The Car Crash That Killed Hanoi Rocks’ Razzle: ‘Vince Neil never apologised…’
On a US tour in late 84, Hanoi Rocks seemed poised for greatness. But then Vince Neil drove onto the scene. After finally netting a major-label deal with CBS, the band had just delivered Two Steps From The Move, their fifth and most assured studio album to date. And as the second single taken from it, Underwater World, crept into the lower reaches of the chart, Hanoi Rocks prepared to embark on their inaugural American tour. In the drab and dreary monochrome doldrums of the mids, Hanoi Rocks were like an eye-scorching flash of amplified Technicolor; their extracurricular over-indulgence had already captivated the media, and their reputation as a live band was formidable.
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On a US tour in late 84, Hanoi Rocks seemed poised for greatness. But then Vince Neil drove onto the scene. After finally netting a major-label deal with CBS, the band had just delivered Two Steps From The Move, their fifth and most assured studio album to date.
And as the second single taken from it, Underwater World, crept into the lower reaches of the chart, Hanoi Rocks prepared to embark on their inaugural American tour. In the drab and dreary monochrome doldrums of the mids, Hanoi Rocks were like an eye-scorching flash of amplified Technicolor; their extracurricular over-indulgence had already captivated the media, and their reputation as a live band was formidable. Consequently, as the band touched down in New York, MTV was saturated with clips of the five-piece, gigs were comfortably sold out, and even Andy Warhol hovered expectantly at their star-studded welcoming bash.
Nothing, it seemed, could possibly go wrong. But it did. Catastrophically so. The most cataclysmic chain of events can often be set in motion by something seemingly small and insignificant. The Hanoi Rocks tragedy is a case in point.
Ever the trouper, Monroe finished the show before being whisked off to hospital. Afterwards, suffering great pain, he sought medical advice. Following a misdiagnosis of severe sprain, the tour continued for four more dates — Toronto, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland — before Monroe, now in constant agony, eventually sought a second opinion when they reached Atlanta, where a fracture was detected and a soft cast now applied to the break.
But thumb twiddling was something they were never particularly good at. And although the two bands were never the closest of friends, they did share an unhealthy appetite for cavalier self-destruction. Sketchy memories from those in attendance suggest that three to four days into the party, on the evening of December 8, with supplies depleted, a trip to buy more booze was mooted.
Vince Neil, heavily intoxicated but, inadvisably, keen to show off his orange-red 72 Ford Pantera sports car, set off for the liquor store with Razzle as his passenger. McCoy and Monroe, circa Image: His Ford Pantera then careered into the path of oncoming traffic and was struck by two other cars.
The driver of one of them, year-old Lisa Hogan, was rushed in a critical condition to the intensive care unit of the Little Company of Mary Hospital, where she remained in a coma until the end of the month with a broken arm and two broken legs. Brain damage, meanwhile, left her liable to psychomotor seizures. The driver of the third vehicle was thankfully uninjured. Neil clocked up an alcohol reading of 0. To make matters worse, neither he nor Razzle were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
Vince Neil is scared of me. Every time he sees me he runs away. His voice was reduced to a croak from the tomb, and as he spooled back almost two decades you could not help but realise that this recollection of times past was in grave danger of breaking his Romany heart. But that was mainly Nasty and Razzle. I remember Zeppo, our manager, having a heavy speech with Razzle: And I remember a drunken Razzle standing there, quietly listening to him slagging off his lifestyle, and he just looks up and says: And he got to LA.
He just never got to enjoy it. And I just wish he had. And when they got down there I had already identified him so that nobody else had to see his smashed-up head. I told them what the doctor told me, which was the most important thing: It was like a dark omen, that looked just like the scene of the crime. Because it was a crime. Not only did Razzle die, two young people got crippled. And this guy sat one night in jail, got away with a misdemeanour.
If he would have been a broke Afro-American guy or Latino he would have been doing life in San Quentin. At the heart of this time-honed bitterness lies a seemingly unforgivable lack of contrition: But to me it is so important, it is the moral value of the thing. Tommy just wanted to beat the shit out of the fucker. There was talk about that and I said: And it has.
But as he made his bed, he will sleep in it. He was always keeping the spirit up. It was boring, really, because whenever we would go to rehearsals, after half a song it would be: Once he drank my aftershave because the mini- bars were empty. The guys went out partying, and Vince was fucked up on whatever.
Now, Razzle had been in an accident when he was younger. He was paralysed from the neck down at one point, from a bike accident that he had, and so he was a safe driver. That to me is totally ignorant, insensitive and stupid. I just hung up the phone.
The roadies were in the room waiting to hear, because we knew something bad had happened. When I heard that, I just broke down, and said to the guys: They said: And I went to my room. That was a miserable time, and everything turned to shit. So can we move on? Me, Michael and Nasty were like three lost children. He, at least, recognised that the Hanoi Rocks lifestyle was utterly unsustainable over the long haul and decided to quit one step ahead of his liver.
Unfortunately, on December 8, , the cruelties of fate beat him to it.
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Fri, June 3, Four decades into his music career, the Oklahoma native continues to tour frequently, including dates this weekend in his home state. I never rest. I loved doing it as a kid, knocking around the honky-tonks and stuff when I was in high school, and I have yet to grow tired of playing music. So, away I go. You’ve got shows coming up in Oklahoma, but you’re not coming to Oklahoma City.
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