THERE WAS a time when dreams and reality fused without ridicule or rancor. A time when a man’s trousers could be as tight as his upper-range vocals, when his hair could be as high and crazy as his favorite rock’n’roll all-nighter. A time when his cock and his rock could fuse into one giant, thrusting length of gloriously heavy, yet melodic, rock. Since the likes of Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Ratt, Cinderella and Mötley Crüe strode the Earth delivering the goods, there has been a slow, steady decline in such dreams, such realities…thankfully, John Diva is here to strut such stuff for rockërs and rollërs worldwide, to spotlight his own hitherto unappreciated talents and to take the blazing limelight in all it’s pink and purple lazered glory.
The Diva’s story is one of dreams, yet he has paid every price possible on the lonely street to stardom. From pizza deliveries to pest control, there isn’t a job the Diva hasn’t toiled at to scrape the cash together for dingy rehearsal rooms and a few hours of studio time here and there, let alone the bourbon’n’babes necessary to make such sessions a proper, no-holds-barred party (you cannot sing and play about such dreams unless you try to live them!). And as he cooked those bratwurst, as he sweated over (and into) those kartoffelkuchen, the Diva’s creative juices were busy creating some of the greatest melodies and choruses of the ‘80s rock’n’roll age.
But it all started in San Diego, California. On the wrong side of the tracks but with the right kind of upbringing if rock’n’roll was the game you wanted to play. Diva’s Dad, a showband musician who toured the US casino circuit, left the house when Diva was three, sporadically showing up whenever his show came to town, but never playing a meaningful part in his life. It was all down to the Diva Mama to lut food on the table and inspiration in the brain.
“I grew up with a hard working and totally rockin’ Mama,” says Diva. “She was a fan, she was a groupie, she was at the clubs and there were always parties at the house. And she would make sure she never made me feel left out or excluded! I saw it all growing up, and when I say “all” I mean “all”! It was cherry pop tarts, Cheetos and a whole lotta AC/DC in my world. But then one day she came home screaming and crying. I couldn’t figure it out, why was this mighty woman so upset? She looked at me and said, “Jonny, I hate to do this, I hate to say it, but rock’n’roll is dead.” It broke my heart to see my Mama so sad, and that was the day that John Diva knew he had to rise like a phoenix from my Momma’s flames of sadness to bring back real rock’n’roll like she’d lived it.”
John Diva knew two things would form the cornerstone of his career. Firstly –and most importantly- Diva would always know how to live life in the classiest of fast lanes, a cock-rockin’ James Bond if you will, a man who knew the hard edges of a party but also knew how to treat a lady. His other mantra was simple – it’s all about love. Always. Love love love.
“I went to High School in San Diego and met wonderful people who repeatedly reminded me that love was the only way,” explains Diva. “In fact, when I met JJ Love who’d just come over from Tijuana and could hardly speak English, I knew that love would always conquer all. JJ always reminded me of Chief from the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. Nobody could touch him, he would fight like crazy… and he introduced me to the Scorpions! His dad worked with VW in Mexico City and as best I recall, Klaus and Rudolph had visited the factory on a tour once, his Dad had begged them for a cassette for his boy and Klaus happened to have a copy of Lovedrive tucked into his leathers. JJ and I would go on massive Scorpions benders, man, we must’ve had to re-spool that tape with a pencil a hundred times over, and in fact, the last time I ever saw my father, I was listening to that tape. He came up to my bedroom, and started shouting at me about not only was I a bum wasting my life listening to that music, but that it would also end up giving me a German accent which would get me nowhere in life. That is why, to this day, I always retain a little bit of a German accent just to show my Pops that he was wrong.”
Diva and Love made their way through High School toying around with the idea of forming a band, but neither quite had the courage to step forth and take the bull by the horns. Diva discovered early on that he could write songs. Really good songs. Really great good songs. Really amazingly great good songs that had hooks people wanted to be caught by and melodies from the Gods. He bought a tennis racket to use as a guitar or mic, and he would strut the bedroom carpet belting out songs by Motley, Whitesnake and (of course) the Scorpions. Yet that final step into the glare of inevitable stardom was never taken. Instead, Diva stockpiled songs and on leaving school, found his way through a number of thoroughly boring and rather menial jobs before landing as one of the line-cooks at a German restaurant in downtown San Diego.
