Alexi Laiho

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Alexi Laiho
Laiho performing at Provinssirock 2013
Laiho performing at Provinssirock 2013
Background information
Birth nameMarkku Uula Aleksi Laiho
Also known asWildchild[1]
Born(1979-04-08)8 April 1979
Espoo, Finland
Died29 December 2020(2020-12-29) (aged 41)
Helsinki, Finland
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Guitars
  • vocals
Years active1993–2020
(m. 2002)

Alexi Laiho (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈɑleksi ˈlɑi̯ho]; born Markku Uula Aleksi Laiho;[1] 8 April 1979 – 29 December 2020)[2] 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.


Laiho started playing violin at the age of seven and guitar at the age of eleven. His main guitar influence was Helloween. He then became interested in more extreme, mainly black metal music. By 1999 he considered that his main influences lay with classic metal bands like Manowar, Helloween, Judas Priest and W.A.S.P.[3]

His first guitar was a "Tokai Stratocaster".[4]

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,[5] Laiho formed Children of Bodom together with drummer Jaska Raatikainen, under the name of IneartheD.[6][7]

On 31 October 1997, prior to releasing their debut album, Children of Bodom played their first concert in Helsinki, as opening act for Norway's Dimmu Borgir.

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…”[8]

Laiho recorded three full-length albums with Sinergy. An unreleased fourth album was recorded and slated to be released in 2005,[9] 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.[10]

Children of Bodom played at the 2008 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. There, Laiho also received the Dimebag Award for "Best Shredder" and performed a track off of Bodom's 2008's album, Blooddrunk.

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.[11] The frontman was hospitalized once again the following year in Nashville,[12] leading to speculation about his dangerous relationship with alcohol, which he'd later discuss in multiple interviews.[13][14]

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.[15] Due to legal reasons, Laiho would no longer be able to continue using the Children of Bodom name.[16]

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,[17] leaving behind a few songs recorded with Bodom After Midnight to be published posthumously.[18][19][20] Several months later, Daniel Freyberg told Loudwire that Bodom After Midnight would disband rather than replacing Laiho.[21] Regarding his death, in a 2023 interview, former Children of Bodom keyboardist Janne Wirman reflected back to what Alexi Laiho had told him in 2016 after his health issues came to light, that he had no plans to stop drinking but instead plans to drink himself to death.[22]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Laiho performing in 2009

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. Alexi also incorporated various references to classical music in his early works.

Laiho received a Metal Hammer Golden Gods prize in the category of Dimebag Darrell Shredder Award in 2008.[23]

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".[24] In 2004 he was ranked No. 96 out of 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar World.[25] Guitar World magazine has also ranked him as one of the 50 fastest guitarists in the world.[26] In addition, Roadrunner Records ranked Laiho at No. 41 out of 50 of the greatest metal frontmen.[27] 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.[28]

Personal life and death[edit]

On 1 February 2002, at a private ceremony in Finland, Laiho married long time girlfriend and Sinergy frontwoman Kimberly Goss.[29] They shared identical tattoos of a coiled snake around their ring fingers and had each other's initials tattooed on the upper part of their left arms. According to official documents, Laiho filed for divorce in November 2002, but withdrew his application, never to file it again.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32][33]

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 whom he became engaged to in September 2016, and the two married in a traditional handfasting ceremony in December 2017.[34] 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.[30]

Laiho had a history of alcohol abuse, which 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.[35] In 2023, Children of Bodom keyboardist Janne Wirman said that Alexi Laiho never stopped drinking, and in 2016 had told him "I'm going to drink until I die."[36] In 2024, Janne Wirman revealed that after Alexi's return from Australia, where he had spent time with his partner, Kelli Wright, his bandmates started noticing that Laiho's health was deteriorating. Wirman remarked that Laiho had lost a lot of weight and his attempts to play guitar ended up in failure, as he "couldn't play at all". In the same interview, Henkka Seppälä admitted that they had talked to Alexi at the end of the "Hexed" tour, however this only ended up in having an argument. The bassist also points out that their tour manager "had phone numbers to every city's morgue during their tour, in case they found Alexi dead in his bunk".[37]

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".[38][39][40] The death date was later confirmed to be 29 December 2020.[41][2] A private funeral service for Laiho was held on 28 January 2021.[42]

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". Additionally, 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", which translates into English as fatty liver disease and pancreatic fibrosis.[43] Laiho's sister stated that the family wanted the details of his death to remain private,[31] however Goss maintained that it was her right as his legal widow to disclose the information and bring closure to his fans, hoping the tragedy could inspire lives to be saved and "help others struggling with these same demons."[44]

Laiho's ashes were laid to rest on 8 December 2021, one day after a private memorial service was held by Goss.[45]

During an interview conducted in 2023 with Janne Wirman, the former keyboardist of Children of Bodom, a revelation surfaced regarding an interaction wherein Alexi purportedly conveyed, "Dude, from now on, I'm going to drink until I die." This disclosure potentially suggests that his death could have been attributed to suicide.



