In concert, September 2005
|Genres||Glam punk, hard rock, glam rock, glam metal|
|Labels||Liquor and Poker Music|
|Associated acts||Briard, Pelle Miljoona Oy, Demolition 23, Iggy Pop, Stiv Bators, Guns N' Roses|
Andy "A.C." Christell
Hanoi Rocks was a Finnish rock band formed in 1979, whose most successful period came in the early 1980s. The band broke up in 1985 after the death of their drummer, Nicholas 'Razzle' Dingley. The vocalist Michael Monroe and guitarist Andy McCoy from the original line-up came back together in 2001 and were active with the new line-up of Hanoi Rocks until 2009. The band have been cited as pioneers of hair metal.
Hanoi Rocks was formed in Helsinki in 1979 by Michael Monroe (Matti Fagerholm) and his friend, guitarist Andy McCoy (Antti Hulkko). Although McCoy was the other forming-member, he didn't join the band right-away, because, at the time, he was the guitarist for the Finnish punk band Pelle Miljoona Oy, so McCoy let Monroe form the band without him, but they agreed that McCoy would join later.
The original line-up of Hanoi Rocks consisted of Michael Monroe on vocals, former Pelle Miljoona Oy guitarist Stefan Piesnack, Monroes old friend guitarist Nasty Suicide, bassist Nedo and drummer Peki Sirola.By 1980, Sirola was replaced by drummer Tumppi Varonen.
The band toured Finnish clubs, playing mainly Cheap Trick and Monroe's own songs. Seppo Vesterinen was at one of the band's first shows, and became the band's manager after talking with McCoy and Monroe. In late 1980 Andy McCoy left Pelle Miljoona Oy to join Hanoi Rocks, and was later joined by another former-Pelle Miljoona Oy member, bassist Sam Yaffa. McCoy replaced Stefan Piesnack who had been arrested for drugs, and Yaffa replaced Nedo. By then, Tummpi Varonen had left the band, and when the the band relocated to Stockholm, they hired an old friend of Monroe and McCoy's, drummer Gyp Casino.
When the band moved to Stockholm, they lived mostly in the streets, begging for money, except Andy McCoy, who was living with his wealthy girlfriend. In November 1980, the band struck a deal with Johanna Records and released their debut-single, I Want You / Kill City Kills. "I Want You" was a new version by Andy McCoy of the Swedish song "Jag ha vill dig". "Kill City Kills" was one of McCoy's oldest songs, which he written when he was hanging around at a Finnish block called Kill City. Even though Gyp Casino was the band's drummer, he didn't play on the single, on the count that he was recording with antoher band in Stockholm.
In December 1980, the band played a show in Virrat a small town in Finland. This show started a long 102-date tour in January of 1981. This is apparently still the longest rock-tour in Finnish history. The tour developed the band's energetic and wild playing style, which people weren't too fond of at the time, but later the band has been praised for their playing style.
In February 1981, the band released their second single "Tragedy / Café Avenue". McCoy had written when he was 15-16 years old. That same month the band released their debut album, titled Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks, which was produced by Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy, who were known as "The Muddy Twins". The album was well-received, and climbed to number five on the Finnish album-charts.
In September of 1981, the band moved to London, England, but before that, they continued touring in Finland and in Sweden. In London they started the recording process for their second album, Oriental Beat. On November 21st, 1981, the band preformed at the legendary Marquee Club in London. In late November they returned to Finland and released the single "Desperados / Devil Woman". In December they released another single, titled "Dead By X-Mas / Nothing New".
In January of 1982, Hanoi Rocks made their first music videos at the Lepakko (a place for independent youth culture) for the songs "Tragedy", "Oriental Beat" and "Motorvatin". In that same month the band released their second album Oriental Beat. The spring of 1982 the band spent touring in Sweden, and had their first Japanese breakthrough, with "Tragedy". In May the single "Love's an Injection / Taxi Driver" was released. In June 1982, the band permanently moved to London, but they still weren't very wealthy, and the dark side of the rock'n'roll lifestyle were hurting the band. Nasty Suicide's wild lifestyle was getting out of hand and was affecting his playing. McCoy was actually planning to replace Suicide with guitarist René Berg. At the same time Michael Monroe met a Hanoi Rocks-fan, called Razzle at a Johnny Thunders-show. Later Razzle found-out that Monroe was the singer for Hanoi Rocks, and after seeing some shows, Razzle showed-up backstage and told them that he wanted to be their drummer. McCoy and Monroe soon fired Gyp Casino, who's drug use had gotten out of hand, and he was also getting very depressed and suicidal. Razzle was hired as the new drummer.
