John Norum was born on the 23 February 1964 in VardÃ¶, Norway. That's about as far north you can reach in Norway. He grew up in Upplands VÃ¤sby, a suburb to Stockholm.
At 8 yrs he was a big fan of Elvis and Cliff Richard. 2 years later, at 10, the took his mother's acoustic guitar off the wall and she showed John some stuff to do with it.
John learned quick and soon got his own guitar.
But it wasn't until he heard "Strange Kind Of a Woman" by Deep Purple he decided to become a rockstar (and move to London). Deep Purple wasn't the only band that got his interest - not by any sense. Kiss was the biggest influence. John Norum had a band that was called Dragonfly, when they "performed live" they had Kiss make-up on and the room (usually John's bedroom) was covered in tin foile.
At the age of 14 John's steph-father Thomas Witt got John into recording with Eddie Meduza, a swedish rock'n'roller (with very suspicious things in his carreer). John got to play on a track called "PunkjÃ¤vlar" ("Punk Bastards"). John played guitar of course, and he went out on tour around Sweden during the summerbreaks. John was a punk rocker himself, the band he had at this time was called Dog Wayst and John's stage name was Johnny Fuckfaster! Eddie Meduza's albums reached gold-status as soon as they were released so it was definitly an early success.
Things changed after the tour 1978 and John got his priorities straight, he met drummer Tony NiemistÃ¶ (later to change that to Tony Reno) and bassist Peter Olsson. They called themselves WC.
John sang as well as played guitar.
They got quite big in the Stockholm area, influed by such bands as Thin Lizzy and UFO. The band even got close to be on a TV-show, but to do that they had to change name - which of course they refused to do!
One of WC's fans was a former boyfriend of Tone, Joakim Larsson ( much better known as Joey Tempest), the bassplayer of Roxanne. WC changed name to Force and Joakim was talked into leaving Roxanne to sing in Force instead. Peter left the band as Joakim not only joined the band but also stole Peter's girlfriend. John saw a new bassplayer in John LevÃ©n who accepted the offer to join the band.
In april 1982 LevÃ©n started to mess around and wanted out of the band as he didn't like what they were about. John called Marcel Jacob who was in Rising Force, Yngve Malmsten's (better known as Yngwie J Malmsteen) band.
Marcel joined Force.
LevÃ©n joined Rising Force.
For 3 months.
Then they switched back again to their original bass-players.
They made a demo which Joakim's girlfriend, Anita Katila, sent to a competition called Rock SM (Swedish Rock Championship).
Force changed name to Europe. Joakim Larsson changed his name to Joey Tempest.
Europe won Rock SM 1982, held on December 12th. The prize was to record an album on Hot Records. Their new manager (who came with the prize-package), Thomas Erdtman, tried to convince them to sing in Swedish, and maybe polish their music and look a bit. Joakim was just about to do it but John said NO WAY!
John says he from then on never liked mr Erdtman.
The album "Europe" was released in February 1983.
Worth to mention is the fact that it was recorded in one weekend only, most of it was recorded live in the studio and as an example, 'Boyazont' only took 30 mins to record!!! The reviews were really good and the album sold 35.000 copies during the first months, which is good in Sweden. Japan wanted the album and it was soon released there as well. It became a best seller and Europe made a video for "In The Future To Come" - apparantly the video was a catastrophy and Japanese TV are the only ones who showed it. John Norum spent one last summer on tour with Eddie Meduza.
On Februari 23 1984 "Wings Of Tomorrow" was released, it sold 60.000-70.000 copies in Sweden only - with a population of 8 millions you have to agree it's a lot!! The album was followed by yet another tour. A 5th member was taken in - Gunnar Michaeli (much better known as Mic Michaeli) on keyboard.
Without the band knowing, Thomas Erdtman fired Tony by letter. HÃ¥kan Jan Haugland (Ian Haugland for short) was brought in.
