Europe rose to international fame in the 1980s with its third album The Final Countdown, which became a high commercial success and sold over three million copies in the United States. Europe was one of the most successful rock acts of the 80's and sold over four million albums in the United States alone and over 10 million albums worldwide. The band has achieved two top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (The Final Countdown and Out of This World) and two top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart ("The Final Countdown" and "Carrie"). From 1986 to 1992 Europe sold over 20 million records worldwide, making them the 4th most successful act from Sweden in history.
Europe went on hiatus in 1992, reunited temporarily for a one-off performance in Stockholm on New Year's Eve 1999 and announced an official reunion in 2003. Since then Europe has released two albums, Start from the Dark and Secret Society. A new album is expected to be released in 2009.
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 Levén. Just a couple of months later, Levén joined Yngwie Malmsteen's band Rising Force, and Malmsteen's former bassist, Marcel Jacob joined Force. This only lasted for three months, though; Levén 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 thanks to two songs, "In the Future to Come" and "The King Will Return". The reward was a record deal with Hot Records. Tempest won the individual award for Best Lead Singer, and Norum won the award for Best Guitarist. During the contest, Force changed their name to Europe. The self-titled debut album was released the following year, and sold well both in Sweden and Japan. The album charted at number 8 in the band's home country and the single "Seven Doors Hotel" became a Top 10 hit in Japan.
The second album Wings of Tomorrow was released one year later and the single "Open Your Heart" got interest from CBS Records who offered them an international contract in 1985. "I think one of the most important albums for the band was Wings of Tomorrow," Tempest said, "We were learning how to write songs and John started playing some really cool stuff on the guitar. We became a better band and that was a good period for the band." 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 on rehearsals. His replacement was Ian Haugland.
In 1985 Europe recorded the soundtrack for the film On the Loose, which gave them the hit "Rock the Night". Several months later Joey 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.
Kee Marcello was asked to replace him, and after some consideration decided to join the band. Marcello joined the band at its commercial peak, no less than three singles from The Final Countdown reaching the US Top 40. The following year included successful tours through Europe and the USA.
The follow-up to The Final Countdown was entitled Out of This World and was released in 1988. The biggest hit from the album was "Superstitious" which peaked at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. "Superstitious" would be the last Europe song to chart in the USA. The album was certified platinum in the States and peaked at number 19 on the Billboard 200 chart. 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 Whisky 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, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Although the sales were low compared to previous albums, the single "I'll Cry for You" managed to hit number 28 on the UK charts. 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. The show was called "Final Countdown '91".
After ten years of living, recording, and touring together, Europe decided to take a break at the end of the 1992 tour. "I remember in the tour bus afterwards we were talking about where the whole thing was going and I think at the time the consensus of the band was we really felt ready for a break," Tempest said, "We felt that it was time to put some roots down and I was really into the idea of making my own solo album." In that time, Tempest and Marcello released solo albums whilst the other members participated in several different projects and bands.
Over the years, there were several reunion rumors, and on October 2, 2003 it was made official: Europe announced plans for a new album and world tour. The band then switched back to the classic The Final Countdown line-up, with John Norum as the only lead guitarist. "There was no doubt that we wanted John back, and John wanted to get back," Tempest said, "For me it was important to get that spark going again that we had before." Kee Marcello claimed that he was too busy with his own projects. "I told them I didn't want to participate in a [new] studio album because musically, I want to go in a different kind of direction than the music Europe stands for," Marcello said, "Then we talked for a while about doing a six-piece tour – it didn't turn out that way because of different reasons."
The songwriting for a new album, Start from the Dark, began early in 2003. "It was just a matter of moving forward and writing songs for the new album," Tempest said, "That was always our intention. We thought that if we were gonna make a comeback, we wanted to do it properly, and that meant we wanted to write and record some new songs, a new album." For the recording of Start from the Dark, the band decided to work with producer Kevin Elson, who had also produced The Final Countdown. "We could either go with a younger producer, or we could go with someone that we knew, someone experienced who is on the same wavelength as the band," Tempest said, "So in the end we decided that Kevin would be the perfect choice."
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 Start from the Dark. The album was released on September 22, 2004, the same day that John Norum became a father. Start from the Dark featured a more modern sound compared to Europe's previous albums. "We wanted to be doing something at least that was a little bit relevant now; bit of a dry mix, detuned a bit," Tempest said, "So we felt like we didn't want to do an '80s album per se, we just wanted to start like a fresh band really." Eventually, the album sold in excess of 600,000 copies worldwide.
Europe released its latest album, Secret Society on October 26, 2006. "We think it's one of the strongest albums that Europe has ever done," Tempest said, "There is definitely some more melodic stuff on this one. Start from the Dark was very raw and made a statement, which is cool but for us it felt like a debut album in a way, so we wanted to branch out a bit on this one and take it to new levels."
On January 26, 2008 Europe did a semi-acoustic live concert at Nalen in Stockholm, calling the event Almost Unplugged. The band was accompanied by a string quartet and played reworked versions of its own songs, as well as cover versions of songs by bands that have influenced Europe's sound throughout the years – Pink Floyd, UFO, Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. The show was broadcast live over the Internet on Europe's official website. It was released on CD on September 17, 2008 and there are also plans for a DVD release in the fall of 2008.
On July 23, 2008 Europe did a co-headlining concert with Whitesnake in Padua, Italy. During Whitesnake's performance of their encore "Still of the Night", Joey Tempest joined David Coverdale on stage for the last chorus. In August 2008 Europe was the opening act for Deep Purple for two concerts in Sweden, in Linköping on August 8 and Ystad on August 9. John Norum joined Deep Purple on stage in Ystad for a performance of "Smoke on the Water".
Europe will go in the studio and start recording the next album in the fall of 2008, and plans to release it in the beginning of 2009.
³Live during the Prisoners in Paradise Tour 1991-92
|1984||Wings of Tomorrow|
|1986||The Final Countdown||Epic Records|
|1988||Out of This World|
|1991||Prisoners in Paradise|
|2004||Start from the Dark||Sanctuary Records|