In August of 1982, Hanoi Rocks released their third studio album, Self Destruction Blues in London. Even though Razzle was featured on the album's cover he didn't actually play on the album, because the album featured old singles like "Love's An Injection". The album was released in October in Finland, with "Love's An Injection" spending a week at number one on the Finnish singles-charts. That same month the English music-magazine "Kerrang!" released their first article about Hanoi Rocks, who have since then been covering the rest of Hanoi Rocks' carreer in the 80's. The band also struck a deal with the Japanese record-company Nippon Phonogram.
The band has later said that without Razzle, they probably would have broken-up, but when Razzle joined, he revitalized the band.
The year 1983 was a good year for Hanoi Rocks, they had broken trough in England, mostly due to their second manager Richard Bishop. Hanoi Rocks' popularity in Japan was increasing, and they were close to a breakthrough in the US.
By January 1983 the band was back on the road and were touring outside of England, Finland and Sweden, including Asia. The Asian-tour was largely covered by British magazines, and the band also got on the cover of "Sounds". The tour started in Bombay, where the band actually started a riot, then the tour continued Hong Kong and then in Japan. In Japan the band was very popular, with fans breaking in to hotel's too see the members of the band. The ticket prices for the show were as high as for stadium fillers. You could even find phone-booth's in Tokyo, that would play Hanoi Rocks-songs. The tour continued from Tokyo to Vietnam.
In April the band returned to London for the recording of their fourth album, and on the first week of April, the band went to Israel, where they weren't very well received. Monroe couldn't leave the hotel, because people would gather around him, because of his odd appearance, Nasty Suicide broke his ankle and overall people didn't like the band's loud playing style. In late-spring Hanoi Rocks toured in London and Norway, and released a single before the new album, titled "Malibu Beach / Rebel On The Run". The band's fourth album, Back to Mystery City, was soon released an it reached number 87 on British album-charts. In England the albums and singles were released on the bands managers, Seppo Vesterinen and Richard Bishop's record label, Lick Records, and in Finland on Johanna Records. After the albums release, Hanoi Rocks toured in England and in Finland, until June 1983, when the band made a deal with CBS for 150 000 £.
In August of 1983, Hanoi Rocks' released the 7" single "Until I Get You / Tragedy", an the 12" Maxi-Single "Until I Get You / Tragedy / Oriental Beat". On August 13th Lick Records released Hanoi Rocks' first three albums in Britain for the first time. The next day, the band played a show at the Ruisrock festival in Turku, Finland. Before the show, Michael Monroe was interviewed for the Finnish televition station YLE, where he stated that McCoy and Suicide's alcohol use had gotten out of hand. He also stated that he didn't drink or use drugs. In October 1983, legendary producer Bob Ezrin, flew from the US to see Hanoi Rocks live in London and in December he was confirmed as the producer for Hanoi Rocks' next album.
In September the preparation's for Hanoi Rocks' fifth album started. Song's that the band was working on included "Two Steps From The Move", Never Get Enough (an early version of "Million Miles Away"), "I Can't Get It", "Keep Our Fire Burning", and since lost songs "Bad Love" and "Teenage Revolution". The working title for the next record was Silver Missiles and Nightingales, which was slated for February 16th, 1984 release.
In February 1984, the band flew to Toronto and New York, to record their next album with Bob Ezrin. On March 23rd the band had their first North-American show in Toronto. That Started Hanoi Rocks' first American tour, which consisted of, besides Toronto and New York, Boston and Washington, among others. By the end of April, after touring in America and England, the new album was almost ready for release, but Ezrin and the label thought that the album was missing a hit, so they chose the band to cover the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Up Around The Bend", which was already a favorite of Michael Monroe and Nasty Suicide.
In May of 1984 Hanoi Rocks went on tour in Bombay, and in Japan. In Japan, the Hanoi Rocks-hysteria had gone through the roof, with concert hall's being sold-out, and loyal fans following the band everywhere the whole tour. Even in Finland people were baffled by the Hanoi-hysteria in Japan.
The Japanese-tour was followed by a tour across England and Scotland. British magazines were raving about the band, and were sure that the next record would be their breakthrough. In June the single "Up Around The Bend / Until I Get You" was released, but it also appeared as an double-single and as an EP. A music video for "Up Around The Bend" was also shot, at a mansion of a Playboy-publisher. At the time it was the most expensive music video for any Finnish band, and wasn't too cheap internationally either. After the singles release it climbed to number 61 on British singles-charts and got radio-airplay in America too.
After touring in July in England, Hanoi Rocks' new album finally came out, now titled Two Steps From The Move, which was changed from Silver Missiles and Nightingales, at the last minute. In September the single "Underwater World / Shakes" was released. On October 8th, Two Steps From The Move was released in England, and right away the band went on tour with Johnny Thunders, which was a big success.