1985 Europe starred in a short movie made by the Social democrats Union - LO, it was called "On The Loose" and they made a single for it with the very same name. The single was a product of Joey. He did the vocals, guitars, keyboards, drum programming - but the single was released as a 'Europe' single. In the name of LO they made a quite embarrasing tour with only 3 new songs ("On The Loose", "Rock The Night" and "Broken Dreams"). The audience didn't show up (well, the hardcore fans did of course).
Joey started working on Tone Norums album "One Of a Kind" and Tone was named 'Europe's baby-sister' by the media!! John played on the album as well.
John teamed up with some other rockers and they did a small tour called The Boys Are Back In Town - as a tribute to Phil Lynott whom died January 4, 1986.
"The Final Countdown" was recorded, but delayed. Yet another tour (booked before the album was delayed) - without the new album backing them up. No audience this time either. Everyone knew the 3rd album would be the most important. Were they just another one-album band, could they repeat the success or was it just pure luck with "Wings..."?
But then - on May 26 1986 "The Final Countdown" was released and sold gold before it hit the shops (thanx to the single) and in 2 months it sold 100.000 copies. In Sweden only.
Tour in Japan to follow. Scandinavia and Japan were in love with Europe.
But, John weren't satisfied.
New tour in Sweden - they were HUGE!! TV filmed a show on the first leg (in Solna May 27) and it was broadcasted 2 months later just to hype them even more.
Whereever you went that summer you'd hear "The Final Countdown" being played. It was on the top of all the charts, and in everyones mind...
Mainland Europe opened their eyes and saw this amazing band...
So, a tour took place there as well.
But, John decided that he had had enough of the cute image, play-back, TV shows etc and he told the band he'd quit. He gave them enough time to find a replacement. Last performing with Europe was in Amsterdam, Holland on October 31, 1986.
The show was broadcasted live on Sky Channel.
November the 1st he was on his own.
When people asked John Norum what he wanted to do he said he was going to call his friend Marcel Jacob and they'd make an album together. The first single was released on October 16, 1987 and the 29th the same month came "Total Control". John showed his affection for Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy by recording Lizzy-tunes as b-sides.
The band was, besides John and Marcel, Hempo HildÃ©n (drums), GÃ¶ran Edman (vocals) and Mats Lindfors (rythm guitar and keyboards).
"Total Control" is dedicated to Tommy Ã–stervik, one of Johns friends and heros, whom drowned the same night as Europe played the show that later was broadcasted on swedish telly.
The tour started on February 12th 1988 and finished on March 19th supporting Ace Frehley at Hammersmith Odeon in London (part of that show has been released as Ace Frehley: '12 Picks'). In London John met Glenn Hughes for the very first time (introduced by journalist Anders Tegner).
Hughes & Norum started a project, as Hughes is a vocalist as well as bass-player Marcel and GÃ¶ran were sacked (yep, pretty hard feelings there). Glenn, John, Mats and Hempo made only one apperance, at Rock SM May 21, 1988. The word was that John put too much pressure on Glenn with the result - Glenn left the band.
Marcel and GÃ¶ran was brought in again for a late summer tour in the Northern Sweden and Norway.
In 1988/89 John got in touch with Don Dokken for the first time, John was brought in as the new guitarist of Dokken. As things turned out though, Don Dokken wasn't allowed to use his familyname as a bandname again, instead it became to be a Don Dokken solo-album.
The album with Don Dokken was released, with a tour to follow in Japan (there's some pretty cool & rare guitar picks from that tour).
As a result of the work with Glenn Hughes LA Blues Authority and Face The Truth were released.
On Face The Truth, the european version, is a duet with Joey Tempest. 'We Will Be Strong' was released as a first single and a video was made for it. With the right promotion this could have been a hit all over the world...
But someone put the lid on, John himself I assume.
Hits never been his thing.
In '92 Joey hung around John quite a lot, Europe had split up (or was taking a long break as they prefered to state) and Joey wanted to reform the original Europe. John had no plans in that direction, he enjoyed California far too much as well as the life as an independent solo-artist - he pointed out the benefits of being on his own; to decide over his own material, the directions, the musicians and have it in his own pace.
