Heart, Judas Priest, Dio, Sebastian Bach, Rudy Sarzo…
And a few snapshots from the camping-, food-, and merch areas taken by my friend Beatrice in 2005 (I think, might have been 2004):
Only a few days before the madness begins again: Sweden Rock Festival.
Sweden Rock is HOME to me. I’ve been there every single year for the past 17 years.
Things have changed since then. They have REALLY changed. In 1994 there was no Sweden Rock Magazine and the festival was called Karlshamn Rock Festival. As far as I remember, it wasn’t a big deal to anyone back then – not like today when you have people from all over the world showing up at the camping days before the festival begins.
In 1995 I was there to talk to Black Sabbath, and had a great talk with Cozy Powell and Tony Martin at the hotel in Karlshamn (the audio file from that interview has already been published in this blog). Cozy was great, he was joking all the time and when I think about Cozy I just see a man with a big smile.
[Just my luck! The ONE photo I’ve got of Cozy and me, and of course I had to blink!]
Had dinner with Tony Martin in the hotel restaurant as fans were interrupting every five minutes. I was a huge Martin-fan, and I was really glad that he took time to talk for a while that day. It’s different asking questions for a magazine and asking questions as a fan, he took time for both and I was really grateful for that.
There was always a good vibe at the hotel those first few years. All the artists were staying there and fans usually knew about it, but it was still a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
[Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) in hotel lobby 1995]
Well, years went by and the festival just grew. I have great memories from every single year, I could probably write a book – but this is as close as it gets to being a book. :)It went from being over just a weekend to being 3 days…to 4 days… Of course it moved from Karlshamn to “the middle of nowhere” a field in Norje Boke – Solvesborg, Blekinge, Sweden.
Nowadays it’s the biggest festival (or one of them) in Sweden, bands from all over the world know about it, fans from all over the world are coming to attend the 4 days of metal madness.And me, well… it feels like coming home. I love Sweden Rock Festival, it’s just everything that I love:
I get to see my favorite bands over a few days, I meet friends, bands, colleagues – people I don’t usually see unless it’s Sweden Rock (photographers, record company people, management people, people working for the festival…). It’s metal in its most compact form, everything in one place. Music 24/7 – I’m in heaven. Sure, you get tired, your feet are aching, you don’t get enough sleep, food is freaking expensive, and there are drunk assholes every here and there… but even with all that, it’s still worth it. :)
Partying with Dio’s band at Karlshamn hotel…. not sure what year it was, but they were truly having a good time!
I could probably pick at least one band or artist from every year 1994-2010 that I have some kind of memories from. So, there would be a lot.
One of the first things that comes to mind was the year when Rob Halford and his own band Halford headlined the festival. I had been at the hotel hanging with the band the night before. Well, I had actually been hanging in the bar alone, thinking that I couldn’t/wouldn’t disturb the guys who were sitting at a table pretty much right behind me.
But one of them recognized me from a few months back when I had been at a meet-and-greet thing and invited me to come and sit at their table. They were wild, the manager left his credit card and asked them to pay for his drink because he needed to get some sleep. Needless to say, that credit card ended up being used for more than just ONE drink…! :)
In the morning, I saw said manager in the lobby, upset because he had missed the shuttle that drives artists and crew to the festival site. The next shuttle was due in about an hour and he needed to get to the festival area asap. I just told him that I was driving down there anyway so he was welcome to join me if he didn’t mind riding in the small Renault that I had back then. He had no problem with that, so off we went.
Man, that man could TALK! He went on and on about everything that had to do with Rob and I thought to myself that if I had been one of those sensation-seeking journalists, that would have been perfect! However, what’s off the record IS off the record as far as I’m concerned. I guess my morals won’t get me far in this business. Others are willing to cash in on anything, as long as they are exposing others.[Rob Halford, backstage about an hour before he hit the stage with HALFORD, 2002]
When we got to the festival, he wanted me to take him all the way to Rob’s dressing-room. I told him I couldn’t go there because I didn’t have a car pass. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this!” he said.
Sure enough, when we got to the first gate, the security guy stopped the car and I opened the window. Halford’s manager leaned over me and looked at the guy going: “Do you know who I am? I am Rob Halford’s manager. She is taking me to the dressing rooms, okay?”
The guy didn’t question anything – he just nodded and opened the gate. It was like Open Sesame all the way through, and next thing I know, I’m parked right outside Rob’s dressing room…
Manager walks off, comes back with a laminate that he gives me. I was welcome to walk around freely. When I checked, I saw that he gave me the best pass you can get – the artist pass. Works everywhere. I could have walked up on stage if I wanted to.