It was a chance meal served which would give Diva the vital gateway from kitchen to creator. Back in 1986, in the Kaiserhof restaurant, Diva found himself making a gypsy schnitzel for the-then exploding frontman Vince Neil of Motley Crue. Seizing the moment he saw through the serving hatch, Diva personally delivered that gypsy schnitzel, as well as singing (uninvited) the melody from a song he’d been putting together. Neil was awestruck, so much so that he immediately told Diva to contact his management and make arrangements for the song to be sold that day! That song would become “Girls Girls Girls” and that gypsy schnitzel would prove to be the moment that Diva’s world took it’s first major shift as Neil personally invited him to submit more songs. Word spread through the rock community, and soon, Diva’s devastatingly coöl compositions were being requested by all the big players, from Bon Jovi to Aerosmith with even Axl Rose excited to take on some ideas for a song called “November Rain”. The dream was in full swing, accelerarting down the freeway at lightning speed, and for nearly a decade, Diva strode the same songwriting streets as the likes of Desmond Child.
“From a small, beaten-up T-top Camero, I was talented enough to be able to accumulate several cars to park in the driveway of my Mullholland Drive party palace,”explains Diva, “including a yellow Lambourginho, a red Ferrari, a Porsche targa and for my moments of solace, solitude and reflection, a black V8 BMW 628csi with privacy glass. Those were crazy days and crazy nights!!! Let’s just put it this way, there were a lot of glass coffee tables in the party palace!”
Diva would also enjoy the pleasure of femine energy on a non-monogamous and accelerated basis.
“It is true, there were many fine ladies to help inspire me with their love, lust and intellect. I suppose when it comes to the ladies I took it to extremes which didn’t help, but I guess that’s how it is to be a man. I’ve had more than my fair share of trouble that is love, and I know love will always find a way, but the thing is I was always gone after a night of passion because John Diva is destined to walk alone on his own.
‘But I don’t wanna get into all that here as I think it’s tacky when rock stars talk about the thousands of women they’ve slept with like I have.”
It was the perfect life lived in the perfect way. Fame and recognition was always available, yet equally Diva could move incognito to the bank as he withdrew his latest $50,000 of weekend petty cash. Best of all, he bought his Mama that dream house in Boca Raton, Florida that her “rock’n’roll teachings” deserved.
But then the party screeched to a sudden halt. First came grunge. Then Coldplay. Then Radiohead and also a whole new breed of alternative music and culture which saw dark colours and chin-stroking pontification replacing the ‘spray’n’spandex parties of a recent past. Short cropped hair, big fuzzy beards like chin beavers and thick square glasses took over the clubs and coliseums as hipsters flocked in their thousands.Mama Said Rock Is Dead (available on vinyl, CD and mp3 formats at your local stores) is an album where the crazy times of early years meet the drive and energy of oncoming further crazy nights. This album is nothing less than a credo, a prayer and a homage to all those, who have paved the way for John Diva & The Rockets Of Love. It’s a farewell to all the greats of the genre and beyond – to Lemmy, Bon Scott as well as to David Bowie, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix – and a proud statement: Thank you my idol, I’ll take it from here!
Diva was never going to walk that avenue. He was never going to chop his mane. He was never going to turn down the volume on his cloths. He was never going to grow a face mammal to stroke in pontification. And he was never going to dive down into depression and misery when he still had so much love to share. He was committed to defending the Island of true Rock’n’Roll. And as the bills got harder to pay, as the audience seemed harder to find, he would look at the two photos on his bedside table for inspiration, and remind himself that his momma and Klaus Meine would never ever give up believing in Rock’n’Roll.
Thankfully, there were a few warriors of rock still fighting hard in the trenches, and Diva made a songwriting pact with Jon Bon Jovi which would yield the inspiration behind such hits as “Keep The Faith” as well as putting gas in the Lamborghini.
