February 10, 1963 in Danderyd, Sweden
|Active in the band:
|First appearance on a
Tony "Pippi" Niemistö, who is of Finnish heritage, grew up in Upplands Väsby. At first he started learning how to play the guitar, but soon he got more interested in playing the drums instead, because he liked to hit things. His big rock idols were KISS and Deep Purple. Tony was a member of guitarist John Norum's first band, Dragonfly, in 1976. "We lived on the same block, so I guess it was natural that we started to hang out," Tony said. Three years later, Norum formed a new band, WC, together with Tony, guitarist Micke Kling and bassist Jan Erik Bäckström. After a while Norum left to start a new band with bassist Peter Olsson and drummer Bo "Werner" Sundberg. However, "Werner" left after a couple of weeks and was replaced by Tony. The band decided to adopt the WC name, thus creating WC's second lineup. In 1979 they were joined by vocalist Joakim "Jocke" Larsson, later known as Joey Tempest, and the band changed its name to FORCE. Three years later the band changed its name again, this time to EUROPE, and entered the national talent contest "Rock-SM". Once EUROPE had qualified for the "Rock-SM" final, Tony decided to take the artist name Tony Reno. Incidentally it was Tony's brother, Teijo Niemistö, who designed the classic EUROPE logo that made its first appearance on the cover for the band's self-titled debut album.
Tony played on EUROPE's first two albums, Europe and Wings of Tomorrow, but was fired shortly after the first leg of the Wings of Tomorrow tour was completed in June 1984. The other band members felt that he didn't take band rehearsals seriously enough. "He had a nonchalant attitude," John Norum said, "He thought it was more important to be at home with his girlfriend than to rehearse. And when we told him so, he would just start laughing." Tony was notified of his firing via a letter from EUROPE's manager at the time, Thomas Erdtman, who had sent him the letter without the band's knowledge. "It was like lightning from a clear sky," Tony said, "I had no idea why they fired me. Suddenly I was just gone. And the others slacked off from rehearsals every now and then too." Ian Haugland became EUROPE's new drummer in August 1984.
In 1986 Tony joined the Swedish shock rock band Geisha, replacing Mikkey Dee, and played on a couple of demos and the band's debut album Phantasmagoria, which was released in 1987. At first he changed his artist name to Tony Lace, but eventually he went back to using his real name, Tony Niemistö, and was credited as such on the album. Later that year, Geisha shot a music video for the song "You Got What It Takes" in Gothenburg with director Thomas Grøndahl. In 1988 Geisha recorded songs for a second album with the working title Conform or Transform, but ultimately the album release was cancelled. Instead, Tony and Geisha's vocalist, Yenz "Cheyenne" Leonhardt, decided to form a new band, Yenz, with guitarist Oliver Steffensen. They released a demo in 1989 and shot a music video for the song "House of Carnivores" in Copenhagen with director Tom Skiødt Jensen. Later on the former Geisha bassist Hal Patino joined the band and Yenz changed the band's name to =Y=. =Y= released a self-titled EP in 1991 and an album, Rawchild, in 1992. After a short club tour, =Y= split up.
For many years Tony refused to be associated with EUROPE at all, but in 2013 he made appearances for two of EUROPE's 30th anniversary events: On September 19, EUROPE announced the release of a 30th Anniversary Package, limited to 30 copies only. Of particular interest was a canvas replica of the Europe album cover, signed by the four members of EUROPE's original line-up – Joey Tempest, John Norum, John Levén and Tony Reno – and a certificate with photographs of all four members signing the canvases. On December 15, an auction was held in Stockholm with a collection of 10 customized and airbrushed guitars, featuring adaptations of the artwork for EUROPE's nine studio albums at the time as well as the live album Almost Unplugged. Each guitar had been personally autographed by all EUROPE members past and present, including Tony.
In May 2013, just a month before EUROPE's 30th anniversary concert at Sweden Rock Festival on June 7, John Norum revealed in an interview with the Rocknytt website that the band wanted to have Tony as a special guest at that concert. "We're working hard to get our original drummer Tony Reno to do a couple of songs. We haven't heard back from him yet. We don't know if he even plays drums at all anymore. He might have retired altogether, so we'll see how that goes. It would have been so magical and fun if we could get him in for a jam. It's been so many years since we played together." In the end, Tony did not make an appearance at the concert.
Tony is married and currently living in Upplands Väsby, where he works for a computer company. By all accounts his music career seems to be over. "Tony hasn't played drums in 10 or 15 years," John Norum said in an interview with the rock website Antenna in 2006.