Tagged: Mr Big

My Year In Rock – retrospect 2011 (part 2)

CONTINUED from http://lita77777.posterous.com/my-year-in-rock-retrospect-2011

Alright, so the madness really began in June. It kicked off with Sweden Rock Festival, which is my second home. I’ve been to every single festival since 1994, with the exception of 1996 when I lived in the States. Working for the magazine (Sweden Rock Magazine) has made it a natural place to be every summer, doing reviews and interviews.
This year there was ONE main assignment, and it was altogether in my own name, for this blog and for YouTube.

After a few months of contact, I asked Gus G for an interview. I didn’t think he would be able to do it when he was out with Ozzy. I know that time is rarely the musician’s own when he’s a part of a huge machinery like Ozzy’s. However, he assured me that he’d be happy to do the interview and after a few messages back and forth with his manager, it was settled.


That day was crazy. Cellphones never work on the Sweden Rock premises, so when the manager texted me to ask where the cameraman and I were, I couldn’t get my message through to him.

He wanted us to get to the backstage area – and I know what that means. That means breaking into FORT-fuckin’-KNOX…! Are you kidding me?!? All the way back to Ozzy’s own backstage area, without the very exclusive pass that allows you through all the guarded gates to “the holy grail”? Yeah, that would be interesting.

But I was not about to let that stop me. After a few stressful minutes, I finally got hold of someone who had the right credentials to escort us all the way back there, so even with the extremely tight time-schedule it could be done.

We set up the cameras and lights while they went to get Gus. The timing was perfect. JUST as I had said the last finishing phrases to wrap up the interview – Thin Lizzy hit the Rock Stage. Some things are just meant to happen. I was very pleased with the interview (eventhough some internet trolls who don’t like Gus (Zakk-fans?), have done their best to “dislike” the video – f**k them, lol!)


The festival was definitely memorable for many reasons. The exclusive Gus G-interview was one of the highlights. Another one was the historic, fantastic performance by Whitesnake (that for some reason did not impress the colleague who reviewed their show, as much as it impressed me).

It was an extremely emotional experience for me. When Bernie Marsden walked up on stage joining David, I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing, could barely believe it was happening. And as if that wasn’t enough – there comes Adrian Vandenberg as well! FOUR Whitesnake-guitarists on stage together at the same time…! How many times will I ever get to see THAT again?!

I uploaded a shaky video of it on YouTube that night before I passed out on the couch, and it’s one of the most viewed videos on my channel with its almost 18.000 views. Here’s another, shorter clip of are guys taking a bow:


My main purpose with attending the Judas Priest press conference this time, was to get a feel of the chemistry between the “older priests” and the “new kid on the block” – Richie Faulkner. I was in the press-tent long before anyone else got there, securing my front row chair. That’s where the Russian girl from Classic Rock Magazine, Vera, found me. She remembered me from a few years before when she had seen me in the exact same place – also waiting for Priest. :-) This year we became friends and she visited me in Malmö a few months later.

As for the press conference, I got a very positive impression of Richie and it helped me to shake that frustration of K.K being out of the band. And although I, quite honestly, wasn’t that impressed by Judas Priest’s show at Sweden Rock, Richie did a great job. I hadn’t expected that – but he turned out to be a valuable addition to Priest with his youthful energy.



There is a whole blog about that (to be found HERE and HERE) so there’s no point repeating it all, I’ll just mention some of the highlights in addition to the ones mentioned above:

ROB ZOMBIE: The most pleasant surprise. I’ve never been a big fan of his “industrial metal”-style before, but he blew me away! I loved it! I hope he comes back, that kicked major butt!

JOAN JETT: The press conference was one of the best not only this year, but the past few years. I always imagined Joan being this moody badass “whattafuck”-kind of chick. But she was very warm and intelligent, and most of all the had a refreshing self-distance and sense of humor.
Once she got onstage, she showed why she has been on the top since the 70’s. She’s genuine and 100% rock’n’roll, there’s no question about it. The lady is impressive in every single way, all I can say is…RESPECT!

LEE AARON: Couldn’t believe how great she looked and the energy she had after all these years. Maybe I didn’t expect the “poppy” outfit, but she still had her powerhouse-voice and she definitely worked the stage when she entered it around noon, the last day of the festival. The biggest disappointment was that I LOST the video of her press conference!! I asked her a few questions that she really took time to answer, and then something went wrong during the transfer from the SD-card to the computer and it just disappeared. :-(( Gah! 