But even the likes of Bon Jovi and the mighty Aerosmith could no longer fight the tide, losing battle after battle (as well as hair) with the alternative gangs in the fields of music. Songwriting requests started to dwindle and even the Scorpions could no longer maker a serious fist of it in the US. As the bills got harder to pay, Diva would sit with JJ and ponder the future from through the increasing haze of a bourbon bottle.
“It takes a man to admit when he’s screwing up, and these times proved that John Diva was staring to succumb to the raages of daily liquor The hinges were getting looser. The wheels were coming off the Targa. And it would take a rock-bottom moment to shake Diva out of his slippery slide to the bottom of the glass.
When he received the call in August 2008 that his Mama’s Boca Raton house was in receivership, when he heard her tears down the phone, John Diva knew he had to take the final step out of the beckoning gutter and into the already-touched stars.
“I still believed in my heart and soul that the universe had a need, a desire, for glitz, glamour and the raw excitement of unabandonned Rock’n’Roll. I found myself staring at my reflection in the black marble floors of the dining room, and as I stared at myself, I realized it was blindingly obvious that the world needed John Diva to not just write some more amazing songs for others, but to bring them to the stage himself. He had to save rock’n’roll. He had to rescue it with style and panache, a James Bond of glam if you will.”
Diva looked to gather a band of like-minded Rock’n’Roll warriörs who could strut proudly through every goddamn motherfucking club, bar and venue they could globally to preach the good word of “the Rock’n’Roll dream” once again. JJ was obviously his wing-man, and Snake Rocket was an old friend he’d met on the Mississippi River when Diva was out of it and ended up being bitten by a snake. It had been Rocket who sucked the poison out and it would be Rocket to the rescue again so far as Diva was concerned.
Remi Martin, a flagrant fashion narcissist whose mirror lens sunglasses also had mirrors on the inside so as he could look at himself, was someone who had passed through the party house back in the day and left an impression on the floor length mirrors, literally smearing them with his own “love” as he “admired” himself for 12 hours straight. Stingray Jr, was a former daredevil stunt-driver, a real-life Evel Knievel who’d broken every bone in his body (not to mention a couple of boners too!) before concluding that drums would be a safer way of living. He and Diva had been introduced by Gene Simmons at a party in Hollywood several years earlier, and had remained friends ever since. The Rockets of Love were set!
In January 2009, Diva gathered the troops to start playing shows. It was not easy to get US gigs, such was the sad and pathetic disregard of real Rock’n’Roll in the US. What could Diva do? There was a world to conquer (not to mention a house to save) so Diva took the decision that it was time to spend more time in the nation his father always feared the most, Germany, and on the continent where Rock’n’Roll never ever ever ever died, Europe.
He knew he would have to downsize in order to strike big again, and so it was that Diva sacrificed his architectural soul for Rock’n’Roll by offloading the party pad, exchanging 15,000 square feet of living pleasure for a 500ft studio apartment in Culver City. Diva knew he was taking a big risk. Would he ever own such a pad again? It didn’t matter. His Mama’s house was safe thanks to the sale, and his Rock’n’Roll appetite alive with the spirit of challenge and new frontiers. Deep down, Diva knew that he would rise, like a Phoenix from the flames, to not only become a household sound in the world’s ears, but also in their eyes…
Fast-forward to 2018 (we don’t have time to list the achievements, the sold-out arenas, the awards or the ladies).
John Diva as a live act is now established throughout Europe as one of the great Rock’n’Roll bands of the modern age, a kaleidoscope of cock-rockin’ colour and verve, strutting and touring succesfully all over.
Well, truth be told, that has proven a tougher act for Diva to follow until now. Put simply, there has never before been a finished proiduct that John Diva could put his name to with pride.
