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Europe

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Europe is a Swedish hard rock band originally assembled as a progressive rock group; they later added keyboards to their sound in order to soften it, in hopes of gaining radio airplay. Europe is one of the most successful Swedish bands ever, having sold more than ten million albums worldwide.

The first incarnation of the band was named Force and came together in 1979, in Upplands Voy, Stockholm, and was integrated by vocalist and keyboardist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bassist Peter Olsson and drummer Tony Reno. The band sent several demos to record companies, but were told that in order to be published they had to cut their hair and sing in Swedish. Two years later, Olsson left the band and was replaced by John Leven. Just a couple of months later, Levenjoined Yngwie J. Malmsteen's band Rising Force, and Malmsteen's former bassist, Marcel Jacob joined Force. This only lasted for three months, though; Leven apparently had issues with Malmsteen, so he and Jacob traded places again.

In 1982, Tempest's girlfriend entered Force in the Swedish rock talent contest Rock-SM. Competing against 4000 bands, they won the contest, their rewards being a record deal. Tempest won the individual award for Best Lead Singer, and Norum won the award for Best Guitarist. During the contest, Force was forced to change their name to Europe. Their self-titled debut album was released on the following year, and sold well both in Sweden and Japan. The single "Seven Doors Hotel" became a Top Ten hit in Japan. The second album, Wings of Tomorrow, was released one year later, and the single "Open Your Heart" got CBS Records interested in the band, offering them an international contract in 1985. Keyboardist Mic Michaeli was soon recruited to play in live concerts, and became an official member of the band shortly after. At the same time, Tony Reno was fired because of his lack of motivation and alleged slacking off from rehearsals. His replacement was Ian Haugland. In 1985 Europe recorded the soundtrack for youth movie On the Loose, which gave them the hit "Rock the Night". Several months later, Tempest was asked to write a song for the charity project Swedish Metal Aid. He wrote "Give A Helping Hand", which would feature the biggest stars of Swedish rock and metal. The income from the sales of the single, which was produced by Easy Action guitarist Kee Marcello, was donated to the starving people of Ethiopia.

At the end of the year they began the recording of their next album. The result was The Final Countdown, released in 1986. It became a worldwide hit, selling more than six million copies. The title track was Number One in 26 countries, and the ballad "Carrie" reached Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the USA. Not satisfied with the album's keyboard-dominated production nor the band's commercialized image, John Norum decided to leave Europe in November 1986 to pursue a solo career. Kee Marcello was asked to replace him, and after some consideration decided to join the band. The following year included successful tours through the European continent and the USA. The follow-up to The Final Countdown was entitled Out of This World and was released in 1988, a time when Guns N' Roses, INXS and U2 had broken the monopoly that melodic hard rock had on the music industry. The album would sell two million copies, which was considered a fiasco compared to previous sales figures. More touring followed, including an American tour with Def Leppard and a festival gig at the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, England with Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Vixen.

In September 1989, Europe did a gig at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go club in West Hollywood, California, under the pseudonym Le Baron Boys. That name would later be used as a title for a much-circulated Europe bootleg, which contained demo recordings from 1989-90. Two years later, the album Prisoners in Paradise was released, but received limited media attention due to the "boom" of the grunge movement, started by Nirvana and Pearl Jam. On New Year's Eve 1991, Europe kicked off a new tour with a show at the Tokyo Dome, in which Tesla, Thunder and Metallica also performed. Interestingly enough, the show was called "The Final Countdown". After ten years of living, recording and touring together, Europe decided to take a long break when the tour ended in 1992. Since then, Tempest, Norum and Marcello have released solo albums, while the other members have participated in several different projects and bands.

For the millennium celebrations, Europe was asked to do a concert in Stockholm on New Year's Eve. That would be their first concert with two lead guitarists, since both Norum and Marcello had accepted to play. This was not a full-time reunion, however; just a one-off event. Over the years, there were several reunion rumors, and on October 2 of 2003 it was made official:  Europe announced plans for a new album and world tour. The band then switched back to the classic Final Countdown line-up, with John Norum as the only lead guitarist; Kee Marcello claimed that he was too busy with his own projects. In the summer of 2004 Europe went on a festival tour through the European continent. The concert setlists included several old classics, but also introduced the title track from their brand new album - Start from the Dark, released in late 2004 to good reviews from music critics. Eventually, the album sold an excess of 600,000 copies worldwide. Europe recently started a new world tour and released their latest album, Secret Society, on October 25, 2006. On New Year's Eve 2006, Europe performed on a live TV show in Bucharest, Romania. On January 14, 2007 Europe did a concert in Tirana, Albania. It was the band's first performance on the 2007 European Tour.


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