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Europe: Down To The Bare Bones

In 2012, Europe released Bag O Bones. And frontman Joey Tempest explained to Classic Rock how the band had rediscovered their roots

In the spring of 1992, Joey Tempest had never felt more alone. Six years earlier, Tempest had been at the height of his fame as his band, Europe, topped the charts in 25 countries with a song that he’d written, The Final Countdown. But the world had moved on since then.

The rise of alternative rock in the early 90s had sunk many of the big-haired stars of the 80s, and among the casualties were Europe. In 1991 – the year grunge became a mainstream phenomenon with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind _– there was little demand for Europe’s fifth album _Prisoners In Paradise. And on March 15, 1992, when Europe completed a UK tour at Portsmouth Guildhall, the band had decided to split up.

There was no public announcement. But Joey Tempest knew how the music business worked: at 29, he was yesterday’s man. “It was an empty feeling,” he says now. “All of a sudden, I was lost.” 

Tempest was also isolated – in a city far away from his family and friends in Sweden. Having lived in London, on and off, since 1988, he had found a new home in the Docklands area. His apartment was luxurious: _The Final Countdown _had made him a wealthy man. But without a girlfriend, and without the band around him for the first time since his childhood, Tempest had no one to turn to when he most needed it.

He turned instead to drink. “Long Island Iced Teas,” he says. “I’d started drinking them on the last tour, and I kept drinking them when I moved to London. I missed my friends in Sweden more than I thought I would. And I’d drink so much that I’d wake up in the mornings with my clothes on.”

He knew he couldn’t carry on like this. He’d seen his bandmates go “off the rails” on Europe’s ow his hero, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, had succumbed to the rock’n’roll lifestyle. But above all else, Tempest knew that his feelings of emptiness would pass. And even at his lowest ebb, he never believed that his career in music was finished. 

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