Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 27 Club and Friend Andy

In my younger years I had a friend. Let's call him "Andy". He was a short, quiet boy, who would sit in the school classes drawing heavy metal band logos or rock lyrics to his notebooks. He was often in his own world. Thinking. Being creative. Composing stories in his mind. Trying to put them into words. Whether they were lyrics for a band a mutual friend of ours had, or for the short stories he wrote.
Andy was extremely talented. His English skills were superb for a boy growing up in a Finnish suburb. He went abroad later on as an exchange student. Ended up getting best grades in his creative writing class in the school he attended. I often waited when Andy would get published. It was to be only a matter of time. So I thought.
I remember a moment around Easter 1999. Having a dinner with a friend couple in a restaurant in the city centre of Helsinki. Suddenly the other friend of mine breaking the news. Andy had been found dead in his apartment. Andy had turned 27 the month before. He had apparently had a seizure or something. Nothing suspicious.
I often think what Andy could have become. A husband or a father to someone. A talented, published writer. I wonder what kind of stories he could've ended up bringing to this world. In many ways, Andy was ahead of his time. He was often talking about the kinds of streams in literature or popular culture that only became known or popular years or decades later.
I remembered Andy as I came across a story about a Finnish band Hanoi Rocks. I was in sixth grade in school when the band made a wonderful album Two Steps from the Move. It was to be the first step to their massive international success. Finally there could be something coming out of Finland. Surely there had been some wonderful bands, but for some reason they never made it across the big pond, not even to the other parts of Europe. Hanoi Rocks had the chance.
Then came the December 9th, 1984. Redondo Beach, California. Two friends jumped in the car to get some more booze to their party. They were intoxicated, the driver speeding. These men were Razzle, the English drummer of Hanoi Rocks, and Vince Neil, the singer for Mötley Crüe. The car driven by Neil crashed into another car. Razzle was taken to South Bay ER, but was declared dead on arrival.
Pretty soon Hanoi Rocks split. Over the years they've reformed and split again. Still for me the golden age was just before and during the tragic times in 1984. I wonder what they could've become as a band.
Hanoi Rocks has had an unusually strong impact on later glam-rock wave. They inspired bands such as Guns N' Roses. Some very well-known rockers still honor Hanoi Rocks as their big inspiration.
Somehow I feel Hanoi Rocks died as a band with Razzle. Every time I hear songs like Don't You Ever Leave Me or the one dedicated to Razzle, Million Miles Away,  I think of what waste accidents and addictions cause in this world. I wonder it in the context to my own life. Thinking it as a parent of a kid, who is getting closer to the puberty. How I should raise my child so he wouldn't end up mixing himself with substances. Even cigarettes.
We've had our talks. Discussing how my son never got to see his grandpa, my dad, who died of lung cancer at 52. How these rock stars Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain and others never got to make more powerful music as they did already during their short careers.
Why take the risk? There is nothing fancy to be on the verge of death at 27. Additionally, life can be full of surprises. Interrupting life anyway. Causing sorrow.
There will never be replacements for people who pass away. There will never be dreams that came true. And as me and my friends remember: there will never be new Andy.

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