Although Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe was undeniably the focal point of the group’s live shows, guitarist Andy McCoy was their musical heart and soul, as he penned or co-penned just about every original song that appeared on a Hanoi Rocks album from 1981 through 1984 (their “classic” period).
Born Antti Hulkko on October 11, 1962, in Pelkosenniemi, Finland, both McCoy’s guitar playing and fashion style can be linked to two specific all-time rock & roll greats, Keith Richards and Johnny Thunders.
Beginning in the late ’70s, McCoy appeared on several singles by the group Briard, before signing on with the Finnish band Pelle Miljoona Oy. Around this time, he hooked up with Monroe, and shortly thereafter, Hanoi Rocks was born. An influential yet oft-overlooked band, the party-hearty Hanoi Rocks adopted the New York Dolls’ make-up and hairspray look and played anthemic three-chord rock (influenced by punk). This approach would later be adopted by such groups as Mötley Crüe on their first few albums, and then streamlined and copied by hordes of subsequent hair metal bands throughout the ’80s. During their early-’80s peak, McCoy and Hanoi Rocksreleased a total of four studio albums, including 1981’s Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks, 1982’s Oriental Beat, 1983’s Back to the Mystery City, and 1984’s Two Steps from the Move (the latter produced by Bob Ezrin). However, what appeared to be a bright future for the band was abruptly extinguished, when Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle was killed in an auto accident on December 8, 1984, when he was a passenger in a car driven by Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil, who was driving while under the influence. McCoy and Monroe would attempt to continue Hanoi Rocks, but eventually split up the band in 1985. Afterwards, McCoy would go from project to project, including reuniting with Hanoi Rocks bandmate Nasty Suicide in the Suicide Twins, forming the heavy metal group Shooting Gallery, releasing solo albums, and even briefly serving as a touring guitarist for Iggy Pop.
By 2001, McCoy and Monroe had reconnected and decided to launch a new version of Hanoi Rocks, which resulted in several more albums before splitting up in 2009. Despite never securing true world-wide commercial success, McCoys stature in the world of rock & roll remains substantial, as he penned an autobiography, Sheriff McCoy: Outlaw Legend of Hanoi Rocks, and there is supposedly even a statue of McCoy in his hometown of Pelkosenniemi.