Sami Yaffa is a bass guitarist, original member of Hanoi Rocks and former member of The New York Dolls and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. First solo album was released in September 2021!
"I started playing bass at the age of 14. It kicked in gear mainly by punk and rock'n'roll. There was also a shortlived prog period which passed pretty quickly.
I have always had my ears and mind open to all music since early age, thanks to my family. I played in some bands in and outside of Helsinki, Finland, at the end of the 70's, but the trip kicked into gear in Januery 1980 when Tumppi Varonen, the drummer from Pelle Miljoona rang my phone. The trip has continued ever since.
Here's a list of all the bands and artist that I've had the honor to play and record with:
- PELLE MILJOONA OY 1980
- HANOI ROCKS 1980–85
- PELLE ALMGREN IN 1986
- JETBOY 1987–90
- SMACK 1989–90
- JERUSALEM SLIM 1990–92
- DEMOLITION 23 1993–95
- MAD JUANA 1995–
- MURPHYS LAW 2001
- JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS 2002–2004
- NEW YORK DOLLS 2004–2010
- MICHAEL MONROE BAND 2010–
- HELLACOPTERS 2017
In between the tours and different bands I have played, jammed and recorded with a bunch of musician friends in USA and Europe. More of this stuff can be found in the discography and photogallery.
I have always drawn and made caricatures of friends and foes, but also about situations happening in the world. Sometimes I get excited and swing a brush towards a canvas but that's a really sporadic happenstance.
A lot of these paintings and drawings are either on the friends walls, or in their storage, or have been turned into firewood or have found their final resting place in a landfill. Nowadays I'm into creating grafic art using whatever means I can find to express the whatever it is that I need to express. Read more here.
In the summer 2019 I got heavily into ceramics with my wife, photographer and journalist Meeri Koutaniemi. The studies culminated in creating our own handmade ceramic company Koutaffa Ceramics in november 2020. You can find more on that by following this link: www.koutaffaceramics.com.
In the shit year of 2020 when most of my playing (paying) gigs vanished in the thin pandemic air of the COVIC-19 virus, I put out my first comic book: Punkin seikkailut - taistelu plastimiestä vastaan. Or in English: Adventures of the punk: the fight against the plastiman. Hopefully I will get that piece of fun translated to english in soon! The book is meant for kids from 8–108. I also started to work the follow up. You can find more on that on the Punk's world page here.
My autobiography Sami Yaffa: Tie taipuu, in english Sami Yaffa: The Road Bends came out in 2016. It will be on the shelves of all English speaking countries in 2021.
There are also a few other books (only in Finnish) related to my TV program Sami Yaffa: Sound Tracker. You can find the info on those on the books page here.
The Sami Yaffa: Sound Tracker TV program ran for three seasons 2014–2016. It won two Golden Venla Awards (Finnish Emmys) for the first and second season. There is also a Youtube-channel for Sami Yaffa Sound Tracker where you can find clips from the program. All the Sound Tracker seasons can also be found in the YLE Areena. And if you happen to be int he USA and wan't to see the program, it can be found at www.linktv.org.
In 2021 I inked a recording deal with Powerhouse Indie Label from Finland, Vallila Music House. Label boss Gabi Hakkanen was instrumental in getting this all done, as was my old childhood friend Janne Haavisto, the Monroe Band guitarist Rich Jones and recording engineers Erno Laitinen from Inkfish Studios and Puter Puigserver from Palam Studios. The release date for the first single "The Last Time" is June 4th 2021 and the album "The Innermost Journey to Your Outermoust mind" drops September 3rd 2021. Read more here.
Tour dates for the band Sami Yaffa & Magicians will be announced in due time. The band members are Janne Haavisto, drums; Linde Lindström, guitar; Burton, keyboards and myself on bass and vocals. Read more here.
The road bends and continues to bend. Thanks for visiting the site!
"I began my bass playing travels in Helsinki, Finland in January 1980 with the now legendary Finnish band Pelle Miljoona OY at the age of 16. With Pelle Miljoona Oy I recorded the album 'Moottoritie on kuuma' which has become part of Finnish R'n'R/Punk history. The album went gold in a matter of weeks and spawned a couple of top 10 singles. In this band I also met my future Hanoi Rocks band mate Andy McCoy and through him Michael Monroe and Nasty Suicide.
In September 1980 the classic line up of Hanoi Rocks was born.
