Spinefarm Records / Universal
First Solo Years 1985 - 1990
Following Razzle's passing and the break up of Hanoi Rocks Michael shared a flat with Stiv Bators (Dead Boys/Wanderers/ The Lords Of The New Church) in Portobello, London. In the spring of 1985 Johnny Thunders was in town recording his "Que Sera, Sera" album and besides sharing the same flat, had Michael play saxophone and harmonica on most of the songs.
Stiv and Michael had worked together on some stuff and done a few demo tracks in London, they also did backing vocals together on Little Steven's "Sun City - Artists United Against Apartheid" record. They were flown over to New York for the "Sun City" video shoot to participate along with names like Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, Bono, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, RUN DMC, and others. After the shoot Michael and Stiv stuck around in New York for a while, and Michael then decided to move to Manhattan.
Michael's first solo recording was "Nights Are So Long" (released only in Scandinavia and Japan in 1987). Using New York musicians, he recorded the album with a minimal budget. One highlight does require mentioning, Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) played piano on four songs on the record.
This was the first time Michael wrote and recorded his own original songs, in addition he covered some choice tunes from his favorite artists. The album was dedicated to Razzle. This record served as an international demo and got Michael signed to a major label for a worldwide deal.
Michael signed to PolyGram Records, wrote and recorded his first world-wide solo release "Not Fakin' It". It was released in September 1989, got great reviews everywhere and was praised by many of Michaelís peers in the music world. Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) and Slash and Axl (Guns Ní Roses) were so impressed that they tracked him down and invited him to appear on special occasions - Steven Tyler called Michael to come and play saxophone at an exclusive party for the legendary Les Paul's 75th birthday at the New York Hard Rock CafÈ, where Aerosmith played a rare (at the time) live set of blues and R'n'B. Michael played saxophone on "Big Ten Inch Record". Both the audience and the band loved it.
The original Guns Ní Roses members were very much into Hanoi Rocks, even going as far as quoting them as one of their major influences, and releasing Hanoi's European back catalogue in America on their own label, Axl Rose guesting in Michaelís video for "Dead, Jail Or Rock'n'Roll" and both Slash and Axl getting up on stage to jam with Michael on several occasions. Michael also contributed sax and harmonica to Guns Ní Rosesí "Use Your Illusion I" album.
On New Year's Eve '89 - ë90 Michael played in Japan at The Tokyo Dome in front of about 70 000 people sharing the bill with Don Henley, Bryan Adams and Huey Lewis. This interesting combination of artists then proceeded to play three other major cities in Japan. In 1990 Michael's videos were being played regularly on MTV. Michael toured the U.K. getting rave reviews in the press and a great response in general.
Band Projects 1991 - 1994
Soon after this Michael was approached by Steve Stevens (ex-Billy Idol guitarist) and they ended up trying a band project which did not work out, souring Michaelís relationship with PolyGram.
In 1992 Michael toured Japan with a band that reunited him on stage with Sami Yaffa and Nasty Suicide and for the first time since Hanoi Rocks broke up.
The following summer (í93) Michael, Nasty and Sami also collaborated in the studio recording two songs for the Johnny Thunders Tribute Album "I Only Wrote This Song For You". Thunders was always one of Hanoi's favorites and a good friend, especially to Michael. Johnnyís passing was a huge loss.
About a year before Johnny, Stiv Bators had passed away after being hit by a car in Paris, France. Michael duetted with Axl Rose on the Guns Ní Rosesí version of the old Dead Boys song "Ain't It Fun" as a tribute to Stivís memory.
It was the first single off the "Spaghetti Incident" album, making the TOP TEN in the U.K. and is also included on the 2004 Guns Ní Roses "Greatest Hits" compilation album.
In early June 1993 Slash invited Michael to sing on a cover of Steppenwolfís "Magic Carpet Ride" for the "Coneheads" movie soundtrack. While in England Michael joined Guns Ní Roses with Ronnie Wood to jam on a couple of songs at their show at Milton-Keynes.
In 1993 Michael started looking to put together something more like a permanent band and decided to record a new solo album with his long time friend Little Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band) as the producer. The band consisted of Sami Yaffa on bass, Jimmy Clarke on drums and Jay Hening on guitar. The album was completed in two weeks in New York City.
During the sessions Michael decided to have a name for the band instead calling it his solo album, which it initially was. The name of the band, as well as the album, was Demolition 23. Michael still wanted to be just the singer in a band, that would hopefully stay together and grow.
They started doing shows in the New York area and a tour of Japan & Europe was in the works. However, as it turned out, Jay Hening had some passport trouble and could not leave the country. At the last minute, Michael got Nasty Suicide to sit in for Jay. The shows turned out really great and Michael, Sami and Nasty really enjoyed playing together again.
