|EUROPE in Paris on their PR-tour|
- No. 24, 1986
EUROPE's triumph tour through Europe was also the last journey for EUROPE with
John Norum in the
band. Even though EUROPE suddenly went up like a rocket, and the big international breakthrough was at the door, John chose to go his own
ways. OKEJ followed EUROPE for a week in Paris Ė the heart of Europe! Of course, just that, thatís rightÖ!
As soon as OKEJís press team choose to meet up with EUROPE in Paris, the French of course decide to go on a flight leader strike. The result? Nothing but waiting and waiting. First in Stockholm, where we are informed that we can forget all about a direct flight to Paris. It is SAS to Copenhagen and then a switch to Air France at 11:15 pm instead. A small delay of six hours already here. But no one should think that it ends here. No!
The small, yet annoying, strike of the French made sure that no plane, including ours, was allowed to leave the Charles De Gaulle airport. The result? Yet another three hours delay. Then, at last, about 5 oíclock in the morning, we arrived in Paris, sleepy. A rainy Paris, of course. Because if things are going to be bad, they might as well be really bad. We learnt that much.
On the way to the hotel, in a taxi which wonít allow passengers in the front seat, we jammed together in the back seat, watching the fascinating illegal parking pass by. There is no other country in the world which can show off a bigger number of crazy parking. One rule is obeyed in Paris: If you have arrived, then stop and get out! The car is parked in a cross in the middle of a crosswalk, and is blocking four other cars. Well, who cares? If you need to get out again, you simply hit the other cars which are in the way. All the cars have bumps and bruises. Thatís just something you have to bear with, the French say.
We stop at 239 Rue St. Honorť, one of Parisí most luxurious fashion streets, and check in at the hotel. Itís Wednesday morning, way too early, and any activities besides sleep are not to be considered.
Well, what can we say? Itís never fun to get up
in the early morning. But honestly, EUROPE don't think so either. But we, like them, have to.
Itís all about work, and in EUROPE's case, it's probably the most important
work they have ever had to do. The interviews and the TV shows just seem to keep on coming
in an endless row for the next couple of days. And itís been like that since their glorious performance in Munich just about
a week earlier. Every day has been filled with interviews.
The tour leader Bosse Norling laughs a little, grasps his forehead and describes this weekís program. It almost sounds like a data list from the exchange reports in USA. Everybody wants to talk to EUROPE. From the smallest regional newspapers via pop magazines to the big TV shows. Itís necessary to split up the band. Of course they all want to sit with Joey for a half hour, but that won't work. The rest of the band take their share of the interviews. Also, a part of them are for special magazines about drums or keyboards, and then of course the interview victims have to be Ian or Mic.
But a black cloud is hanging just above it all, but no one talks about it: John Norum has done his part in EUROPE and has decided to quit. This will be his last trip with the gang he has spent the last six hard working years with.
Seem to enjoy themselves
Outside the doors to a TV studio, he
says: "This isnít my thing any more. I donít like the way things seem to be
going. EUROPEís music doesnít fit my ideals any more, so I have decided to quit. I will follow them on this PR-tour.
I canít abandon the guys when everything
happens at once."
John doesnít like to do playback performances on TV. It feels fake, he thinks, but he doesnít at all seem to not enjoy himself when the cameras are rolling. On the contrary: The band seem to really enjoy themselves when they jump around to the tones of "The Final Countdown". Joey and John work together in the picture. Everything seems to be peace and joy, but when the stage lights are turned off, John goes away. He wants to be alone. He doesnít give any interviews, but is there for the pictures, for the sake of the newspapers and the band.
As opposed to John, the rest of the band really seem to enjoy themselves doing the playback performances. Ian even laughs a little when he fails to follow the drum intro to the song. The keyboard intro has been cut out, and following the beat isn't easy when the French technicians just scream: "Attention, trios, deux, unÖ" (three, two, one...) Rolling!
The first TV show in France is "Show Bises" for TFL. The stage is so small that it's crowded even before the whole band is there. "It has been small everywhere we have been," Joey says and refers to the shows they have done in Germany and Belgium. "But it works. You just have to bear with it. The main concern is to make it look good in pictures. And it does. We can follow the shoot on the TV monitors."
The French trade union for TV technicians forbids the use of microphones for playback artists. If itís fake, it is fake, they think, so Joey has to lip-sync without a microphone. It looks different, but he can do it without looking unprofessional. After two takes, the rehearsals are over, and there is an hourís break before the live transmission. Food. EUROPE have got two Mercedes cars to use all the time, and they quickly bring us to Restaurant Francis, where they serve French goodies.
