Hanoi Rocks Biography
The first punk rock single ever made in Finland was recorded by a band called Briard which was formed by only fourteen years old Andy McCoy & Pete "Räkä” Malmi in 1976. Briard released four singles during the next three years and one album few years afterwards. The most famous Briard songs were the first single I Really Hate Ya, and the second one Fuck The Army. On the Briard's last year Andy's schoolmate and principal's son Nasty Suicide joined the band. Nasty's first appearance on a record was Briard's Rockin' On The Beach single's b-side Miss World.
Andy had met Michael Monroe as early as 1977 but they didn't co-operate yet. Although Andy liked Michael's style very much: "His hair almost covered his whole arse and even in winter he wore t-shirts.” Before Hanoi Rocks Michael had played saxophone with Maukka Perusjätkä on their gigs and could be seen playing sax in one Finnish Broadcasting Company's tv-show. Unfortunately that material is hardly available anymore. Other Michael's bands were Pelle Miljoona, Madness (not that UK group), Bolin, Easy Living, Black Magic and Ralf Örn Pop. With those groups Michael played only gigs so there are no recordings. On occasion, Andy played in Maukka's and Ralf's bands as well. Andy also played on several Maukka Perusjätkä's recordings.
The first Hanoi Rocks was born in the spring of 1980 in Helsinki. At the time the line-up was Michael, Nasty, Stefan Piesnack, Peki Sirola and Nedi. They did few gigs in Finland and once they were booked to perform in Tavastia Club by Seppo Vesterinen.
In February 1980 Andy and 17-years old Sam Yaffa, who had earlier played with punk band Suopo (which did few gigs in late 1970's but no recordings), joined the most popular Finnish band at those days. According to a legend Andy had a vision of a band which could be a huge success worldwide and had asked from Love Records executive Atte Blom in which band he could make enough money to make his dream come true. The right choice was Pelle Miljoona Oy. Andy and Sam played on Pelle Miljoona Oy's most succesful album Moottoritie On Kuuma. On the eve of Pelle Miljoona Oy's important Finnish tour Andy decided to leave the band and took Sammy with him. Michael, Andy, Sam and Nasty moved to Stockholm where Gyp joined them.
ROUGH TIMES IN STOCKHOLM
The early days in Stockholm very quite rough for the boys. They hardly had money for food or any other necessities and they had to sleep in corridors and subway stations. Now and then Michael managed to pick up some local girl so that the whole band could have something proper to eat but mainly their daily meal was cucumber with butter on it. One of the many stories from the days in Sweden tells that they earned money by cleaning toilets, picking up strawberries and even selling themselves. Obviously the last one is a joke probably made up by Andy. For him things were much better because he had Swedish girlfriend, Anna with whom he lived.
After a while Michael, Nasty and Sam managed to rent a department from Blåskulla, a suburb mainly resident by immigrants. The living conditions got better although they had some rats as subtenants in their apartment. In spite of the poor conditions Hanoi Rocks rehearsed harshly .
Seppo Vesterinen saw Hanoi Rocks in Stockholm couple of times and was assured that this could be a great success and decided to be band's manager. Later Seppo described his first imperssions: "Their attitude was something I hadn't seen before. They could have played at Madison Square Garden next day without shitting themselves.” Great deal of Hanoi Rocks' forthcoming success was result of Seppo's enthusiasm and hard work.
WEIRD BUNCH OF JUNKIES
The first tour in Finland began in 31.12.1980 from Virrat. During that tour they performed almost everywhere. Even the smallest villages witnessed Hanoi Rocks' energized and never before seen act. The guys looked so outrageous with their make-ups, dyed hair and colorful clothes that the local redneck audiences assumed Hanoi guys to be a weird bunch of homosexual junkies and fights between the band and the rednecks were quite common.
But anyway the success started to grow rapidly. Anything like this hadn't been seen or heard in Finland before. Good example of Hanoi's out of the ordinary image was a comment made by a vocalist of Eppu Normaali (one of the most famous Finnish bands in 1980's and 1990's) after he had seen Michael in a toilet: "Oh my god, that person has balls!”