And so it happend.
In August '92 John joined Joey Tempest on stage at the Waterfestival in Stockholm. One would have expected headlines but it was all in the moment of surprise so still, today, it seems like noone knows about it.
John doesn't enter Swedish ground again until Januari 94 when he teams up with some swedish rockers to do a The Boys Are Back In Town tour over 10 days, it began in Stockholm on the 4th and ended in MalmÃ¶ on the 14th. They performed all sorts of rock classics including 'The Sun Goes Down', 'Don't Belive a Word' and 'Bad Reputation' by Thin Lizzy. They also made 'People Get Ready' by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart fame, to name but a few.
In 95, when Norum released Another Destination, it was time for Sweden again. The tour kicked off in GÃ¶teborg on the 31 March and took them around the country. With John on this tour was Kelly Keeling of Baton Rough and Blue Murder/Sykes fame and Michelle Meldrum - Johns girlfriend (now wife, they got married in Las Vegas 1995) as well as leadguitarist from Phantom Blue. She teamed up with the boys on Bad Reputation. John LevÃ©n from Europe played bass and Niclas from Electric Boys did the druming.
What he did do though was to record 'Cold Gin' for the Spacewalk - a Salute To Ace Frehley in '96. Previous to this, in '95 he did 'Massacre' on a Thin Lizzy tribute CD called The Lizzy Songs. His love for Thin Lizzy is well known and at a Tribute concert held in Los Angeles at The Palace he teamed up with Carmine Appice (former King Cobra, Blue Murder etc), in August '95 this was.
On December 21, 1996 Worlds Away - was released in Japan. The album was released in Sweden through Svensk Musik Distribution (M-D) on May 16 1997 - 'Where The Grass Is Green' was released as a single to support the album.
John Norum kicked off a pre-tour in Karlskrona Sweden on April 24 1997. One of the four dates took place in Upplands VÃ¤sby.
In the end of '97 John got a call from Don Dokken, telling George Lynch had left the band - would he please come over and finish the tour? John went to the States for just over a month and had a blast. At the same time Face It Live '97 was released on Zero in Japan. The album was released later in Sweden too, but once again crappy (read: no) promotion killed it. Shrapnel took off 4 tracks and released it in the US.
1998 came to be the year when John toured in Sweden with his John Norum Group. He almost got to tour with UFO under the name Lights Out, but as Michael Schenker heard the rumours he returned to the band.
1999 proved to be the year when John teamed up with Brian Robertson and ... probably what everyone been waiting for... a reunion of Europe on New Year's Eve. John Norum together with John LevÃ©n, Ian Haughland, Joey Tempest, Mic Michaeli and Kee Marcello. Noone could have been happier, both guitarists on stage and "Rock The Night" flowing all over Stockholm and on TV too. Just before the clock struck midnight the famous and worldknown fanfare begun... "The Final Countdown" echoed everywhere and from where I saw it, at home on telly tear rolled down my face.
It'd been a while...
The new millenium didn't produced more events like this, but with the band gathered at Hard Rock CafÃ© in Stockholm to recieve a gold award as well as open a permanent exhibition, they joined on stage for 3 minutes. Playing Rock The Night - 14 years on...
In the summer of 2001 John Norum joined Dokken again. This time only Don Dokken and Mick Brown were left from the original band. On bass was Barry Spark. They did a sort of "best of Dokken" tour in the US, recorded a new album called Long Way Home and then went on tour in Europe.
In 2003 Europe announced they were going to record a new album and headline at the Sweden Rock Festival 2004 - they sure did!! With the largest audience ever at SRF and broadcasted live on national radio Europe got back on track, the title tack of the new album "Start From The Dark" proved them to leaning towards the heavier stuff. The album was released on September 22, 2004 .
While writing material for the "Start From The Dark" album, John also worked on his soloalbum "Optimus" to be released on John's birthday, Feb 23 2005!