Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll

My dear friend Clint, down in Melbourne Australia, recommended me to read the HEART biography “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll“.
He reads rock-biographies and what he liked about this one was that it was told from a female perspective, which was different and interesting. It just highlighted a different aspect of being a musician – with your balls placed slightly higher up.

It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading it. Or rather, listening to it, as I’ve become obsessed with audio-books. It really had me spellbound pretty quickly. It’s very rare to come across a story where I feel like I could have written big chunks of that story myself.

Listening to Ann Wilson, the undisputed goddess of rock vocalists, telling her story about her constant battle with her weight while growing up, the bullying in school, feeling like you never quite belong anywhere, and the escape into the magical world of music…. I did that – all the time.

I got so many presents that Christmas. The only thing I cared about was this plastic “electric” guitar with steel strings. I was four.

I would lock my door and listen to old vinyls that one of my mother’s best friends had given her, cause they didn’t want them anymore, LP’s with Ike and Tina or my favorite, an Australian band called Walrus – or colorful vinyl singles from my grandfather who had worked at a jukebox factory.

When the songs fell off the charts, the jukeboxes had to be “refilled”, so the old singles were thrown away and filled up with new, fresh hits. So, instead of throwing them away, he would take some of those singles and bring them home.

My mom had a portable record player that looked like a tiny suitcase, so I inherited that, and listened to those old, scratchy Brenda Lee and Connie Frances-singles.
They were worn out, cause they had been played all day long for months in that jukebox and weren’t really supposed to be used ever again. I wouldn’t let them retire though, I loved “Dum-Dum” by Brenda Lee especially when I was a little girl.

Anyway, music was ALWAYS my escape. So to hear one of the Wilson sisters talking about growing up with similar thoughts and experiences really hit home with me.

Their story of how they discovered The Beatles. How it was like being hit by lightning, how life was defined as before and after The Beatles. I can barely even remember a time before the Beatles, but I grew up two decades after the Wilson sisters. I loved the Beatles more than life itself, I can’t even explain that feeling. I still get in touch with that feeling nowadays, going to see Paul McCartney in concert.

But one thing definitely also sounded VERY familiar to me. Not quite belonging in a group of other girls. I honestly felt like I didn’t belong with other girls my age, most of my teenage years. Because most girls didn’t care about music on the same level as I did. To me it wasn’t just entertainment, it was everything. It was life. It was…well, it was ME. I can’t even imagine an existence without music.

I didn’t care about chasing guys, I rather wanted to be one of the guys – cause they had the same interests as me – for the most part.

I wasn’t interested in fashion and makeup or going to the latest, coolest clubs. I honestly didn’t give a flying patootie about any of that.

Beatles was the most powerful experience I had had up until I discovered Judas Priest, but that’s a different story. There was a short period of worshipping Duran Duran too – but the one thing that the Wilsons brought up in their bio, is a detail I never really thought about, but it’s very true: Other girls wanted to be somebody’s girlfriend. Live someone else’s life, support their boyfriends in their dreams and goals, but they didn’t have too many of their own.

I didn’t want to be someone’s girlfriend. Don’t get me wrong, I was usually head over heels crazy about some dude – or cried over one – most of my life. But I would never ever allow anyone to get in the way of my dreams. I had lots of them and I pursued them. I ended up staying single for longer than I thought because of it. :)

On stage with my band, winning the award for “Band of the year” 1989 – 99% dudes, and…me. :D

Ann and Nancy were outcasts who found that playing and singing was like “coming home”, it brought them happiness and a sense of purpose. This must have been especially difficult in the sixties and seventies when women definitely weren’t expected to have a mind of their own.

That’s another thing. I will forever be grateful to my parents for never ever uttering the words: “That’s not for girls” – or have strong opinions about what was supposedly male or female.

They let me do whatever made me happy. If I wanted to race guys down the street on a bicycle, that was fine. If I wanted to climb trees, no problemo. Play cowboys and indians, play with toy cars, listen to rock’n’roll? No problem, what would you like to do today?

