Homelessness, hellraising and Hanoi Rocks: Michael Monroe's rollercoaster career
Hanoi Rocks' Michael Monroe joins us to look back on a career which has taken him from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows
Exploding through the door in a jangle of bangles, Michael Monroe is every inch the rock star. Whippet lean, stunningly statuesque, bombshell-blond and carrying off a look mere mortals wouldn’t dare attempt – black waistcoat over bejewelled bare torso, black trousers adorned with more superfluous buckles ’n’ straps than an S&M bondage convention – he collapses into a sofa, crosses a significant yardage of leg and widens his Kohl-smudged, doe eyes to embark upon a revealing journey into an incident-packed past.
So how has the former Hanoi Rocks frontman endured multiple setbacks to enjoy a solo career that only improves with age? “I’m always a rocker, even at home,” he jangles. “Johnny Thunders used to laugh: ‘You don’t even go to the store without wearing make-up.’”
Mike’s the real deal alright. And he’s paid way more dues than most, as we shall see.
You took piano lessons from the age of five. Whose decision was that?
My mother’s, at first. Then, when I discovered rock’n’roll, I decided to take more piano lessons myself. Up until then I’d only heard classical music, but rock’n’roll got me into playing again. I taught myself guitar, then took lessons in classical flute for about a year, which helped me pick up the sax. Andy [McCoy] gave me a blues harp when I was fifteen and I learned that, just sucking and blowing. That’s what I’m still doing, just sucking and blowing. I learnt sax playing along with Little Richard and Coasters records, that raspy, fifties sound.