Kjell Hilding Löfbom
February 20, 1960 in Ludvika, Sweden
Lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals
|Active in the band:
|First appearance on a
Out of This World (1988)
Kjell "Kjelle" Löfbom was born in Ludvika, but grew up in the towns Falun and Umeå. He got a plastic toy guitar when he was 5 years old. Often he stood in front of the TV, singing and playing along to songs by The Beatles. He played the guitar with his left hand, just like Paul McCartney. But at that time Kjell's biggest dream wasn't to be a rock star. No, he wanted to become a count, because he had seen a count on TV and thought that he had a good life. In Umeå he played tennis with a friend, but often they would end up playing air guitar with their tennis rackets instead. Kjell's very first band was Camel Lickers, who couldn't play anything and didn't have any instruments. But Kjell still thought it was fun to have his own band. His mother gave him an electric guitar as a Christmas present when he was 12 years old. "I picked out all the Deep Purple riffs from the Machine Head album and drove my parents crazy. They sent me to a teacher and he said, 'I'm sorry, you're not going to be able to play the guitar because your fingers are too short. Play something else... Play the piano... not the guitar.' So I got really angry and didn't tell anybody, not even my parents. They asked me about seeing the teacher and I said, 'No, he's ill' and I lied because I was devastated."
Later on Kjell formed his first real band, Joker, together with two friends. They played their first concert at the cafeteria at the Mimerskolan school in Umeå. "We rehearsed for a couple of years. We made our first gig at the school. It was terrible. My amplifier caught fire." Joker played an instrumental version of the Deep Purple song "Strange Kind of Woman" and the first song that Kjell wrote himself, "Sveriges Riksbank". Another song Kjell wrote was "Grand Mothers Old Underwear", which was actually a direct copy of the Rolling Stones song "Jumpin' Jack Flash". But because of a disagreement about crash cymbals, Joker split up. After that, Kjell formed a new band together with his cousin, Sven Lövbom, and a neighbor, and at first that band was also called Joker. But in 1975 they changed their name to Stetson Cody Group. The band was influenced by fusion and jazz rock and Kjell and Sven wrote the songs. They toured around Sweden and in 1977 they got a scholarship for best rock/jazz group in Sweden from the state foundation Rikskonserter, which lead to a nation wide tour. Four tracks by Stetson Cody Group appeared on the album Jazz & Rock, which was released in 1978 and also included tracks by the bands Ramaskri and Barabbas. Stetson Cody Group also released a single, "Det Var Du", in 1979.
Like John Norum and John Levén, Kjell ended up with bad school marks, which meant that he couldn't attend the music high school he had applied for. Instead he started to work both as a fishing salesman at a local store and as a guitar teacher. When the punk scene started to take off, Kjell formed a trio that played covers of Sex Pistols songs, translated to Swedish. Later on he became good friends with jazz guitarist Johan Norberg, and during a trip to Greece they decided to form the acoustic guitar duo Norbom Hilke. They played mostly self-composed, instrumental material and played concerts at the jazz club in Umeå. At the end of 1979 Kjell and Sven realized that it was impossible to become rock stars in Umeå, so they decided to move to Stockholm. Kjell took up a job at a hospital and worked hard at writing new songs in the house he and Sven rented. In 1980 the two of them teamed up with three other musicians to form the band D'Accord, who only released two singles, "Ge Mig Mer" and "Nattliv", before splitting up. After that, Kjell teamed up with Ingvar Larsson under the band name Silver and released one single, "En Gång Till". At that time Kjell also recorded the single "Nyfiken" with the band Kee and the Kick. It should be noted that the "Kee" in Kee and the Kick was actually the female vocalist, Kee Möller.