MR BIG: I’ve always loved Mr Big. Call them whimpy or whatever, I don’t care. Paul Gilbert is a genious, Eric Martin is one of the most gifted singers in the business, Pat Torpey is a great but very underestimated drummer and Billy Sheehan – hey… There’s only one Bassplayer DeLuxe, and that’s Billy. Everybody knew their songs, they played like gods, and basically – my face ached afterwards cause I had been smiling way too much and too long!

Queensrÿche sounded terrible. I’ve never in my life heard them sounding so bad. Or maybe I should just say that Geoff Tate didn’t have a good day… Zakk Wylde left a very good impression at his press conference. He was cool, yet respectful and I think he handled the press very well. :-)

ROADTRIP  TO OZZY – Germany & Luxembourg

After Sweden Rock Festival, I had a few days to prepare for my next trip – down to Munich in Germany to see Ozzy. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Munich, that I had a chance to drive around in, as I rented a car at the airport because I was going to continue down to Luxembourg as well two days later.

Anett (Jon Oliva’s European tour manager) and her husband Marcus, had invited me to come and stay with them on my way to Luxembourg, so after the Munich-gig I drove down there. It has its advantages to get a rental car, you get to see beautiful sceneries, so the drive to the little village was definitely worth the trip. :-)

After a really nice stay, catching up with Anett and Marcus (and meeting their rock’n’roll Dobermann-dog Slash! :-)) I continued on my way and drove down to Luxembourg. I stood in line outside Rockhal for several hours, cause I had nothing better to do, and when you travel like that to see a show, you don’t want to risk not seeing anything, so…

I stood there pretty much all day – then when the doors opened somebody told me that my “kind” of ticket had to be picked up somewhere else (WTF!!!) so I lost my place in line and was so pissed off, that people just moved out of my way when I walked back into the arena with black smoke coming out of my ears.

I made it all the way to the front row, much with the help of a really nice girl who let me have her spot, because she thought I “should” have it as I had travelled that far. That’s the kind of people you remember with thankfulness when you go on these road trips. :-)

Blogs from the Germany/Luxemburg roadtrips: 


The week after Munich and Luxembourg, I took off to Belgium with my friend Bianca, to my other favorite festival: GRASPOP Metal Meeting.

Bianca wanted to see Ozzy, because she’s never seen him before, and for me it would also mean a double-dose of Gus G because Firewind were also playing. Well… Ozzy got sick and the show was cancelled. As if that wasn’t enough, the rain was pissing down.

But… I got to see Firewind at least, and also discovered a freaking great band from Belgium, Channel Zero, that normally wouldn’t be the kind of band I’d listen to, but their energy was hard to miss…! Especially their front man Franky was impressive, his aggressive confidence fit the music perfectly and the crowd went wild!


[This is what I tried to film during their set – as you can see, it was pretty wild, lol…!]

Dispite the mud and the very drunk rockers that we had to zig-zag to avoid stepping on, it was a great festival.





[Bianca and me being super-sexy in our blue rain ponchos, lol! ;P]

THESSALONIKI (GREECE) – Stop That Sound-festival

 I went back to Sweden for a short break, before heading out on my next trip – all the way down to sunny Greece. Stop That Sound-festival in Thessaloniki, with headliners Judas Priest and Whitesnake, and of course home-boys Firewind. THAT story is way too long to even attempt summarizing, so I’ll just direct you straight to the blogs from that visit:






Straight after that, I headed from Thessaloniki airport, to London – for the SONISPHERE festival.
Metallica headlined it, and I bet I must have been the only one who didn’t give a shit about Metallica. I never have, I never will. Never understood their greatness. However, I wanted to see Firewind and MEGADETH, most of all. I wasn’t disappointed by any of those bands. Megadeth always delivers. So did Anthrax by the way. :-)

JUDAS PRIEST in Manchester, UK and OZZY in Gdansk, Poland & Smukfest, Denmark

 The weekend after Sonisphere, I took off back to England again. This time to Manchester to see Judas Priest. I loved the city, so much that I decided to choose Manchester in favor of London for concerts in the future. The show at Manchester Apollo was the best I’ve seen Priest do in a long time. Also met up with Ronnie, an internet friend that has been reading my diaries and blogs online since the very early days of Internet. Always nice to meet people in person too.