The toy stores weren’t as divided into girls and boys back in those days either, thank god.

As a kid I was convinced that I could do anything, that there were no boundaries. So, when I walked into a toy store I was not presented any predefined ideas of who I was supposed to be. I would just go and pick out what I thought look like fun – so one day it might have been a Barbie doll and the next it was a super hero.

So I wasn’t raised to be that coquette girlie-girl. I had other dreams and plans, but it also meant that I was lonely a lot of the time, because most friends couldn’t relate.

To hear two women who have been highly successful, talk about going through all these things, but in their own way, is such an amazing feeling. It means more than I thought to hear that, after all these years. You don’t think much of it, until one day you’re reminded and you realize that you weren’t the only one.

I read Lita Ford’s biography too but I couldn’t relate to her life at all. She was more wild and destructive in many ways, she didn’t seem to have particularly strict parents like I did (and the Wilson sisters) so it wasn’t “my story”. This, however, is – in many ways.

They didn’t want to be girlfriends, wives or groupies. They wanted to BE The Beatles, they wanted to play like John and Paul, not date them. Bingo. That’s exactly it!

I used to be accused of being a groupie for years, cause people didn’t know what to make of me. I was always backstage somewhere or hanging out with some rockstar with a bad reputation – so naturally they took to the only explanation they knew of. A whore. A wannabe. A groupie. It took me almost two decades to earn the respect that I feel that I have nowadays. People know my deal now. Well, better than they did back then at least.

Ann and Nancy talk about their experiences of being the women in the band, life on the road, life in those circles. I didn’t experience it on their level, but yeah, I know what that is like as well. Being that ONE girl, that ONE woman in a male-dominated world.

I never thought of it that way though. I didn’t think of it as not fitting in, cause in my mind it was quite the contrary.
I had the same blunt sense of humor as the dudes, I had the same drive – sometimes even more – as they did, I was pushy and determined, like they were. I shared their passion for music, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

But one thing that I’ve experienced my whole life, is that feeling of being different and sometimes being misunderstood or wrongly labeled.

I wrote a blog many years ago – before the term existed. I called it “diary”. I wanted to explain why I could never be a groupie.

To me, music was WAY bigger than the guy.

I admired them tremendously for the music they wrote, which to me almost made them GODS. They were above regular people. Anyone who could create something that amazing, was not of this world.

So, to sleep with these guys, would just degrade them (in my opinion) and make them common, regular..men. It would transform them into regular dudes with a dick, something trivial, something boring, something way too…. cheap.

What I wanted was their time, I wanted to know what drove them, what or who created the person who could write such music, I wanted to understand their magic, their treasure, their “divinity”.

I could never have slept with any of them. I just didn’t perceive them that way. They were beyond common sex. A monkey can have sex. But a monkey can’t write “Yesterday”…

It was far more valuable to me to understand these musicians, because I wanted to be where they were, being successful in doing what they loved to do and were good at. I had zero interest in being the whore of the evening.

Listening to “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll” brings up so many memories and so many thoughts and reflections of my own journey. Sometimes it feels like it wasn’t even me.

I’ve lived the way I wanted to live but everything comes at a price. I didn’t marry or have kids. And quite honestly, I don’t regret a single thing. I would do it all again, exactly the same way. Maybe with a few alterations…
Men usually equaled heartache and pain, a waste of energy while my work, my passions and my dreams, fulfilled me. Much like men often prioritize.

I still have lots of things to do, I still love music and the whole world surrounding it, with every fiber of my body, mind, heart, and soul.

So this biography isn’t as much about the life of the Wilson sisters, but also a mirror that allows me to discover myself and see my own life in a different light.

There were others that went through similar things and thought similar thoughts. It means a great deal to realize that this late in life. :) But it all makes sense.
The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. :D

RINGO AND RONNIE WOOD JOIN PAUL ON STAGE IN LONDON

On my way to the airport but a short one… It was pure Beatlemania at the O2 just about one-two hours ago, when Paul McCartney announced a guest… and then another guest… Those being Rolling Stones-guitarist Ronnie Wood and then – fellow Beatle Ringo Starr!

