MY YEAR IN ROCK – 2016

2016 is coming to an end and, being true to my habit, it’s time to do a 2016 recap.

Compared to previous concert-years, this year has been less busy. I haven’t flown to 50 cities all over the world to see whoever, but instead, it’s been about TWO main events that were both something out of the ordinary, a lot more expensive than the usual gigs (which is why I couldn’t go all in with everything else) but that brought memories for life:

1. MONSTERS OF ROCK CRUISE (Shredders Of The Deep, February 22-26)
[Miami Florida – Nassau Bahamas – Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas]

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2 . DESERT TRIP – Indio, California (October 7, 8, 9)

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It’s hard to beat those experiences – ESPECIALLY Desert Trip that has left such lasting, fantastic memories that I feel extremely blessed and privileged for having been there. All those legends one after another, the camaraderie that quickly built between perfect strangers was nothing short of amazing.

Paul McCartney has always been a “god” in my life, since I was 8 years old, so that night was such a strong experience that I couldn’t stop bawling my eyes out, I was just to taken by the whole thing.

Stones – and especially Keith Richards, coolest man on the planet – is the ultimate band, there is nobody that can compete with these guys and their 50+ years in the business. There is a reason why they’re still performing the biggest arenas in the world.

Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Who, Roger Waters… all of them had something important to say and they all still have a passion and a fire inside of them that I admire them for cause you rarely see that in artists nowadays.
I wish I could go back in time and do it all again. :)

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Just checked in, ship about to depart – having a Bacardi & Coke! Cheers!!

The cruise was something to remember as well. Apart from being on a ship where there was a great band playing somewhere almost 24/7 was like having died and gone to heaven. Not only the music, but the whole setting.

I had picked one of the nicer cabins with a balcony, and I remember waking up really early a few mornings looking straight out over a vast ocean that seemed limitless, watching the sun rise.

It was so quiet, so beautiful, cause at that time, the whole “party boat” was fast asleep. I also remember being on deck late at night when it was pitch black, taking photos of the crystal clear moon, while listening to the calming waves splashing alongside the sides of the ship.

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I’m ready for the weeklong rock’n’roll extravaganza to the Bahamas!

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One night I went a little out of control, which I haven’t done in a very, VERY long time, and ended up in the pool with my clothes on while Steve Vai was getting ready to hit the stage. I ruined my favorite pair of jeans, but I got the whole Gus G-band laughing cause nobody’s ever seen me in that condition. :D

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Madam X

Anyway – apart from those two experiences, there were a few more that added to my yearly concert junkie experiences!

Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls) that made a guest appearance at the Rock’n’Roll Residency in Nashville when I was over there visiting my friend Blackie.

I was introduced to a number of really cool people that night, including Lizzy Hale who was really sweet, and Stacie Collins who has since visited Sweden a number of times and is one badass rockin’ lady! Go check her out if you get a chance.

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Lobo Lee, Stacie Collins and me.

Avantasia in Hamburg, Germany. That was QUITE an experience! I was staying with my friend Su and she got sick that day so she couldn’t join me, but I went to Große Freiheit alone and when I got there there was a loooooong – I mean LOOOOONG line that filled the whole street and continued on and on forever! The place was PACKED!! I haven’t seen that many people in a club in ages, I thought they were gonna tear the place down, literally! The concert was amazing and I guess the crowd contributed to it with their enthusiasm.

Whitesnake – there is no other band I love to see live over and over and over again without getting tired, and this year was no exception. First stop was when I was in Detroit visiting the my lovely friends from Madam X. As a last minute decision, we went to see Whitesnake at the Fox.

Pic: Me, Roxy Petrucci and Gary Gura
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Then, as if ONCE was enough (duh?!) went to see them again at Vega in Copenhagen:
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Went to a few Spiritual Beggars shows, a band that normally doesn’t play in their home country of Sweden, but that “broke the rules” this year and did it anyway. It was nothing short of total SUCCESS, especially in their home town of Halmstad where I remember showing up about an hour before the show at Kajskjulet, only to find the longest line of people I’ve seen for a Swedish gig in ages! You would have thought it was the ticket line for some rare gig with Guns ‘n Roses or something!

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They also did a mini-tour stopping in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, with openers SAFFIRE. Those guys also totally blew me away. Talk about high quality musicianship, that was quite a pleasant surprise!

Apollo (singer of Spiritual Beggars) did a solo appearance with Saffire later in the summer, on a very VERY rainy day, and of course I went there to check that out as well.

