Archive for August, 2012

The following interview was made over the phone on October 31 1992 back when I had a Deep Purple club going in Sweden. It was published in DEEP PURPLE FOREVER issue 6 and later in SLICE (GLOBAL EDITION 2008 – the only magazine that I ever created in English). Fresh out of Deep Purple, Joe Lynn Turner was not a happy man at the time of this chat, but it is good fun to go back to it now 20 years later if you like history. MIKE

 This split came as a huge surprise Joe. The last thing that I heard was that you were in Orlando, Florida, jamming on new material and trying out producers for the upcoming Deep Purple album. I didn´t expect this at all.

– You are not alone. At this point I don´t understand this myself. I don´t know why they fired me. We were recording in a studio in Woodstock when this happened.

So you were actually recording the followup to “Slaves And Masters”?

– Yes, we had been at it for a while and some of the songs were completed. I really wanted us to do the best album in a long time and I thought that we were getting there since some of the songs were so good. But to reach that goal you need to give everything that you´ve got and I´m sad to say that some of the guys in the band was very lazy. Jon Lord has not come up with an original idea in 10 years and that is just pathetic. It was a drag to get them to work, to get them to focus on the project. If I thought that an idea wasn´t up to scratch I would say so. I thought that I had the right to do that since I was after all a member of the band. Hell, I had done an album and a world tour with them. But it started to feel like an audition and that was just ridiculous. I think that the main problem in the studio was that they didn´t exactly know what they wanted to do. Ask the producer, Thom Panunzio, it was hell for him to keep it together. The last obstacle was that Ritchie said that he wanted to re-record everything. He said “The vocals sounds great but we need to get the band to sound better”. I opposed this and said “Look, it would be stupid to begin from scratch again, I think it sounds great and if we need to re-record something we can do that later”. I just wanted them to get on with it.

So Ritchie said that he was pleased with the vocals but not with the rest?

– That is what he said to me and this is one of the reasons why I have a hard time to understand this. The last time I saw Ritchie we spent an evening together just chatting about the band and the future. We sat there for 4 hours and he repeatedly said to me how glad he was that I was in the band. The next day I went home to meet my daughter and that is when the phone rang. It was our manager Bruce Payne and he told me that I was out. I couldn´t understand it but he didn´t give me any reasons. So I went back to Woodstock to pick up my things and by accident I runned into Roger Glover. I said “I hope that you know what you are doing because the only thing that can save you now is getting Ian Gillan back into the band again”.

Do you know when all this took place?

– This was around August 17 or 18. But that is what happened so I´m sure that you can understand that this is hard for me to get to terms with. And since Ritchie is the leader of the band, all the talk that Deep Purple is a democracy is pure bullshit, I have to assume that he was in on the decision. I think that he acted like a coward, letting the manager do it for him. If they felt that they had a problem with me in the studio, why not just say it, point out the problem. Maybe that could have helped. Now I can only assume what they were thinking. Maybe I was just too eager in the studio? I know that they didn´t like that very much. I presented a couple of songs to them that was written by a guy from Survivor. These songs sounded 100% Deep Purple. The others barely wanted to listen to it. I also believe that Roger Glover got annoyed at me, whether he wants to admit this or not now, for suggesting that the band should work with an outside producer. The band had not done this since the seventies. Bringing in Thom was partially my idea. I think that Roger may have felt that he was now reduced to just playing bass. But you know, to reach the kind of success that Aerosmith have now you need to be able to focus pretty hard on what you are doing. You need to see reality for what it is. Deep Purple didn´t want to do that. They seem to believe that they can record anything at all and the world will still fall to its knees and worship them. Those days are over. The world has changed and nobody wants to see that. Roger used to say “When we quit we are going to do it with a bang” but I don´t believe that they can anymore, I really don´t. We had an opportunity to build on the reputation with a strong second record but that didn´t happen.

What about the situation within the band? What did they talk about? Did they see the 25th anniversary as a possible last album and tour?

– No, that was not the thinking at all. It was just another record. I never heard them discussing to quit the band.

And you never heard Ritchie talk about a reunion of Rainbow?

– No, never. To start with, I really don´t think that Ritchie knows what he wants to do. If he wants to do Rainbow again he can forget about me, I can tell you that much. I´ve had enough of him. FY FAN (Joe swears in swedish!). He is not a very nice person. I have heard through a mutual friend that he actually likes me. So this person, who is upset about how badly this was handled, said “Why don´t you get Joe on the phone and tell him that you like him then?”, but I guess he just can´t bring himself to do that. I think it is disgusting and I don´t want to work with these people any more.

So if Ian Gillan says no and they call you back…

– Deep Purple can go to hell. They don´t know what the hell they are doing and I actually feel sorry for them more than anything. I´ve had enough.

What have you heard about what they are up to since then?

– Originally, I heard that they wanted to get Ian Gillan back again. I find that hard to believe, I don´t think that he would be very interested in getting back with them. If he did he would be a —– and that would surprise me. The last thing that I heard is that they have been rehearsing with an unknown from Connecticut, somebody a lot younger. That sounds so idiotic to me. I don´t know what they intend to do but I do know that the business people are very upset about the situation. I think the band is under a lot of pressure right now. But for their sake I hope that they get a good album out there and that the audience will like it, but I really can´t see much light at the end of the tunnel.

Tell me about the rehearsals for the “Slaves And Masters” tour. Were they open for suggestions to pick out classic stuff from the back catalouge that had not been played for a while, or was it like I suspect, that they just didn´t want to know?

– Sadly you are right on the money. I know that this must be painful for a guy like yourself, that have backed up the band so much, but the band is disconnected to the songs that they recorded in the seventies. They don´t remember it anymore and it´s too much like hard work to listen to it again, let alone to rehearse it. They don´t remember a lot of it anymore and they don´t want to rehearse any of it again. I wanted them to do “Pictures Of Home” but they couldn´t bother themselves to play it. I said “Come on, I was a big fan myself back then and I think I know what people would like to hear again”, but they just ignored my suggestions.

So they basically don´t like to work anymore?

– No, they lack the motivation. Nobody plays on their spare time for instance. Take Ian Paice, he is probably the guy in the band that is the easiest to get along with, and I like him, but he doesn´t enjoy to rehearse, to work. And with that attitude you really can´t compete with todays music scene. There are many great musicians out there. They think that they can rest on the legend, that everything will take care of itself. I don´t think that that is a healthy attitude to have. It´s removed from reality.

Did you record any of the shows for a possible live record?

– I think that we recorded a show in Singapore. But I really don´t know if this is ever going to be released.

What about any existing material that we may be unaware of? We know about “Fire Ice And Dynamite” and “Slow Down Sister”, and Jon Lord has mentioned a song called “A Very Fast One” that supposedly exists?

– “A Very Fast One”? I don´t know what that could be. It might be a fast one that we recorded that is called “Heart Like A Hurricane”.

Can you mention any titles from the final sessions?

– Yes, but I don´t know what is going to be used now. I actually don´t even care if they use any of my ideas or not. We had a blues song called “Bad Business”. I wrote the lyrics to that one with Roger. We had a song called “Put Your Money Were Your Mouth Is” that reminds me of “Burn”. It is possible that Deep Purple may use some of this stuff in the future, but I feel that I have the right to use it as well. We have to wait and see what will happen with this stuff.

