With a line-up of players from the likes of the Hellacopters, Diamond Dogs and Tramp, and a history of missed flights and drug busts, it’s perhaps appropriate that the debut album by Stevie Klasson’s Black Weeds, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Tales From A Crooked Highway’, should be accompanied by a book. For here is a man with stories to tell.
The Black Weeds were born in the back room of a low-rent dive on the south side of Stockholm in 2009, while Klasson cut his teeth working alongside Johnny Thunders from 1987 until the death of the former New York Doll in 1991. He also played – briefly – with Hanoi Rocks at the invitation of Andy McCoy. “We clashed music-wise,” writes Klasson. “I believe Mike [Monroe] simply just didn’t like the way I played guitar”.
The idea of a book/audio set is an unusual one, though the music fits the tone of the text, which is co-written with his close friend Staffan Bagge. From the moment Klasson meets Thunders, it’s a travelogue of rock’n’roll excess, including, er, the arson of burger restaurants. Regular, run of the mill stuff.
“Those are the things that happen to people that become involved in the lifestyle,” says Klasson. “People always used to tell me I had great rock‘n’roll stories and that someday I should do a book, so when the chance came along I took it.”
Road stories aside, the tome’s contents are perhaps a little weird. There’s a segment devoted to worship of vintage guitars – Stevie owns a shop – and another offering recipes from various band-mates, including Stevie’s meatballs with Mama Thunders’ tomato sauce, and Bobban Eriksson’s stewed macaroni with sausages and bacon.
“Everybody in The Black Weeds enjoys eating. We love nice meals,” says Klasson. “I’m also working on the pilot for a TV show – rock‘n’roll cooking recipes.”
Klasson got to know Thunders pretty well during their four years together, the elder musician having taken the younger one under his wing, forbidding him to use drugs in the sternest possible manner.
“Johnny was like the older brother I never had, he was very protective of me. He was always on my case making sure I kept clear of drugs. I once asked him whether I could do a line of coke, and Johnny responded by smacking me in the face so hard that I fell to the ground.”
Having heeded that advice and stuck to booze and dope, Klasson rejects the suggestion that Thunders was a classic example of an artist guilty of wasting his talent, succumbing to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle at a mere 38 years old.
“Addiction is a disease, and Johnny had a very addictive personality,” he believes. “Johnny fought really hard to get off drugs but in the end he just wasn’t strong enough. Watching him go through that was pretty painful.”