Next stop was Ozzy in Gdansk, Poland. I was really sick and should have been in bed, but there was no way I was going to cancel the trip. I slept everywhere I could. Spent the first day in bed at the super-cool designer hotel La-La-La, and most of the day of the show. It was raining anyway and of course I had forgotten to bring a rain-poncho, which I normally ALWAYS bring with me.

No matter how sick I was, it was worth it. Ozzy rules. And the Polish fans were definitely hardcore. I’m glad I went, eventhougI got lost and all that, but it goes with the territory. :-)

[OZZY played Ergo Arena in Sopot/Gdansk, Poland]


I only had one day to recover before I drove to Smukfest in Denmark to see the last Ozzy-show of the European tour. It was PISSING down all day, I had mud up to my knees! Crazy! The stage and the festival itself was kind of…different, and I suppose I expected something extraordinary because it was the last gig of the tour. But when Ozzy walks offstage – he’s done. So, no encores, no fireworks, no nothing. Yet, that was worth it too, I had fun!

[Ozzy finished his European tour on the left stage at Smukfest, Skanderborg, Denmark]




Most of September was commited for Firewind. I spent most of that month on trains, buses, in taxis and on planes. Three gigs in England (and Scotland) – Manchester, Glasgow, Reading. Reading was Gus G’s birthday and he was celebrated with a cake onstage. Video was, of course, posted. This was also the tour where they had a “stand in”-singer, Mats Levén (who’s also fronted Yngwie’s band, almong others)

Then I took a break for a short while, before continuing down to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with yet another rental car (that I got at the airport – that roadtrip was described in the Firewind-blog, too much to tell for a short summary – check it out HERE).

You would have thought I would get sick of seeing the same band, travelling to some godforsaken places and sleeping in a car to save money, but no – I loved it! They are brilliant, I would do it all over again!




The day after I came home from the Benelux/Germany-Firewind-tour, I only had time to re-pack my suitcase and head down to see my dad in Croatia for a REAL vacation. It was a vacation so much that I got restless, I’m not used to doing nothing.

But the vacation was saved by a meeting with a great, talented young Croatian singer, who I had first discovered the year before when I was on vacation, as he was competing in the Croatian version of American Idol. I thought he was great, one of those that stands out – not only with his voice but also with his personality.

He came to Split just for one day, so I got to meet the guy. Really nice dude, he played some of his own unreleased stuff for me and also some Croatian and Bosnian bands that I hadn’t heard before that were actually worth checking out.

Most of all I was a bit frustrated to learn that he might not be able to record something in English and reach a wider audience outside of Croatia – which I think he should. But – the modern world is shrinking so you never know. Maybe one day. Even on vacation I managed to squeeze in something music-related, thank god! :-)

BLOGS: http://lita77777.posterous.com/?sort=&search=vilibald&x=7&y=8

[Ripper Owens and Vili Kovac]

And then when I came back to Sweden – there was reuniting with old friend SEBASTIAN BACH (video) and some other stuff… In part three which is coming up!

PART 3: http://lita77777.posterous.com/my-year-in-rock-retrospect-2011-part-3


The world needs guitar heroes


Nothing symbolises rock’n’roll like an electric GUITAR.
What would rock be without its guitar heroes, the axemen and axewomen who can speak through their strings – translate their inner musical visions through their fingertips??
My first guitarhero was YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. I loved, loved loved everything he did, from the early Alcatrazz-stuff, to his first Rising Force instrumental album and to my favorite “Trilogy” and up to “Odyssey” which was a fantastic album in my opinion. He had Joe Lynn Turner singing on it for gods sake, how could you go wrong?! :)
In a way, it was thanks Yngwie that I got my first job at the newspaper Kvällsposten back in 1988. He was coming to Olympen, Lund, to do a show with the Odyssey-lineup and I wrote to Kvällsposten several times, begging them to bring me along if they were going to interview Yngwie. I wanted to see a music journalist in action cause I wanted to be one one day. So to me it was a great idea to kind of do both – meet Yngwie and watch a reporter in action, all at the same time.
I didn’t get to meet Yngwie on THAT visit to Lund, but the next time he played – I was there to interview him – for Kvällsposten. :) By then, they had given me the job as their rock-reporter because they saw, judging from my letters, that I could write and that I knew my music…!
[One of my absolute favorites… Black Star.]

