History - Part 1 - 1979-1981

1979 – Helsinki
The story of Hanoi Rocks began at Herttoniemi Old Swedish School where was held a promo party to Pelle Miljoona 1980 group's Viimeinen syksy LP. There Andy McCoy introduced Makke Fagerholm and guitarist Stefan Piesnack to each other. Piesnack was sacked from Pelle Miljoona's band because of drugs. While partying, Makke and Stefan had an idea of forming a band. Jan Stenfors was found as their second guitarist. He was introduced to Makke by Andy. Jesu Hämäläinen was hired as a bass player and Pekka "Peki" Sirola as a drummer. Jesu was soon replaced by "Nedo" Soininen. They called themselves as Hanoi Rocks and they did few gigs e.g. at ÄMY-festivals in Hämeenlinna, Tavastia Club in Helsinki and also a gig at Latosaari, Lapua. However, it was clear that musical opinions were very different between the members and that they were going to break up soon. The story finally came to an end when Narcotics division of Helsinki Police Department arrested Stefan and put him into jail for a month.

Andy left Pelle Miljoona OY just before a Lappland tour and re-formed Hanoi Rocks. He took Makke (who by then had changed his name to Michael Monroe) and Jan Stenfors (who was then called as Nasty McCoy) back to the band. It was first thought that one anonymous bloke from Stockholm should be the bass player but they finally decided to hire Pelle Miljoona's Sam-named chap who had just returned from London. Andy then persuaded him to resign from Pelle Miljoona OY. They nicknamed him as Sam Yaffa. Michael: ”Originally the idea of Hanoi came from me and Andy. We knew Nasse and we had a Swedish bass player coming to the band. When Andy lost his phonenumber we hired Sami.”

August 1980 – Helsinki
First Hanoi Rocks interview was at Joukkohauta –magazine in August 1980 by Jari Kauppinen. Same article was later published in the Hanoi Rocks Fan Club –magazine and at Scandal –magazine in 1985.

September 1980 – Stockholm
In the autumn of 1980 Andy, Nasty, Sami and Michael went to Stockholm where they hired Andy's pal Jesper Sporre (who changed his name to Gyp Casino) as a drummer. The hilarious aspect was that while Stefan Piesnack was in custody, Sam, Michael and Andy stole his guitars and amps and took them to Stockholm. They needed those to replace Nasse's gears because in the previous winter they had sold them to finance Andy's and Nasse's Swedish trip.

In the column of Suosikki –magazine, Michael remembers afterwards: ”I never forget that time period when Hanoi Rocks officially started at the end of summer of 1980. I then moved to Stockholm with Sami, Nasty and A. McCoy. Our drummer Gyp Casino was living in there with his mother. One of our friends promised to get us an apartment but when we arrived there, no-one came to meet us and we never got the promised flat. However, we decided to stay and started to practice at a bomb shelter which located under a subway station. Gyp had rented that earlier. We rehearsed at night-time because that was the only time we could play without anyone interfering us until the dawn broke. This was of course against the regulations. That's why we had to wait until the guard had checked that point at half past twelve and then we continued.

A. McCoy was living with his girlfriend in a villa which was owned by her rich parents. That located outside the city limits. Me, Nasty and Sam were still without a flat and we ”slept” on park benches or wherever we could. Sometimes we just wandered around the city all through the night until the first subway started its route early in the dawn. We went inside a train and slept there until someone kicked us out. We hardly knew anybody in Stockholm so we just spent the spare time by ourselves in the streets. We had also spent our small savings during the very first week. I had left home against my dear mother's wish and I didn't want to ask her or anybody anything because if my choice to leave had turned wrong, I would have had to carry the consequences by myself. We didn't eat much during that time because of the financial situation. So we had to beg money on the streets, usually making excuses like 'I need few bob to make a call' or something like that. Almost every night we walked through the Gamlastad (Old Town) via King's Castle ending up at the Park Kungsträdgården. We usually had succeeded to cadge enough coins to buy hamburgers. That was usually our breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time.

