Ari Väntänen

Hanoi Rocks – All Those Wasted Years

Published by Cleopatra

Mar 20, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

A big, beautiful book for a beautiful band who should've been bigger, All Those Wasted Years is the tale of how this determined gang of stylish rockers took on the world...and almost won. Ari Väntänen does an excellent job of relating how, while they were a tight unit on a mission, Hanoi were also six distinct personalities whose complex inner friendships and tensions made them so cohesive yet explosive.

Just a year or two ahead of their time, looking at the multitude of photos from all over the globe (and many from frontman Michael Monroe's personal collection) it's easy to see where a lot of the bands of the late 80s -Guns N' Roses in particular - got their look. The story stretches the world over - from their childhoods in native Finland, through sleep-deprived homelessness on the streets of Stockholm, to wrecks in Tooting Bec, the Far East and the Holy Land, and onward to conquer America, at all times either over or under a tidal wave of drink and drugs.

Plenty of information is given on their beginnings, how the puzzle pieces were moved around until the glamorous picture finally fell into place. It was always Michael and (guitarist/main songwriter) Andy McCoy's band - a fact emphasized in the nice and concise final chapter on Hanoi's reformation in 2001 - but the two didn't play together under the banner Hanoi Rocks until an Andy-less version of the moniker already had some gigs under its belt. With the first line-up proper cemented [Nasty Suicide (guitar), Sami Yaffa (bass), Gyp Casino (drums)], the group's work ethic was admirable, playing 102 shows in 1981 then jumping into the beginning of the following year playing almost 50 gigs in 50 days.

With copious quotes from UK music papers, Väntänen gives us a good look at the scene in 1982 London as Hanoi relocated there, and in the process took up, after much pestering, an enthusiastic drummer named Razzle's offer to replace Gyp Casino. Friends and co-workers relate how rock n roll excess was driving the young band apart, making them lose their sense of purpose, but all agree that Razzle reinvigorated the group and became the glue that kept them together. The book is a large testament to Razzle, who died tragically young in December 1984 as a result of Vince Neil's drunk driving.

The story builds in momentum leading up to Hanoi's swan song, Two Steps From The Move, and as this was such a crucial period for the band (with consequences they could not predict) much time is spent on the making of this album with producer Bob Ezrin. Stiv Bators and Ian Hunter, punk and glam rock legends who had influenced the young Hanois, also enter the story in interesting ways. An excellent book (and again it must be pointed out how good it looks) that will be appreciated by any fan of the band or genre. (

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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