One day Kjell met the English producer John Grooves, who got him interested in production, arrangements and studio work. After that Kjell started to work as a producer and studio musician. In 1982 he met the rock band Noice, produced their album Europa and toured with them. During the tour, Noice bassist Peo Thyrén talked with Kjell about forming a band with influences from their early glam rock heroes, such as Sweet, KISS, Slade and New York Dolls. It was at that time that Kjell took the artist name Kee Marcello and Peo took the artist name Alex Tyrone. They formed the duo Alex & Kee and released the single "Rock 'N' Roll", a cover of the Gary Glitter song, but in the summer of 1982 they decided to form another band, Easy Action. After an unsuccessful attempt at finding potential band members in London, Kee and Alex met up with vocalist Zinny J. Zan in Stockholm and played him some demos. Zinny liked what he heard, so he decided to join the band. Zinny's friend, guitarist Danny Wilde, and Noice drummer Freddie Von Gerber were brought in to complete Easy Action's first lineup. Easy Action released their self-titled debut album in 1984 and got a record deal with the American record company Sire Records, which was owned by Warner Music Group. After that, Danny Wilde left the band and was replaced by Chris Lynn. A music video for the single "We Go Rocking" was shot in London.
In 1985 Easy Action made an appearance in the Swedish horror film Blood Tracks. In one of the most memorable scenes of the film, Kee got his head cut off. Big changes happened in the Easy Action lineup as both Zinny and Alex left the band. Tommy Nilsson and Björn Påhlsson were brought in to replace them. In the same year Kee produced the single "Give a Helpin' Hand" for the charity project Swedish Metal Aid, which involved a number of popular rock and metal bands. Joey Tempest wrote the song and was one of the lead singers, and Kee played the guitar solo. In the same year Kee played on Mikael Rickfors' album Hearthunters. In addition to that, Kee collaborated with artists such as Style, Shanghai, Niclas Wahlgren and Dollie De Luxe through the early and mid 1980s.
In 1986 Kee and Peo Thyrén wrote the song "Stopp, Stopp, Stanna" for Kee's girlfriend at the time, Karin Risberg, who was one of the participants in the Melodifestival, which is held every year to determine who will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest. Karin didn't win, though. In October 1986 Easy Action finished up their second album, That Makes One. During the final stages of the mixing of the album, the members of Easy Action were on their way to a photo session for the album cover. Suddenly Kee received a phone call from EUROPE's manager, Thomas Erdtman. Guitarist John Norum had just announced that he wanted to leave the band, and the other EUROPE members wanted Kee to replace him. At first Kee said no. "The reason I rejected at first was because I just finished off That Makes One, and me and my manager at the time had a lot of interest for it from majors in the US. That album was my baby, I put my entire soul into it, and it was very hard to let go of that dream. I knew that if I wanted to join EUROPE, the album was going to vanish. And it did. Epic US wanted to sign it, but declined since I joined EUROPE and was no longer in the band. So it was with very mixed emotions I finally accepted the offer. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I never left Easy Action!"
Kee made his first TV appearance with EUROPE at Peters Pop Show in November 1986 in front of 16 000 people in Dortmund, West Germany. It was broadcast on TV in 36 countries and watched by 50 million people. EUROPE played their first live concert with Kee in Bergen, Norway on January 24, 1987, on the premiere of the European leg of the Final Countdown tour. During the time he was in EUROPE, Kee got an offer to record a solo album with Epic Records, the band's record company at the time. But since he was so busy with the band, he didn't have time for that. Thomas Erdtman was upset when he heard about this offer because he had all his money set on EUROPE and didn't want any side projects to get in the way. He told Kee that if he did the solo album, he was out of the band. Later on Kee was asked if he was interested in playing on an "Epic Guitar Album" together with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck and Vernon Reid from Living Colour. Kee accepted and looked forward to the recording sessions. Unfortunately Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash in 1990 and the project was cancelled.
In 1991 Kee made guest appearances on the Joey Tafolla album Infra-Blue and the Torben Schmidt album A Bit on the Side. After EUROPE went on hiatus in 1992, Kee recorded the instrumental jazz album Back to the Roots with jazz guitarist Ulf Wakenius and an REH guitar instructional video. He was supposed to produce an album for Rat Rat Blue, but instead he joined the band, which then changed their name to Red Fun. Former Easy Action drummer Freddie Von Gerber was another member of the band. Red Fun released a self-titled album in 1993. Kee and Mic Michaeli were both involved in the blues project Walking Heads, and in 1994 Kee played on the Sy Klopps album Walter Ego. In the summer of 1995 he toured and recorded the album Happy Man Don't Kill with Mikael Rickfors. The album wasn't released until 1997.
