Europe released its debut album in 1983. Although expectations weren’t very high, it sold massively in Sweden and Japan. The reviews were very favourable, and many critics cited John’s guitar work as one of the strongest aspects of the band. A few years of hard work followed. In 1986 the band was rewarded beyond any expectation with the worldwide breakthrough of The Final Countdown and the album of the same name.
Shortly after the breakthrough John left the band. He toured the world with various line-ups, worked with former Deep Purple singer Glenn Hughes and toured with Don Dokken of Dokken-fame. He also contributed to prestigious tributes, such as the LA Blues Authority series. Europe was never far away though. John kept in touch with Joey Tempest. They even shared the stage in 1992 for a one-off show at a festival in Stockholm. This was followed on New Years Eve 1999 by a full blown Europe reunion. Although John Norum initially focused on his solo career again and joined Dokken for another album, soon the plans were announced for a new Europe album. The album finally appeared in 2004: ‘Start From The Dark’, the best Europe comeback album any fan could wish for–dominated by John’s crunchy guitar riffs, just like in the good old days.
,,’Optimus’ is one of the most personal albums I ever made”, says John Norum. ,,I named it ‘Optimus’ after the street in the suburb of Stockholm that I grew up in. It’s also an album on which I sing myself. I have worked with external vocalists over the years. Most of the singers leave and send a bill. I realise now that nobody can sing my own lyrics with the same emotion like I do myself.” That is what John said about his previous solo album.
2010 will see the birth of John’s long awaited new solo album “Play Yard Blues”. A fantastic collection of John Norum originals as well as a couple of covers. The difference with previous solo is that Play Yard Blues shows a little different side of John. The trademark sound and riffings are definitely there but John also follows a more bluesy approach in several songs. With the success of the recent Europe album, this album will find it’s way to his already massive fanbase as well as to an audience of say Frank Marino. “Play Yard Blues” is a great album with some spectacular playing from one of the best.