The crowd went absolutely nuts, the roar tore down the roof!

Gotta run but this is all you need to know – enjoy it!!

 

 

Why would you go to more than one gig?

The past few days, I’ve encountered the same reaction from different people – for the exact same thing.

In the summer, the general conversation opener is: “So, when are you going on vacation?”
That usually implies a beach holiday or working on your house or something. And most of all, it usually means “taking time off all at once”.

I haven’t had a traditional vacation in years. It usually bores the hell out of me.
Instead, I use my vacation days, a total of 32 days here in Denmark, and I spread them out over the year, for CONCERTS.

I travel all over the world for gigs. It’s the essence of LIFE to me, I absolutely love it.

I’ve always traveled alone, because most people I’ve met in my life don’t share the same passion quite on the same level, but since late 2016 I’ve shared this passion with a kindred spirit, a guy from Brazil, living in Germany.

We’ve been all over the planet for gigs: Japan, Australia, South America, USA, Europe… Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Monsters of Rock Cruise, whatever tour was announced that sounded cool.

The memories from the trips, good and bad, are invaluable.
The wonderful places we’ve been to, the people we’ve met, the things we’ve learned – those are memories for LIFE – and I wouldn’t have it ANY other way.

Paul McCartney started announcing new European tour dates recently – and we immediately decided that we would try to do as many of those as possible.
I get excited like a little KID, it never gets old.

So, we decided to dedicate December for sir Paul.

I’ve loved The Beatles since I was a little girl. Back then it wasn’t cool to like some “old dudes” from the 60’s and my class mates thought I was weird for not being into any contemporary artists.

But my love for Beatles’ music was like being infatuated. It generated a kind of high that has lasted a lifetime.
I love Paul McCartney as much as I ever did. His music is the soundtrack of my life.

I mentioned my travel plans to a colleague one morning. She just sat there for a few seconds with her mouth wide open and rised eyebrows before she said:

– But… Doesn’t he play the SAME SONGS?
– Yeah, pretty much, I replied.
– But… Isn’t it enough to see that ONCE? Why would you want to see that over and over again??

Here we go again.
I’ve heard that before. Same reaction. Same question. Same facial expression. And I already know that there’s very little point trying to explain to someone who lives on a different planet than me, why I love it so much. She wouldn’t understand.
There is only one way to understand it – and that is to actually BE there.

The the indescribable feeling of being in a huge stadium somewhere in South America or Japan (or ANYWHERE), with thousands of like-minded friends I never met …. seeing thousands of lights from mobiles and lighters swinging back and forth to a deafening ‘na-na-na-na-na-na-naaa’ that’s sounding over the stadium from thousands of voices.
Voices of people who all feel love for the music and the artist, right into the deepest depths of their hearts. That’s powerful stuff.

LIGHTS

Songs that bring out emotions and memories like nothing else can. There’s that one song that gets me every time. Whenever Paul plays “Here Today”, the song he wrote for John, I struggle not to cry. I always fail.

Nothing else in life does that for me. The roller-coaster of emotions is beyond anything. The greatness of the experience, the kicks, the smiles it generates, it’s just amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Different artists do different things. Going to a Megadeth-gig for instance, is liberating. There’s so much testosterone aggression there, so much anger and frustration, but at the same time it has a soul.
The loud, hard and heavy music – and the mayhem in the crowd, is like a cleanse of the soul. Whatever frustrations you might have had when you walked in – will be gone by the time you leave.

Megadeth - Live @ Kanagawa Hall, Yokohama, Japan, 29-05-1995

Going to a concert means leaving all your daily worries and troubles at the door.
And if you don’t have any, your already good life will feel even greater.
You simply can’t lose.

And then someone asks you “why would you want to see the same songs being performed over and over”…
Yeah.
If they only knew what they’re missing out on.