Only items I owned were one suitcase and a cardboard box where I kept my clothes. Gyp was the only one who had a job and at his working place we kept our small amount of things and there we usually changed our clothes – at a tiny storeroom. We were a bit infamous around T-Centralen in Stockholm because there we used to hang out disturbing normal citizens. That lasted about six months until the cold winter came and people got grumpier and it was hard cadging. But nevertheless the times were hard, I still felt free and happy. I didn't have big property to burden myself, no worries and nothing to lose. So things only had to get better because I had a very hard rocking band and Sam and Nasty as loyal friends. We were like three musketeers.

Life on the streets is very distressing in the end but I was sure that the best way of learning life is the hard way although quite often you learn just by watching others. I was a stubborn Finn and I didn't believe before I had personally gone through those things and suffered the consequences. But I never made the same mistake twice. On the streets I learned a lot about the real life and this period affected us and our attitudes, which is clearly seen in Hanoi Rocks music and stage appearance.”

Despite the drawbacks, Michael described in 1981 his new hometown's freedom like this: “Stockholm is more international and bigger than Helsinki. They don't stare at you the same way they do in Helsinki. We can be there just as we are, and without being afraid of someone attacking us like had happened few times in Helsinki.”

Renewed Hanoi Rocks played their first gig in Stockholm at a place called Glädjehuset. Warm-up band was a local group called Eldkvarn. Some sources mention that Sami and Andy had played with Pelle's band during the time in Stockholm but that rumour is not confirmed.

In the autum of 1980 Seppo Vesterinen became Hanoi's manager. He had worked for Helsinki Festivals and had been a manager to several succesful Finnish bands. He described Hanoi Rocks like this: “Hanoi had excellent prospects. Guys leaped to rock business straight from the school benches and they all had similar kind of image. They acted like they were one person and they trusted themselves so much that they were ready to go for it all the way nevertheless what came across. We hired an English agent because without it it would have been hard to move on. He was so excited about the band because they had something new, fresh, different kind of charisma than other bands. Even English rock magazines noticed this bizarre and strange band. Hanoi had then a chance to live in London so that helped them quite a lot to handle public relations.”

7” single = Hanoi Rocks with Andy McCoy: I Want You / Kill City Kills
FIN: Released in November 1980 by Johanna Records, JHNS145
In November 1980 Hanoi Rocks signed a contract with Johanna Records which was Atte Blom's record company. This contract included only one single and it was released in Finland during the same month. Gyp Casino wasn't playing the drums but Keimo Hirvonen stepped in to replace him. Keimo was known from the projects with Maukka Perusjätkä and Ralf Örn. The front cover pictures were taken by Kari Riipinen. Both songs were credited as Andy's songs though in reality I Want You was a copy from a Swedish hit-song Vill Ha Dej performed by Heartbreak. This was later corrected by a court order.

31 December 1980 – Virrat (first Finnish concert)
After four months of hard training, Hanoi Rocks played their first ever Finnish concert on New Year's Eve at Sports Centre in Virrat. Michael: “We opened our concert in 1980 and finished it in 1981”. According to Andy, after the first gig they had following beverages:

Nasty: small Four Roses whisky
Sami: 13 Long Drink beverages
Michael: a pile of beer bottles
There are sadly no records what Andy and Jeppe drank.

January 1981 (first Finnish Tour)
In January 1981 kicked off enormously long tour. At least it was enormous in the Finnish rock scene. All in all, they played 102 concerts during that year. Hanoi Rocks was still quite unknown band outside Helsinki and the popularity was far from expected. And the tour itself wasn't a picnic either. Every now and then they had to settle for a routine of playing 2x45 minute so called Ballroom sets instead of normal one-time rock sets. But this long tour was vital when it came to the existence of the band and they learned some humbleness. Well, at least then they weren't walking around with “Thirty grand in the wallet”. Their daily paycheck consisted of 30 Finnish Marks (approx. £3). Two blokes called Helge and Puosu were the roadies in that tour, latter being also a roadie for Pelle Miljoona OY.