Kee released his first solo album, Shine On, in 1995. The album had a laidback, acoustic sound, similar to Don Henley and The Eagles. "Shine On was an experiment – when I did that album I was tired with the hard rock business. Hard rock was at a period where melodic metal had died – or dozed off at least – grunge came along and I was tired of that too. I wanted to do something where I could explore my vocal skills, and that’s what I tried to do." Kee co-wrote the song "Love and Glory" for the Swedish dance artist Pandora, and it was included on her album Changes in 1996. In 1997 Kee played on the Sand & Gold album Remember My Name, which was a collaboration between the Swedish guitarists Pete Sandberg and Jonas Reingold. In 1999 Kee played the solo in the song "Coerced Coexistence" on the In Flames album Colony.
On December 31, 1999 EUROPE played their first concert since 1992, and it was also their first concert with two lead guitarists, since both John Norum and Kee had accepted to play. In 2000 Kee produced an album for the Norwegian artist Solli and co-wrote several songs with his colleague ZAL. One of the songs was The Moffatts' hit "Bang Bang Boom", which was number 1 in Canada. In 2001 Kee made guest appearances on the Eclipse album The Truth and a Little Bit More and the E-Type album Euro IV Ever and produced the album Diamanter for the Swedish band Arvingarna, who won a Swedish Grammis award the following year. In 2002 Kee represented Sweden in a big international music competition in Viña del Mar, Chile. Kee was familiar with Viña del Mar, since EUROPE had played there on February 25 and 26, 1990. He played the ballad "Hey Romeo" and didn't qualify for the final, but the enthusiastic audience liked what they heard. In the same year Kee became a father of a son, Tim.
On October 2, 2003, EUROPE officially announced their reunion and plans for a new album and world tour. The band reunited with their classic The Final Countdown lineup, with John Norum as the only lead guitarist. Kee decided not to be part of the reunion. "We talked for a while about doing a six-piece with both me and John Norum. I can only speak for myself, but that wouldn't have worked. Not for me anyway. And I think Norum would feel the same way."
Kee released his second solo album, Melon Demon Divine, under the name Kee Marcello's K2 in 2004, and it was a harder, more guitar-based rock album. "I didn't want to do a Shine On 2 album. I wanted to do something completely different. It's melodic hard rock, but with a dark, modern feel. It's almost the perfect opposite of Shine On." Kee played most of the instruments on the album himself and used only one other musician, drummer Snowy Shaw. Though "Klatuu" was credited as the bassist. "Klatuu" was actually a pseudonym for Kee. Kee Marcello's K2 went on tour in support of the album. One of the hidden bonus tracks on the album is "Midnight Sun Mojo", an instrumental piece that Kee played during EUROPE's Prisoners in Paradise tour in 1992. Another song from the album, "Raptor", appeared on the soundtrack for the film Bloodshot, which is about a vampire working for the CIA to fight terrorists.
In 2005 Kee Marcello's K2 joined forces with Canadian singer Alannah Myles at the Melodifestival, performing the song "We Got It All". The song scored few points in the vote and didn't make it to the Eurovision Song Contest. On January 20, 2006, Kee played a concert with the band The Glitter Twins in Jönköping, Sweden. Peo Thyrén was another band member. On June 8, 2006 Easy Action played at the Sweden Rock Festival, 20 years after they split up. However, Kee and Zinny J. Zan were the only original members present in the reformed Easy Action lineup. In 2007 Easy Action's debut album was re-released and in 2008 the band released a remake of "We Go Rocking" as a single, with the new song "Jack's Back" as the B-side. A new Easy Action album has apparently been in the works.
Kee released his third solo album, Redux: Europe, in Sweden on November 11, 2011, and the worldwide release date was set to February 10, 2012. The album mainly consists of re-recordings of classic EUROPE songs, as well as a re-recording of an Easy Action song and the brand new title track. His fourth solo album, Judas Kiss, was released on April 5, 2013. "This one is more straight-forward. It's riffy. It's the same melodies. I write songs in a particular way, and it's the same kind of melodic sense. I guess a little bit more old-school heavy metal/hard rock."