Wacken Stories: Thomas Jensen
Almost 30 years of W:O:A lead to many, many great stories – crazy, heart-warming, revealing, or just plain funny. To collect those stories, we have talked to the people that live, work or party around the „Wacken Holy Ground“. Their experience illustrate the festival’s extraordinary spirit, so have fun with special anecdotes which you won’t find everywhere else: Here are the „Wacken Stories“!
Thomas Jensen (promoter, foreign minister, lover of Lemmy quotes)
„Lemmy was a spiritual guide for us“
Not many bands are as close to the hearts of the two Wacken bosses like Motörhead. In 1997, Lemmy and his gang played their first show at the festival, overall they appeared eight times. Lemmy’s spirit has been felt at the „Holy Ground“ long before his passing, and quotes like „Born to lose, live to win“ are words to live by for the people behind the event. So when Lemmy was suffering from heart problems in 2013, but wanted to play just that one concert at the W:O:A, the promoters felt beyond honoured. Thomas Jensen looks back on that day for our 30th and final Wacken Story.
„That year Motörhead had cancelled all their festival appearances for health reasons. We were informed early on though about his wish to play Wacken. What an honour! Right away I said that a couple of songs would be great, but that’s not how Lemmy was wired. He thought that a headline slot needs the full show.
Unfortunately 2013 turned out to be very, very hot, and Lemmy never liked high temperatures. We always had to make sure to have ACs and fans ready, and I informed our team early to provide what was needed for the master. But that was not enough: Lemmy had to end the show after 20 minutes. A lot of people behind the stage felt a huge disappointment, most of all Lemmy himself. I on the other hand thought differently and told the fans. This is what he was able to give us that day, and that has been way more than we could’ve expected a few months earlier.
Right after the gig, Lemmy and I went to his dressing room and listened to his new album ‚Aftershock‘. The record hadn’t been released yet at that point, so that touched me quite a bit. I told him not to worry about the shortened concert. ‚This is half-time, next year you’ll play the rest!‘ I said. It was important to me to make sure that the band didn’t feel disappointed – since neither I nor the fans did.
There has always been a special connection to Motörhead and Lemmy. Some of these moments we will never forget. Several times Holger had someone look after Lemmy’s slot machines. They were traveling on the bus with him, so whenever the Motörhead entourage arrived, a friend of us who knows about equipment like that worked on them.
After Lemmy passed away we set his Bomber up on stage one last time. There were so many highlights over the years, and we’re very proud of them. Lemmy was a spiritual guide for us. Quotes like ‚Born to lose, live to win‘ became words to live by. Motörhead including their whole crew were and still are part of our metal family.
There’s this band Betontod that covered Schlager songs on their new record. Not exactly my style, but this year I had to think about a line in a song quite often. That line by singer Vicky Leandros from the song ‚I love life‘ goes like this: ‚The carousel will keep on turning, even if we have to part.‘ That touched me. Lemmy’s death has been a huge loss, but in April our best friend and close ally Thomas Hess, head of production at Wacken, also passed away unexpectedly. I never had imagined to put on the festival without him. His first time was in 1996 when he was tour managing the Böhse Onkelz. In 1997 he started working for us. When I was wandering the grounds this year, I had to think about that line in the song quite a bit. ‚Yes, you I love what I do, and life has to go on. Even if something very, very sad happens.‘
Maybe Holger and I carry a bit of the spirit of a boxer inside of us. Because we always get up again, even though we might already be down for the count. In a business like this that has been called a shark pool many times, I consider it a privilege to be working with good friends and people I can trust. And they are still there, even if our closest friend is gone, at least in a physical sense. We are quite sure that Thomas sent the brillant weather this year. And that one time when a police drone got caught in a tree, he must have played a role from above – because that was exactly his type of humour. It hurts to have lost him, and it will hurt still in ten years. But it has to. Gone, but not forgotten.“
Thomas’ wish for the 30th W:O:A, if anything was possible:
„Motörhead, Ronnie James Dio or Savatage with special guest Paul O‘Neill.“
Text: Ann G. Jung
Do you want some more? All already released stories are available here!