Finnish Tour dates:
2 Jan: Imatra (Vuoksenniska)
3 Jan: Metsäkylä (Seuratalo)
7 Jan: Helsinki (Tavastia Club)
8 Jan: Mikkeli (Library)
28 Jan: Tampere (While staying in Tampere, Sami bought a new bass guitar but because he was still a minor the partial payment deal was signed by others)
29 Jan: Helsinki
30 Jan: Kuopio
31 Jan: Joensuu

February 1981 - Tragedy / Cafe Avenue
FIN: Released in February 1981 by Johanna Records, JHNS 174.
SWE: Released in February 1981 by Tandan Records, TAN SIN 002
Castle Records, ESMCD 273 in 1995

In 1981 Andy described the music of Hanoi Rocks: “We play melodic hard rock and three chords are just enough for us. This is not heavy metal.” This was their second single and these two songs showed what kind of music they would put to their forthcoming LP. Both songs are credited to Andy though the whole group was in charge for the arrangements of the songs.

February 1981 - Bangkok Shocks Saigon Shakes Hanoi Rocks
In the early days boys had in mind of making three LP's. This was the first one and it was recorded in Park Studio just outside Stockholm. During the recordings album had a working title called “Some Like It Hot” according to Michael's Marilyn Monroe T-shirt. Later the name was changed to “Some Like It Cut” before Jim Pembroke of Wigwam came up with the title that was used. Zebra Johansson worked as the studio engineer but he and Hanoi Rocks didn't get along at all. Andy: “We had to re-record songs for petty reasons. I thought Tragedy was the only excellent cut in the album. That bloke screwed up many good songs.”

The Muddy Twins were credited as the producers of the album (a.k.a. Andy and Michael). Later Andy found something positive from the album: “Our first LP was really something crazy. Me and Make produced it. At that time we didn't have any clues about anything. Perhaps that's why it sounded so fresh.” The final mixing of the LP was taken care by Bosse Waldersten. All the songs were credited to Andy except “Cheyenne” where Michael was credited as Musical Advisor. All the arrangements were credited to Muddy Twins. John Galaxy Groves played synthesizers and Anna McCoy was clapping her hands. The picture in the front cover was taken by Stefan Bremer while back cover picture was taken by Mooses. Raz designed the lay-out and the rose-logo. In the back cover band thanked: Anna McCoy, Uncle Helge, Lidon Musiikki, Johanna Records, SOS, Iggy, Willy, Kari Bamse, Al (Windy), Atte (Blom), Zanji, Jim, Krista Wester, Rota, Pete Malmö (Pete Malmi), Ralf Slobo, Boys from Pelle Miljoona, Roy Hamilton and Gibson Guitars Company. They sent regards to those who weren't mentioned and to those who believed in the band since the first steps. The song Village Girl was written to Andy's then favourite singer Carly Simon. Nevertheless the reviews were mainly positive, LP didn't sell much.

FIN: Released in February 1981 by Johanna Records, JHN 2037
SWE: Released in February 1981 by Tandan Records, TAN SIN 001. First 1000 copies were printed on blue vinyl.
JAP: Nippon Phonogram, 25PP-85 in 1982
UK: Lick, LICLP2 in 1983.
USA: Uzi Suicide, GHS 24262 in October 1989 (yellow vinyl).

Miscellaneous concerts in 1981:
28 Feb: Helsinki (Tavastia)
??: Tervashovi
30 Apr: Tampere (VPK, Hanoi Rocks was the warm-up band for UK Subs)
1 May: Heinola
19 Jun: Koria (Rymyrock festivals)
10 Jul Rokkishokki Festival, Huviniemi, Punkaharju
12 Jul: Stockholm, Sweden (Club Alexandra)
15 Jul: Karlshamn Festivals, Sweden
18 Jul: Oulu (Kuusrock Festivals. Hanoi Rocks were the main performers though there were such bands like Blues Band, Saxon and Hassisen Kone)
25 Jul: Kukonhiekka Rock Festivals
18 Aug: Stockholm, Sweden (Underground)

October 1981 – England
In October Hanoi Rocks played six club gigs as a warm-up band for Wishbone Ash. During this tour they met their future manager Richard Bishop. Michael: “We didn't have any expectations about the England Tour and perhaps that's why we didn't feel any disappointments. Everything went swell, thanks to Seppo (Vesterinen). He organised everything.”