I thought he was a musical genious.
I mean – he was WILD on stage! He was like a super-model, striking 30 different poses in one minute, yet he would continue playing that guitar like nobody’s business, it was breathtaking. How could you do all that running and posing and headbanging and still play like a modern Paganini and make it look like a piece of cake???
Yngwie is the ultimate guitar hero in my book.
[From one of my first meetings with Yngwie – at Olympen, Lund 1989.
He wouldn’t let the photographer take any pics before he got a Rolex on his wrist!
He had a whole BOX of Rolexes that he wanted help choosing from!
As far as I know, this photo was never published, I got it from the photographer as a gift because it hadn’t been used. :)]


My next guitar hero was PAUL GILBERT.
I wish I could say that I “discovered” him through Racer X but I didn’t. I got the Racer X-albums later but it was the first Mr Big-album that blew me away.
I get all excited just THINKING about it! :))
Paul was – no, Paul IS fantastic! What I loved about him, and still do, is his very personal style. He can show off but he always does it tastefully, and he always has an element of entertainment in everything he does. I adore his goofy sense of humor.
It was always fun and interesting seeing him in a new video, or live shows or something – cause he always had those crazy pants, suits, shirts, and and guitars! I remember the one with the fringes – and he was talking about it in an interview – or maybe in one of his first instruction-videos. He was laughing while explaining why he liked the fringes – and suddenly it made perfect sense. It looked cool and it kept his hands dry!
[My copy of Guitars That Rule The World – with Paul Gilbert’s signature on it]
I collected EVERYTHING there was with Paul Gilbert. I loved his Jimi Hendrix-solo album cause he has such a cool singing voice too. But one of my favorite things was a silly little tune that he played on a CD called “Guitars That Rule The World“, released by Guitar World back in 1992.
It had other great players on it: Yngwie, Nuno Bettencourt, Reb Beach, Zakk Wylde (although I’m not a Zakk-fan) and Richie Kotzen to name a few.
Paul’s contribution was this very goofy, fun melody that to me is 100% HIM. Anything goes!
It was called “I Understand Completely” (even the title is very…. Paul)
Found these on Youtube – the actual tune and Paul explaining how the song came about.

I travelled all over the place to see Mr Big, and of course, it was for one reason – mainly – and that was Paul Gilbert. I was backstage with the guys a few times and I was shocked because back in those days, there was one “prop” that you would always see backstage with EVERY band that came through town: Groupies.
There were barely any groupies backstage with Mr Big, just very few that kind of “had to” be there for the image of the band or whatever. The only one who gave a flying fuck about them was Billy who politely talked to one chick that was dressed in a white leather cowgirl outfit. Paul didn’t give a rats ass, he was eating cereal out of the box. Eric Martin didn’t care either. Don’t even remember where Pat was.
These guys were 100% musicians, not interested in the groupie-thing. Eventhough Paul wrote the kind of self-explanatory song “A little too loose” about his “side step” with a chick in Oklahoma city, he just seemed so nerdy that he wouldn’t know what to DO with those chicks. He was a rock star – yet he wasn’t. He was a musician, all the way, and I admired him even more after that.
I believe in telling people if they do something that I like – cause we could all use more positive feedback in life, in general.
So…. I wrote to Paul when he was out on the road (back in those days, without internet, you had to buy a music mag, check the dates and venues, and then try to send it to the venue that seemed closest, where they would actually receive the mail).
One day, when I got home from work, there was a letter for me. From some hotel in England? It was from Paul!!
I was really touched- he took time to reply, it was the sweetest thing. I’ve had that in a frame ever since. That – and his guitar pick. :)