Michael Monroe, Andy McCoy, Nasty Suicide,Gyp Casino and I kick-started the band in Stockholm, Sweden and moved our base later on in 1982 to London. Gyp Casino was soon replaced by Razzle (Nicholas Dingley)
I recorded and toured with Hanoi Rocks for 4 years , creating the albums 'Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks', 'Oriental Beat', 'Self Destruction Blues', 'Back To Mystery City', 'All Those Wasted Years - Live At The Marquee' and 'Two Steps From The Move' as well as scores of singles and EP's. Our tours took us to Japan, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, USA and Europe leaving behind mayhem and stunned audiences either hating or loving us.
The bitter break up of Hanoi Rocks came after the death of our drummer Razzle who died in a car accident caused by a drunk driving Motley Crue singer Vince Neil in December of 1984.
Hanoi Rocks' brief existence ended up influencing everybody from Guns & Roses to Motley Crue to Nirvana etc...
After Razzle's passing, Hanoi's breakup, and getting clean from my worst vices, 1985 - 1986 turned out to be a quieter period musically and personally. I was making occasional performances with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls/Heartbreakers fame and I recorded an EP with Swedish singer Pelle Almgren in '86 but mainly concentrated on raising my newborn son.
In April 1987 I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles after being asked to join the band JetBoy. For the next 3 years I became part of the budding LA music scene. I met and played with some great musicians, hung out on the strip, learned about plastic surgery, had a part in a Tommy Chong movie 'Far Out Man' and got back on my feet. I also acquired a tan...
It was pretty incredible to walk into a club, any day of the week in 1987-88 and be able to witness the 'new' bands like Jane's Addiction , Guns 'N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Firehose etc, before they blew up. Great music (some of it, there was also a great deal of crap around) and definitely great times.
In '88-89 I toured with JetBoy in the US opening for bands like Cheap Trick (which was a great experience) and Stryper (well, not so great, but still an experience to behold). JetBoy recorded two albums for MCA records.
By 1990 I'd had enough of LA and JetBoy and decided to move to NYC to re-connect with my old friend, Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe. The idea was to start a new band with Steve Stevens, Billy Idol's ex-guitarist and make a no frills, back to the basics, simple R'n'R album. Guess it was not meant to be. The making of the album turned into a giant wank fest and the album became a horrible piece of cock rock shite. The project got the name 'Jerusalem Slim', a name I found in a book I was reading, meaning "Jesus Christ" in 70's Harlem slang.
In '92 Michael and I went to Japan to do a promotional tour for the album. We also refused to play a single track off of the aforementioned album. The band consisted of our old brother Nasty Suicide on guitar, Thommy Price on drums and Phil Grande on 2nd guitar.
The shows were cooking as the band was in fine form and the set list included some Hanoi Rocks gems and material from Michael's first 2 solo albums 'Nights Are So Long' and 'Not Fakin' It' and some well chosen covers.
Upon returning to NYC we were facing a contractual hassle with the Jerusalem Slim album, which left us unable to do anything musically, in public, for a period of time. While waiting for the dust to settle Michael and I collaborated with Slash from Guns 'N Roses on a soundtrack for the movie 'Coneheads' featuring Dan Akroyd.
While the lawyers got paid and the managers fought for their piece of the cake Michael and I decided to make the album we set out do with Jerusalem Slim. No frills Rock and Roll, great songs, keep it simple and dirty.
Michael's old friend Little Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band) jumped on board to produce and co-write, Jimmy Clark got the drummers seat after we unsuccessfully tried out Rat Scabies of The Damned and Jay Hening from the band Star Star, got the guitarists job.
The band rehearsed in a basement in New York City's Lower East Side, inhabited by a transvestite and a ten feet long boa constrictor for a couple of weeks & then entered the Power Station Recording Studio uptown and banged out the Punk/R'n'R classic 'Demolition 23' - Another name I picked up by having my nose buried in a book (William S. Burroughs' The Exterminator).
Demolition 23 ended up touring Scandinavia, UK and Japan but was plagued by troubles with guitarists (what's new?). First , with Jay Hening (R.I.P) and afterwards with our old bro Nasty. The band broke up after a year and a half. A low down, dirty shame....
In 1995 Michael had had enough of NYC, which was sadly and rapidly yuppiefying, and moved back to Finland. I hung in there in the East Village for a few more months but needed a change as well and moved to Spain.