STOP SELLING AUTOGRAPHS ON EBAY!

So it finally got to me. I’m pissed. I really am. Because greedy a**holes are ruining it for the real fans.

What’s a “real” fan, you ask? I’d say it’s someone who’s spent all his/her money on an artist’s records, merchandise and concerts. Someone who’s been standing in ALL kinds of weather for hours, sometimes days, for that precious little scribble by the hand of their idol. THOSE kind of people. Those who actually love the music and the artists that create the music – people who would treasure that autograph, frame it and keep it forever.

I’m one of those. I have spent countless hours waiting for bands, just to get something signed. I’ll never forget when I was given the opportunity to meet Rob Halford for the first time back in 1991, and brought my first Judas Priest LP, a worn out copy of “Unleashed In The East“. He took it to the rest of the band (didn’t get to meet them that time) to have it signed by everyone, and Glenn Tipton even drew a little moustache on himself, it was kinda funny. But it was worth more than gold to me! THAT piece of vinyl in paper and cardboard symbolized the beginning of my life in many ways. I would sell it over my DEAD BODY.

I stood in the pouring rain for hours, my lips were all blue, cause I wanted Lemmy to sign my leather jacket. Not only did he sign it, I was invited by the band’s manager to meet the band after the show for being so persistent. Those were different times.

That leather jacket was signed by everybody. Kiss, Black Sabbath (including Cozy Powell), Whitesnake, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Skid Row, Queensryche, Slash, Twisted Sister, whoever, I don’t even remember, but the amount of TIME could never be measured in cash. I was offered a few thousand bucks for it at an autograph-store in New York back then but just laughed and walked out. Are you kidding? No way.

Every single signature was a memory and I valued it more than money. I would have to be on the verge of starving to death before I would even consider ever parting with that jacket.

But then came eBay. And greedy motherf***ers. And desperate, lazy fans who either couldn’t or wouldn’t try to get their own autographs (I don’t even see the point BUYING an autograph, it’s supposed to be something personal).

So the artists stopped signing stuff, because they don’t like seeing it on eBay. And I don’t blame them.

But I have a few suggestions that might eliminate the problem:

  1. Always sign it “To xxxxx”. It’s gonna be a lot harder selling something that was signed “To Tina” to some dude named Bill.
  2. Sign people’s arms or whatever – you can’t sell a leg or an arm on eBay.
  3. Offer signed items at AFFORDABLE prices in the MERCH. That way, it’s easily obtainable for the fans and takes away the power from the eBayers.
  4. Sign lots and lots of autographs. The easier they are to get, the more they lose their value. A true fan will always want one though.
  5. Offer signed items at meet & greets that are ridiculously pricey. Even if somebody tries to sell it, they’d have to pay so much to get it in the first place, that they can’t profit from it.
  6. Only do selfies. In the video below, “Luke Skywalker” Mark Hamill says that he only does selfies. “If you’re a real fan, you would have settled for a selfie“. And he’s right.
    I’d chop off my left arm for a selfie with Paul McCartney, you better believe it!

It’s sad when it gets to this. Fans and artists used to be a lot closer. You had to EARN that signature and it was like winning the lottery when you got that precious autograph.

When I die, someone will probably make a fortune from selling everything they find in my personal Hard rock cafe, but until then, you’ll never see anything of mine for sale on eBay.

At the end of the day – don’t buy it. If you’re a fan, go and get it yourself and make these eBayers go out of business. Power to the people – and the real fans!

 

SKOGSRÖJET – festival-of-loud-guitars&screams time! :)

I didn’t go to Sweden Rock Festival this year, my “home” that I haven’t missed one single time since the mid 90’s, but this year I had to for personal reasons. I had to go to Croatia to take care of a few things that couldn’t be postponed any longer.

So I’m really glad that I’ll get to experience THIS festival, SKOGSRÖJET instead, cause it’s brand new to me.