I heard from photographer Michael Johansson that you spent some time with Yngwie Malmsteen earlier this week. Is it true that you are joining up with him again?

– I´ve tested the waters, helped him out with a few ideas. But I´ve not joined his band again and I don´t think that I will. He can be a little difficult. He is nicer than Ritchie, but…

Personally, I would rather see you finally make it on your own, with your own band. Something that you can control and take to were you want it to be. That´s what I would like to see.

– Thanks, that´s exactly what I would like to do next. I´ve done some work with a few famous musicians now and that´s were my heart is. I may be able to tell you more about this project next time you call me.

I want to tell you something now Joe. The Deep Purple club I have took a poll recently about your version of Deep Purple. This was done when you were working with them on the second album. I just want you to know that 89% of the members said that this version of the band should carry on for as long as you wanted it to.

– Wow! 89%! It would be nice if the band heard about that! That was really nice to hear. I mean, I know full well that we worked against the odds. I knew that we had to win a lot of people over into consider themselves fans again.

Exactly, and a bands reputation isn´t easy to cement. I have to admit to you Joe that I belonged to the sceptics when I originally heard that you had joined the band, but I had to accept the fact that “Slaves And Masters” is a very nice Deep Purple record. One of these records that invites itself to be played over and over. So I started to believe in the band again so I was really looking forward to the second album. I thought that you had established a new foundation for the band to grow from and my hope was that the second album could move the bands reputation another notch upwards on that scale. Therefore I am disappointed in their behaviour. But nobody can take what you did with Deep Purple away from you, you are part of the history now, and at least I hope that this will help you out in the future in a small way when you go out on your own.

– Thank you for those kind words, it is nice to hear a guy like yourself say so. I´m so disappointed in all this myself, that Ritchie could say “The vocals sounds good but we need to change the rest” one day only to fire the singer the next day. It is hard to see the logic in that. I was kind of hoping that I could shock them into wanting to work hard again but I couldn´t. You know, Mötley Crue and Tom Petty visited us in the studio. They are fans and they came up to me and said “You sound great Joe, but the band…”. That was my feeling as well so I really tried to inject some fire into it. Instead, the producer could hardly get anybody to join him in the studio when something was supposed to be done. My goal when we started was to make a better album than “Slaves And Masters”, I don´t really know what they wanted. I don´t think they knew.

Michael Eriksson (Copyrights)

(No part of this interview may be quoted without permission)

Photographer Michael Johansson took the cover shot of SLICE (GLOBAL EDITION 2008) – Ritchie Blackmore in Purple back in 1987.


If you saw the Destination Truth episode “Alien Invaders/Swedish Lake Monster” (season 5, episode 4) on the SyFy channel recently, you saw what was probably the first real attempt to cast some light on Swedens own lake monster, Storsjöodjuret (The Great Lake Monster).

It just so happens that I live by this very lake myself (lake Storsjön – The Great Lake), and it also just happens to be a fact that I´m a witness myself. Yep, I saw a large animal in the water back in 1977, twice within 40 minutes in the same location (a harbor at Frösön, an island in the lake). This happened on August 10 1977 when I was 16. The first sighting was a quick one, from two blocks above the harbor. I witnessed the back of an animal rise in the water, about the size and shape of a Volkswagen. When I got down there (on my bike) it was gone, but I saw three other witnesses who were clearly in shock of what they had just seen down there. 40 minutes later, as I went down to the harbor a second time I saw it again, this time swimming past the harbor. I could follow it at close range (10 meters or so) for some 300 meters. It was three meters long above the surface, in two parts. First a small part, then some water and then a bigger part (clearly the back of this animal). It had dark skin like that of a whale. It swam straight forward, no sign of any moving to the sides or up and down. Like so many other witnesses before and after this event, I had the classic “like a boat turned upsidedown” sighting that day.

I was not alone. Two girls my age was there, a boat came towards us (the animal dived then) and they started to circle around so clearly they had seen the animal as well. In fact, there could be any number of witnesses, I was far to busy looking at this thing at the time to pay much notice on the area around me. But we are talking about a place with lots of buildings, with balconies facing the waterfront.

When I had my sighting(s), I already knew the legend was based on truth and that there really was something big in this lake. Elderly cousins (religious and really decent folks) had told me years before that they had seen it. OK then, I knew that they would never lie. Then there was the never ending line of witness reports in the local media, and the long history (first written account was penciled by vicar Mogens Pedersen in 1635, but we have a runestone from the Viking era showing a dragons head here as well, the only one of its kind in Sweden). Hard to miss even for a kid.

I have talked to a large number of witnesses over the years and I started to print witness reports and history in my RETROFUTURE magazine in 2010. This lead to witnesses contacting me and my interest to dig deeper mounted. This summer, I published a 60 page magazine titled “Storsjöodjuret” with loads of information. And a brand new theory based on reports from witnesses.

So what is it? I´m not sure but my theory is that we are talking about some type of decendant from the plesiosaurs. What I saw myself could be explained by this type of animal, but more importantly, we have witnesses who have seen more than I did that swears that they have seen plesiosaur looking animals in the water. These are not crackpots but highly respectable people like a former headmaster of a university and a former journalist. Both retired, they know what they saw and they have gone public. The latter through my recent publication (not sure if that went down well to local newspaper ÖP, which he was part of at the time of his sighting!).

Lake Storsjön was part of the sea 9.000 years ago, a fact that resembles other lakes elsewhere which hosts similar mysteries.

Science now believes that plesiosaurs were warm blooded and that they could regulate their body temperatures. New science is coming in all the time that completely turns everything scientists thought they knew as we speak and this is very interesting.

Whatever this animal turns out to be, it must have a long history. It probably stayed here when the ice melted and the landmass rose. The Great Lake is huge, it has a lot of fish and for an animal this size there are no natural enemies. Clearly, we have something here that has managed to survive. A species that can sustain a population large enough not to get extinct.

Today I mention this part of my life for the first time here on the blog, and I also create a brand new category for the subject so that future reports can be easily located if you have an interest in the subject.

I saw this animal, whatever it may be, back in 1977. Nothing will ever change that. It could have been easier to have shut up about it but that is not really my style. One day the mystery will be solved and all the witnesses will be vindicated. And those who doubted will know that they sometimes behaved rather badly, like bullies in a schoolyard.

Meanwhile, the mystery lives on.

(My image)

The following interview with artist Ian Kennedy was made in september-october 2004. I sent a series of questions over to George Low (editor in chief of Commando in the UK) and he printed them out and gave them to Ian on one of their weekly meetings. Ian then took time out to write his answers down on paper, which was handed over to George, who then e-mailed me the complete interview having taken out the time required himself to get this done. This wonderful attitude towards the fans of their collective body of work is something that I wish to give a big thumbs up – I think you will all agree that this positive behaviour can only be in place because these people are genuinly goodhearted folks and that the passion that has been present for this artform for decades is something that is still very much alive. The interview was published in my publication SLICE 2005 which sported (with kind permission!) a classic Kennedy Commando artwork on the cover. Enjoy. MIKE

You were a young boy during the second world war and I understand that you had several airfields nearby. What type of aircraft could you see and did you ever see any airbattles from the ground.

