Many Los Angeles metal bands of the 1980s–Motley Crue, Poison, Guns N’ Roses, et al–owe a massive debt to Finland’s finest, Hanoi Rocks. And really, with their creatively schizophrenic juxtaposition of Dollsy trash-rock, Stonesy swagger, skinny-tie new wave, and comic-book metal, Hanoi actually should have been as big as or even bigger than all those big-haired bands. And they probably would have been, if tragedy hadn’t intervened.
See, after releasing four albums of punky-junkie glitter-metal in their homeland, Hanoi Rocks finally got their fabled big break in 1984 with a U.S. major-label deal. But much like the title of their greatest-hits collection, Tracks From A Broken Dream, that golden opportunity was cruelly robbed from them when their drummer Razzle was killed in a drunk driving accident during their first U.S. tour (with the Crue’s Vince Neil behind the wheel). The grieving band subsequently called it quits, just when they were on the verge of U.S. success.
Hanoi golden glam god Michael Monroe later moved on as a solo artist–his most famous single was 1989’s “Dead, Jail, Or Rock ‘N’ Roll,” with longtime admirer Axl Rose on guest vocals–but his output was sadly always sporadic at best, as were his visits to America. However, on January 25 of this year Michael announced his triumphant return at an L.A. press conference, with a new band featuring Hanoi bassist Sam Yaffa, guitarists Ginger from the Wildhearts and Willy DeVille sideman Sam Conte, and Joan Jett/Deborah Harry drummer Jimmy Clark.
And on March 10, Michael–still very much a rock star in star-spangled glam-wear, bottle-blonde bouffant, raccoon eyes, and black nail varnish–debuted this new lineup at a private party held at the Finnish consulate’s home in the posh Bel Air hills.
Here’s Michael and company rocking out on an old, L.A.-themed Hanoi classic, “Malibu Beach Nightmare.” He certainly makes a fabulous rock ‘n’ roll ambassador for Finland, and it’s nice to have him back.