November 1981 – Recordings of Oriental Beat LP in London
Recordings started in November 1981 and the place was Advison Studios which located few blocks away from Oxford Circus. Recordings and mixings took only about a fortnight and the LP was produced by Pete Wooliscroft who was respected but also critisized by Hanoi. Andy: “Studio wasn't luxury like it wasn't in Stockholm either but Pete was miles ahead of that creepy engineer who worked with us when we made Bangkok Shocks Shaigon Shakes. Pete's more professional and he wasn't putting the heat on us the same way.”

Nevertheless what Andy said about Wooliscroft, they had disagreements about the sound of the album. Wooliscroft was in favour of hard, heavy metal sound while the band wanted more traditional rock'n'roll sound. Andy: “We want our new album to sound messy. It need to kick ass.” Finally Wooliscroft mixed the album by himself while the band was touring. Before the recordings Michael told about the future album: “We have lots of new songs. We just have to pick those that match together so that the album won't be just a confused package. New songs are much better than older ones and I've participated writing them as well. I try to get more rock'n'roll songs into it.” That statement was just a daydream because none of his songs made to the final album. At least his name wasn't in the credits. During the recordings persons like Atte Blom (business man in the record industry) and Hanoi's roadie Spede were hanging around in the studio.

November 1981 – England, miscellaneous concert dates:
?? Nov: Moonlight Club (Hanoi played before a band which was later known as Katrina and The Waves. Gig wasn't a success – only 20 turned in to watch them.
18 Nov: Grayhound (According to Esa Kovio, the first band of the evening was Violent Marriage but nobody noticed it because everybody was focused on watching England v Hungary football match from the television. Band played their 30 minute set very phlegmatically. Only the black singer of the band tried to put his best funky act to the set. When Hanoi Rocks started, there were approximately 40 spectators. Hanoi kicked off with fast instrumental song Hip Shake and they played e.g. Devil Woman and MC Baby. Band was well received nevertheless the bad sound.)
19 Nov: Plymouth
?? Nov: Rockgarden
22 Nov: London (Marquee Club. E.g. Muff Winwood of CBS was there to see the band but he didn't like them that much to offer a deal)

November 1981 – Finland
Band came back to Finland at the end of November.

November / December - 1981 - Desperados / Devil Woman
Both songs are credited to Andy. Michael: “Devil Woman's a hard song. Both songs are from demotapes and it was funny they were even released. If we had re-recorded them, then we could have released the single also outside Finland. Now it was released only in Finland.” In some other interview Michael told about the backgrounds of the song: “Song tells about a German girl who's got a penpal in Stockholm. Bloke's wondering why he hasn't received any letters from her so he calls her mother and hears she's locked up in the mental asylum. Girl had been with her boyfriend driving in the countryside when the petrol ran out. Boy went to search for petrol station but after an hour passed she still was alone and no sign of him coming back. Suddenly, she heard a knock from the roof of the car and an announcement from a police car: 'get out of the car and don't look back'. Girl ran off but turned to watch what was behind. On the roof of the car was some maniac with his boyfriend's head in his hands and kept banging the head against the roof. Girl snapped from her head and they had to put her to the mental institute. It is very crazy story.”

FIN: Released in November or December 1981 by Johanna Records, JHNS 215.

December 1981 - Dead By X-Mas / Nothing New
In December fans were surprised to see a release of another single. Both songs were written by Andy and they were recorded in Stockholm way before Oriental Beat LP. Single was produced by Olle Larsson.

FIN: Released in December 1981 by Johanna Records, JHNS 215

Miscellaneous dates in December:
12 Dec: Stockholm, Sweden (Skogashallen)
31 Dec: Lallintalo, Finland (Suosikki magazine's band competition winner Bradley Co as a supporting act and this gig was 102nd concert in that year)

Stockholm is more international and bigger than Helsinki. They don't stare at you the same way they do in Helsinki. We can be there just as we are, and without being afraid of someone attacking us like had happened few times in Helsinki.

Michael Monroe