– For an aeroplane mad youngster like myself, there was always one type of aircraft or other to be seen in the skies over the East of Scotland during World War 2-Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lysanders, Hudsons, Mosquitoes, Harvards, Fireflies, Walrus etc. As for air battles, nothing took place in the area. The Luftwaffe obviously didn’t think us important enough!

Could you comprehend how serious the whole thing was or did you have a more innocent outlook on it at the time?

– At the age of ten, I had no conception of how serious the situation really was.

You were drawing by then, can I assume that your schoolbooks was full of aeroplanes and the like?

– I loved drawing from a very early age and, of course, aircraft featured greatly… but not in my school books. Try that in those days and the teacher would come down on you like a ton of bricks.

Can you remember one or two comics that you were reading as a lad?

– I read them all, starting with the Dandy and the Beano, going on to the likes of The Wizard, Rover, Adventure etc. The Champion became a firm favourite.

Do you still have drawings from your early childhood tucked away in the basement?

– I am afraid not. They did not seem all that important at the time.

After school your career took off fairly quickly it would seem. But all artists struggle to make ends meet, so I wonder how long your time in the wilderness (so to speak) was in your opinion?

– As you say, my career took off quickly. On leaving school, I immediatly entered the art department of DC Thomson & Co Ltd, Dundee, learning my tade surrounded by some of the most competent artists it has been my pleasure and privilige to know. No wilderness there!

I know that you were drawing western adventures etc, but then the war comics scene came along. Can you recall just how this happened in Britain at the time?

– Not really. I think the war comics were just an evolutionary step along the way from the previous adventure publications.

Did your workload increase at this time or was it just the genre that changed?

– Any increase in my workload was probably down to growth in demand and my ability to cope due to more experience.

Your covers and your comics must have been on display in the local newsstands all the time, that must have been a boost in itself?

– Yes, it was a lot of fun but job satisfaction was always more important.

I understand that you love aeroplanes and I wonder if you enjoy the last models of today as much as the classic types of yesterday?

– Aeroplanes will always be of interest to me, but certain types, both vintage and modern, take centre stage.

Speaking of aeroplanes, how involved were you in the Battler Britton series, and how do you look back on those works today?

– I really cannot recall the extent of my involvement in Battler Britton, so find it difficult to come to any conclusions so many years later. I can only hope that the readers were happy with the results.

Do you keep track on how many covers that you have had in print over the years and have you got a personal collection of them around the house?

– It is very difficult to keep track of all the covers, but I do have a fair collection.

Tiger McTaggart is another classic, I have seen the fantastic album published by Korkeajännitys in Finland in 2003, what can you tell us about that series?

– Sorry, I am unaware of its existence.

It seems to have been drawn for a bigger format than the classic Commando sized magazines?

– Sorry, I am unaware of its existence.

Has there been similar prints like the finnish album of your work in the UK?

– Not to my knowledge.

If somebody came up to you and offered you a book in which you and your career in art could be presented in detail, would you be keen to do it?

– Such a project would be extremely difficult; to carry out simply due to my notoriously bad recall of the sort of detail which would be essential.

Have you ever thought about publishing something yourself on your career and on the business that you know so well?

– It has never occurred to me that my career would be so interesting to others.

How many covers do you still produce for Commando annually?

– My output last year amounted to about 20 covers. I think this is about average.

We are fortunate to have been granted to use the original artwork for Commando issue 3747, “Owl Patrol”, as the cover art for this annual issue of SLICE. To me that art is like a photograph, only more beautiful because of the amazing use of colours. How long would a work like this take?

– Thank you for the favourable comment. This particular cover probably took about two to three days to complete.

Can you describe in your own words how this artwork came about, from the size of it to what type of pens, brushes and colours that you have used.

– The idea and layout would be finalised by editor and artist, then painted using sable brushes and acrylic colours. The finished original measures 280mm x 270mm.

I know that you are a perfectionist but of course time is a factor. How is your own verdict on this particular work when you look back on it now?

– This is one of the very few pieces of work I can look back on, feeling pretty well satisfied with the result.

Commando editor George Low has described you as a local talent. Do you actually drop by the office with your new art? What has it meant to you to have had this publishing house so close to your home?

– I visit Commando fairly regularly to discuss or deliver work. While not necessarily the highlight of my week, it is always an enjoyable occasion.

You must have known George since the early sixties. How do you look back on your long collaboration with Commando now and how long do you think it will go on?

– As you say, Commando and I go back quite a long way and I can honestly say that my association with previous editors Charlie Checkley, Ian Forbes … and now George … has been of continuing interest and enjoyment. Long may it last!

Have you considered to sell autographed prints through a personal homepage?

– I am afraid that it has never crossed my mind. I have been too busy elsewhere.

Have you ever been to Sweden and would you like to say something to your admirers here?

– I am sorry to say that I have never visited Sweden, although I did work for Fantomen some years back. It is good to know that I have some fans out there and you can be certain that I intend as far as possible to continue drawing for your enjoyment … and mine!

Interview: Michael Eriksson / Magazine image: Ian Kennedy (courtesy of IK & Commando)

(No part of this interview may be quoted without permission)

This is one of the best interviews from my most active years and it was made in Stockholm back in 1986. I recall having 20 minutes with Glenn Tipton after the show at the actual venue. Since this interview was printed in several editions of Metal Hammer in Europe (may 1987 in the UK – same look as the Dutch version seen here above) I have opted for the easy way out in just giving you that article straight as it was printed. At this point in time, I was starting to sell articles to magazines abroad. Enjoy. MIKE

Ten albums and 13 years of hard work is a lot in any bands career, and not many reach it with a line up of people who the audince has known for years and years. Judas Priest, a band that has been around for a while now, have seen it all. They practically starved during the Seventies – K.K Downing insists they never made any money until around 1980 – they kept the hard rock flag flying high and never craved too much about the more lucrative single-charts. With each album, they actually built up such a strong following that they now can sit back and take a long hard look at their situation; Is it time to settle down, spend some money building up a life outside the band. (I think the text is edited some here). The 1986 “Turbo” album took the band into a new direction, and many claim they actually set a new standard of their kind of music. They knew it could all backfire in their faces and die a death, but the confidence was strong and when I met guitarist Glenn Tipton towards the end of their recent giant world tour (“The Fuel For Life Tour”), he was still full of enthusiasm. But then, he could afford to smile as he has seen Judas Priest finally and once and for all, really cracking the US market wide open. This interview took place after the show in Stockholms Isstadion (in Sweden ofcourse) in a small room in the backstage area, and Glenn openly discussed things like the upcoming live album and life after Judas Priest, if they were ever to break up. So here we go folks!

On your last couple of albums you have used a producer (Tom Allom), is he a permanent fixture now?

– Yeah, he is. We´ve used Tom since the last live album (“Unleashed In The East”, 1979) and we´ve already recorded, I think, nearly eight tracks for the next studio album.

The “Turbo” album has got a fantastic sound. Everybody seems to really like it. You´ve made a major breakthrough here.

– I think you´re right. Actually, we talked quite extensively about it, and then we recorded 18 tracks for a double album, which we wanted “Turbo” to be at the time. Then we picked nine tracks that we thought were a bit different, sat down and rearranged them and really tried to capture a slightly different feel. We wanted a change, but not too much of a change either, we just wanted to do something different. But, of course, when you do that you have to expect a bit of apprehension from people, which we got. But I guess “Turbo” is eventually turning out to be our most successful album to date, so we can ignore them anyway. Also, in retrospect, everybody has come back to us and said that they had been a bit sceptical at first, but now they realise it´s really the way to go. We are proud of the fact that some people look at Judas Priest as frontrunners, really!