Another favorite, ROB ZOMBIE played in Berlin a few months ago, so I went there with my friend Henny. We froze our butts off waiting in line for hours, but there was no other place than front row in our minds, so you just do whatever you gotta do. It was worth it ten times over! I’ve never seen Rob Zombie do a bad gig, ever. It’s ALWAYS top-notch.

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Henny and I also made a last-minute decision to go to Belgium to check out Gus G‘s solo project a few weeks ago. Well, the show itself was kind of a last minute gig that was decided only a few weeks before it was to take place, and I found out about it during a phone interview I did with Gus so I had a little more time planning for that, thank god. :)

He brought US-singer James Paul Luna from Holy Grail – one badass singer that impressed the hell out of me, wow! Had a good time hanging out a little with the guys before and after the show, before heading back to Sweden.

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That wasn’t the only Gus G show I’ve seen this year – of course. He played at the Guitar Gods festival in Miami in February with Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, then at the Monsters of Rock Cruise and later on with the project Allegiance of Rock (with Europe-bassist John Leven, Hammerfall/Yngwie-drummer Anders Johansson and Candlemass/TSO-singer Mats Levén) at Hojrock in Västervik.

It was a drag getting to that little godforsaken town, but it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited this year and I hope I’ll have a good reason to go back there next year. :)
And Allegiance of Rock at the Stockholm Rocks festival at Debaser Medis, also featuring Inglorious, Grand Magus and Avatarium. Blabbermouth shared my videos from there, as usual. :)

The street fest Malmöfestivalen presented some great acts this year, most of them on the RockStage and one major act on the main stage at Stortorget, the biggest square in Malmö.

RockStage gave us great bands such as Dynazty (these guys are simply brilliant, with a kickass singer that blows me away every time he opens his mouth!), A.C.T (fantastic progressive rock band that call their style “art rock”, they’ve been awesome for the past 20 years or so) female fronted Frontback with the rockin’ chick Anlo Front who’s so full of energy, it’s always a pleasure to watch her go!

And last but not least, Monoheads, consisting of female rockers from bands Modesty Blaise (my first experience of managing a band, had a blast with them years and years ago) and Cat Calls. They all kick ass, the finest of the finest at their instruments, these ladies know that they’re doing!

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Tough guy DANKO JONES and his dudes, took the main stage and rocked it – big time! That guys is intense and a true rocker. He makes it impossible to leave, the energy from the stage just sucks you in somehow, just a great concert, as always!

Sweden Rock Festival is my second home. I just love it there, I haven’t missed a single year since 1995, except for 1996 when I moved to the States, and it’s just like being “home”, for real.

This year I was happy to meet up with old friend Anett, who used to be the tour manager for Jon Oliva’s Pain – this time she was out on the road with Loudness. Was good to see her and catch up a little. :)
I also got my Lita Ford biography signed by Lita – on the page where she had used one of my photos from this very blog. :D And yeah, she remembered so it was a little different than the usual stand in line-get shit signed-leave situation. :)

Queen played. Megadeth, Avantasia, Twisted Sister, King Diamond, Glenn Hughes and the list just goes on and on. I was mostly looking forward to Scottish band GUN and the band that got me super emotional, surprisingly enough, was the Hooters! What a show, I was totally taken by it – they just kicked everbody else’s ass. Just fantastic!

Apart from the gigs and travels, I also took a trip to Italy/Switzerland to visit Gotthard-guitarist Leo Leoni. I had a great time there, was welcomed with open arms by Leo himself, their friend and assistant Claudia and everyone I met that day.

Had lunch at his and his sister’s restaurant GrottHard Cafe and spent the rest of the afternoon at his house talking about deep subjects. Very interesting and very inspiring. The day ended with a visit in his studio in the basement where the new Gotthard album “Silver” had been recorded , where we listened through the whole thing. It sounded great! I loved the trip too, very beautiful countries. :)

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And last but not least, the book about rock club Kulturbolaget, KB in Malmö, where ALL legends have played, was published a few months ago. I ended up being in 3 or 4 different segments of that book which is a great honor.

So that wraps it up, pretty much. 2017 is going to be just as busy as always, with the exception that I won’t be going alone on all my trips and gigs, something that I’ve been doing for years. I’ve just gotten used to doing things my way since most people I know aren’t as crazy and usually not willing to do what it takes to get that front row spot and all.

But now I have that so it will be a lot of fun and I’m very much looking forward to 2017 which will include Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Rob Zombie and much, much more! Thanks for a great time 2016 – now let’s top this in 2017!!

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