1995 - 1997 was spent in Spain, in Mallorca and Barcelona and saw the birth of the band Mad Juana with my then girlfriend Karmen Guy. I had become tired of the same old, same old and wanted to destroy all concepts of previously learned R'n'R habits. Karmen and I wanted to create a new and unique sound and outlook on music, have no rules instrumentally or stylistically, use different musical scales , experiment with Dub etc etc....
Mad Juana has released 5 albums so far: 'Skin Of My Teeth' (1997), 'In Your Blood'(2001), 'Acoustic Voodoo' (2002), 'Bruja On The Corner' (2006) and 'Kumpania' (2010)
In 1997 the decision was made to move back to NYC and continue on with Mad Juana. New York City has long tentacles ...
After a few years break from rock music my thirst for extremely loud music returned and I started to look for people to play with.
In 2002 I joined the infamous NYC Hardcore punk group Murphy's Law for a half year of chaotic and cataclysmic performances, touring Japan and US.
In 2002, after the Murphy's Law experience I joined the legendary Joan Jett &The Blackhearts ,after running into my drummer friend Thommy Price at Don Hills, a NYC rock club. Thommy has been drumming for Joan since the late 80's. For the next 2 years I toured, toured and toured with the hardest working lady in show biz. Thanks Joan, Thommy, Dougie, Enzo and Billy.
In June 2004 after my stint with the Blackhearts ended, I received a call from a friend who informed me that Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls was trying to get hold of me. I'd met Syl a few times before and loved the man.
The remaining, living New York Dolls David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain and Arthur Kane had gotten together for some comeback shows in the UK organized by Morrissey of the band The Smiths.
Arthur 'Killer' Kane, the bassist, had passed away from advanced leukemia after only 2 shows with the regrouped Dolls. Sylvain Sylvain and David Johansen asked me to fill in for a few contractually binding shows, one of them being the Little Steven Underground Garage Festival in NYC plus a tour of Japan.
The few shows turned into 5 years of touring and recording with the Dolls, some of the best times in my life as I had always loved their music and also had had a connection with the ex-Dolls Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan.
The original New York Dolls' influence on R'n'R is undeniably enormous. Influencing the likes of The Clash, Sex Pistols, Morrissey, Ramones, Guns 'N Roses etc etc etc and it was an honour to share the stage with David and Syl for those 5 years.
With The New York Dolls I was part of the creation of 2 critically acclaimed albums: 'One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This' (2006) and 'Cause I Sez So' (2009)
During my time with the Dolls I also did some playing with Jesse Malin. We recorded the album 'Glitter In The Gutter' (2007) which featured appearances from Bruce Springsteen, Josh Homme, Ryan Adams and a bunch more.
In 2009 while on tour in Finland with The Dolls I met up with Michael Monroe again. Over a couple of drinks the discussion turned into possibly working together again. We both felt that we still had some unfinished business to do together after Demolition 23. The Dolls were slowing down in a big way and Michael had just put Hanoi Rocks Part 2 in the ground."
In the fall of 2014, the television series Sami Yaffa - Sound Tracker debuted on the Finnish National Television, YLE. The show has been shown on Netflix, Amazon Prime and in many countries around the world. In the show I toured the world and got to know the musical styles and musicians of different cultures in 18 countries. The series won the best music program Golden Venla (equivalent of the Emmy's in Finland) twice in 2014 and 2015 and has produced three seasons so far.
In 2018 I joined the ranks of the Swedish group The Hellacopters for the spring and summer playing festivals around Europe and opening for The Rolling Stones.
During the Covid-19 pandemic when the concert halls fell silent I wrote a children's comic book; Punkin Maailma: Taistelu Plastimiestä vastaan ( World Of Punk: The Fight Against Plastiman). I also created a ceramic art company with my wife Meeri Koutaniemi: Koutaffa Ceramics, www.koutaffaceramics.com and held a gallery exhibition with Meeri showing my graphic art and ceramics and jumped in to the world of radio, creating and hosting specials for the National Radio Of Finland YLE, Radio Sami Yaffa.
In 2020 I signed a recording contract with Vallila Music House entered the studio to record my first solo album "The Innermost Journey To Your Outermost Mind". The first single "The Last Time" is due May 21 2021, the album release date is September 3 2021. My autobiography Sami Yaffa: Tie Taipuu in english Sami Yaffa: The Road Bends came out in Finland 2016, the English version will hit the streets by Christmas 2021.