In November the single "Don't You Ever Leave Me / Oil And Gasoline" was released, by which time the new album had sold 200 000 copies; most of which were sold in America 60 000, Britain 50 000 and Finland 20 000 copies. In the US the album sold 44 000 copies in it's first two weeks. After a Swedish-tour the band headed out for their breakthrough US-tour. The band toured on the west-coast, until Michael Monroe broke his ankle on November 29th, which resulted in some dates being cancelled. On December 2nd the band was celebrating Razzle's birthday, and were headed towards Los Angles, which Razzle was looking very forward to. The Los Angeles shows, were all sold-out in less than a half-hour, some of the people coming included future Guns N' Roses-members, Duff McKagan and Slash. The breakthrough on the west-coast seemed sure.
On December 8th, Hanoi Rocks (except Michael Monroe, who was healing from his broken ankle) was partying with their friends Mötley Crüe, at lead singer Vince Neil's house. The party stopped when everybody noticed that they were out of beer. Vince Neil and Razzle, who were both drunk, went to near-by liquor-store with Neil's new sports car. After buying more beer, the two headed back to Neil's, but on the way Neil crashed with another car. Razzle was rushed to the hospital, where he was declared dead at the time of 19.12. Razzle had died instantly when he was hit by the other car.
Andy McCoy and Mötley Crüe's drummer Tommy Lee, went to find Neil and Razzle. They drove by the crash and saw Neil being handcuffed and being put in to a police-car. They were informed that Razzle had been taken to a hospital, and their they were told that Razzle was dead. McCoy informed the band's manager Seppo Vesterinen of what had happened, after which Vesterinen informed the rest of the band.
The death of Razzle had a big impact on band. The rest of the tour dates were cancelled, and the retreated back to London. The only show that wasn't cancelled was the Europe A-Go-Go show, which became a sort of a memorial to Razzle, with "Million Miles Away" being dedicated to Razzle. On drums was former The Clash drummer Terry Chimes.
In 1985, after the show, Sam Yaffa left the group due to personal differences with Andy McCoy. McCoy was ready to continue the band but Monroe and Nasty Suicide weren't so sure. Yaffa was replaced bassist René Berg, who didn't get along with many of the members. Terry Chimes was chosen as the new drummer. With new members the magic wasn't there and Monroe was actually going to quiet. The record label talked Monroe in to doing a short Poland-tour, where "Don't You Ever Leave Me" had risen up the charts. Monroe agreed on the condition that a live record wouldn't be released, but a half-official live album was released, titled Rock & Roll Divorce, which was panned by the managers, band members and critics. The band broke-up shortly after in 1985.
In 2002 McCoy and Monroe started working together again and decided to reform Hanoi Rocks with two new members on guitar and bass, with Michael Monroe's solo career drummer, Lacu. They released Twelve Shots on the Rocks that same year. In 2005 they released Another Hostile Takeover, with new members Andy Christell on bass and Conny Bloom on guitar (both formerly of the Electric Boys). In 2007 the band released the album Street Poetry. In 2008 Andy McCoy and Michael Monroe stated that they had taken the band as far as they could and so they decided to end the band. Hanoi Rocks played 8 sold out farewell gigs in 6 days at the Tavastia Club, in Helsinki. The band's original guitarist Nasty Suicide appeared as a special guest on 3 of the last gigs.
Although the band never gained huge commercial success, they have a considerable cult following and critical acclaim for their 'sleazy' yet melodic style of music. They were chosen the second-best band of year 1984 by readers of famous Sounds magazine, Marillion receiving the first place of voting. They have been cited as an influence by major bands such as Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses and Manic Street Preachers. . More recently, artists such Fenriz, from Darkthrone, Joey Jordison, Chris Shiflett, Dave Grohl, Acey Slade and Mike McCready have cited Hanoi Rocks as an important influence on their musical career. . The re-release of Hanoi Rocks' albums on CD was in large part due to efforts by Guns N' Roses via their own record label UZI Suicide. In Finland, however, Hanoi Rocks is known as the Finnish rock band who at their time had come closest to real international fame, only much later giving way to such groups as HIM, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, and Children of Bodom.
Musically the band is influenced by artists such as the New York Dolls, The Stooges and The Rolling Stones. Their music fuses elements of blues, punk, garage rock, glam rock as well as the original rock 'n' roll of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Lyrical themes revolve around the topics of love and its trials and tribulations, and suburban alienation. Rolling Stone has called the band, "the missing link between punk and glitter".
Hanoi Rocks is cited as one of the most influential glam metal bands of all time in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey document movie.