"WE WILL BE BIGGER THAN ABBA”
Finnish label Johanna Records signed them in November 1980 and the first single I Want You / Kill City Kills was released by Hanoi Rocks with Andy McCoy. The first interview was made by Jari Kauppinen and published in his Joukkohauta fanzine in August 1980. Hanoi Rocks Fan Club magazine published the same interview without a permission later and in 1985 it was re-released in Scandal magazine. The first album Bangkok Shocks Saigon Shakes Hanoi Rocks (originally called Some Like It Cut), produced by Michael & Andy or The Muddy Twins as they called themselves, was recorded in Stockholm and released in March 1981.
In October the Hanoi bunch went to England to do six club gigs as a supporting act for Wishbone Ash. Although Wishbone Ash's audience wasn't that keen on Hanoi Rocks´ performance the word of this new amazing band started spreading around the United Kingdom.
The next album was recorded in London. Oriental Beat (first titled as Second Attempt For Suicide) was produced by Pete Woolliscroft and the sessions were finished in no time. British music magazines like Melody Maker, Kerrang! and Sounds were excited of the new album and only NME disliked it because they found the cover exposing Andy's girlfriend's naked breast offensive. Sounds commented in June 1982: "Born to be superstars, there is no doubt that Hanoi Rocks will one day be as famous as Coca Cola and Big Macs.”
After the release Hanoi Rocks toured in UK and got lots of new fans. It seems that the guys didn't have lack of faith: "Yeah, we will be bigger than Abba because we are so natural. We are going to move to New York and we will be so fucking successful there.” (Andy McCoy in 1982).
LIVE FAST DIE YOUNG
Nicholas "Razzle” Dingley, born in Isle Of Wight, had seen Hanoi Rocks in ZigZag club and was very excited. After a gig at Marquee Club he met the Hanoi guys and told them that he wanted to join the band even if it means that he has to break Gyp's arms. At the time Gyp had problems with Andy and was exhausted of touring so he was sacked and Razzle took his place. Later Gyp's band Road Rats performed as supporting act for Hanoi Rocks in Finland.
Razzle who found his nickname from a British adult magazine was a huge Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fan and had earlier played in several bands and liked to have fun. Before joining Hanoi Rocks Razzle played with London based punk group The Dark. The only The Dark recording that he plays in is a minialbum The Living End recorded on the band's last gig at 100 Club. Razzle wasn't a technical virtuoso but his "live fast die young” way of life was just what made him a perfect member of Hanoi Rocks.
In March 1982 single Love's An Injection reached number one position in Finnish charts. At the same month Kerrang! published the first of its many Hanoi Rocks articles and the band signed with Japanese Nippon Phonogram.
TOOTING BEC WRECKED
After a couple of gigs in Finland Hanoi Rocks moved permanently in London. They lived in Tooting Bec and in spite of the record deal they weren't getting rich. Years later Michael described their current situation: "We didn't have any money and occasionally we had to steal food.”
In September they toured in Finland to finance their coming foreign operations. On that tour Nasty was hospitalized in Kajaani after having too much drugs and alcohol at the same time. Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat had big headlines about the matter: "ROCKSTAR ALMOST DIED!” Some of the gigs had to be done without Nasty.
HYSTERIA IN FAR EAST
The next step on the world conquest was Far East. Hanoi Rocks toured in India, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan. In India the guys were astonished by cheap drugs. Andy tells in his autobiography: "God sake! I gave him (the drug dealer) twenty pounds and we got 10 grams of hashish, 10 grams of opium, 5 grams of brown heroin and 5 grams of white heroin!” It seems that the whole band was quite stoned for the rest of the tour.
Another thing that surprised them was that the local bands used to play seven hour long concerts and a shorter gig would be out of question. So they played about every song they knew, long lasting drum and guitar solos and the gig came out four and half hours long and the audience was totally satisfied. After a concert in Bombay a riot between the audience and the police broke up and the local newspaper Times Of India headlined: "ROCK BAND CAUSES A RIOT!”