The upcoming live album then, do you have any information on this right now?

– Yes, it will be a double album, and it will hopefully be released in may. We are recording gigs everywhere right now, with a few more to be added in Europe and Japan. It´ll be basically a live album, but it will also include songs, Judas Priest songs, the audience have never heard before, because we felt we wanted to give the kids something else, something they haven´t already bought. There will be at least two, three or maybe even four tracks they´ve never heard before.

Are those tracks from the “Turbo” sessions?

– Yeah, but on the US Tour we threw a new song into the set almost every night. Ofcourse, you can´t do too many new songs every night as they´ve never heard it.

Your latest American tour was your most successful ever? Am I right?

– Yes, we are fortunate because as a band we´ve always been on the up, always getting more successful. Sadly, I´ve seen a lot of bands hit that sort of peak and then eventually start supporting again, you know, which we will never do. We always put a lot of thought into the way that we are going to go, and we always change. Each album has got a new sound or direction, and as individuals we change as well, and I think that is what gives us the longetivity as a band. We do think about it a lot, becase if you don´t, people will get fed up with you. Like if every Judas Priest album sounded the same. Then the people would say “Well we bought the last one…”.

Maybe that´s what happened with “Defenders Of The Faith”? Some people considered that one to be too much of a “Screaming For Vengeance Part II”.

– To a certain point I think you are right, yeah.

In studying Judas Priest, one eventually ends up thinking that you are the motor behind this group, am I right?

– (Laughs) Well, I couldn´t really put it like that to the press! I have a lot to do with the writing, and also the production, but it would be wrong of me to say that I´m the most important member of the band, because everybody is important the way I see it. Somebody asked me the other day what I thought about Bad Company reforming, and I said “Is that right, well is Paul Rodgers in the band?” and they said no. I´ll tell you what I think of it, it would be like Judas Priest reforming one day without Rob Halford. So I do believe that everybody has got a key-role in this band, although writing-wise I do have a lot to say.

How do you survive the boring routines of mega-tours and recording after all these years? It must be kind of hard if you have a family…

– Well, we are all in our mid-thirties now, but we actually enjoy performing onstage more than ever, and you can see that. You can´t conceil from the fans falseness. If you´re not enjoying yourself, you can´t really look as if you are. The hardest part is to travel, and to be away from your family. I´m a married man and I´ve got two children, and you have to do sacrifices. But this is what I want to do, and it is what I will continue doing until Judas Priest finishes, which, at the moment, I can´t see that yet. It could be three years or five years, who knows? We still have a lot more to say, a lot mor to give. As long as the kids like what we do, it´s okay by me. There´s a lot of young kids in the audince now, so I can see us being around for quite some time to come. But I do love my family so it´s a big sacrifice.

Do you still live in England?

– I live in England and in Spain. I´m building a house in Spain. I jump between the two. The tax situation does that to you. It used to be less of a problem, because we were out on the road somewhere anyway. Now we can play less, and to more people doing bigger venues in America, so that gives us more time, so I have to live in two places.

So why did you pick up the guitar to play Judas Priest Music to begin with? Did you see bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath or what?

– I was actually in a band called The Flying Hat Band, and we toured Europe opening shows for Deep Purple around 1974. Glenn Hughes was in the band then anyway. It was a rock´n´roll band with me, Carl Parlmers brother Steve Palmer, and an old friend of mine called Mars Cowley, who used to play with Pat Travers. A three-piece band, and I was the single guitarist, which I can never quite believe (laughs), and we toured with Deep Purple. It was a scary experience at the time. Shortly after that, we got management problems over in England, and Judas Priest asked me to join. And that was before the first Judas Priest album. We were a bit lost in the studio when we did our first album, but when we recorded “Sad Wings Of Destiny” I think we really started to get off as a triumvirate.

So you are a real heavy rock fan?

– Oh yes, definitely. I used to go out and see bands play. I started out myself rather late you see, I was 18. Most kids start when they are about 10 or 11 and they live that life ever since. I never took a lesson until I was 20, and I´m glad I had those years living the life of a normal person. I don´t consider that time wasted.

So what do you think of the reformed Deep Purple then?

– Well, I haven´t seen them play, but the album “Perfect Strangers” sounds quite representative for Deep Purple. They were always one of my favourite bands anyway. I always considered this version of Purple as the only true Deep Purple. This was the first lineup that first captured all that energy, and of course they did things like “Smoke On The Water”. I´m not a big believer in bands reforming, but as I said, I haven´t seen them play yet, so I can´t give you a genuine opinion.

Have you ever considered doing a solo album?

– When we finish, I probably will. I´m sure if you ask Ken and Rob the same thing, they might say that too, then again, maybe not. I write a lot of stuff, and some of it I don´t even present to Judas Priest. But having said that, my first love is to play Judas Priest music.

What could we expect on a Glenn Tipton album?

– It would be more melodic, I guess. But then, you never know. It really depends on what I want to do at the moment, and I don´t believe in pre meditating what I´m gonna do. At the moment, I´ve no intention of doing a solo album. Until the moment I know Judas Priest is over, I wouldn´t even bother. But then, and not out of boredom, but because as a person who is very energetic and likes to do things, I´ll probably move on doing something. Maybe a solo album, maybe another band project.

Would you actually consider leaving the band if you saw that it was in any way losing ground?

– If it was going downhill, yes, but I can assure you that myself, Rob, Ken, Ian and Dave, if we ever found out that we weren´t giving a good performance, before we reach that point, we´ll know. You will never see Judas Priest go out on a low. When we go out we want to go out in glory. We´re proud of the fact that a lot of younger bands have looked upon us, and when the time comes we want to be able to say “Okay, that´s it, thank you for everything”. We want to leave with the best album and the best tour, but we are talking about the future.

Yeah, right, and I guess you have to be deaf and blind not to see that this outfit is going to be around for years to come, burning rock´n´roll fuel of the most excellent kind.

Interview: Michael Eriksson

(This interview may not be quoted without permission)

The following interview with Ronnie James Dio was made in Stockholm back in 2001 when his band played Johanneshovs Isstadion with Ratt and co-headliner Alice Cooper to a capacity crowd of 10,000. At the time, “Magica” was fresh out of the can and he had also recently toured with Deep Purple with the Orchestra project. This interview does not cover Deep Purple much, but it certainly covers an awful lot of ground, historically speaking. I do feel that this interview also reveals quite a lot about the private man behind the mask, and I do consider myself a lucky man to have had the opportunity to film (alongside photographer Michael Johansson) such a conversation. At the time, I thought that Ronnie was a perfect gentleman with enough stories to fill several books should he want to. He hinted at such a project at the time in this very conversation, so he clearly had plans. In fact, he was a very busy guy. I shall miss him forever. This interview has been published three times (most recently in the UK Ritchie Blackmore magazine MORE BLACK THAN PURPLE), with a fourth coming up as I have included it in RETROFUTURE 5 (september). Enjoy! MIKE

On the new album “Magica” you have a story. Is this something you have been doing for a while, writing stories?

