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Secret Society

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Once upon a time there was someone called the King. Someone else called John Hiatt said he once rode on an airplane with him and also got into trouble for borrowing his car.

The King was very reticent. He was kept muzzled and on a leash by someone called Colonel Tom Parker. All the King ever said in public was 'yes sir' and 'no sir' and 'excuse me ma'am' and 'thank you ma'am'. People were suspicious the King was actually pretty stupid and they were right.

Then there was someone called Ringo Starr. He was witty. When he was asked 'how do you find the US' he answered 'I fly to Greenland and then turn left'. And when asked what he thought of Beethoven he said he was a big fan and had read all of his poems.

There's a group called The Hives. They come from Sweden. The Hives are Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, Dr Matt Destruction, Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlson, and Chris Dangerous.

Naturally Swedes don't have such silly names - no one does - but it's all an act - a joke. Just like Mr Starr's jokes. It's for fun.

Then there was a promoter in Sweden who thought it would be great fun to hold an annual battle of the bands contest. And his first year running a group out of a suburb of Stockholm called Upplands-Väsby won and they called themselves Europe.

The promoter signed Europe and produced their first and only big hit called The Final Countdown. The lyrics to The Final Countdown were generally regarded as the dumbest thing ever heard on radio and several parodies immediately emerged.

The father of the current Prince of Darkness of the United States adopted The Final Countdown as his campaign song. Things ultimately went sour for him and he was ousted from power.

Europe were originally John Levén on bass, John Norum on guitar, Mic Michaeli on keyboards, Ian Haugland on drums, and Joey Tempest on song. Most of these names were made up, but it wasn't a joke.

For example, Mic Michaeli's real name was the more common Swedish 'Gunnar'. And singer Joey Tempest's real name was the singularly unimpressive and common working class name 'Joakim Rolf Larsson'.

And whereas Colonel Tom succeeded in keeping the King from making a fool out of himself and whereas Mr Starr and The Hives had intelligence and wit, wee Joey Tempest had none of that.

And so it had to happen. It was inevitable: Joakim Larsson aka Joey Tempest cornered by a television reporter for the BBC who decided to have some fun with the idiot. The conversation - transmitted across Great Britain - went something like this.

BBC: So you're the singer with Europe.
JRL: Yes I am.
BBC: And what is your name?
JRL: My name is Joey Tempest.
BBC: That's your name?
JRL: Yes that is my name.
BBC: That's your REAL name?
JRL: Yes it is.
BBC: But that doesn't sound Swedish.
JRL: It's an English version of my name.
BBC: What do you mean by that?
JRL: My name in Swedish almost sounds the same.
BBC: Oh really?
JRL: Yes and it means the same too.
BBC: Oh does it now?
JRL: Yes.
BBC: But this 'tempest' bit - surely that's made up?
JRL: Actually I got the idea for that from one of Shakespeare's SONNETS.

And now Joakim Larsson and his friends are staging a comeback. They have a new CD and they're also being promoted by a local rag who are hosting their tour blog mostly written by drummer Jan Höglund Ian Haugland.

It's edifying stuff. Following are some excerpts.

2006-11-05 06:01:02
I feel like shit. Was it the apple I found in the tour buss and ate a while ago?

2006-11-05 05:37:14
Just woke up. Just got off the tour bus in Stockholm. Sitting in a taxi on my way home. Off today. Nice to spend some time with the family. On Monday we attack Helsinki. Good night!

2006-06-04 17:46:05
Norrköping. Had the honour of riding with one of northern Europe's most stressed drivers to a CD signing today. A miracle we survived! First he missed the exit for Linköping. He was talking on his cell driving at 180 km/h. The signing went OK. They treated us to cake with 'Secret Society' motif. Cool! On the way home the driver almost ran us down some stairs.

2006-06-02 18:50:54
The other night when we rolled into Halmstad we decided to steal some apples from Per Gessle. So we asked this bloke in checkered clothes where he lived, followed his directions, and soon found ourselves in Per's excellent apple orchard. As we were picking apples we saw a woman in a window motioning wildly to us. Maybe it was Åsa Gessle. We figured she was trying to say 'take all the apples you want boys and good luck on your tour'. When we checked into our hotel we gave the apples to the polite night porter and got marsipan sweets from him in return.

That last item deserves special attention. The press secretary for Per Gessle (Roxette) heard about the stupid blog and immediately informed the press that you can't just walk onto Per's property and even more significantly that he doesn't have any apple trees.

Europe and Joakim Rolf Larsson remain amongst the stupidest people in rock music.

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