Tagged: Neil Murray

One big rock’n’roll family

The past week I have seen how rock’n’roll can truly bring out the best in people. In this case, it’s more indirectly, but still – the common denominator is the love for music, and the relationship between the people who create it, and the ones who listen to it.

It feels like a family, and I guess in a way it is.
I read one of the nicest messages I’ve seen on Facebook the other day. 

This message was sent out by legendary bassplayer Neil Murray about two days ago:

“When I win the lottery, I’ll get everyone together who wished me a happy birthday and have the best party ever! Thanks again for all your kind wishes – I’m a lucky guy to have you as Facebook friends!”

Very short, but a very cool gesture and I loved the part about “winning the lottery“. :) He could just as well have thought “I don’t know those people” and just have settled for a short “Thanks for the b-day wishes” – period.

Anyway… I loved what he wrote.
Then a more sad situation but also a very sincere and wonderful message from another rock-legend, Jon Lord:

Just a quick line or two from an absolutely overwhelmed, gratified and humbled musician.

“Your responses to the news of my condition have touched my heart in a way that has truly helped to make my life a better place to be than it had occasionally threatened to become these last few weeks.

“Your wonderful messages wishing me strength and courage have given me even more strength and courage — and so much more than you can ever know.

“I read many of them with tears in my eyes, grateful for this cast-iron proof of the innate goodness of the human being, and grateful to every single one of you for your invaluable support.

“This message goes out, too, to all the similarly wonderful folk on other websites whose support has been equally warm and strong and I want you all to know how greatly heartened and comforted I am by all this.

“The treatment continues and I am confident and being supported by my glorious family and an amazing group of friends.

“See you soon.”

I think the same kind of support is what kept Ronnie James Dio around for a while longer. We love our music and we love our heroes for giving it to us. It all comes back somehow, goes in circles, just as it does at a rock’n’roll-show. The exhange of enegy from the crowd to the band and right back again continues in a sort of way off-stage as well.

Sebastian Bach lost his house, his posessions in the hurricane – everything. Including the Skid Row mastertapes… People who are usually calling him every bad name in the book, finally showed a more human, decent side, and said they were truly sorry to hear about his loss.

I sent an e-mail through the management offering him some of his memorabilia back, if he was interested. Back in the day I used to collect Skid Row stuff, and Sebastian has acknowledged that collection several times. I wouldn’t get rid of it for any reason, just because of all the memories that go along with it, but in this case it felt like I could and would.
I saw that other people offered something similar, so I guess he will get part of his collection back eventually.


As much as we’re all strangers by the definition of the word, we’re also close to the artists whose music has touched our hearts. And when there’s a crisis, people seem to really step up and show what they’re made of. A day like this, I’m really proud of the global metal community. :-)

If you’re not on Facebook – you don’t exist

It’s interesting how Facebook has become so much a part of our everyday cyber-lives that we probably can’t even remember what life was like before it existed.

I sent an e-mail to the guy who’s arranging the Swedish Metal Exhibition here in Malmo in October, to ask about Sebastian Bach’s schedule. Figured it would be way easier than trying to get in touch with Baz himself. Sebastian uses Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and his website for posting stuff more than reading his emails. It’s pointless trying to get in touch with him personally and I didn’t want to bug his manager (yet).
Anyway, I got a reply almost right away, where the guy greeted me with my full name (which I hadn’t used and it’s not even included in my sender-info). He said he had been trying to find me on Facebook but couldn’t find me there. He had wanted to ask me if I had any ideas, feedback or interesting contacts to share.

It dawned on me that this Facebook-thing is worse than I thought. If you’re not on there, you don’t exist. It’s pretty spooky actually.
I heard something similar about a year ago when I bumped into a guy who had just kicked off a rock club in town. He said he had been looking for me on Facebook to send me an invitation to the premiere, but since I wasn’t there, he “didn’t know how to find me”.

If I hadn’t known him for years, I would have thought that it was only a lame excuse for having forgotten to send me an invitation, but he was dead serious.

Come on, people?! I’m STILL in the freaking phonebook – and THAT is available online and public in Sweden. I STILL have my e-mail addy and if everything else fails, go through Sweden Rock – I’m still a member of their writing staff. It’s not like I fell off the map.