During a press conference in Finland Nasty surprised everybody by saying that he would be a permanent member of the band. However after touring in Japan and Scandinavia, as they were planning a UK tour (the record had topped their Indie Charts and had also gotten great reviews locally), Nasty suddenly announced that he would be leaving the band, since he had decided to stop playing altogether and to start studying. With nobody to replace Nasty with such short notice everything came to a complete standstill. Disappointed and disillusioned, Michael disbanded Demolition 23.
Solo Again 1995 - 2001
By 1995 Michael had become quite fed up with the scene in the States. It seemed to him that music had no business in the music business. New York had become draining instead of energizing and inspiring like it used to be. Some kind of major change was in order. He moved from east 3rd street in Manhattan to the countryside of his native Finland. He wrote and recorded his next solo album "Peace Of Mind" which was released in Scandinavia and Japan in 1996. In 1999, it was officially released in Europe with 2 bonus tracks featuring Stiv Bator.
In January 1998 Michael co-wrote the Backyard Babies song "Rocker", and shared the lead vocals with Nicke Borg in addition to playing saxophone and harmonica on the track. It was released on Backyard Babies' single "Highlights" in 1998, and on the compilation album "Independent Days" in 2001.
During the winter of 1999, Michael signed a record deal with SPV Records in Germany. And so he started writing and recording his following album "Life Gets You Dirty" (1999), which included 11 new original Michael Monroe songs and a rousing electric version of the Hanoi Rocks song "Self Destruction Blues".
In February of 2000 Michael relocated himself to the city of Turku, the former capital of Finland. The rest of the year Michael toured to promote "Life Gets You Dirty". In the beginning of September he toured in Germany supporting Iggy Pop, which was a success and generally thought of as a great combination, as both Michael and Iggy have a similar type of energy about their live performance while still having their "own thing".
On February 22nd, 2001 at a release party in Helsinki for a Hanoi Rocks 4-CD Box-set Michael met Andy McCoy after a long break and they started getting along surprisingly well. Later that night, they got up on stage in Michael's hometown Turku, backed by a local band doing 3 Hanoi songs making the crowd go ballistic. Since they had lot of fun playing together, they decided to play two summer festivals in Finland as "Hanoi Revisited", performing a killer set of the best Hanoi Rocks tunes. More significantly, Michael also started writing new material with Andy McCoy.
Hanoi Rocks Reborn 2002 - 2008
At the beginning of 2002 Michael and Andy went into the studio and laid down some of the new songs they had written. The result sounded so much like Hanoi Rocks that Michael decided to go for the unimaginable and call it what it was. And so it came to pass that in the year 2002 Hanoi Rocks was reborn.
In the spring Hanoi released a single called "People Like Me" in Scandinavia, it went straight to number one in Finland and achieved gold status.
In April 2002, a Michael Monroe EP called "Take Them And Break Them" was released exclusively in Japan (2 new studio tracks & 4 live, recorded over a year before in Helsinki), and it got great reviews.
Michael also recorded a new solo album called "Whatcha Want" released in 2003 on SPV (Germany) in Europe and Japan. It's definitely a great record, even though Michael saved 5 original songs from it for the reborn Hanoi Rocks' first album, replacing them with some cover versions of his old favorites.
The first album of the reborn Hanoi Rocks was called "12 Shots On The Rocks" (2002/2003). Unfortunately, during the bandís U.K. tour in November 2002, the (now very much former) "management" entered the studio without Michael or Andy and poorly mixed the album to be released for Christmas in Finland and Japan. Consequently, in early 2003, Michael and Andy went back into the studio to finish the album properly, also adding 3 new tracks onto it. To differentiate this correct version from the other one, a yellow/gold frame was added on the cover of the cd. It was released in the U.K. and the U.S. in 2003 and eventually in Finland as well (in 2006).
Between 2003 and 2007 Hanoi Rocks released two new albums: "Another Hostile Takeover" (2005) and "Street Poetry" (2007). Both albums received praise in the press, especially "Street Poetry", which also yielded a Finnish #1 hit single in the form of "Fashion". They also toured actively in mainland Europe, the UK, Scandinavia and Japan. During this time Michael also collaborated with funky Finnish act Beats And Styles resulting in 3 songs and videos: "Renegades", "Ocean Wave" and "Walk, Donít Talk".
In October 2008, Michael & Andy decided to break up Hanoi Rocks and go their separate ways. They felt they've taken their collaboration as far as it would go, and will concentrate on their own careers in the future.
Michael is currently writing new songs for his next solo album.