The gospel according to Europe's Joey Tempest
He’s the British-based singer from Sweden who wrote his band Europe’s signature song that topped the chart in 25 countries in the mid-80s. The man born Rolf Larsson gives us his take on life
Joey Tempest was still in his teens when he came up with the riff that powered the song that a few years later gave his band Europe a massive worldwide hit, and for which they and he will be best remembered.
After the band went on hiatus in 1992, he enjoyed a solo career, releasing three albums before Europe reconvened in 2003. During this second spell they have released six studio albums, including the brand new Walk The Earth. “Everything is running smoothly for Europe right now,” says the singer, “and the end [for Europe] is nowhere in sight.”
Don’t call me Rolf!
My given name is Rolf Magnus Joakim Larsson, and my old schoolmates would call me Jocke. To some of my family members I’m Joakim, but to everybody else I’ve been Joey Tempest since 1983. I changed it when we started working on our first album, but even in school I would scribble it because I loved the way David Bowie, Elton John and Bob Dylan created a stage persona. I’d met John Norum [Europe guitarist] and we were sitting at the back of the class dreaming about all that stuff.
I feel quite British
I’ve lived abroad for about twenty-five or thirty years. I’m married to an English woman and have been settled in London since 2001, so I feel less and less Swedish. It took a long time for me to stop waking up in the middle of the night with bouts of homesickness. The UK is my home now. I don’t have a British passport but I’m thinking of getting one. I love the English sense of humour, and it’s wonderful to live in the cradle of rock – The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles… just about all of the real greats.
My private life is staying private
I’m not comfortable sharing details of my family life, so I don’t have a personal Facebook page. However, I’ve always been very interested in social media and I’m extremely involved with Europe’s Facebook presence. I regularly check in to read what the fans are saying. It’s an amazing change from the eighties and nineties when we would be told: “Come into the office, there are thousands of letters for you to reply to.” Now it’s so instant and much more personal.
Hobbies are a waste of time
I tried the whole golf thing but would always be thinking about being in the studio. Running Europe is pretty time-consuming. Everyone in the band helps out but a lot of [the responsibility] ends up on my plate. To relax, I’ve started collecting vinyl again. I’ve also collected wine, but it’s much more fun to drink than collect.