I just don’t like Facebook.
I DO have two accounts on the fucking thing. One public page (that complements this blog – In The Rearview Mirror, which can be found here: IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR ON FACEBOOK and another “private” one that I quite honestly don’t even have my very best and closest friends on.

There is a reason for that.
I don’t think it’s good with too much openness. People share EVERYTHING on Facebook, it’s so implemented in everybody’s everyday life, that they don’t even think about it anymore. It could be personal joys and disappointments, trivial thoughts and episodes, pictures, links, political and religious views… Everything. And it’s the perfect arena for drama and even blackmail. I’ve seen it happen and heard it from others. I don’t want to be a part of it.

My friends are my friends – in real life. I know how to get in touch with them by phone or e-mail or other ways. I don’t need Facebook for that.

I have less than 20 people on my private Facebook-page. Most of them actually in one way or another associated with Jon Oliva, because they are in a way, “family”. They are my friends but for the most part of the year, we don’t have anything in particular to share, everybody’s doing their own thing. But by staying in touch through Facebook, at least I know if anyone is coming to this part of the world as a part of some other band’s crew. That way we can meet again.

Or, like recently, when they put together the Matt LaPorte Memorial Concert. I couldn’t be there and I so wish that I could. But by being connected to them all, I found lots of great photos from there, videos and comments, messages from people who attended or participated, and in a way it was the closest thing to actually being there.

Other than the Jon Oliva’s Pain-family, I’ve got my sister and two-three other friends on there that I obviously could get in touch with easily by phone that are on the page because I or they wanted to share something that was only available on FB.

But frankly, I don’t want to know too much about people’s personal lives. It’s gotten out of hand. I want to hear what’s new directly from them, and I prefer to hear the “long version” in a friend-to-friend conversation on the phone or face to face over a glass of wine or a cup of tea. It just feels more right that way.

It’s way too easy to misunderstand the cryptic short comments on FB. Sometimes people can write something like: “Some people are just total assholes, fuck you!”. And you end up wondering: “Did I do something?? Or was it somebody else?”

Or you might be in a bad mood yourself, interpret it to fit your current mindset and end up going “Well fuck you too if you got pissed just because I forgot to call you last night!”. You know what I mean? There’s too much room for misunderstandings on that site and I don’t want to get too mixed up with the Facebook-lifestyle.

I share stupid things on there if I’m bored. Mostly videos or links. Or if I’m out travelling somewhere, maybe a short comment of joy or frustration, but that’s about it.

When there was only MySpace, it wasn’t as easy to find people, because you didn’t really use your own name. Not necessarily. And eventhough you could search by e-mail, it still wasn’t as easy as with Facebook. It was a challenge and maybe at the same time a test – how eager are you REALLY – honestly – to get in touch with this person? Because if you truly ARE, you’re gonna Google like crazy to get info about that person and how to get in touch with him or her. It’s not impossible.

The Facebook-generation has made it too accessible, too easy, you add people like it’s a contest. But it was the same on MySpace – people sent requests left and right just to show off who had the longest “friends”-list.

And once you have someone on your Facebook-thing, you are somehow fooled to believe that you are now “in touch” with them and that you know what’s happening in their life, so you don’t call them as much anymore.
So I have to wonder- is it really a network for socializing, or is it in fact more for one-way communications?

Neil Murray (bassplayer extraordinaire with everybody, if you’re not familiar with this legendary musician. He’s played with Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Brian May and many more, to name just a few) had a good point this morning when he left the following message for his friends on FB:

Neil Murray
I apologise (-ize) to everyone who wants to be my Facebook ‘friend’ that I can’t say yes to, as I’m near my limit. I have a ‘fan page’, Neil Murray Bass Guitarist, but that’s not really the same thing. Sorry also to the people that I quietly ‘unfriend’, but I think a lot of them won’t notice as there’s no particular connection between them and me.

He got comments along the lines of: “Yey! I’m still here!” and “Please don’t delete me, we used to talk in the 80’s!”  Well, that’s nice, that you used to talk in the 80’s? But do you have anything to share NOW?

