Why You Should Know Him
John Norum is best known as the guitarist on the band Europe’s breakout multi-platinum album, The Final Countdown. What many people do not know is that Europe released two albums before The Final Countdown that featured more aggressive metal riffing and shredding guitar solos. The band released self-titled Europe in 1983 and followed that with Wings of Tomorrow in 1984.
After hearing Europe’s first two albums, it is easy to see why Norum was dissatisfied with the direction Europe was heading with The Final Countdown. The album marked a change in the band’s sound to a keyboard-driven pop feel that did not sit well with the incredible Norwegian shredder. Shortly after the album was recorded, Norum left the band to pursue a solo career that met his needs to showcase his guitar playing and rock writing style.
Upon leaving Europe, Norum immediately went to work on his first solo album, Total Control. The album was released in 1987 and showcased Norum’s diversity as a guitar player. Not only did he fulfill his need to shred, but there are several songs such as “In Your Eyes” and “Too Many Hearts” where he dials it back and sits in the pocket playing soulful legato leads over slower tempos that propel the songs along without overplaying. Total Control allowed Norum the flexibility to showcase all of his guitar skill as well as his songwriting talent.
Norum’s tone on the early Europe albums came from a classic Strat and Marshall combination. His ‘70s Fender Stratocaster was equipped with a DiMarzio HS-3 pickup in the neck and an FS-1 in the bridge. During rhythms, Norum would go straight into his 50 Watt Marshall JCM 800 2205.
When it came to lead tones, Norum used the Boss OD-1 and SD-1 to really make his Marshall scream. On the solo album Total Control, the gear remained largely the same, the only difference being he switched his ‘70s Strat for a ‘65 Strat with HS-3 pickups only instead of the HS-3/FS-1 combo he used on the Europe albums.
Where Is He Now?
John Norum has not taken a break since he started his career as a guitarist. After Total Control, he went on to release six more solo albums and played on the Don Dokken album Up from the Ashes, as well as the Dokken album, Long Way Home.
Norum rejoined Europe for a reunion show on New Year’s Eve in 1999, and that event was the one and only time Europe played with both John Norum and its other incredible shredder, Kee Marcello, on guitars. The band officially got back together in 2003 with Norum as the lone guitarist. Europe has released five studio albums since then.
This year (2017) Norum is touring in South America and is set to release his first DVD, Let It Shine—A look inside John Norum’s crazy guitar world. The pre-order and other details can all be found on Norum’s official website, www.johnnorum.se.