In terms of image, the band could be seen as part of the hair metal movement; musically, however, they are more influenced by artists such as the New York Dolls, The Stooges and The Rolling Stones. Their music fuses elements of blues, surf rock, punk, heavy metal, garage rock and glam rock. Lyrics revolve around the topics of love and its trials and tribulations, and suburban alienation.
Hanoi Rocks were formed in Helsinki in 1980 by schoolfriends Andy McCoy (born Antti Hulkko) on lead guitar and Nasty Suicide (Jan Stenfors) on rhythm guitar. They later added vocalist Michael Monroe (Matti Fagerholm), bass player Sam Yaffa (Sami Takamäki), and drummer Gyp Casino (Jesper Sporre). In 1981 they moved to Stockholm and in 1982 to London to take advantage of the livelier music scene in these cities. Later that year, Casino was fired and replaced by Nicholas 'Razzle' Dingley.
Although the band have never tasted significant commercial success, they have a considerable cult following and critical acclaim for their 'sleazy' yet melodic style of music. They have been cited as an influence by major bands such as Guns n' Roses. The re-release of Hanoi Rocks' albums on CD were in large part due to efforts by Guns n' Roses via their band record label Uzi Suicide.
In 1983 the band signed to CBS Records and appeared to be on the cusp of gaining commercial acceptance. They recorded their fourth album in January 1984 with legendary producer Bob Ezrin in his native Toronto. The album had just been released when disaster struck in December of that same year: Razzle was killed in a car accident (the driver was his close friend Vince Neil, singer with the band Mötley Crüe). Although replaced by Terry Chimes, drummer on The Clash's first album, the band never recovered; first Yaffa and then Monroe left, and in 1985 the band folded. The various members spent the next 15 years in various short-lived projects, and although they worked with numerous artists including Iggy Pop, Stiv Bators and Guns n' Roses, as individuals they never achieved anything resembling their earlier success.
In 2002 Monroe and McCoy reformed the band. They have released two new albums and toured heavily since then.
Discography (Albums—not including compilations)
- Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks (1981)
- Oriental Beat (1982)
- Self Destruction Blues (1983)
- Back to Mystery City (1983)
- All Those Wasted Years (live) (1984)
- Two Steps From The Move (1984)
- Rock & Roll Divorce (live) (1985)