– No, I wish I had. I could be at home writing stories and probably would have written Harry Potter by now! I just thought it was more special for the album because the album was a concept, and the first one that we’ve done and I felt the story was as important as the music. In fact, obviously it came first. It’s not something I have done before. But in university, and high school I was an avid reader and loved to write, so it was a necessity. I wanted to write the story and have it included in the package. So it forced me to have to do it and it was easier than I thought.

Will there be a second part on the next album, because it is written in such a way that suggests there might be?

– No, that’s exactly why I did it. The next album will be much more song orientated. But the album after that will be parts two and three of the trilogy.

So you have five years planned ahead almost?

– I planned it as soon as I started writing it. I planned it that way but thought it was very important not to do it for the next album. I think that sometimes you can shove too much of that kind of thing down people’s throats. I think that “Magica” needed a breather and that breather will be the next album. But there was so much interest in what it did and people wanting to… because I did leave it up in the air with questions here and there, and people who like that kind of thing will be waiting for the next story. What I would really like to do, and of course that is a matter of time again: I’m going to flesh out the entire three short stories to make it a proper book.

Oh great.

– Because there are a lot of untold things inside. It’s almost like a song where you usually only get five to six minutes to tell the story where in reality it should take you twenty-five to thirty minutes. It’s the same with this.

It’s an epic tale obviously. I was wondering if you are doing a book, will somebody be drawing for it?

– Oh definitely.

Do you have someone in mind already?

– No, probably Willy (Fyffe, Dio’s assistant. Ed)! (laughs) No I don’t have anyone in mind but I’m sure Willy will take a part and do some of it. We have quite a few artists we have talked with over the years who are very interested in doing this sort of thing and liked the music I have made and do drawings in that way so there are a lot of choices.

How much into fantasy are you, would you say?

– Quite a bit.

A life long interest?

– Yes, it all stems from reading as a child. I’m an only child so I spent a lot of time on my own reading and read mostly fantasy things. It made me use my imagination. In the early days I read a lot of… Edgar Rice Burroughs had a series called John Carter from Mars and that was very fantastic in its way. And a lot of medieval things from Walter Scott and others. And a lot of science fiction and that kind of fantasy and you put them all together and they make you what you are, I think.

What was the last book that you read that you liked?

– Well it was actually the book I’m reading right now from a man named Alan Dean Foster, who wrote Alien, it’s called “Carnivores of Light and Darkness” and is a great fantasy piece.

(I later told Alan Dean Foster about this and it turned out that he is a fan of Dio! Ed)

How about TV series, things like Xena?

– I find those a bit silly. Fantasy for me resides more in the mind. It’s a method of using your imagination and programmes like Xena and Hercules just feed the masses. Unfortunately the very young masses, so they do things kids would love to do, going out sword fighting in the yard. I think I’m a bit more mature than that. I appreciate their success but it’s not something I sit around and watch.

And movies, have you seen anything you like there? The Tolkien Trilogy that’s coming up, will you see that?

– Yes I will. The things that I have liked most… one of my favourite films has been the “Never Ending Story”. There were two of them of course and I think that was magnificently done. “Time Bandits”, which has some mirth in it was a wonderful fantasy piece. The “Baron Munchausen” thing, I’m using a few Python things here, but I love all that, I think it’s wonderful. “Labyrinth” was good, these are old things. I haven’t really seen a lot lately because I’ve been working for such a long time. But Tolkien, I will be drooling when I watch that.

Have you seen Merlin? (Sam Neill version. Ed)

– The TV series, yes. I thought it was very good, excellent, well done.

I think Hallmark are doing some good movies.

– Absolutey.

So moving on to the stage sets you have had over the years. The first big one was for the Rainbow “Rising” album. Have you been active in coming up with ideas and for the first Rainbow?

– I just remember the only thing that was mentioned was “Let’s put a rainbow on the stage” and I thought that was great. Since that time I think Dio has completely out-manoeuvred anything Rainbow ever did as far as stage production goes.

Of course.

– That’s what I’m proud of. A rainbow is a rainbow, it didn’t take a lot of imagination when you’ve got a band called Rainbow and you put a rainbow up there. The hardest part of that was at the time it was built we didn’t have the technology we have today. No one was using aluminium so it was built out of cast iron. The very first show we did was in Detroit (he might be talking about Montreal here. Ed) and during the rehearsals for that show we were there for three days it collapsed and almost killed a few people in our crew. So everyday we worried, at least I did, that it would fall again, but it never did. I guess they got the bugs out. It was interesting but it never did what it was supposed to do. It was supposed to spell things out and from what I understand it was supposed to make tea at the end of the gig too but it never did any of those things. It chased and that was about it, but it was a wonderful prop for the time because not a lot of people were using them so it was a great prop. It would have been great today because it could have been made of a light material, could probably have done a lot more, we could have used lasers in it but it gave me a chance to do it myself.

Then you moved on to Black Sabbath and that band also had some very big stage shows.

– Well then again, not as big as I wanted. We had things like titled crosses and they were lighted up. That was my idea and I will take credit for it. It’s about time I took credit for my ideas. We had a stained glass window at the back. They were more static things, things that didn’t move. I like things that move. I like things that come alive, dragons that come alive, pyramids with tops that come off, robots that move, three-headed snakes that fight each other. That to me is what Disneyland is all about, and that is what I always try and bring to the people of the show. Not for ourselves because even though a lot of bands… people throw stones at them saying “Well you’ve got all these things on the stage, what about the music?” Well, yeah what about the music? What do you think we do, turn around and look at the stage props and not play the music? The music is always first for us. We just happen to want to bring things to an audience to give them more for their money, because the ticket prices have gotten to be really stupid. So we brought Disneyland, we brought Dioland to them. Then the media decided we didn’t want to see that anymore. Stupid media, they took it all away from the kids. That’s exactly what happened.

The shows in the mid eighties that Dio had were fantastic. How involved were you in those? You said in Rainbow you weren’t very involved.

– Very involved. I was as involved as anyone could be in Rainbow. Like I said all we had was a rainbow, that didn’t take a lot of imagination, as far as the Dio thing goes, I was totally involved.

And very expensive I imagine.

– Very, very expensive.

What was the most expensive tour?

– “Sacred Heart”, that took almost half a million dollars to put together. And the one before, “The Last In Line” was about $250,000. So we kept spending more money, but we wanted to be special, and you have to spend money to be special. It’s one thing to construct, the other thing that costs money is to bring it on the road. And we took the “Sacred Heart” show twice to Europe, twice to Japan and four times in America over two years and it was very, very expensive. We had about nine to ten trucks and seven to eight buses and about seventy-five people on the road but it was wonderful at the end of the day. But all that counts is the reaction from the people, that’s all that matters.

Did you ever have any accidents with Dio, something falling?

