RECORD STORE TALES #1013: “Joey” – The Joey Tempest Conspiracy, 7 Years Later
I think with the distance of seven years, we can finally put the Joey Tempest Conspiracy Theory to bed. “What conspiracy,” you ask? It all started in March of 2015 when a writer friend of mine, Tommy Morais, contributed an excellent review of the Europe album, War of Kings. He rated it 4/5 stars, and said “I praise Europe for giving us a true great hard rock record in 2015”. You’d think there was nothing controversial about Tommy’s review, but on June 13 of that year…everything changed.
A reader going by the name “Carrieanne” dropped a massive, monolithic comment one morning, explaining that Joey Tempest was no longer in fact Joey Tempest. He had been replaced by a doppleganger. A satanic one at that. According to Carrieanne, “since the middle of 1989, the real Joey Tempest is not in this band, and Joey was truly the only one who has made this group huge with his talents, awesomeness and uniqueness!! And since 26 years, there’s such a horrible imposter and liar in this ‘group’, that’s not the real Joey Tempest!!”
“The real Joey Tempest had to leave the group because of this horrible liar!! It’s so obvious and so clear to see that it’s just someone different (unless you’re blind and deaf, like bunch of ignorants [sic]).” On and on it goes, a massive diatribe praising Joey, attacking the fans who enabled the replacement’s acceptance, and of course, religious weirdness. “You are worshipping the devil!!!” said Carrieanne. But all is not lost. The real Joey, one day, will come back. There’s a really messianic angle to this whole comment. Carrieanne ties the lyrics to “Danger on the Track” and “The Final Countdown” to a prophecy of this great replacement, like biblical verse.
“Are you on drugs?” asked Jompa Wilmenius, of E-Tainment News. Reader Derek commented, “I can see you made the mistake of spilling meth into your coffee this morning champ.”
You can’t help but see similarities to conspiracy theories today. I’m reminded of Romana Didulo, a woman who claims to be the “Queen of Canada”. Canada already has a monarch and his name is Charles III, but I digress. Tens of thousands of followers legitimately believe Didulo to be the legitimate Queen of Canada, as she tours the country in a beat up RV and feeds her followers tins of sardines. And just like with Queen Romana, acolytes of the weird soon emerged to talk about Joey Tempest. Things got even weirder.
Admittedly, this next part is kind of my fault. With co-writer 1537, we cooked up a parody review of War of Kings, playing up the whole replacement angle. For example, we wrote: “Just look at the songs here! ‘Children of the Night’. The real Joey would never have written a song about ‘children of the night’, ‘California 405’ is the highway that O.J. Simpson was chased down – a definite clue that there was something more going on here than meets the eye! Why would Europe specifically reference that notorious highway unless they were implying some sort of wrongdoing behind the scenes?”
We guffawed and high-fived and hoped Carrieanne would drop another bizarre comment. That is not exactly what happened.
While everyone else seemed to get the joke, someone named Doreen, who typed completely in capslock, said: “I know Joey Tempest, and can I assure you that this is completely and utterly ludicrous.”
We laughed some more, as one person clearly did not get the joke. We thought it was pretty obvious. With lines such as “Joey would NEVER let his hair go flat like that, wake up people,” I really did think it was an obvious joke post.
We mocked Doreen a bit, but then shortly after, a new player entered the field. Miranda, claiming to be Joey’s wife, also did not get the joke. “Must post fast since I’m sure the guys in white coats [are] coming for ya,” she said. Miranda claimed to have Joey Tempest’s birth certificate, marriage certificate, childrens’ birth certificates, and a DNA report. (I’m not sure what good a DNA report will do us.)
I followed Miranda to her YouTube channel, where she goes by the name “TheMirandaTempest”. On this page, she has poorly dubbed her vocals onto classic Europe ballads, to create fake “duets” with her “husband” Joey. Joey’s wife, incidentally, was also publicly known to be Lisa Worthington, not somebody named Miranda. So now, we had two different delusions. We had Carrieanne who said Joey Tempest was replaced by a satanic doppleganger in some bizarre conspiracy. Now we also had Miranda, who was posing as Joey’s wife online. And things would get even weirder still.
We know now that there was at least one Facebook page posing as Joey Tempest at that time. Imposters, of the online variety, were of actual concern. You can see why as we go on.
As Miranda’s comment was thoroughly mocked by readers, others came to her defence. Doreen claimed again she knew the real Joey Tempest, but I think the person she knew was probably that fake Joey on Facebook. Once she realized that several commenters were trying to explain the joke to her, she became angry. She did not find it funny. Neither did Joey Tempest, or his wife, she claimed.
Ironically, I had heard from Jompa Wilmenius that the real John Levén of Europe did find it funny.
Soon, Doreen’s partner Billy Low entered the fray.
“Joakim Larsson [Joey’s real name] and his wife are personal friends of mine. They are also personal friends of my partner. We ask him to do cover versions of songs for us, which he does. We also met him recently. A fake? Plastic surgery? Don’t make me laugh! Are you one of those who is going to write a book about this, hoping to make money? If so, forget that idea. Anyone with even a shred of common sense would know that what you are claiming is pure fabrication. If l wasn’t so furious about this, l can assure you that l would laugh my head off!”
They met him recently. They. Met. Him. Recently. Whooboy. His wife Miranda…”You read what Joey’s wife has said on here,” said Billy Low. The person claiming to be his wife, who is not his wife, because his wife was Lisa Worthington, you mean.
It’s really easy to understand how the Queen of Canada has followers when you see stuff like this. She’s told her followers not to pay their bills, as Canada is illegitimate. She is the Queen, and she says don’t pay your bills. So these Canadians — homeowners! — are having their electricity turned off. This is happening as we speak. And they believe in their Queen even harder.
The very active comments section rolled on, with one comparing the situation to Matthew Trippe who claimed to be Nikki Sixx at one point.
I later received a threat on Facebook from Billy Low, because I misgendered him as a woman. I didn’t know. I just assumed it was a group of Joey fangirls. When he said Doreen was his “partner” that didn’t clear it up. The best part about this is that it drew out someone actually claiming to be Joey Tempest. Posted Joey: “The ‘real’ Joey Tempest is alive and well and still the same person,but even Rockstars have their secrets!!!!!!!!”
From the comments’ IP addresses, I learned the following. Billy and Doreen didn’t even live on the same continent as Miranda, so I’m not sure how they are close personal friends. Carrieann was in Poland, and had the same IP address as another commenter “Someone X”. It was all so very strange.
Strange, yet in the context of what we see in the world today, pretty tame stuff. Nobody’s losing their house because they think Joey was replaced by a satanic lookalike, or because they pose as Joey’s wife online. As least, we hope they don’t.
Billy Low accused me of making the story up to write a book and make money. While that was certainly untrue, I admittedly did milk the posts for hits as much as I could. They were very popular! One or more of the Joey Tempest posts tended to stay in the top 10 for hits, for a long time. I won’t apologize for that. Entertaining the masses can be a thankless job. I probably earned enough in advertizing dollars from the Joey posts to buy a few coffees. Sue me, Billy!