I used to talk to Neil when he was with Black Sabbath (the Tony Martin-era) and he was always a very kind man, a perfect gentleman. Quiet and classy. When he comes through Sweden every once in a while, I text him and he takes time to come and say hello and talk a little before he continues on to his business and I to mine.
In a sense he is a friend, but one that I don’t exactly call every day to ask abut how his day was. If he removed me from his friends-list, I guess it wouldn’t kill me. If I wanted to see him when he’s here, I can just call or text him. But I never use his number for any other reason.

Maybe I’m just old-school. I realize that you have to be on that stupid site nowadays, because “everybody else” is. It’s mandatory. But I don’t like their “American style” rules. Their opinion about nudity for instance. Nirvana’s cover for the album “Nevermore” was REMOVED from the site because it had a naked baby on it! After massive protests, FB put it back up.

I remember uploading a pic from an Egyptian exhibition and it was removed because it was a wooden statue of a naked man or woman, don’t remember. Is Facebook going to censor out history too or what the hell…?!

And all the info they want about you – phone numbers, addresses, they know EVERYTHING about you. In the wrong hands, that could be potentially dangerous. So again, I’m not totally OK with FB, eventhough I know that it you want to market yourself, that’s the only place to be – at least for now.

Things will probably look different 5 years from now. EVERYBODY used to be on MySpace too, then everybody disappeared from the site just as quickly – NOW it’s totally dead. Same thing could happen to Facebook. Things change a lot faster than we might realize in cyberworld.

So – guess there are good or bad sides to everything. I’ve got a thing or two to say about MySpace and Youtube as well, guess that should be saved for another blog. :-) 

 HALFORD – Cyber World

Youre trapped inside my Cyber World
Consumed up as my web unfurls
No secrets left for our mankind

My virus lurks throughout your veins
Im spreading there inside your brain
A Trojan Horse that eats your mind

Cyber World
Cyber World
Ive got your power

Cyber World
Cyber World
I will devour, yeah

At speed of lies I will connect
I search and surf as I infect
Computerized catastrophe

Your informations what I steal
I scan you till you are unreal
Transmit your power into me

Cyber World
Cyber World
I’ll steal your mind

Cyber World
Cyber World
For all mankind, yeah

you’re dying in my Cyber World
you’re lying in my Cyber World

Lost Forever (Part III – last chapter)

I took the airboat from Malmo to Copenhagen early that Saturday – October 21, 1995. 

It was rather cloudy but not too cold. I couldn’t really afford the trip over, cause I was pretty much broke, which I usually am a few days before I get my salary (in Sweden, it’s normally on the 25th each month), but I had to go.
The hotel wasn’t far from the dock, so I walked there, passing Nyhavn with all the coffeehouses, there were plenty of people out that day.
I felt really small when I walked through the hotel entrance, it was one of those fancy first class hotels where everything was huge and you really feel like you don’t belong there.
I had told Tony when I would be at the hotel, approximately, so I sat in one of the two chairs right across from the elevator.
Back in those days, there were no cellphones. Most of us didn’t have one anyway.
Tony Iommi and Geoff Nicholls walked out of one of the elevators and Tony smiled behind his sunglasses.
“Hello! Are you waiting for Tony? I think he’ll be down in a minute. Nice to see you! Will you be at the show tonight?”

Sure enough, Tony (Martin) did come down shortly thereafter.
So we went out for a stroll. He needed to find an exchange office and a new leather jacket. I knew Copenhagen very well, so my job was to be his guide. He changed some money, went to a few leather/fur shops but couldn’t find anything that he liked. We just kept walking down “Stroget”, which is like this pedestrian street in the heart of Copenhagen. We passed Tony Iommi and Geoff Nicholls a few times going in the opposite direction, waving and smiling.
When we got to HMV he wanted to go and check if they had the latest Black Sabbath albums, but he didn’t want to be recognized. So he put on his sunglasses. Errrmmmm… NOBODY walks around with sunglasses on a cloudy October afternoon here in Scandinavia. So I told him he might blend in better if he ditched the sunglasses. He did. :-)
They had the latest album, which was “Forbidden” at the time, and he was pleased to see that.
I went to check if they had his solo-album, “Back Where I Belong” but they didn’t. He said that not even he had a copy of it. When he first recorded it, he got a few promo-copies from the record company, which he gave to friends and fans, thinking he would get more later.