Then there was the year that Sebastian Bach was supposed to play. Those of you who know me, also know that Sebastian is an old friend. That year, I had Kevin from Jon Oliva’s Pain visiting me and since he and Baz are both from Canada, pretty much from around the same area, I figured they would probably hit it off. Either they would become great friends or they would hate eachother’s guts. I wasn’t sure which, but we drove to the festival early that morning to make it on time.
While we were still on the motorway I get a text from my friend at the production office, who informed me that Sebastian had cancelled. He was stuck at the airport, wouldn’t make it on time. So… this is a pass for a meeting that never happened. I had met Baz a few years before when he played Sweden Rock, but this was such a bummer…. another “classic” Sweden Rock memory.
I guess I could go on and on…. there is a lot more... I’m sure there will be more stories here whenever I take a walk down Memory Lane again.
But for now, all I can say is that I can’t wait to see all those great bands – and meet new and old friends for a Rock’n’roll Extravaganza de Luxe!
Words seen on Twitter last night: R.I.P Ozzy Osbourne…
I started shaking when I saw that. I could litterally feel the cut to my heart, the shock that felt like it slapped me in the face!
You should never believe shit you read on the internet without questioning it, but even if it hadn’t been true – this time – just seeing the words was horrifying.
It couldn’t be true, but what it if was? When Gary Moore passed recently, I couldn’t believe it either.
First there was only one source sharing the news and I chose to believe that it was just some sort of sick hoax. But it didn’t take long before it was confirmed from other, more trustworthy sources and it dawned on us all that yet another one of our heroes had left us.
This is what’s happening now, and we will see more of it in the years to come.
Our idols, who are like family to those of us who grew up with their music, are leaving this earth one by one. They get older, die of illness, accidents or age.
Ozzy, with his 62 years of age and anything but healthy background, would definitely be one of those who ought to be at risk.
The anxiety that I felt during the thirty minutes that I spent checking Twitter and other sources for possible more info…was ridiculous. I had to get peace of mind, find out for sure what was true and what wasn’t.
Thank god Sharon Osbourne had something to share on Twitter during that time, that had NOTHING to do with the macabre “news”. I could finally relax.
But I was still sick to my stomach. I felt physically upset for the rest of the evening and ended up going to bed early.
Minutes after Sharon’s Twitter-message, I heard back from the person who had gone out with the macabre “news”:
– HAHA! April fools!!
What – the………
I was so PISSED OFF…!!! I have never been angry with this person before, ever. Never thought I’d even have a reason to, but I was so mad that I couldn’t even talk.
If I could have hit something or someone in that very moment….
What the F****!!!!!???
What the hell is wrong with people?! That is just so fucking retarded! Not funny by any means, in any way, for any reason. I had to leave the computer for a few just to try to calm down, cause I was so upset.
Nowadays I realize how precious those “last moments” are with our heroes.
Didn’t we all think that Dio – the Man on the Silver Mountain, the King of Rock’n’Roll, would live forever? Don’t they all feel immortal?
I cried all day when I heard the news that he lost his battle against cancer.I will always remember when I heard it, where I was and how I felt that day. It was such a shock.
I almost started crying on the train the other day when “The Last in Line” started playing in my iPod. We will never hear Ronnie sing for us live again.
The only thing that’s left of him is his legacy, the songs he gave us.
It just breaks my heart.
[Me and Ronnie, Malmo, Radisson Hotel, late 90’s]
The worst thing I can imagine, would be seeing the words “R.I.P Rob Halford” on Twitter, at any time. I can’t even get into it. It’s just so strange how these people are a huge part of your life and your whole identity in a way.It’s not easy realizing that they are not immortal, they will all die in the coming 20, 30 years…
Remember how fast 20 years passed…? It was only 20 years ago that Skid Row released “Slave To The Grind” for instance. I still remember that very clearly.
My point is that eventhough we feel that the legends will go on for all time and eternity – they won’t. This is a time we should treasure and not take for granted.
People are shaking their heads when i say how many shows and festivals I will be going to this summer. But when Judas Priest announced this tour as their “Epitath“-tour (whether or not it’s true…) I didn’t want to miss a minute of it.
And Ozzy is Ozzy. Period.
I love these people and their music, it pisses me off when I see tasteless jokes, I’m still mad, what the f***, I don’t even see the funny part in that “April fools”-crap from yesterday.
Or maybe I’m just too sensitive..??