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The stories behind the songs: The Final Countdown by Europe

How a band going nowhere fast suddenly found themselves topping the charts in 25 countries with a tune that everyone knows

It’s among the most celebrated run of notes in popular music – so ubiquitous that the Queen could most likely hum it upon request.

The title track of Europe’s third album turned 30 years old in 2016, but The Final Countdown’s simple keyboard riff dates back to Joakim Larsson’s student days in Stockholm – possibly even before he adopted the name Joey Tempest.

“I was still at college back then. And there was a guy I knew called Mic Michaeli who was in a band called Avalon,” the singer recalls. “I walked up to him one day and asked whether I could borrow his keyboard. Mic must have thought I was a complete loony, but he said yes.”

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