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Alexi Laiho (born Markku Uula Aleksi Laiho; 8 April 1979 – 29 December 2020) was a Finnish guitarist, composer, and vocalist. He was best known as the lead guitarist, lead vocalist and founding member of the melodic death metal band Children of Bodom, and was also the guitarist for Sinergy, The Local Band, Kylähullut, and Bodom After Midnight, which formed just prior to his death. Laiho had previously played with Thy Serpent and Impaled Nazarene on occasion, as well as Warmen and Hypocrisy.
|Birth name||Markku Uula Aleksi Laiho|
|Also known as||Wildchild|
|Born||8 April 1979|
|Died||29 December 2020 (aged 41)|
In 1993, after taking part in an experimental band named T.O.L.K. with friends he met while attending the Finnish Pop & Jazz Conservatory, Laiho formed Children of Bodom together with drummer Jaska Raatikainen, under the name of IneartheD.
Silenoz, Dimmu Borgir guitarist, on Laiho’s first performance: “We could hear the opening band playing from backstage. We were like, ‘Holy shit, what is this?’ It sounded like Yngwie Malmsteen on speed. We ran out and watched the spectacle and stood there with our jaws open”. “There was this fucking beast on the guitar,” adds Dimmu’s then-keyboardist Kimberly Goss, who would go on to form power metal band Sinergy with Alexi in 1997, and marry him in 2002. “I was looking at our guitar player like, ‘I don’t know, man, you’ve got some competition…”
Laiho recorded three full-length albums with Sinergy. An unreleased fourth album was recorded and slated to be released in 2005, but the finishing touches were never completed due to Laiho's demanding schedule with Children of Bodom.
In 2004, Laiho founded a side-project called Kylähullut, which was assembled together with drummer Tonmi Lillman (ex-Sinergy) and singer Vesa Jokinen 69er of Finnish punk band Klamydia. The band was created merely for the entertainment of the musicians, and takes a carefree approach to their music. Their discography includes two EP's, and two full-length albums one of which features Laiho's wife, Goss making her debut singing in the Finnish language on the band's self titled song.
Laiho appears on Canadian thrash metal outfit Annihilator's 2007 album, Metal, as a guest, performing a guitar solo on the song "Downright Dominate".
On 3 July 2012, Children of Bodom announced on their Facebook page that they had to cancel two European shows because Laiho had been taken to the hospital because of severe stomach pain. The frontman was hospitalized once again the following year in Nashville, leading to speculation about his dangerous relationship with alcohol, which he'd later discuss in multiple interviews.
On 15 December 2019, Children of Bodom played their last show at the Icehall in Helsinki, dubbed "A Chapter Called Children of Bodom"; in November it was announced that after this show, the group would disband after over two decades together. Due to legal reasons, Laiho would no longer be able to continue using the Children of Bodom name.
In March 2020, Laiho would officially announce his new band together with former Children of Bodom guitarist Daniel Freyberg, Bodom After Midnight featuring drummer Waltteri Väyrynen and bassist Mitja Toivonen.
Laiho died on 29 December 2020 due to liver degeneration resulting from years of alcohol abuse, leaving behind a few songs recorded with Bodom After Midnight to be published posthumously. Several months later, Daniel Freyberg told Loudwire that Bodom After Midnight would disband rather than replacing Laiho.
Awards and recognitionEdit
Laiho has often been described as a visionary who brought back melody and flamboyance to metal music in a post-grunge and nu metal era. His guitar style was influenced by black metal, power metal and classical music, all cemented together by blistering solos. He was known for his guitar-keyboard solo duels with Janne Wirman, keyboardist in his band Children of Bodom.
Laiho received a Metal Hammer Golden Gods prize in the category of Dimebag Darrell Shredder Award in 2008.
Laiho received widespread acclaim for his guitar work and according to AllMusic, he is "widely celebrated as one of the genre's most accomplished players". In 2004 he was ranked No. 96 out of 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World. Guitar World magazine has also ranked him as one of the 50 fastest guitarists in the world. In addition, Roadrunner Records ranked Laiho at No. 41 out of 50 of The Greatest Metal Frontmen of All Time. Furthermore, Total Guitar conducted a public voting poll to determine the greatest metal guitarist of all time; Laiho was voted No. 1 out of 20 metal guitarists, with over 20% of the vote.
Personal life and deathEdit
On 1 February 2002, Laiho married long time girlfriend and Sinergy frontwoman Kimberly Goss during a private ceremony in Finland. They shared identical tattoos of a coiled snake around their ring fingers and also had each other's initials tattooed on the upper part of their left arms. According to official documents Laiho filed for divorce alone in November 2002, but withdrew his application, never to file again. The couple separated in 2004, but were on good terms and had regular text and video contact until the day he died as confirmed by the Finnish press. Drama and infighting between Laiho's sister and widow resulted in a public back and forth exchange, with both parties airing their grievances to the Finnish media.
For several years after his separation from Goss, Laiho was then linked with Kristen Mulderig, manager of Slayer until mid 2015. Later that same year he began a relationship with Kelli Wright, an Australian public relations manager who he became engaged to September 2016 and the two married in a traditional handfasting ceremony, December 2017. After Laiho's death it was reported by Finnish news outlets that he had never divorced from Goss, revealing his marriage to Wright was not legally binding.
Laiho had a long history of alcohol abuse, which ultimately was the cause of his death. In an interview in 2019 he talked about how the pressures of life on the road affected him; he mentioned the song "This Road" from 2019's Hexed and said, "A lot of people thought it was about alcoholism, but it's more about being addicted to being on the road. Sometimes it feels like after 20 years of being on the road, everything just becomes kind of a blur and you don't know what the hell's going on." He explained how he used to drink heavily but cut back in 2013, not drinking while on tour anymore, and mentioned that Hexed's first single, "Under Grass and Clover", documented the pain of withdrawal.
On 4 January 2021, a post on his official Facebook page stated Laiho had died the previous week. No official cause of death was given, only stating he succumbed at his Helsinki home to "long-term health issues during his last years". The death date was later confirmed to be 29 December 2020. A private funeral service for Laiho was held on 28 January 2021.
On 5 March, 2021 Kimberly Goss revealed the official cause of Laiho's death on her Instagram: "alcohol-induced degeneration of the liver and pancreas connective tissue". Also, a mix of painkillers, opioids and insomnia medication was found in his system. The cause of death was originally published in Finnish as "maksan rasvarappeutuminen ja haiman sidekudostuminen", and a more accurate English translation would be fatty liver disease and pancreatic fibrosis. Alexi's sister states the family wished for details of his death to remain private, but Goss maintains it was her right as his legal widow to disclose the news and bring closure to his fans, hoping the tragedy could inspire lives to be saved and, "help others struggling with these same demons."
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