Models for security
The brothers Alex and Laurent come along with the cars.
Two stylish French models who also work as bodyguards and chauffeurs for touring
rock bands. They are a pure tourist guide to Parisí nightlife and have the heavy
connections that's needed. When the band went to Parisí classical music hall show "Crazy Horse",
they made sure they didnít have to wait in line, of course. EUROPE were let in before the waiting millionaires and tourists into undressed entertainment of world class.
"Cool guys," Joey says, and praises the brothers to the sky.
Alex giggles, and gives a high five with a singing "SŚdšššššr!"
Thatís a classic EUROPE saying. "SŚdšššššr" is used all the time by everyone in the gang, and now even the French are starting to use it Ė with the following and very important high five.
We go back to the studio, and EUROPE perform their number without any trouble. More TV shows follow during the Thursday. For the new station "Channel +" and their show "Zenith", and the extremely important and well-known "Champs-…lysťes", with viewer numbers on about 23 millions. 23 million viewers! Think about that number.
During our week in Paris, EUROPE sold just about 25 000 singles a day. "I canít believe this," says Thomas Eriksson when we sit in the hotel bar. "They have printed over a million copies of the "Final Countdown" single. A million! Itís unbelievable. And everybody says that it hasn't even started yet. What else can I do but trust those who know about this business in England, for example, when they claim that EUROPE is the hottest thing that has happened in years? We have struck gold here!"
But in spite of the recent successes, the foreign audiences still havenít realized that it's all about a Swedish band. "Oh well," Ian says. "Most people think that we are from Holland or Germany. Switzerland is another guess. And if you say that you are from EUROPE when someone asks what band you are from, they just donít get it. But if you say "The Final Countdown", they know what you are talking about."
True! When John Norum had to step out for a second during a photo shoot in the streets of Paris to find a toilet, the doorman at the restaurant greeted him with a few lines from "The Final Countdown" and a show of air guitar playing. Naturally he gives us his card and wishes us welcome to a great meal.
Sightseeing in Paris
On Friday, we finally find a hole in EUROPEís
tight schedule. Alex and Laurent take us sightseeing to the most important places in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower, this great steel building, which made the world stare a
hundred years ago. Did you know that Buffalo Bill was at the opening? On a clear day, you can see all of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
In the night, the city turns into a symphony of colors with the lit up street
Champs-…lysťes as a white bond in the middle of the city.
The Concorde place looks proud with its obelisk, and the life outside the famous opera is unique in itself. We stop in the middle of the street for a picture in front of the Triumphal Arch, under which the Unknown Soldierís grave is constantly lit up by a forever burning flame. We finish off the evening by inviting John and his girl Beatrice, to a nice dinner at one of Parisí most charming inns: Victoria Station at the food street Montmartre.
Saturday will be a party day. Itís EUROPEís last working day in Paris before a day off on Sunday, and it is also John Levťn's 23rd birthday, and of course the band has a surprise lined up for him. After several interviews in the morning, we take off to go to a big mall five miles outside Paris, where the only album signing of the week is going to take place.
Photographer Johansson, who succeeded in avoiding the traffic jam that EUROPE ended up in, arrived earlier at the spot and got the welcome of his life. Unknowingly, he walked onto the podium to check out the surroundings and plan his pictures, when suddenly, he was in the middle of drum rolls, hysterical screaming in French and the intro to "The Final Countdown".
"And here they are, the ones we have all been waiting for," the compŤre screamed and on booming French presented... "EUROPE!!" But there was no EUROPE. Just a really astonished Michael Johansson, who looked confusedly at the blushing French guys who started to realize their mistake. But EUROPE did arrive in the end, and hundreds of French fans jammed up to get a look and hopefully an autograph from the idols.
With this, EUROPE could finally relax and look forward to the awaiting birthday party for Jompa (John Levťn). In Thomasí suite, the tables were covered with the delicacies from the French kitchen. The champagne was bubbling, and Jompa received a beautiful Cacharel watch from the management. "Make sure you wear it," Bosse Norling commanded. "We donít want to see you be late again."
Maybe the gift from OKEJ wasnít in the same class, but it turned out to be an appreciated memory from France.
Finale in Amsterdam
We didnít get to bed before early in the morning,
except for Joey, who had gotten a small cold. For OKEJ, all that was left was saying "See you soon" Ė sooner than
we expected. EUROPE took off for Toulouse and Madrid to end their first European tour in
Amsterdam. The last performance with John Norum. OKEJ of course went there, and a live report from the finale will come in the next
(You can read it
We finish off with Thomasí discrete whispering to Joey: "What did I say! Itís rolling now!!!"