Another Indian newspaper Bombay Daily wrote in January 1983: "The scandinavian punk metal rock'n'roll quintet gets to you with a pounding mixture of raw energy and pure genius as they transcend musical genres and deliver a set packed with the energy and aggression of the Damned, with latent sexuality and the sheer excess of star quality oozing from every pore."
Especially in Japan their success was huge. Fans were literally hysterical when they saw their idols alive. Hundreds of Japanese fans followed the band constantly during their stay in Japan. In a club in Tokyo David Coverdale (vocalist of Deep Purple and Whitesnake) lost all his groupies when the Hanoi guys arrived in and as a dude with a great sense of humour Razzle tried to set Coverdale's hair on fire.
British press monitored the tour closely and Sounds magazine published a front page article of the band. For Hanoi Rocks and the members afterwards Japan has always been the place to tour and sell albums. Later Michael said that it was their favourite place.
Around that time compilation album of singles, b-sides and out takes was released. Although Razzle appears on the cover of Self Destruction Blues the drums are played by Gyp Casino.
After the Far East tour Hanoi Rocks started to record their third album with ex-Mott The Hoople members Dale Griffin and Overend Watts. Also the keyboard player Morgan Fisher had been Mott The Hoople member. Before the release of Back To Mystery City they did few gigs in Israel. Melody Maker published a wide report about the colorful incidents of the tour. The story was titled as: Hanoi Rocks – Havoc In The Holy Land.
Back To Mystery City was released in May and the British press gave the best reviews so far. The best chart postition in U.K. was 87. The decent success of the third album led to the recording of a gig at the Marquee Club in December. All Those Wasted Years (on the first edition album's name was misspelled as All Those Waisted Years) album was released in coincide with the video of the same name. This was given an excellent review by Melody Maker in the issue of January 7, 1984.
Now the major record companies were interested in making a deal with the band and quite soon Hanoi Rocks signed £150000 worldwide deal with CBS which included three albums.
Before heading for America Hanoi Rocks did a couple of gigs in Helsinki and Turku in January 1984. Recordings for the fourth album began in New York with Bob Ezrin who had worked with such names as Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd and Kiss. At first the producer was supposed to be ex-Mott The Hoople man Ian Hunter. After finishing the rhythm tracks at the Record Plant in New York the band moved to Phase One studio in Toronto to finish the recordings. Guys suffered of flu and high fewers but the studio sessions went just fine. During the sessions in Toronto Hanoi Rocks did its first North American concert and celebrated the end of recordings with two sold-out shows at New York's Danceteria at the end of March. CBS demanded that there should be a song with hit potential, basically they wanted a a cover tune. Creedence Clearwater Revival's Up Around The Bend was chosen.
After finishing the Two Steps From Move (originally called Silver Missiles and Nightingales) album Hanoi Rocks did their second tour in Japan which was even bigger success than the first one. In Sheriffi McCoy Andy says: "The second time in Japan was total hysteria. In matter of fact it was frightening. You couldn't leave the hotel room.... They (fans) didn't care at all that they did hurt us. They just wanted to rip pieces out of us. They ripped my hair, they ripped Michael's hair. At that time Hanoi Rocks was chosen to be the most popular foreign band in Japan.
In the following summer they toured in the UK and single Up Around The Bend climbed to chart position 61 and got lots of airplay in the US. The video of the song was on MTV's rotation. The new album was released and by a boost of a second UK tour in that year it made up to 28th. In the following summer they toured in the UK and single Up Around The Bend climbed to chart position 61 and got lots of airplay in the US. The video of the song was on MTV's rotation. The new album was released and by a boost of a second UK tour in that year it made up to 28th.
DEAD BY X-MAS
After few gigs in Sweden they started the first headlining American tour from Buffalo on 14th November. In everyway it seemed that this tour could be the big break through because some concerts were sold out way in advance, MTV showed videos and the press wrote very positive reviews about the Two Steps From The Move album
During a concert in Syracuse, New York Michael stepped on a broken bottle and twisted his ankle so badly that the next gig in Atlanta had to be cancelled. From Atlanta they flew to Los Angeles where they had a party with Motley Crue members at Tommy Lee's house in Redondo Beach. On the 9th of December Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil and Razzle went for a ride in Neil's new sports car. Drunken Neil suddenly lost his control of the car and crossed into the northbound lanes and was struck by two other cars. Razzle was taken to the South Bay Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7.12 p.m. Neil wasn't injured.
