Joey Tempest

Joey Tempest
Birth name:
Rolf Magnus Joakim Larsson
August 19, 1963 in Stockholm, Sweden
Lead vocals, acoustic and rhythm guitars, keyboards (1982–84)
Active in the band:
1979–92, 1999, 2003–present
First appearance on a EUROPE album:
Europe (1983)
Photo by Tallee Savage .

Joakim "Jocke" Larsson was born in Stockholm and raised in Upplands Väsby. He liked to play soccer and ice hockey in his childhood. The first time he met John Levén was actually at a soccer match. At that time Joakim dreamed about becoming a soccer player or a gym instructor. Sports was his biggest interest at that time, but music would soon take over completely. The first instrument he learnt to play was the piano, because his family had a piano at home. One day he stole tapes with "Top 10" radio shows from his sister, Lotta. There he found his first idol, Elton John, and "Crocodile Rock" became his favorite song. Another big idol was Elvis Presley, and Joakim became more and more interested in Elvis' instrument, the guitar. So he borrowed Lotta's guitar and learnt to play, and a friend of his father taught him three of the most common rock chords. One day he heard the Nazareth song "Love Hurts" on the radio, and he liked the song so much that it became the first record he ever bought.

In fifth grade at the Odenslunda school, Joakim and a couple of class mates formed the band Made in Hong Kong. They played concerts for the rest of the school, but the only had one song, "Keep A-Knockin' (but You Can't Come In)," made famous by Little Richard. So their entire setlist was just that song being played over and over again. The drummer only had a snare drum, the guitarist didn't have a guitar amplifier and Joakim sang through an old transistor radio. The band was influenced by his new favorite bands, Sweet and Slade. Made in Hong Kong changed name twice: First to Jet, then to Blazer. At first Joakim played the rhythm guitar, but he switched to the bass after a while. Later he formed the more serious band Roxanne, who became quite well-known in Upplands Väsby.

In 1978 Joakim went to see a concert with another local band, WC. He was particularly impressed by their guitarist. "When I was 15 years old, I discovered a guitar player, one year younger than myself, who played his instrument with heart and soul, and with a blues feeling that I'd never heard from a Swedish musician. His name was John Norum and after that day nothing would ever be the same again." Joakim and John soon became good friends, much thanks to their shared interest for music and mopeds. And one day in 1979, Joakim was asked to join John's band, WC. Joakim accepted, and suggested that the band could change their name to FORCE, after the UFO album Force It. In 1982 FORCE was entered into the national talent contest "Rock-SM", and once again Joakim suggested a name change, this time to EUROPE, inspired by the Deep Purple live album Made in Europe. After some consideration, the other band members agreed. EUROPE won "Rock-SM", and the first prize was a recording contract with Hot Records. It was during "Rock-SM" that he decided to take the artist name Joey Tempest. Joey was inspired by a nick name he got when he was on vacation in the USA some years earlier. "It was difficult for Americans to pronounce Joakim, so they called me Joe." Tempest was taken from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. He spent many school lessons writing song lyrics and practicing on signing autographs. Needless to say, the teachers weren't too happy about that.

In 1985 producer Dieter Dierks asked Joey to write a song for the German rock band Scorpions. He wrote the song "One of a Kind" and sent it to them, but he never heard from them again. In the same year he also wrote the song "Give a Helpin' Hand" for the project "Swedish Metal Aid". He was one of the lead singers on that single, which was produced by Kee Marcello. The money from the sale of the single was donated to the starving people of Ethiopia. The song "One of a Kind" was eventually included on Tone Norum's debut album One of a Kind. Joey produced the album in 1986, as well as writing the songs and playing most of the instruments. John Norum, Mic Michaeli and Ian Haugland also played on the album, which was the first album that Joey produced all by himself. 

In 1991 Joey got together with John Norum to collaborate on John's second solo album, Face the Truth, which was released the following year. The two of them recorded the duet "We Will Be Strong" and Joey co-wrote the song "Counting on Your Love". In 1992, the year that EUROPE went on hiatus, Joey met an English girl at the Piccadilly Circus in London. Her name was Lisa Worthington. She'd lost her wallet and Joey helped her find it. Half a year later she became his girlfriend.

Joey released his first solo album, A Place to Call Home, on April 20, 1995. John Norum made a guest appearance on the song "Right to Respect". The album was influenced by singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne and Van Morrison, marking quite a change in style compared to EUROPE. "I needed a change from the EUROPE sound. I guess you could say that I had a reaction against the whole thing. I wanted to prove myself as a singer-songwriter for sure, but for me it was more of a journey to learn about making music. I went to see a lot of new young artists, got into stuff like Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, so I went completely the other way. I wanted to know where everything came from and how things started, and so that’s what I did." The album was a success in Sweden, peaking at number 7 on the Swedish album chart.

In 1996 Joey and Lisa moved to Dublin, Ireland. Joey's second solo album, Azalea Place, was released on April 25, 1997, and it also peaked at number 7 on the Swedish album chart. It was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. "After my first solo album I went out to the States to work with Richard Dodd - who's this English guy living out in Nashville - on the second one, which kept me away from home for a long time. But it was something that I needed to do, I had to get it out of my system." The style of "Azalea Place" was more experimental than the first one, using influences from Irish and Spanish folk music. Joey played most of the instruments himself on the album. In the same year he recorded the duet "Running With a Dream" with Canadian opera singer Anna Maria Kaufmann. It was written by Mike Batt and was the official anthem for Germany's national team in the Soccer World Cup in France 1998. Joey also sang on four other songs on Anna Maria's album Blame It on the Moon, and "Running With a Dream" was included as a bonus track on the German edition of Azalea Place. In 1998 Joey recorded a cover version of the Bruce Springsteen song "Born to Run", which was included on the album Philharmania, a collection of classic rock songs performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conduction by Mike Batt.

On September 29, 2000, Joey and Lisa got married in Richmond, London. All the EUROPE members were invited, but John Levén couldn't come. "It was a beautiful wedding," John Norum said, "They had an orchestra there, playing Joey's songs. Joey laughed and was impressively calm the whole time. He made a cool speech." Eventually Joey and Lisa moved to London. In 2001 Joey, Patrick Isaksson and Anders Glenmark recorded a cover of the Pugh Rogefeldt song "Här Kommer Natten" (Here comes the night). It was the first time Joey officially recorded a song in Swedish, and the song was included on the compilation Osannolikt Svenskt. In 2002 he co-wrote the song "Change" for the British duo Bowes & Morley, both former members of the band Thunder. The song was included on their album Moving Swiftly Along.

The release date for Joey's third solo album, Joey Tempest, was postponed many times, but it was finally released on October 21, 2002. This time Joey had gone back to rock, marking a heavier sound compared to his previous albums. "I've discovered the feeling of playing in a rock band again. The energy feels a bit like EUROPE. I've also found my way back to the songwriting that I did during the EUROPE time. Several of the songs has a Tempest-spirit. Melodies, the heavy guitars...." Mic Michaeli co-wrote three songs on the album. The album peaked at number 12 on the Swedish album chart, but received mixed reviews from the music press.

Joey is currently living in London with his wife Lisa Worthington-Larsson. They have two children, James Joakim (born in 2007) and Jack Johnston (born in 2014).

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