Saw Mr Big everywhere and Billy Sheehan was the one who ended up talking to me every time, cause Paul was a kind of in his own little world most of the time – which was okay by me, I loved his musicianship, he could be whoever he wanted to be offstage.
Then there were no more guitar heroes for a while. Except for a short Steve Vai-period during the “The audience is listening“-time. I loved his crazy Ibanez-guitars, the one with the hysterical, insane neon colors and the HANDLE! :)
Then…. I went to NYC back in December, which was a dramatic story just that – might tell it again someday but not now… I had tickets for Toronto too but since my friend Kevin couldn’t go and my other friend Shawn had to cancel in the last minute too, I figured what the heck, I’ll skip Canada and just concentrate on the Madison Square Garden-gig.
I just wanted to see my hero ROB HALFORD. That was the purpose of even going to the show. My plan was to just see a few songs with Ozzy and then leave. I’ve seen Ozzy a bunch of times through the years. He is a living legend, NOTHING he’s ever done has ever been BAD. I love all his albums and all that, but I was tired after the ordeal even GETTING to New York that day when LaGuardia was closed and I had to get there from Nashville and Washington D.C by car….!
So I was a wreck when I finally got to the show. Of course, Halford gave me my energy back, I was HIGH after his gig, I mean, what can I say…. The man rules.
The plan was to check out a few songs with Ozzy and go back to the hotel to get some sleep.
But……. Change of plans!!
Zakk Wylde was out of the band, which I think was about time, cause Ozzy needed something new and fresh. And he sure found it.

GUS G is the new, modern guitar hero. I was blown away and time just flew. Tired? Oh yeah, I just forgot that I was. I didn’t miss a thing of Ozzy’s show at Madison Square Garden, and certainly not one single note of Gus’ playing or antics on stage. Holy crap.
Suddenly, Ozzy’s show wasn’t the “same old, same old” anymore. It was new, refreshed, ALIVE, interesting. And it’s because of a 30-year old Greek guy with a “hair-fan” and his ESP’s…!
I haven’t really been a “fan” of anything for a few years, but I felt like an enthusiastic kid again. You get kind of jaded after a while – I mean, I still love my old heroes but it’s hard to get me into the new stuff because nobody quite sticks out anymore. I grew up with larger-than-life rockstars. Those are pretty much extinct.
Gus G has brought it back to rock’n’roll.
What I love about that guy is his ENTHUSIASM, his true love for what he does – you just can’t miss that.

The guy really lives for his guitar.
I enjoy the OzTV-video blog episodes, so I subscribed to them. Almost in EVERY video, you see Gus sitting around somewhere playing his guitar. Before the show. During the show. After the show. In his sleep?? :-D

It’s his best friend, it’s a part of him. And unlike other hyped guitarplayers – he is not mainly about image, he is all about being 100% musician / guitar hero. Guys look up to him. Girls want to do him. The ultimate guitar god.
He plays with passion.

You see him on stage playing, and it’s with such intensity that it’s as if he’s making love to his guitar.
Classy, beautiful, aggressive, technical, heavy, his fingers are so fast that you’d swear you’re watching them with a motion-blur!
I like this guy because he is genuine. There’s nothing fake about him. It makes me curious to find out what lies behind his sincere, pure passion for guitarplaying.
That show in NYC had me go to London with very short notice, to see his band Firewind. I wouldn’t care if he was playing with fucking JUSTIN BIEBER – I would want to go and see him play!
[one of my videos from the London-gig]

I wrote him just to ask about the London show and he wrote back almost right away. Very few people in his position do that. They are busy or lazy or both, and fans are gonna be there anyway, so why bother?

It’s refreshing with a musician that doesn’t have attitude-problems and who plays like he’s best pals with GOD. Or that other dude… downstairs! :)

My perception of this guy is very positive and a big Gus-fan from Canda, a cop who is absolutely nuts about Firewind and Gus, has the most fantastic things to say about Gus as a person. Actually, when I look around the web, the same thing keeps coming back in comments from fans: “He’s such a nice guy”.
He’s unbe-fuckin’-lievable on stage, plays like he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his super-talent – and … he is nice to people. What’s not to like about the dude? :)
I’ll be all over Europe this summer to enjoy Ozzy-shows. Gus G has already placed himself in the history-books as Ozzy’s guitar wiz, yet he doesn’t quite seem to get it yet. :) Watch this clip:
“People think I’m somebody famous….” :-D
The guitar symbolises everything that we love about rock – passion, love, hate, anger, strength – power!!
And the world needs its guitar heroes.