– No, the only thing that happened which was quite funny was the dragon worked for two years; he was great, never let us down and the very last show, I think we were in Hammersmith Odeon, and it was our very last show with that stage set for a two year period of touring and at the very end, the drum riser was next to the dragon and the very last song the dragon just collapsed and leaned against the drummer, as if to say thank god it’s all over and now I’m going to sleep! But the only action we had was a pryrotechnician unfortunately drank too much and one night he blew Vivian up. Vivian stepped into one of the flash pots and this guy pressed the button and Vivian went up on fire, then just to make it okay the pryrotechnician fell off the drum riser which was about twelve feet high and as payback, I guess he paid himself back. Those two things, and we had one other guy who was one of our laser people who beat himself up! He also had too many drugs and too much to drink. He said something like, “if you don’t do this I’m going to beat myself up”, so then someone said, “okay” and he physically beat himself up. That wasn’t an accident that was just silly and stupid. But as far as accidents go everything was pretty good on the Dio tours. We had really good people working for us so we didn’t have any problems.

Do you have a personal favourite show from those days?

– You know I can never ever say that there was a personally best show for me. I approached them all as though they were going to be the best shows they possibly can be and to me they were all just wonderful. They were all the best shows, every one of them.

What happened to all that stuff?

– I kept it for ten years; kept it in a warehouse for ten years, kept the first set, which was “Holy Diver”, which is also quite huge. Kept “Last In Line”, kept “Sacred Heart”, kept “Lock Up The Wolves”. For ten years, kept it in a warehouse, never used one thing and found out at the end of ten years that it cost me $100,000 to keep them in a building for no reason. So I decided I didn’t want to pay $100,000 anymore. So we loaded them, I think it took twenty trips on a huge flat-bed truck took them to the junk yard and I personally kicked everything out into the junk yard. I kept the dragon’s head, kept two sphinxes, kept the twelve foot robot knight, kept the spider from “Lock Up The Wolves” and everything else went into the junk yard. And believe me; the people who worked at the junk yard were very happy. We saw them carrying everything away, they were very happy people. It seems like a real waste, but it wasn’t a waste at the end of the day. When you knew we were never going to use it again and all it was doing was costing you money to store it so it was easier to get rid of it than it was to keep it.

It’s interesting that you mention that you kept some stuff because I was going to ask you if you collect stuff in general.

– Well I do, I do, well some of it was obviously too big to keep so keeping the dragon’s head was, well it was big so we just got a smaller place to keep it. I do like to keep the things; the memories are so special to me. I think you are foolish if you throw everything away and don’t keep some of those memories. You know there comes a time when you might want to go to your grandchildren or great-grandchildren and say, “Look what granddad or great-granddad did”. Well I don’t have to worry about that yet, but when the time comes they can have it. I’ll leave it to them and then they can store it for $100,000 themselves.

How about stuff from outside the career? Do you buy knights’ armours and stuff like that?

– I have all that, yeah. My house is like a kind a castle in the middle of non-castles in Los Angeles and it’s obviously populated with all of those things, suits of armour, swords, maces, banners; all the kinds of things that you would probably find in a castle except I have running water and toilets and they didn’t (laughs).

So do you have anything in common with Ritchie, perhaps from the days when you met? Did you already have an interest in that medieval stuff?

– Oh yeah.

Had you already done that?

– Yes, I had, uhuh.

Ok, so that was not news to you then?

– No, our point of reference was classical music. Bach was our point of reference, we both loved Bach. That’s really where we all started from, Ritchie and I. And I had been very involved in reading this kind of material again as I say from a young boy and it was just nice to be able to be with someone who understood the same kind of feelings that I had about it. I think I’m probably much more of a collector than Ritchie is, but he collects a few things, but I think I collect a lot more than he does. That was another point of reference for us, we both loved medieval history and the attitudes of chivalry and knights and ladies in waiting and all that.

The “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” recording – did something happen during the session there?

– Ah yes.

On the album it says “no thanks to Baal.”

– Well we had some séances because we had some problems in the studio. We were in France in a studio called Chateau. We would go into the studio and the tape machine would be running and no-one would be there. We had one song – “Gates of Babylon” – and we couldn’t finish; we just couldn’t finish it no matter how we tried. The tape would break, the machine would stop, we’d get close to it but just couldn’t finish it. One day we had a séance in the studio and contacted the spirit who said he was Baal. His opening line was always, “I am Baal, I create chaos. You will never leave here.”That was what he always said. So after a while you got kind of, “Oh Baal again. Hey Baal, how you doing mate?” We weren’t afraid of him anymore until he started doing things like taking glasses and sending them all the way through the table and then making it come under the table all by itself and coming back up to the top, or flowing down the end of the table and smashing against the wall, or a piano playing when there was no one there playing it. We eventually went to the local priest there and told him we wanted to have an exorcism. He threw us out! He said, ‘I won’t go to that place, ; that place is horrible.’ We said, ‘We know!’ He wouldn’t come. We found a big cross, we had a cross made and we put it up in the studio. The next time we had a séance Baal said, “I am Baal, I create chaos. You will never leave here. What’s that stupid thing doing on the wall?” We said, “Do you believe in Christ?” He said, “Ha, Christ, he was only a man, I’m not afraid of anything.”So we knew we had some troubles here. We finally were able to finish the song and as we were leaving, we were going down this winding stone stairway leading from the sleeping areas down to the cars to leave the Chateau and my wife was in front of me and we had just bought some antique china. Luckily she had the box in her hand. I was perhaps five feet away from her. She was five feet in front of me. Cozy Powell was behind me. Suddenly she pitched right off the stairs and fell to the bottom of the stairs and fell on the china- luckily because it broke her fall. She turned to me and said, “YOU BASTARD (shouts) why did you push me?” “Cozy, did I push her?” He said, “You weren’t even close to her.” Guess who did that one! So that was Baal’s final parting thrust for us. So yeah, that’s a strange thing that happened there. Since that time, only once have I been talked into doing that again in a haunted castle, just outside of Newcastle. Do you know the one I mean? Whatever it’s called. (Most probably Lumley Castle, one of Ritchie’s favourites. Ed) Ask Willy because he usually knows these things but didn’t this time. The guys in the band who knew about the Baal thing said, “Will you please do a séance?”. I said, “No, I don’t want to do this anymore because once you invite them in, they don’t ever go away.” They said, “Ah no, it’ll be okay.” I said, “I’m telling ya, I don’t want to do this.” So they talked me into it and I said, “Okay I’ll do it for you.” So we set up the séance and got on the glass and the first thing it said was, “I am Baal, I create chaos. You will never leave here.” I went, “Bye guys, I told you I don’t want to have anything to do with this anymore.” So that’s the last time I took part in it.

So that was another country even?

– Oh it never goes away; it’s not limited to boundaries of countries. You know spiritual things have no limits at all. But it’s what YOU believe; it’s what’s believed inside of you. I think that particular spirit that called itself Baal was just a lower astral, nothing more than that. It swore too much, it used wrong parts of speech for it to be anything strong. It certainly wasn’t Baal. If it were Baal you wouldn’t be talking to me today, we’d be all gone.

Spooky stuff. I’ve never done it myself but it’s interesting to hear.

– Well I suggest you don’t because as I say, once you open the door and allow it to come in then it never goes away, never. You can’t close the door again.

So you haven’t done that in 15 years?

– No I haven’t done it since 1983, yes, so about 15-16 years.

With these experiences, you have a fantastic life; interesting. Have you considered writing a book about this life?

– I am writing a book, it’s about a third finished already.

Oh really?

– Uhuh. No moss grows on my feet, man; I’m always ahead of everybody.

I see that, three albums ahead and two books.

