• Swedish hard rock band formed in 1979 from Upplands Väsby Sweden. The classic lineup for the band was Joey Tempest (born Rolf Larsson – lead vocals, keyboards ahd guitars on early albums), John Norum (guitars, backing vocals), John Levén (bass guitar, backing vocals), Mic Michaeli (keyboards, backing vocals) and Ian Haugland (drums, backing vocals). Tempest was the primary songwriter, with some contributions by the other members of the group, particularly Norum.
  • At 16 years old, after playing in several garage bands, Larsson invented a stage name for himself – Joey Tempest – and he formed a band named Force with Norum, bassist Peter Olsson and drummer Tony Reno. They originally played cover songs but soon began to perform songs written by Tempest. They recorded a demo tape but the Swedish record companies told them that they had to cut their hair and sing in Swedish. In 1981, Olsson decided to leave, and Levén joined on bass guitar. The following year, Tempest’s girlfriend entered the band in the Swedish televised rock talent contest Rock-SM. Just before the competition started, they changed their name to Europe, inspired by the Deep Purple album Made In Europe. Competing against 4,000 other bands, they won the competition, with Tempest voted Best Lead Singer and Norum winning the award for Best Guitarist. Their prize for winning the competition was a recording contract.
  • In 1983, Europe released their debut album, the self-titled Europe. The heavy metal album sold well in Sweden, reaching #8 on the Sweden album chart, and the single Seven Doors Hotel reached the top 10 in Japan. They followed up the next year with Wings of Tomorrow. During the tour to support the album, Michaeli was hired to take the keyboard duties from Tempest, and soon he was made a permanent member of the group. Before the second leg of the tour began, Reno was fired from the band by the group’s producer (without telling the other band members) – Reno was replaced by Haugland. The singles from Wings of Tomorrow were not particularly successful, but the band was developing their skills, and the album got the attention of a global record company. They were soon signed to a new record label.
  • In 1985, the band was part of the cast of the Swedish film On the Loose. Europe performed three songs for the soundtrack for the film – Rock the Night, On the Loose and Broken Dreams. For their next studio album, they re-recorded the first two songs, making Rock the Night lighter and On the Loose heavier. In 1986, they released The Final Countdown album, and it was their breakthrough.
  • The Final Countdown was certified 3x platinum. It topped four country charts, and it peaked at #8 in the U.S., certified 3x platinum. The title track was #1 on 15 singles charts, and it peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 chart. Three other singles charted on the Hot 100 – Rock the Night reached #30, the power ballad Carrie peaked at #3, and Cherokee reached #72. Soon after the album was released, Norum left the band to start a solo career, dissatisfied with the direction the group was taking – he felt there was too much focus on keyboards and he didn’t like the glam-rock image of the group. Kee Marcelo replaced Norum and performed on the tours to support the album.
  • In 1988, the Out of This World album was released. It was successful, earning a platinum certification. Four singles were released, but only Superstitious charted in the U.S., peaking at #31. It was their last to chart in America, as music tastes were moving away from glam/hair band rock to grunge and rap. Europe released their Prisoners In Paradise album in 1991, which did not chart in the U.S. and sold modestly in Europe and Japan. After ten years of touring and recording, the group went on hiatus in 1993.
  • In 1998, the members of Europe began to discuss a reunion. They did a performance of Rock the Night and The Final Countdown on New Year’s Eve in 1999, with both Norum and Marcelo performing on guitar. They officially agreed to regroup in 2003, with Norum on guitar along with Tempest, Michaeli, Levén and Haugland. They released six studio albums between 2004 and 2017, focusing on Europe and Japan for their market. These albums moved away from the glam rock sound of the 80s to a more modern metal rock sound. Their 40th anniversary tour kicked off in 2023 with performances throughout the UK and western Europe.
  • The song The Final Countdown has an interesting legacy. The band originally felt it should not be released as a single – they intended it to be the song that they would use to open their concerts. They relented when their record company pressed them to release it. The now famous synth opening to the song created some internal conflict – some felt that it was not the right sound for a metal rock band, but Tempest fought to include it. Good decision – the opening is instantly recognized, even today. The song is both beloved and reviled. It makes many “best of…” and “worst of…” lists (I lean toward the “worst of” lists). Here’s the video for The Final Countdown. Over a billion views on YouTube!

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