Some of my favorite artists and bands are on the bill, so it’s like Christmas! I originally only got myself a ticket because they announced YNGWIE, my guitar hero since I was a teenage rocker. He hasn’t played in Sweden since god knows when, so that was a major treat! Then they announced APOLLO – Sweden’s Tony Martin, the man with the massive voice.

Then came all this other stuff, it’s gonna be a party-weekend to remember!

Not only that, but some of these acts bring old friends, Loudness with a long-time friend Anett from the Jon Oliva-days, Apollo from the Firewind and post-Firewind days, Pretty Maids with “little brother” Chris Laney on the keyboards and guitar…

And kickass live acts within their respective fields – THUNDER is an AMAZING band! I first saw them at the Donington Monsters of Rock back in the early 90’s with Iron Maiden, The Almighty, Slayer and W.A.S.P among others. They kicked ass.

Then I made a reaquaintance with them when they played with Whitesnake on their UK tour a few years ago – and then played Sweden Rock Festival. Incredibly solid band, great songs, just a wonderful vibe all the way through. And now they’re back in Sweden – then, if I feel that I STILL haven’t had enough of them, they’ll also be rockin’ the boat at the Monsters of Rock Cruise next year!

[this is from the Whitesnake tour a few years ago]

AMARANTHE kick ass at what they do, they’ve done their own thing from the very start and whether people loved it or hated it, they still carried on with their unique style.
Never mind the fact that all guys go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over Elize, she’s an incredibly talented singer – all three of them are. And there’s fireworks, laser and stuff, enough to feast your ears and eyes. :)

And D-A-D…! There is not a festival, gig, stage, ANYTHING that won’t start rockin’ to the CORE when these guys plug in their guitars and turn everything up to eleven! I love, love, love them to death! It’s genuine, it’s rough, it’s tough, it’s rock’n’roll the way it’s supposed to be, it’s a show, tons of humor and there’s just nothing not to like about these guys, Denmark’s greatest pride and joy!
If you haven’t heard them or seen them, it’s never too late and I can’t imagine anyone not having a fantastic time at their shows! :D

Hardcore Superstar, another one of those solid bands that have so much energy on stage it’s exhausting just watching them. :) It just hit me that a lot of these great acts are all from Gothenburg, Sweden – and Liv Sin is another one to add to that list.

When I first saw Sister Sin, they were opening for some major act, don’t remember who it was, but I remember thinking when I saw that petite, little leather-packaged chick in fishnet stockings: “…probably another one of those wimpy girlie singers that focuses on image and can’t sing for shit“…

Boy did I regret thinking that for even one second! SHE was the real deal – no doubt about it! She had a powerful rock’n’roll voice, like she’s been eating barb wire for breakfast, she was ALL over the fuckin’ place, rockin’ like the 100% pure rock chick that she is!

She’s never disappointed me since – she delivers at every show. Some people were just born to do what they do, and Liv was born to rock the asses of everybody.

And Yngwie – well… he doesn’t need an introduction. Just call him Maestro. :) Nobody comes close, he is simply amazing. Yeah, he’s mister Attitude and all that, but strip away all the bullshit and it comes down to the greatest guitarist I’ve ever heard. There might be others that are technically better, but Yngwie’s got the whole, complete deal – the melodies, she showmanship, the “feel”… It’s a zillion notes per second but it’s not ONLY that, unlike most other shredders. Love the guy. For his playing. I mean listen to this and tell me he’s not fantastic!

Second day – Apollo, Ugly Kid Joe, Pretty Maids, Backyard Babies, Black Star Riders…and old school NWOBHM heroes Saxon. :)

APOLLO – you’ll hear his voice on so many records, he’s one of the most sought-after vocalists in the country and there’s no doubt why. Apart from being an impressive singer, he’s also a super nice guy. This clip is from his days with Evil Masquerade. A favorite of mine. :)

PRETTY MAIDS – been around for ages and they’re only getting better!

What’s not to like?! I can’t wait for this weekend, that’ll be my dose of rock’n’roll for this month! :D