Buried Alive: The cursed talent of Andy McCoy
November 18 Hanoi Rocks released the DVD ‘Buried Alive’ documenting the Finnish rock band’s final show at Tavastia Club in Helsinki in April, the conclusion on 30 years of ups and downs, and here guest blogger Eduardo Alonso from Glue looks at the rise and fall of controversial lead guitarist Andy McCoy.
Some people are losers because they are unlucky and other people become losers because they desire it. Hanoi Rocks, Finland’s most successful rock band ever, have represented this duality for thirty years in its two leaders, singer Michael Monroe and lead guitarist Andy McCoy, and their drugs of choice. After a fabulous, but not very successful studio album, ‘Street Poetry’ (2007), the marriage of convenience between the two came to an end and the second coming of Hanoi Rocks ended after seven years of highs and lows with a week long run of sold out shows at the Tavastia club in Helsinki. The place it all began back in 1979.
They went out on a high note, so the most logical step for both of them was to resume their solo careers after the breakup. The guitarist quickly formed The Real McCoy Band to tour Finland this November, a band that included Foo Fighters guitar player Chris Shiflett as a major draw. After three gigs, McCoy decided to break up the band when Chris fled back to the States. They did not seem to get along and the tour was consequently canceled.
The official reason was that Shiflett’s kid got the swine flue, but later the Foo Fighters guitarist admitted in Finnish media that he’d agreed to say that to save McCoy’s image. Whatever the reason, given McCoy’s history the news did not surprise anyone as the third and last show in Helsinki reveled a struggling band, lacking chemistry and probably some more rehearsing time. While it was great to see McCoy unleashing some of his old solo songs there was not a real vocalist to sing them. None of the band members was a frontman and McCoy’s voice was too weak to carry a tune.
Wrong choices and odd happenings
So, the recent promises of many new songs and new hits became empty words and the guitarist is again in the focus of tabloids because of his alleged drug problems and his ability to blow any project sooner rather than later. Sadly, this is another bitter turn in the continuos story of a cursed talent. McCoy was bound for glory since the release of the first Finnish punk single (‘I Really Hate Ya’) when he was only 15 in 1977 with his band Briard, an angry teenage slap in the face. With Hanoi Rocks, he created an impressive repertoire and his sleazy guitar work showed the way for the hard rock bands to follow.
But when they were about to become world superstars, the band broke up, following Razzle’s death, and since then McCoy’s solo career has been full of wrong choices and odd happenings: different bands, a tour in Iggy Pop’s band, a song on a Samantha Fox album, a reality TV show with his wife, an autobiographical film…
The Hanoi Rocks reunion was his second chance to go big, but there was not a happy end this time either in spite of the outstanding farewell shows in April. Much to the resentment of the band’s management, McCoy has already made some bad comments about the mix of the DVD documenting the very last Hanoi Rocks show, ‘Buried Alive’.
The first to piss on his legacy
This post is sounding like an obituary, but after this fallout it is hard to imagine how McCoy will recover and be back in the spotlight after being unable to ride the wave of the Hanoi Rocks hype and with the music industry turning its back on him. He still wears like a neat rock star in glaring suits and leather coats, his hats and colorful bandanas, and his nose ring. Only 47, but he seems much older, usually mumbling and hiding his eyes behind big dark glasses.
However, this image has turned into a media puppet, degraded almost as much as Ozzy Osbourne. His music is not celebrated and people in Finland do not take him very serious as tabloids exploit any news about his rumored financial troubles or his fights at night clubs. The saddest part of the story is that McCoy seems to be the first one pissing on his legacy as he wastes his talent and blows every chance to redeem himself. During the second installment of Hanoi Rocks, it has been tragic to see him tumbling on stage, lost, alone and separated from the band while throwing senseless guitar licks. However, the few times everything clicked, it was still one of the major rock and roll acts in the world on stage.
But the soap drama will continue for Andy McCoy. On his website, he denies Chris Shiflett’s accusation of him still being an addict, and at the same time announces that The Real McCoy Band will record an album in December. He says he is also preparing a side project with the rhythm section of Amorphis, an art exhibition, and that he has been offered a leading role in a film while also writing the soundtrack for it. We can only hope these projects will become reality.