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Ironcross was formed in 1976 in Turku, Finland. Founding members were Esa "Gona" Leinonen (drums and vocals), Kimmo Vanne (guitars), Pekka "Body" Nummela (guitars) and Tero Ovaska (bass). The band started out with cover songs but soon they started to compose a material of their own which was mainly written by Gona. At some point Tero Ovaska left the group and Pekka "Body" Nummela started playing bass. The new second guitarist for Ironcross was Jari "Mizz" Lundqvist. Tero Ovaska later resurfaced with bands The Fabrics and Pepe Le Moko. Ironcross made a couple of demos and finally they were signed by a little record company called Master/Turun kasettituotanto.
The first single by Ironcross "Let's Get Down to Business/Harder Than Stone" was released in the early autumn of 1982 and soon the band started making their first lp "Bloodhounds". Mizz left the band before the single was released although he appears on the inner sleeve of Bloodhounds. The reason for Mizz's departure was his unwillingness to play heavy metal anymore. He played and sang later in a band called Venus Loon which made one single, "Parallel Lines/Losing You" in 1985. He also produced The 69 Eyes' first singles.
Before the recording of "Bloodhounds" took place Ironcross added ex-Noitawaimo drummer Esko "Eddy" Mänty-Sorvari into the line-up so that Gona could concentrate into vocals and after "Bloodhounds" was recorded the band also recruited the keyboard player Kari "Case" Laihonen.
In the early 1983 Kimmo Vanne was kicked out and was replaced by Peter Bredbacka. Kimmo Vanne sadly died later of alcohol and drugs. The new line up went to record a song called "Dealer" into the compilation album called "Uusi Musa". Bredbacka wasn't a long time member in Ironcross and soon he was replaced by Ari "Steeler" Suomi. Like Eddy, Steeler had previously played in a band called Noitawaimo which made one single, "Keep Pushin'/What A Feeling" in 1980.
Ironcross rehearsed a lot and had a new record deal with Finnlevy, one of the biggest record companies in Finland at that time. Single "Get Down'N'Get Away/Not Good For Your Health" was released in the spring 1984 and album "Steel Warrior" followed in summer. Ironcross did some gigs but nothing happened. The album didn't sell and as a result the band was shown the door in Finnlevy. In the spring 1985 Ironcross split up with the drummer Eddy due to "musical differences". He has later played and recorded with bands called Skädäm and The Sharonees.
In the mid 80's big hair and make up bands started to happen in Los Angeles and Ironcross realised that as well. They had a new drummer Jari Mäkeläinen and they also started to create "an image" (read "to look like Ratt or Mötley Crue but Finnish..."). Before that they had been an usual "leather jackets and jeans"-band. Ironcross rehearsed even harder than before, went to gym (Athletic rock, didn't RAVEN play that?, ed.) and made a new demo and a 3 track promotional video. Gona also lost 30 kilograms of his weight (about 60 pounds)! They re-named their music "tough rock" and the band also had new artistic names: Tyrone "Gona" Tougher, Jon Steeler, Case Roberts, Buddy McSchulz and Jari Mäkeläinen turned into Jimmy Hammer. The aim was to conquer the world!
The EMI Finland signed the band and in July 1986 they went to record a new album "Too Hot To Rock". Ironcross released a single "Too Hot To Rock/Paradise Of Stars" in September and they even appeared in Finnish commercial television (MTV) performing the title track.
In February 1987 Ironcross appeared again in television, this time in Finnish National TV (YLE), with track "Fight For The Strangers". The announcement party of "Too Hot To Rock" in Cafe Metropol, Helsinki was pompous; Rolls Royce, top models... Each member of Ironcross even had big crosses of iron done of precious metals and jewels.
But again... Despite the strong publicitity and touring, "Too Hot To Rock" didn't sell enough to confess the EMI people 'cause it was very expensive album to make. The band also got frustrated because of bad reviews and discouraging atmosphere.
In March-April 1987 Ironcross started to plan a promotional trip to the US . In the fall (September-November) 1987 they went to the States for six weeks and made some performances; for example in Roxy, LA and Cat Club, NY. They also appeared in Manhattan Cable TV.
After they returned to Finland they made some gigs in Turku and demoed their new material, which was more US-oriented. In the end of 1988 they made a 6 track promo cassette to show up for US record companies. They also released a single from cassette; "Immoral Love/Eye For An Eye" on their own Brilliant label. The announcement gig was in Turku March 1989 with Tarot. The single and cassette were without a doubt best Ironcross products ever.
And after that? Silence. In Summer '89 Case left the band and moved to Florida, USA. Ironcross made their last gig in Turku December 1989 as a fourpiece. In 1990 their manager Anne Heinonen started marketing Ironcross with a new name, Dillinger. The band still struggled and there were plans for the 4th Ironcross album but all of a sudden Gona turned into a jehovah's witness. He left the band and the music business for good. Jimmy would have wanted to continue the band with Steeler handling the vocals but Steeler and Buddy didn't want to continue and that was the very end of Ironcross. The final recording from Ironcross/Dillinger was a 1990 3 track demo with songs "Rock'N'Roll People", "My Credit Teacher" and "Shoot, Shoot Me".
And what these guys are up to nowadays?
Gona serves as a Jehovah's witness and a postman. A friend of mine once contacted him and wanted to interview him but Gona didn't want to recall his "evil past". On the other hand he was very interested about the feedback when the Too Hot to Rock album was released in cd format in 2002.
Steeler works for show agency . He played guitar in a one song ("Tuuliset Kaupungit") in Pasin Liiga's self titled album which was recorded in 1990. It seems that he has given up playing for good. The same goes for Buddy and Case.
Jari "Jimbo" Mäkeläinen continued playing hard rock in a band called Minx. They released a self financed mini-lp in 1990. After Minx he formed a band called Wardance with the ex-Lifeline members Jussi Vanto, Pekka Rautiainen and Kari Riihimäki. They recorded a song "Run To You" for a Turku rock compilation cd "Purematta Paras" in 1993 and made some gigs in Turku. In 1994 Wardance disbanded and vocalist Pekka Rautiainen started a solo career as Julius. After Wardance Jimbo played in various projects which were more jazz-orientated. In summer 2002 he joined Helsinki based Battagia and in the same year he also joined Pekka Rautiainen's and Jaakko Niitemaa's aor-project House of Mirrors.
- Released: 1982
- 1. Bloodhounds
- 2. Rollercat
- 3. Hellīs Angels
- 4. Blindness
- 5. Revenge Of The Lord
- 6. Cross Of Iron (Fields Of Glory)
- 7. Devilīs Night
- 8. Gotta Be Cruel
- 9. Letīs Get Down To Business
- 10. Harder Than Stone
- Released: 1984
- 1. The Time
- 2. Steel Warrior
- 3. Dancing Nowhere
- 4. Highway
- 5. Heat Of The Night
- 6. Get Down īN Get Away
- 7. Shining Fire
- 8. Turn Out The Lights
- 9. Hot Stuff
- 10. Not Good For Your Health
Too Hot To Rock
- Released: 1987
- 1. Too Hot To Rock
- 2. Riding On The Stormwind
- 3. Bloodhunger
- 4. Paradise Of Stars
- 5. Fight For The Strangers
- 6. Better Run Hard
- 7. Heartbreaker
- 8. Lords Of The Iron