Book Reviews

SHERIFF McCOY SHOULD SURRENDER BADGE : HANOI ROCKS GUITARIST AUTOBIOGRAPHY A MESS

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I really wanted to like this book. I really did.

As an old school Hanoi Rocks fan, I assumed this would be an eye-opening tell-all by the man behind the band that spawned sleaze rock which was later ripped off by Guns N’ Roses and lesser lights such as L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat. Instead, it’s just a big ol’ mess of discombobulated anecdotes that do not enlighten the uninitiated, enthrall those already on board the Hanoi train, nor excite undiscerning lovers of rock ‘n roll.

Andy McCoy, guitarist and main songwriter for Finnish 80s sleazebags (an affectionate term) Hanoi Rocks, penned his story in his native tongue back in 2001. It has since been translated into English and released by Bazillion Points in late 2009. This was another plus in the book’s favor as I recently raved about another Bazillion title, the documentary, Mellodrama. Indeed, you can tell that the actual book itself is a labor of love as it simply feels good in your hands. The attractive slipcover, the smooth pleather packaging, and even a bright pink bookmark, remind me of why I will always prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands as opposed to a digital facsimile on an e-reader.

Unfortunately, it takes more than fantastic packaging to warrant throwing down one’s hard-earned cash on a $25 hardcover title.

At first what seems like a major marketing plus, the fact that McCoy allegedly wrote every word himself; turns out to be a major setback. Some of the most successful rock star autobiographies, such as Slash and The Heroin Diaries, were tackled with the help of a professional author. Indeed, both of those titles are better organized, tend to avoid repetition, and know how to reach emotional highs and lows throughout the rock star excess on display.

McCoy, on the other hand, simply rambles on and on and on… Indeed, if you are unfamiliar with Hanoi Rocks, you will not come away knowing much more about the band.

There is very little rhyme or reason to the structure of his story-telling. The book tends to jump from one year to another and back to the beginning which creates a jumbled mess.

Finally, the rockstarisms (the main reason why so many readers pick up these books) are rather pedestrian and never truly entertaining or even repulsive. It’s all been said and written about before and in a much more engaging fashion.

In fact, the most interesting rock tales involve other rockers: Guns N’ Roses’ Steven Adler and Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil. The latter’s drunk-driving manslaughter of Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley would seemingly bring out powerful emotions from his band mate, but instead, it reads more like an unfortunate speed bump in the ascension of the band, despite McCoy’s protestations to the contrary.

The further along I got into Sheriff McCoy, I finally began to realize how one should read this book. If you think of it as a long, stoned, drunken weekend hanging out with the guitarist at his home while he goes through old trunks of Hanoi Rocks memorabilia and rambles on about each new item he retrieves, then it might be passable. That, however, actually makes the book seem much cooler than it really is. And at less than 180 pages, the Hanoi material ends about two-thirds of the way into it. The remainder is filled up with rather mundane musings on McCoy’s stints with Iggy Pop as well as his own various solo projects.

Worst of all is the focus on his relationship with his girlfriend which dominates the final quarter of the book. By the time you learn that she is the most beautiful woman on the planet, can fuck better than any other human being ever, and is the coolest chick to boot, you begin to question McCoy’s ability for restraint and, more importantly, truth-telling in general.

There is so much more wrong with Sheriff McCoy, but I think you get the point by now.

The only people I can see picking up this book and finding anything remotely entertaining or informative would be Hanoi Rocks completists.

The mangled prose, unwarranted braggadocio, schizophrenic structuring, anti-American sentiment, lack of crucial information, and general sloppiness should turn everyone else off.

Sorry, Sheriff McCoy, but this one is several bullets short of a six-shooter.

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(1 ½ out of 5 horns)

-CM

Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of true crime books and founder of In Cold Blog. Join him on Facebook and Twitter. His next book, SAVAGE SON, can be pre-ordered now.

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