– Oh yeah, you have to be, I mean life is a very dangerous trap and if you don’t plan it properly it’ll swallow you up. So I learned that early on in my life, it’s better to plan what’s going to come. Not every bit of your life, I mean if you plan every bit of your life then there is no spontaneity and nothing is surprising – surprising in a good way or a bad way, but I think you are more sensible if you know what your talents and yearnings are and if you know that then you can plan your life a little bit better. You know you can give to people more by doing it that way. That really at the end of the day for me is what life is all about. That’s giving to others because once these bodies turn to dust what do you leave as a legacy? Do you leave your music? I don’t think so, that’s not what I want to be remembered for. I don’t want to be remembered for the music that I made; there are too many other people who have been forgotten for the music that they made. I want to be remembered by just a few people whose lives I touched perhaps from the heart, that way. And if they liked the music at the same time then that’s wonderful but that’s not what I’m about as a human being. I am a human being, no better, no worse than anyone else and I need to give that way. That’s what I decided early on in my life so I like to plan my life so I can do that at some point. So yeah, I’m a few steps ahead of Baal.

I think your lyrics are excellent.

– Thank you.

On the “Strange Highways” album you have a lyric that goes, “Oh, bury my bones on the moon. If they never should find me it would be too soon”. That’s incredibly beautiful but it’s dark, right?

– Yes.

Okay, so what type of mind frame did you have right then? Was it dark or do you sit there laughing thinking that was a great rhyme?

– No, no it’s all very serious to me. I mean there are times when you must do music with a chuckle; you have to be funny at times. I mean life would be very droll if we didn’t have a laugh here and there, so there are a few things I’ve written that I don’t even remember, but they were funny at the time. But no that was a very personal statement; I mean it was MY bones, burying MY bones on the moon. You know in other words that whole point was I don’t want to do what you have to offer me; I don’t want you to be part of my life. I want to be away from these horrible things that I see, so bury my bones on the moon so nobody can ever find me. Nobody can ever touch those bones because people have a tendency to not matter that once you die and you think you are safe and everything is okay, they dig you up. I think a lot of Egyptian Pharaohs can probably tell you that, if they were here to tell you that. You know, bury my bones on the moon that way nobody can touch me again – that’s really what that meant.

How about religion? Are you interested in studying different kinds of religion?

– Well early on in my life I was brought up a Catholic. Very early in my life I decided that all forms of religion were bullshit. There is a line in the song “Stand Up And Shout”: “we pray to someone but when it’s said and done it’s really all the same, just got a different name”. That’s what it’s really all about. That’s why religion is a business, religion has become a business, it’s a business to make money from people who’ve been living with Catholicism or Buddhism or whatever it may be. I think Buddhists are a little less money oriented but you have Scientology and all these things and all they are doing is taking money from people and flim-flamming people and using their physical being and their brains for what I consider to be their own ends. So again I early on realised that religion is that if you believe in a god, that God resides in you, and if you believe in the devil, and I believe in both, and I don’t mean a physical devil, a devil sitting there with horns or a god sitting there looking white with long hair. You know he may be purple with no hair, he may be black, he may be she. You know, but I don’t think of God in those terms. To me, God and the Devil is in me, is in you, and you, and you, and you, and we have to make a determination as to which road we are going to travel, the good road or the bad road. A lot of people travel the middle road. I tend not to do that; I prefer not to do that. I prefer to be as good as I possibly can and I can do that because I understand that there is a dark side and they have to be balanced; we have to have evil in our lives to have good and we must have good to have evil. That’s my religion. My religion is people, I believe in people. No matter how bad they can be, I think they can be changed.

And you do a lot of charity; you have something going on right now. That’s perhaps a good thing to go to from the dark stuff. There we have proof that you are a good human being.

– Well I hope so. I think the best charity work that anyone can ever do is charity work that no-one knows about because once people know that you are doing it then they applaud you – “oh you are such a wonderful man” – you know and none of us are that. We are not wonderful people we are human beings, we are very frail with cracks in us everywhere and it only takes one little push for those cracks to come apart and then we become that horrible dark thing. So I will only talk about the charities because it will earn money for the charity, not because it means I’m Mr. Wonderful that I’m doing this. It’s those other people. It’s the people we are doing it for; those are the ones I care about. This charity is for sexually abused children. This charity is called Children of the Night. The woman who started this charity, her name is Dr. Lois Lee, she is my hero. She is just the strongest, most wonderful caring person I’ve ever met. She is the one who should be in this article, she should have her own magazine, she should be at this show. Those are the people I care about, those are my heroes. This charity is important so I will talk about it of course, but as I say it’s for sexually abused kids, mainly in the Los Angeles area, but it is spreading now to other places and it is now going to be in other countries as well. Some wonderful people are taking part in doing this. Ozzy Osbourne did this. I mean there is supposed to be some kind of horrible thing between Ozzy and I where we really hate each other. I can only tell you my end of it; I don’t hate him at all. I mean I barely ever think about him, so why should I hate him? But I certainly applaud him for what he did, he helped us with the charity, he made some great money for it. So have some other people. Richard Marx the singer has done that, Johnny Carson who is one of our American heroes from television has, Rosanne, Tracy Lords who at one time was a porn star who was sexually abused and understands this. These are the people we should be patting on the back. They care.

It’s wonderful now that she has a career that has brought her away from all that.

– She is a really lovely person, she really is you know. What she did in her life, what she was forced to do in her life should be no reflection on the kind of person that she is. You know, just because someone goes and shags everybody that lives on the face of the planet doesn’t make them a bad person. And again, she was forced into that. But you know that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some wonderful porn people, in fact I know some of them. We know a girl called Jeanna Fine who is a very famous porn star in America who is one of the nicest people I know on the face of the earth. She is a very good, warm, loving, person. Just because she is out there doing what she does sexually is nothing to do with me. That doesn’t make her a worse person. I mean the things that people we don’t even know about do behind their own closed doors have to be a lot worse than what she does. Because I know at least she is a giving, caring person. So I never judge anybody by what people think they are. I only judge them by how they react in my life and how I react in their life. We are too quick to judge and not slow enough in our judging I think sometimes.

– Yes, everything is fast.

– It is.

The UFO mystery, are you interested in that?

– I think that it’s something I would like to see more than anything you could possibly imagine. I would love to have an alien walk in this door right now. I would love to see a UFO land on top of this building and I wouldn’t even care if they took me away. It is just so absolutely fascinating to me that we always think that we are the centre of the universe and it is so untrue with the myriad of planets and myriad of worlds out there that house life. It’s just absolutely fascinating; yes I’d like to see that very much. I’m fascinated by UFOs.

You haven’t seen anything?

– Yes I have.

Ok good (laughs). Do you want to talk about that?

