Sami Yaffa should be a household name. Some of the bands he’s played with should be household names, and some of the records he’s made should be in every self-respecting music lover’s collection. Sami Yaffa is a Bass guitar-playing Legend.
I know the term legend gets banded about willy nilly and people refer to players who should be nowhere near the word but there are some artists who are the absolute embodiment of Rock and Roll and worthy of the word legend. From his humble beginnings and his love of music from many genres through his time as the bass player in Hanoi Rocks through his dalliances with Joan Jett, Demolition 23, New York Dolls, Jetboy, Hellacopters and most recently old sparring partner Michael Monroe who to be fair have been a going concern for the best part of a decade and most recently his solo album that wiped the floor with everything released last year Sami Yaffa is a Rock and Roll Icon as far as I’m concerned and now the fucker is a published author with magic in his pen and a wonderfully engaging style that shines like his personality from his humble beginnings right up until 2016.
Mysterious yet open. Up for a party yet shy, charming and seemingly always living life with a smile and a jour de Vivre that has seen him through some horrendous challenges yet the guy rolls with the punches and pulls through stronger and more determined. Yaffa must be a fucker to be around with such qualities most mortals can only dream about achieving and boy has he got a story to tell.
The book opens with his humble beginnings as he sets the scene of how his formative years set him in good stead for what was to come. Yaffa’s style is engaging and you feel like you’re in the passenger seat for the ride there’s a flow to his story that’s engaging and throughly captivating, especially for a fan of his work. The stories aren’t bogged down with detail but the sense of adventure and ability to roll with the punches shines through and his unwavering love of music no matter what genre is always about how it affects your heart and soul.
I’m always a bit miffed when I speak to musicians who claim to not listen to music or keep an interest in what’s happening around them nor seemingly give a shit about their own music once it’s been put in the can. Yaffa is like a sponge and his modesty shines like a star when working with others every day is a school day and striving to be better is never a bad thing. I’ve lived my whole youth and adult life with Sami’s music and whatever he gets involved with usually turns out to be something I need to be listening to be it his punk roots, the reincarnation of the Dolls, his roots music through Mad Juana, Jetboy, Joan Jett to Hanoi Rocks (the best band ever) to his debut solo album in 2021 He’s also a documentary maker his skills make you sick if he didn’t have such a warm smile.
As a teenager, Hanoi rocks dished up everything I loved about music and Sami was a vital part of the story and his input was a huge part of the sound. He talks fondly about the band, especially some of the trips they had but he never shys away from being honest and how they fell apart or at least how his time was done and how being in the band was affecting his health physically and mentally. Sure they were flawed and it was their imperfections that were a big part of why people loved them so much even if their story is tragic and a well-trodden path reading Sami’s take is captivating and heartbreaking. Apart from the pretty shambolic Sherrif McCoy book, it’s the first English worded inside track from any member of the band. But seeing it all laid out in front of you as big a part as Hanoi was there is so much more to Sami’s legacy than one band. I particularly loved reading about his chaotic time working with Steve Stevens which then led to the Demolition 23. period and the band that grew for that record.
I love reading biographies and autobiographies and the master of this genre is Alvin Gibbs another bass player whose career overlaps with Yaffa’s on several levels as far as players go, I’d probably have them both at the pinnacle of style in playing and approach to music as well as both playing on some of my favourite records and had Sami not been so loyal he might have had the Iggy gig and Alvin’s legacy would have been a little lighter than it is, sliding doors and all that.
I don’t was to give any spoilers except to say I laughed out loud at some of the stories and drifted off into what could have been with others but throughout the book it is a real page-turner, heartfelt, warm, insightful, honest and engaging – exactly what you’d want from the writer and another excellent addition is that excerpts of the book come on a 12-inch record to accompany where Sami reads excerpts from the book. I love it all and if there’s one book you need to check out this year then it’s this, absolutely fantastic – makes you piggin sick. Hopefully, it won’t be so long before we get the second volume where Sami brings us up to date and spills the beans on what he did from 2016 to right here right now! Brilliant
Author: Dom Daley