But when he re-joined Sabbath, the solo-album was suspended by the record company so it was only released in very few copies and never reprinted. A rarity, in other words. I found it shortly thereafter, but not even Tony himself had it, unless he found it later, I don’t know.
He wanted to find a place to get something to eat, and we walked away from the main pedestrian street and into one of the smaller streets where he spotted an Italian restaurant in this old-fashioned building. The restaurant was down in the cellar and so we went inside.
I suddenly realized that I had no money and discreetly made a quick inventory of the contents in my wallet. I could maybe afford the cheapest pasta and the absolutely cheapest wine they had. So I ordered that.
When I got my wine I took a sip and it tasted horrible! It was like vinegar, definitely one of those “you get what you pay for”-kind of wines. If you were trying to get a cheap buzz, it would do, but if you actually wanted to enjoy your wine, it was NOT what you would want to order. Tony immediately noticed my expression, I suppose I wasn’t good at hiding my spontaneous reaction. He asked if the wine was okay. I just said that suuuure, it was no problem, but I failed to convince him
Next thing I know, he’s waving for the waitress and I hear him go:
– The lady doesn’t like her wine. Do you have anything else?
I thought to myself “nooo!” because I knew that there was nothing on that list that I could afford. But of course I didn’t want to say that. I said that water would be better, so if they could bring me a glass of ice-water, it was all good. Phew, got out of THAT embarrassing situation quickly.
We were talking and enjoying the food, was really nice. At some point, I don’t remember what had been said before that, but I think he asked me what some of my favorite Sabbath-songs were and i mentioned a few from Eternal Idol.
He started singing the first lines of the title track “Eternal Idol”:
No one said it had to be this way
Why are we the victims of their final word

Dying world is killing us so slowly
I believe no god may save us now

I could have sworn I had died and gone to heaven. There I was, in an Italian restaurant with one of my absolute favorite vocalists of all time, and he was singing for me. My god, that’s one of those things that you just don’t experience every day.
I don’t know how long we were sitting there, but it was a very relaxed and nice dinner that I can remember as clearly as if it happened yesterday. When the waitress brought the bill, I took out my wallet and Tony looked at me with this wondering expression on his face.
– Put that away, I’ll take care of this! he said.
That never even crossed my mind. In Sweden, we are so used to that everyone pays for their own food/drinks, unless it’s a date, and I wouldn’t exactly consider this a date. We were just hungry after all the walking.
I showed him the way back to the hotel and said I would see them all later. I had my backstage passes, tickets and everything, so I was all set.
I saw a bunch of shows on that tour, a little here and there. The one in Stockholm was interesting because I remember calling in sick that day – from the hotel! Thank god they couldn’t see where you were calling from back in 1995. So there I was in my fancy hotel room at Sheraton in Stockholm, calling the office saying I had the flu. I don’t like lying but people just don’t understand this obsession for music. I don’t expect them to either, so I just do what I need to do.
Skid Row and Black Sabbath were playing two days in a row, which was perfect cause I knew both bands. The Skids were good friends of mine, and they wanted to meet Sabbath. So I introduced them to eachother down in the bar later that evening, after the Skids had finished their show at Gino’s. I think it was Scotti, Rachel and Snake saying hi to Bobby Rondinelli, Geoff Nicholls and one more of the Sabbath guys that I honestly can’t remember anymore. If it was one of the Tony’s or Neil Murray, I wouldn’t know.
Neil (Murray) was the one who kept me company that first day in Stockholm. He came downstairs pretty early in the afternoon. Tony (Martin) was meeting with someone he knew in Stockholm so I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him that day. But Neil joined me and talked for a while. I really liked him. Such a kind, quiet, and nice man. To this day, I still try to get together with him when he visits Sweden. The last time was last year I think, when he was here with the Queen-musical.
Kept texting back and forth all day to try set up a when and where and he finally found me in the lobby of the concert arena. I’m so glad to see him every time. Definitely one of those people I like very much.
So yeah that was one of the Black Sabbath shows. The other one was in London, it was bizarre. We went to the backstage door, when suddenly – ANOTHER very familiar face showed up in that narrow alley! Bill Wyman from Rolling Stones walked out the backdoor of the club next door. How’s that for a surprise. :)
This was the last show on the Black Sabbath 1995 European tour, and they all went home to their families srtaight after the show. The only one that had a hotel to go to was Bobby Rondinelli, so me and my two friends helped him carry his drums to his room. Then we all sat down in the bar chatting until late. But I never got to say anything to Tony that evening.
I left Sweden in 1996 to go live in Albany, New York and this is when the internet first started making an entrance in people’s homes. The family I was staying with had a PC with an 11-modem that took forever to get online, but it was perfect for emailing.
There weren’t that many graphics on the internet back in those days anyway. And there were no social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook and all those things. The only “social network” you had was through discussion groups that you joined, and then you got regular e-mails with the latest additions from us members.
And there were guestbooks. That was the closest you would get to a chatroom.
So anyway, I was in touch with Tony through e-mail during 1996 and with the help of a few guys who were also big fans of his, we set up a Tony Martin page where fans could communicate and ask him questions. He didn’t want to post directly cause that would disclose his email-address, which he wasn’t comfortable with, so he sent his answers to his fans through me.
That year I was the link between Tony Martin and his fans. He was no longer in Black Sabbath by the way, kicked out for the second time.
Now he was focusing on his solo-stuff.
I LOVED what he did with Misha Calvin for instance. One of the best CD’s in my collection!!

