|Hanoi Rocks is a Finnish rock band formed in 1979, their most successful period came in the early 1980s. The band broke up in 1985 due largely to the death of their drummer. Currently; vocalist Michael Monroe and guitarist Andy McCoy from the original line-up are back together, and have been playing under the Hanoi Rocks name again since 2002.
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.
The group is sometimes mistaken as glam metal, largely due to their image, which many of the American acts in the 1980s would imitate. Musically however, Hanoi Rocks are not part of that movement nor were they influenced by heavy metal.
Hanoi Rocks was formed in Helsinki in 1979 and the first line-up included vocalist and saxophone player Michael Monroe (Matti Fagerholm), guitar player Nasty Suicide (Jan Stenfors), guitar player Stefan Piesnack, bass player Nedo and drummer Peki Sirola. The following year Piesnack, Sirola and Nedo were replaced by guitar player Andy McCoy (Antti Hulkko), 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 Razzle (Nicholas Dingley).
Although the band never gained 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 and Manic Street Preachers. 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.
In 1983 the band signed to CBS Records and appeared to be on the cusp of gaining commercial acceptance. They recorded their fifth album in January 1984 with producer Bob Ezrin in his home town 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 Vince Neil, singer with the band Mötley Crüe). Although replaced by Terry Chimes, original drummer in The Clash, and René Berg from the Idle Flowers, the band never recovered; first Yaffa and then Monroe left, and in 1985 the band folded. The 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 they never achieved anything resembling their earlier success. Their first four albums were later released in the U.S. by Guns N'Roses' label UZI Suicide.
In 2002 Monroe and McCoy reformed the band, with two members of the Electric Boys, and a drummer who had previously featured in Monroe's solo project. They have released two new albums and toured heavily since then including as support band with more popular bands such as Twisted Sister.
2005 and beyond: Nasty Suicide works as a pharmacist. Sami Yaffa now plays in a band called Mad Juana with his wife, Karmen Guy, and is based in New York City. Yaffa is also touring and recording with the reformed New York Dolls. Suicide and Yaffa have appeared onstage with the reformed Hanoi although not at the same time.