  1. ^ a b Vedenpää, Ville; Rissanen, Juha; Väänänen, Marja; Hurtta, Anna (8 August 2015). "Henkilökuva: Miten Alexi Laihosta tuli maailman paras hevikitaristi?". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Yleisradio Oy. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b Wright-Laiho, Kelli. "Instagram post from February 4, 2021". Instagram. Retrieved 4 February 2021. Non-loginwalled link at[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Children of Bodom – Hatebreeder – Interview | Lollipop Magazine". 1 September 1999. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Lords of Metal ezine". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho (1979-2020) remembered". 18 February 2021.
  6. ^ Amy Woodyatt (4 January 2021). "Alexi Laiho, front man for Finnish metal band Children of Bodom, dies suddenly at 41". CNN. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Metal Archives". Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Alexi Laiho: The blazing life and wild times of a modern metal hero". 9 March 2021.
  9. ^ "SINERGY: 'Sins of the Past' to Surface Before End of the Year". 8 February 2005.
  10. ^ "KYLÄHULLUT: CHILDREN OF BODOM Side Project Releases New Album". 2 February 2005.
  11. ^ "Children Of Bodom Singer Rushed To Hospital". 5 July 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Children of Bodom Guitarist Alexi Laiho Hospitalized, Band Forced to Cancel Shows". 12 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho Opens up About Dangerous Past Relationship with Alcohol". October 2019.
  14. ^ "Alexi Laiho : A skateboard's child". 24 May 2011.
  15. ^ "Children of Bodom are parting ways with three longtime band members". November 2019.
  16. ^ "Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho may have to use different band name for new lineup". 19 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho Died from 'Alcohol-Induced' Liver Disease". Billboard. 5 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Kitaristi Alexi Laiho, 41, on kuollut". Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). 4 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  19. ^ brownypaul (4 January 2021). "Children of Bodom Vocalist/Guitarist Alexi Laiho Passed Away, Aged 41". Wall Of Sound. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Bodom After Midnight EP Announced in Wake of Alexi Laiho's Death". Loudwire. 10 February 2021.
  21. ^ Graham Hartmann (2 April 2021). "Alexi Laiho Was 'Very Happy + Excited,' Says Bodom Guitarist". Loudwire. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Ex-Children of Bodom Keyboardist Explains What Alexi Laiho Was Like in His Final Few Years, Recalls How His 'Downfall' Started".
  23. ^ Blabbermouth (17 June 2008). "METAL HAMMER GOLDEN GODS AWARDS: Complete List Of Winners". Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  24. ^ Alexi Laiho Biography. AllMusic.
  25. ^ "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time. Much as Guitar World is the worlds' bestselling guitar magazine. A lot of controversy has been raised over this vote, because of guitarists who play much mellower genres such as Jimmy Page and John Mayer being included in it". Roadrunner Records. 23 January 2004. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  26. ^ 50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time. 20 November 2008
  27. ^ "THE 50 GREATEST METAL FRONT-MEN OF ALL TIME!". Roadrunner Records. 12 July 2011. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  28. ^ "The 20 Greatest Metal Guitarists Ever". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  29. ^ "SINERGY's KIMBERLY GOSS and ALEXI LAIHO Get Hitched!". 2 March 2002.
  30. ^ a b "Metal guitarist Alexi Laiho never got divorced from his first wife". Ilta-Sanomat. 19 January 2021.
  31. ^ a b "Kuka päättää Alexi Laihon hautaamisesta? NYT puhuu leski: "Taistelen oikeudestani sanoa hyvästit"". Iltalehti (in Finnish).
  32. ^ Miika Hujanen (8 March 2021). "Alexi Laihon hautaamisesta iso riita – sisko kertoo perheen piinasta". Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  33. ^ "NYT puhuu Alexi Laihon leski: "Minulta ryöstettiin mahdollisuus jättää hyvästit hänelle"". 9 March 2021.
  34. ^ Kent, Sara-Aisha (4 January 2021). "Alexi Laiho and wife marked 3rd wedding anniversary just weeks before his death". Mirror. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  35. ^ Johnny Papan (1 October 2019). "Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho Opens Up About Dangerous Past Relationship with Alcohol". Archived from the original on 9 August 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  36. ^ "Ex-Children of Bodom Keyboardist Explains What Alexi Laiho Was Like in His Final Few Years, Recalls How His 'Downfall' Started".
  37. ^ "The wild rise and tragic fall of Children of Bodom".
  38. ^ Amy Woodyatt (4 January 2021). "Alexi Laiho, front man for Finnish metal band Children of Bodom, dies suddenly at 41". CNN.
  39. ^ "Children of Bodom founding guitarist Laiho dies at 41". Yle Uutiset. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  40. ^ Mankkinen, Jussi; Kiviranta, Varpu (4 January 2021). "Children of Bodomin perustanut Alexi Laiho on kuollut: kitaristi arvosti suomalaista itsepäisyyttä ja sisua". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Helsinki: Yleisradio. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  41. ^ "ALEXI LAIHO's Wife Shares Photos Of His Private Funeral Service". 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  42. ^ "ALEXI LAIHO's Widow Releases Images From Funeral Service". Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  43. ^ "Kimberly Goss (@kimvoxrox)". Instagram. 4 March 2021. Archived from the original on 23 December 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  44. ^ "Alexi Laiho's cause of death has been revealed". Guitar World. 5 March 2021.
  45. ^ "Alexi Laiho valitti vatsakivuista kuolinpäivänään - lesken surutilitys: "Näin, miten alkoholi verotti hänen terveyttään". Seiska (in Finnish). 29 December 2021.

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