Fantastic vocals…:

Tony was the best singer in the business back in those days, I used to listen to this Misha Calvin-CD over and over again in the car for months!
Fast forwarding to 1997. I came back to Sweden in June that year and the first thing I did was go buy a new Mac. It was a cool BLACK Mac with a 36-modem with was super-fast for those days. :) My friend Ozzie tought me how to use html-editor Dreamweaver, how to scan pics and how to upload a website.
I started experimenting with my own page, which has kind of gone classic by now. So many people AND artists have visited it since it was launched. I think it’s butt ugly and embarrassing today, but I can’t take it down beause the provider that hosted the page, doesn’t exist anymore. So – I can’t access those files and delete them. Guess I just have to live with them.
However I put a lot of time and effort on Tony’s page. That was his way of promoting his solo-career and he sent a bunch of exclusive material, private photos that nobody had ever seen, an extensive bio, music…
For the premiere of the opening of his page, he sent a cassette from his sessions with Italian super-guitarist Aldo Giuntini and it kicked ass! My job was to review it, so that the fans could get an idea of what he was doing and of course get them curious to get his solo-material. He called a few times to discuss the page, I even have one of the messages he left on the answering machine saved somewhere. I’m saving everything, I just wish I knew where the hell I keep all this stuff! :))
It went well, the page was up there, fans loved it. But… Two stubborn people with very particular ideas of what they want to do, didn’t work out that well in the long run. Tony and I got pissed off at eachother – I got mad at him for something I don’t even remember anymore, he thought whatever he thought about me (still have the very sarcastic letter that he sent, here somewhere, but I’m not posting that, feels like a private dispute that isn’t for the public eye anyway). And that was the end of it.
I couldn’t even listen to his music for a long time after that. I was probably to blame for not being more flexible but these things teach you a lot. I’m not the same person that I was back then. You grow older and wiser, and those things would never have happened today.
I enjoyed the time I was in touch with Tony, it’s great reading all the mails that were sent back and forth during 1996, because it was between two friends. He would talk about everyday things – his kids, his wife, his life, and for a while I even forgot that he was the same guy whose voice I could listen to for hours. I certainly never thought of him as a Black Sabbath-member during that time. After a while you just forget those things, and the person becomes “just a person”, which is what we all really are.
I’m not mad anymore because I don’t remember the details of that fight anyway. And to this day I think his voice was a gift from God. What a voice! And what a waste of talent to not hear as much about his career anymore. I can only hope that he finds his way back to the masses. He deserves it.