There is a John Diva album out there, but good luck finding it. The story gets vague as Diva refuses to go into great detail, but tales of his visiting record shops from Berlin to Birmingham simply to take copies of an album rumoured to be called “Fast Days Faster Nights” out of circulation one by one remain legendary and unconfirmed…as do the stories of Diva subsequently urinating on the desk of the Geffen A&R man responsible for releasing the album without Diva’s approval before “entertaining” his wife for 48 hours straight one steamy night in Stockholm.
“it is true but I will not speak about it because John Diva does not want to discuss imperfections of either the ear or the soul.”
(These have become huge collectors items by the way, and if you’re lucky, an original will arise on ebay for less than a thousand euros).
But finally – finally- the moment has arrived that John Diva is proudly ready to unleash his talents on vinyl (CD/Mp3 and all available formats via your trusted vendor) with John Diva & The Rockets Of Love. It was recorded in Malaga, Spain at Gizmo 7 Studios, as well as Principal Studios and Kids Room in Munster, Germany. Diva hand-chose producer Michael Voss (Michael Schenker, Mad Max, Tony Carey) not only for his excellently clean, crisp and rockin’ reverberations, but also because he works with Herman Rarebell of the Scorpions.
“The process was so smooth and so “right” in stark contrast to previous studio ventures,” says Diva, “and I put that down to the producing talents of Voss, his obvious Scorpions education and the quality of material he had to work with. We call this a perfect rock’n’ storm!”
The 12 track album is a glorious, pouting, hip-thrusting collection of pröper Rock’n’Roll just as Diva has always delivered it, evoking the halcyon days of Cinderella, Bon Jovi, Kiss and Whitesnake, blessed with a smidge of AC/DC and Mötley Crüe. Which is inevitable given the compositions Diva contributed to all those acts. But he has saved best for these latest songs. Take the bombastic “Rock’n’ Roll Heaven.”
“It’s about a few things, but mostly it’s about my mother,” says Diva, “it’s about fighting for her, and it’s also a farewell to all the big ones who passed away, from Hendrix to Morrison to Lemmy to Bowie, who are sadly no longer with us but who each took the time to pass their torch to me, which is a responsibility that John Diva takes very seriously.”
Then there’s the summertime-all-the-time anthemic fist-pumper “Lolita”.
“This is an homage to Dave Lee Roth, a man who in his prime certainly influenced John Diva and helped him realize that he could be not just the music behind the sights and sounds of rock’n’roll but also the actual sight! And once I realized that, picture me as a kid out of control in a candy store, but I knew that man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do…which in my case was always just rock hard and roll fast.”
Even John Diva knows that real rock’n’roll requires depth, soul, a piano, a lonely night, some friends holding smart phones in the air and an explosive ballad, in fact a world pleaser like “Just The Night Away”.
“I wrote that song for all the ladies and lives I’d love to have shared but didn’t have time for. Know that I love women –all women- and I respect and worship the ground they walk on. But because I am at once such a lover and a loner, it’s hard for me to establish meaningful relationships despite the depth of my affections for all the thousands of ladies I’ve loved, left and occasionally lost. If you detect a hint of sadness in there, it’s because I recently met one of my daughters, Roxxxie, and spending time with this beautiful lady I helped create has given me a new sense of wisdom and perspective on all these complex issues. I’m sure there are a few men out there who can relate, and for that matter women too.”
There’s more, so much more to tell you about, but John Diva doesn’t want to unveil all the secrets of what is destined to be the biggest hrd rock’n’roll album since the days of Whitesnake 1987 and Slippery When Wet.
“My journey is certainly a legendary ride although I don’t feel comfortable saying that” says Diva humbly, “and it is a ride I want the listener –the viewer- to enjoy without further explanation. It is a ride for those who have lived, loved, still live and still love as well as the millions who want to know how it feels to live my incredibly fortunate and exciting life. I could never keep it all to myself, so this is my gift to the fans, and my way of sharing all the luck, fortune and excitement I enjoy every single day. My life can now be their fantasy, and few things give me greater pleasure.”
John Diva and The Rockets Of Love ‘MAMA SAID ROCK IS DEAD’ is out now. You’d be a löser to ignore this masterpiece.