Vince Neil Wharton was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter. He was soon released on $2,500 bail and in July 1985 he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and was fined to $2,6 million in compensation fees. According to Kerrang! editor Paul Elliot, Vince Neil got away "...with a blight on his reputation which he has done little to acknowledge as of yet.” For Hanoi Rocks, it spelled disaster. It seems that Vince Neil got away a lot more than Hanoi Rocks did.
Michael, Andy, Sam, Nasty and the crew members were totally shocked and overwhelmed with grief and the rest of the US tour as well as the Christmas gigs in the UK and the spring 1985 European tour were cancelled. Michael described their feelings afterwards: "One of us died and it was terrible. If we had any dreams that was the end of them.”
Later they decided to do two concerts in Helsinki at the House of Culture in January 3rd and 4th. Those concerts were dedicated to the memory of Razzle and were partly televised throughout Europe on a massive live show Europe-A-Go-Go for the International Youth Year. At first Tommy Lee had promised to play on the House of Culture gigs but for some reason it didn't work out. From London the remaining Hanoi Rocks members found ex-Clash drummer Terry Chimes who was in the band until the bitter end. Concerts in Helsinki were the last time Sam played with Hanoi Rocks. On the US tour Sam had told that he wanted to leave the band. Despite of their mourning the band put on what must remain one of their finest performances.
After Helsinki Andy went on a vacation with his new girlfriend and left Michael and Nasty in London to find a new bass player. They decided to hire the lead singer and guitarist of The Idle Flowers, René Berg who had occasionally played with Andy. Berg turned to be a lousy choice. As soon as Hanoi Rocks entered London's Greenhouse studios to record demos for the next album he started to give orders how the band should sound like.
At the beginning of April, the British fan club announced Berg's addition to the Hanoi ranks, and that his first outing with the band would be ten-date tour in Poland in May. On the Hanoi Rocks' last tour in Poland René Berg was ordered to wear black clothes, no stage lights were spotted on him, he was given the shortest possible bass wire so that he couldn't move around the stage and wasn't even introduced to the audience.
According to Andy's autobiography: "René couldn't get his guitar case open and asked me to help him. I managed to open it and lots of pills were flowing out: red, yellow, black and blue pills, pills in all colors and in all shapes. I thought, oh shit, we've got another junkie in the band.” The awful atmosphere can be also described by Michael's words on Rock'n'Roll Divorce live album: "....boring, fucking boring.” That album was recorded in front of 8000 people at the band's last gig at the Rockerina Festival on May 19th 1985. For a short period Berg was replaced by a crew member Timo Kaltio but it didn't make things any better. Soon Michael left the band and that was the end of Hanoi Rocks.
THE NEW BEGINNING
Hanoi Rocks broke up almost 20 years ago but their music lives on. They still have devoted following around the world and since the break up thousands of new fans have found their music. Several compilations and re-releases have seen the light of day since 1985 and bands like Guns'n'Roses, Skid Row, Poison and Backyard Babies acknowledge Hanoi Rocks as their major influence. Guns'n'Roses vocalist Axl Rose once said that: "If Hanoi Rocks would have reached the success they should have had, no-one would have ever heard of Guns'n'Roses.”
In March 2001 Johanna Records released a four cd box set which included a great booklet with photos, discographies and stories behind the songs. In the summer 2001 Michael and Andy went back together after a long period of separation to do a tour in Finland under the name Michael Monroe & Andy McCoy - Hanoi Revisited.
On the 27th of March 2002 Michael & Andy announced that the long waited Hanoi Rocks comeback is true. New single People Like Me will be released in April and an album later this year. The new Hanoi Rocks members are guitarist Costello Hautamäki, Lacu and Timpa.
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