October 3, 2023

‘One of the most important moments in my life’

Vince Neil and Michael Monroe, circa 2023. (Photos: Getty Images)

Vince Neil and Michael Monroe, circa 2023. (Photos: Getty Images)

Four decades after the car accident that ended the life of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle – and ultimately ended that Finnish glam rock band’s burgeoning career – Hanoi frontman Michael Monroe has seemingly made amends with Mötley Crüe vocalist Vince Neil, who was behind the wheel on that tragic night in 1984.

Over the weekend, Monroe and Neil came face to face for – surprisingly – the very first time, backstage at Finland’s Rockfest 2023 festival. Monroe posted a candid photo of the emotional encounter on his Instagram account, calling it “one of the most important moments of my life.”

In the early ’80s, Hanoi Rocks made waves in Europe with their first four glitter metal albums (all considered cult classics), and they seemed to be on the brink of mainstream success with the ’84 release of their first major-label American album, Two steps away from the move, produced by Bob Ezrin of the renowned Lou Reed/Alice Cooper/KISS; they would also embark on their first US tour. But on December 8, 1984, Hanoi drummer Razzle (real name: Nicholas Dingley) went out for a beer with Neil during a party at Neil’s Redondo Beach house. Neil, whose blood alcohol content was well above the legal limit of 0.17, crashed his De Tomaso Pantera sports car on his way back from the liquor store; two passengers in another car involved in the accident were seriously injured and Razzle died instantly. Neil was charged with vehicular manslaughter and received a light 30-day prison sentence (he actually only served 19 days) and five years’ probation. Mötley Crüe rose to even greater prominence — their next album, Theater of painwas actually dedicated to Dingley – but the tragedy spelled the end for Hanoi Rocks, who broke up in 1985 after a short overseas tour with former Clash drummer Terry Chimes filling in.

Hanoi rocks' Michael Monroe and Razzle in the 1980s.  (Photo: Mike Prior/Redferns)

Michael Monroe and Razzle of Hanoi Rocks in the 1980s. (Photo: Mike Prior/Redferns)

“We weren’t strong enough to hold it together,” Monroe told Yahoo Entertainment last year as he promoted his bittersweetly titled 11th solo album. I live too fast to die young. “Maybe if we had taken a break for half a year or a year, if we had been in that position, it could have saved the situation. I mean, the situation was such that we were very likely to become one of the biggest bands in the world and stuff. And Bob Ezrin was also looking forward to producing the next album; he felt the same for us as he did for Alice Cooper. We saw it as a long breath. But I didn’t want people to get to know Hanoi the wrong way because it wasn’t what it originally was. It wouldn’t have been the same. So what can you do? It was bad luck, but I don’t look back on it that way. I’m sorry I lost my best friend Razzle. We had a special chemistry.”

This week, Monroe, who was not present at Neil’s ill-fated party in ’84, captioned a photo of himself and a smiling Neil chatting backstage at Rockfest with, “One of the most important moments of my life was the meeting Vince Neil for the first time last night. Razzle always wanted to meet us as he thought ‘us singers’ were very similar. Under different circumstances both bands probably would have ended up as good friends, but fate had other plans. .. Thank you for your time, Vince. We didn’t say much, but your eyes told me more than 1000 words ever could. And your singing was amazing during the show. Nice to finally see you guys live!”

At the time of writing, Neil has not yet publicly posted or commented on his encounter with Monroe, but Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx posted a same-day photo of himself with the gracious Hanoi Rocks singer, writing: “What a wonderful surprise to see Michael Monroe on tonight’s show. I haven’t seen this fine gentleman in years with everyone’s personal lives on top of careers and then living in different parts of the world. You are a class act Michael, and next time please bring your harmonica.” Monroe responded in Sixx’s comments: “It was really great to see you again my friend. I had the best time and meeting you meant everything to me. I will definitely bring my harmonica next time so we can rock together! Love, respect and rock’n’roll!”

The original Hanoi Rocks lineup — Monroe, Andy McCoy, Sami Yaffa, Nasty Suicide and pre-Razzle drummer Gyp Casino — reunited for a surprise eight-song set at Helsinki Ice Hall for Monroe’s 60th birthday last September. Monroe was in good spirits around that time, telling Yahoo Entertainment, “I’ve been through a lot, yes. Haven’t had much luck. But it could be worse. I’m still healthy. I’m alive. Every day healthy and above ground is a good day. I like making music and earning my living from it. I don’t need much t
o be happier, and money doesn’t buy happiness.”

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