– Sure! My close encounter happened in the state of Connecticut: New Canaan, Connecticut which is kind of in itself when you think of New Canaan which is a very religious, biblical kind of reference. We had just moved into another house. All of Rainbow had moved from Los Angeles to Connecticut and I’d just come off the road and my wife and I were putting together our new home. Things were being unpacked at the time. It was probably, oh I don’t know, midnight and I happened to look out of the window and I said, “The moon looks awfully big. Wendy, that wasn’t out there a minute ago, that moon.” She looked and said, “Oh it must have been,” and carried on unpacking. So I looked a few minutes later and it was bigger, then it was bigger and bigger and coming closer and closer and closer and closer. I thought oh my god; this is it, the big one! I was so excited. As it got closer we saw a car coming. Where we lived was kind of in a forested area, so one lone car coming down a hill. As this car was coming down, it was just about to intersect this light. I thought it’s going to take this car away; this car is going to shoot up into whatever this thing may be. I had baited breath. The car got to this intersection point and suddenly it went out. But it didn’t go out as though you would take a flame and blow the flame out where there is an afterglow. It was as if someone had taken a black curtain and gone “woosh” and off it went. I thought I know that was the presence of a UFO and we both were blown away. The next day in the newspaper 20-45 people saw the same thing and then heard a large explosion with a light after it. So it wasn’t just me, and I KNOW it was that. I mean I am absolutely positive that it was that. No I’ve never been taken away and I don’t want to be taken away that way. I don’t want needles to be inserted in me in bad places, but I would love to see something like that, I really would.

We live in interesting times.

– Yes, we do.

Interview: Michael Eriksson / Filmed by Michael Johansson

(Thanks to Lynn Baker for her help in writing out this interview for MBTP, saving me the hassle. No part of this interview may be quoted without permission).


Posted: August 19, 2012 in Classic Rock, My photographs, Retrofuture

I did a few interviews with Toto and Steve Lukather back in the old days and last year (in july) I managed to see a show again for the first time in something like 18 years (time passes quickly…) in Stockholm. It was a very good night and the audience, real die hard crowd here, loved every second of it. They were back quite recently but I could not attend that particular party. This image of Steve Lukather making contact with the faithfuls was taken during the first song of the show last year. The vibe was there, inspiration followed.

I have used one of the shots that I took that day for a story on how the DVD market has taken over from the classic live albums in the RETROFUTURE 5 issue (september). Last year I printed a couple of classic interviews from 1988 (Toto) and 1989 (Steve) in RETROFUTURE 4.

I enjoyed Steve Lukather´s last solo album “All´s Well That Ends Well” and look forward to his next (seems to be recorded now). I also liked his participation on the Tommy Bolin tribute “Great Gypsy Soul” from earlier this year and I just spotted him in a promotional film from Eagle about the tribute album recorded by many top artists for Deep Purple´s “Machine Head” (out soon).

But what happened to the Toto DVD that there was talk about last year?

(My images)

Today was the last chance to visit Teknikland, a large military museum outside of my home town Östersund, for the season. It is a fantastic place to visit and you can spend hours at this location looking at military equipment dating far back and up to the present. The years of the cold war are especially present, a time when Sweden had one of the largest air forces in the world in case of conflict with the Soviet Union. Östersund had three regiments back then, infantry, artillery and air force. Not so anymore, our idiot politicians have seen to that (leaving mid-Sweden undefended, how stupid can you get?).

I have been to this museum, located by an air strip, three times and have taken quite a lot of pictures. Planes, vehicles, guns in all sizes – the lot. I recommend a visit if you travel through these parts next season.

(My images)

My Xena adventure

Posted: August 17, 2012 in Magazines

It has been 10 years now since the publication of my fourth issue of the Xena/Lucy Lawless fanzine (The Unofficial) LUCY IN THE SKY. The run ended in 2003 with the fifth issue.

I really had a blast creating these and the team involved was quite phenomenal, and international in nature. The covers had art by Patricia Parker, every issue sported a Xena cartoon by Scott King, fans from all over the world contributed with articles. In this particular issue, the big article was how two major fans (Deb and Wendy) travelled to New Zealand and walked in Xena´s footsteps – or rather, to many of the locations seen in the show. Very detailed with around 90 pictures – many in full colour – certainly one of the best articles that ever went out within the publication. Hell, they even met Lucy Lawless herself on that trip!

The publication lasted three years and the fact that it existed was highlighted in a number of swedish media outlets, including major newspapers and TV weeklies. I was interviewed several times. It was clear that Xena had many friends within the swedish media. I know that there was a publication, by fans for fans, over in Germany as well. In the States the official fan club had their excellent publication (The Chakram) and then there was the official magazine that went out for a while. It was good to be a fan back then.

When Nikki Stafford put together her book “How Xena Changed Our Lives” (ECW Press, 2002) I had a chapter in it about my fanzine and the swedish scene. Several of my buddies who used to contribute to LUCY IN THE SKY were also in it. I must have done something right.

In the end, support dwindled and I decided to end it. But even then I was busy writing a detailed book about the show (with complete episode guide) along with my friend Eva Hamberg (now Eva Svartkrut). I tried very hard to sell it to a swedish publisher but with no luck. Nobody has ever (to this day) published such a book in Sweden (or Scandinavia) so the publishing houses just could not get their their heads around it. It is very frustrating to read that the work is very good but… (and then comes the excuse). I published the guide through four magazines (later on) instead, not quite the same but at least it saw the light of day. I guess we could still publish a book some day but not through a publishing house. Maybe a small independent run of 100 copies or so. I can see that happening some day, when RETROFUTURE is over.

My little Xena adventure was a very positive experience. The fans of Xena are some of the loveliest human beings you can imagine. From New Zealand the response was a quiet one, I only got a thumbs up from Lucy´s agent on a couple of occations. No interview was offered or could be set up. To this day I wonder how the people behind the show looked at the “Xenaverse” out there. Still, they had a show to do. On a personal level, by chance, I could compare this with the DEEP PURPLE FOREVER magazine. Did many interviews with guys from Deep Purple and the surrounding musical family (Whitesnake, Rainbow, Sabbath etc). Probably one of the reasons I felt that LUCY IN THE SKY was done.

In any case, a splendid time.

(Top image shows fanzine cover, issue 4)

Got to love the Pulps

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Books

When I was a kid there were loads of paperbacks on sale everywhere you looked, with juicy covers and quite frankly, some of the best cover art that I have ever seen (to this day). Naturally, I started to collect and although the scene hit a brick wall in the 80´s and vanished one can still find loads of these books in second hand stores. So the collection is still growing.

Seen here are some that I have collected over the years (six rows squeezed into a shelf), but I have more. The majority of these titles are classic Pulp (Carter Brown, Nick Carter, Mack Bolan, Hank Janson etc) but there is also some westerns and some science fiction. I also have a huge war collection.

I spoke to a swedish translator once and he told me that some of the swedish books had to be cut back as far as the number of pages go. Hard to know which ones though if the job is done properly. Still, great covers.

Also, Pulps are supposed to be some kind of second rate culture but I absolutely protest this notion. Some of these very books are still for sale today (some authors will never go away) but with terrible covers. The original idea, to package these books with colourful art with curvy chicks and a hint of deadly sin to boot, was far superior.

It still exists, but it is all nostalgia now. Nothing wrong with that though.

(My image)

S/S Thomée

Posted: August 15, 2012 in General, Jämtland (County), My photographs

I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time in july last year when I happened to be on a bridge when an old steamboat called S/S Thomée passed by beneath it. Got a few decent shots of it and I really like this one. Look at the guy sitting on top of the roof, that kind of nails it.

Thomée was built in Motala in 1875 and has been in traffic on Lake Storsjön in my county Jämtland since 1880. It is 27 meters long and 4,85 meters wide. It can take onboard 130 passengers.

This image is printed in colour at the back of RETROFUTURE 5, coming in from the printers in a few weeks time.

(My image)