Stonesland – My other family

When I left home for the No Filter US Tour 2019 early this summer, going on the road for almost three months, one of my very closest at home said “Enjoy your other family!” Those kind words have been with me on this tour, and they are always on my mind when I get homesick. After going to Stones shows all over the world for 46 years now, I have friends and Stones “family” all over the world. I get to meet them on tour. This is the story of my “other family”.

First I need to present a very good friend, in the picture above. It is Juan Ignacio of the 40×5 Tributo Bar, a bar dedicated to The Rolling Stones in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This picture is taken before the show in New Jersey on August 5, 2019. I had just got my own special “Argentina NYC/NJ 2019” shirt from Juan, as a special gift, and I am smiling because I feel a bit like from Argentina, because I have so many good friends from the country who love the Stones so much. I have not missed any shows in Argentina since my first travel there in 1998, and Argentina, and my friends there, will always have a special place in my heart, because we have so many shared emotions. Juan is working hard with many friends and fans, with the 40×5 Tributo Bar, and he had a large group of fans and friends coming from Argentina into the NYC/NJ shows.

Then, before I go on with presenting some of my other friends and Stones “family”, I would like to show a part of my real family. Not pictures of them, due to their privacy, but they were all there when this picture below was taken. The picture is taken early morning just around 9am in Asker, Norway, on 17. mai – May 17 – which is the biggest day of the year for us in Norway. It is a 100% family and children’s day. Last year I was in Dublin 17. mai, for the tour start, and this year I was supposed to be in Santa Clara, as there was supposed to be a show there on May 18, but as the tour was delayed, I got to be at home with my family on this very important day for us all. Less than two weeks after the picture below was taken, when I was with my family there, I left home for the Stones rehearsals in London UK, so for me 17. mai was one of the last great moments at home before I went on the tour.

All schools in Asker line up early morning, walk up to Skaugum, where the Crown Prince of Norway lives, and everybody have flags, spring time is here, winter is gone, the trees have light green leaves because they just got new leaves just a few weeks earlier. Vettre Skole, the school I went to from age six and for six years, is in the picture. Close to sixty years ago I walked there myself…

Back to Stonesland! I first went to see a Rolling Stones show back in 1973. We were four buses packed with Stones fans, leaving from Kontraskjæret in Oslo, heading for the Stones live in Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden. During the 70’s I made many contacts through letter, phone and also locally, meeting or writing to fans in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, England, USA and many other places. Then I started IORR – the It’s Only Rock’n’Roll magazine and fan club – in 1980. It is weired to realize this is now 39 years i.e. two generations ago.

During the 80’s I went to more shows, as my children grew up, and by the 90’s I spent a lot of time on the road with Stones shows, all over the world. With friends and “family” in every country the Stones visit across the globe, I am never alone during my travels. There are many friends in Argentina, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, and of course UK, France, Spain, Italy and many other European country.

I have stayed at home with many friends in all parts of the world. As work has been more busy, I need more time on my own for working, so staying home with friends is not that easy anymore, but still we meet wherever the Stones tours take us.

Even if I do not “hang around” with Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie, I feel like they are close by me, almost like “half brothers”, I have done handshakes and been face to face with them many times, still kept a distance over the years. Every time I arrive into rehearsals, then tours, it is like coming back to my “other family”. Also, I get to meet many crew members and the rest of the band. This is to saying thanks to everyone, also thanks to my real family, who is patient and allow me to leave home for so long time, almost three months every year, even more in the past during the real long tours. Thanks!

It is impossible for me to post pictures of every friend and person I have been with during tours. I do not have many pictures, so these are just some of the few ones where I got to take pictures, or get someone else, to make pictures with my camera.

In Chicago I met Jim Pietryga. We have been on many Stones tours, but I don’t have any pictures with him unfortunately. Anyway, he took the picture below of me before show number one in Chicago. My hair was cut before the tour, to 1/4 inch i.e. 6 mm, now it is almost two months longer, I need a haircut… It was not that warm during the tour start in Chicago, so I needed my jacket, and also a sweater. Later on, my jacket has been staying in my hotel room. They had placed many tongues on the sidewalks on the way to Soldier Field. I am posing behind one of these. By the first show, all these tongues had all gone – souvenirs to fans… I did not take any!

Back to the 2nd show in New York City / New Jersey August 5. There was a large VIP area there, and I met many fans and friends who travel. First of all good friend Yuji Ikeda from Japan. He arrived to the city of NYC and NJ with a large group from Japan, as he is in charge of Stone People Japan, probably the biggest Stones fan club in a single country, still making the magazine “Stone People”, a beautiful book with plenty of great pictures and stories in Japanese. In the background, there are many other familiar faces, friends and “Stones family”, from England, The Netherlands, USA and so on.

For NYC/NJ I managed to get this great sofa to rest my legs, as the humidity and heat was awful, also too much walking in NYC on non show days. Another person who joined me in the sofa was the leader of Shidoobee, North America fan base and forum – Doug Potash – “Stonesdoug” – picture below. Most people do not realize how much work it is to organize thousands of fans, and to run a fan web site. I know, and Doug know. Respect!

Rewind to the show in New Orleans. I had been shattered by the crazy weather all week, and I planned to visit Allison at her house in New Orleans, but due to the flooding and hurricane arriving on Saturday, and also the change of show day from Sunday into Monday, I was sort of stuck in my hotel in New Orleans. As I walked into the venue on show day, I met Allison Elsee, picture below. We have met on many tours, every tour, many places, and there she was with Erik Engholm from Sweden. Finally I could talk my own language! Swedish and Norwegian languages are similar, so after weeks on tour I could almost be at home language wise!

In Jacksonville I met more friends, many I did not get any photos with, unfortunately. For me it is not natural to make pictures with others, as I am a rather shy and private person. Seems weired when I get to meet so many people across the world, but that is me. Anyway, we did some pictures of friends in Jacksonville, like the one below. It is me with Luc van der Hoeven, to the left, dark shirt. Luc is from Belgium, and we have met for decades all over the world on tours. Next to Luc is Paul Boyd from England, and to my right is Ria Michiels from Belgium.

In Philadelphia I met Juha Kakkuri from Finland. I have known Juha since the 80’s, i.e. for more than 30 years, and I have stayed with Juha in Finland, and Juha with me in Norway many times over the years, also we have been on travel to Japan, Argentina, almost every part of the world. When I am with good friends I am never home sick…

I could go on and on with more pictures, but I don’t have many from this tour, also this page would be very long. I will close now with a photo made in the pit i.e. in the front of the stage just an hour or so before show start, in Houston Texas. It is me at the right, with Bill Wilson and his wife Karen Wilson from Texas USA to the left. Between us, next to me, John Malloy from North Carolina, USA. It is always good to be with friends, but why I am not smiling? Well just a little bit of a nervous smile, because it is just an hour or so before The Rolling Stones go on stage. Even if I have seen more than five hundred Stones shows, I am so nervous every show day, and more and more nervous as the clock is ticking, until they are on stage. Then I am in heaven – Stonesland heaven that is!