Alexi Laiho

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Markku Uula Aleksi Laiho
Guitarist, Musician, Rock musician
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Alexi Laiho (born Markku Uula Aleksi Laiho; 8 April 1979 – late 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.

Laiho received widespread acclaim for his guitar work. In 2004 he was ranked #96 out of 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time by Guitar WorldGuitar World magazine has also ranked him as one of the 50 fastest guitarists in the world. In addition, Roadrunner Records ranked Laiho at #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 #1 out of 20 metal guitarists, with over 20% of the vote.


Laiho started playing violin at the age of seven and guitar at the age of 11. His first guitar was a "Tokai Stratocaster".

In 1993, Laiho formed Children of Bodom together with drummer Jaska Raatikainen, under the name of IneartheD.

In 2004, Laiho founded a side-project called Kylähullut, which was assembled together with Tonmi Lillman (ex-Sinergy) and Vesa Jokinen 69er (from Klamydia). The band was created merely for the entertainment of the musicians, and takes a carefree approach to their music. The band's discography includes two EP's, and two full-length albums.

Children of Bodom played at the 2008 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. There, Laiho also received the Dimebag Award for "Best Shredder," and he 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."

In spring of 2009, Children of Bodom was forced to drop out of their North American "No Fear Energy Tour" when Laiho broke his wrist after falling out of his bunk, when the tour bus took a sharp turn on 26 April 2009, after the show in Palladium Ballroom, Dallas TX. Laiho originally planned to continue touring despite his injury, but was forced to cancel the last six dates when any efforts to alleviate the pain failed.

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. The band released this statement: “It is with great regret that we are forced to cancel tonight’s show in Oslo as well as tomorrow night’s show in Malmö. Alexi was rushed to the Oslo hospital earlier this evening with extreme stomach pain. The doctors in the emergency unit checked him and while we are still waiting for a diagnosis, they made clear that he will not be able to perform within the next 48 hours. We apologize to all our fans who have bought tickets to these shows – we will try to reschedule both Oslo and Malmö at the earliest possibility. Keep your fingers crossed with us that Alexi will get well again soon!”

On 5 July 2012 the band followed up with another update from their Facebook page: “This is not an easy letter for us to write. Alexi is suffering from a serious infection. He is still in hospital in Oslo under supervision of the doctors and we don’t know yet when they will release him. We have no choice other than canceling Ruisrock in Turku on Saturday as well. This is a very bitter pill for us to swallow. We had decided to do only two festivals in our homeland this summer to make it real special, and now this. We hope that we will be able to make up for this very soon. To all our fans who had been looking forward to rock with us at Ruisrock this weekend, take our apologies and enjoy the festival. In our spirits, we will be there, too.”

On 15 December 2019 Children of Bodom played their last show at the Icehall in Helsinki, dubbed “A Chapter Called Children of Bodom.” This followed the announcement in November that after this show, all members of the band except Laiho and guitarist Daniel Freyberg had quit. Following their departure, it was revealed that due to legal reasons, Laiho would need permission from his former band mates to continue using the Children of Bodom name.

In March 2020, Laiho and Freyberg officially announced their new band, Bodom After Midnight, named after the second track from the album Follow the Reaper. This officially marked the end of Children of Bodom.

In January 2021, it was announced that Laiho died of long-term health complications, leaving behind a few songs recorded with Bodom After Midnight to be published posthumously.

Guitar endorsements

In January 2003 ESP Guitars announced a line of Alexi Laiho Signature Models. The models sold in the US are a slightly different shape than what Alexi usually played, as the SV shape is a copyrighted Jackson shape. So to avoid a lawsuit, ESP made the bottom horn slightly larger and also put in a cut-away to get to the higher frets. Another difference is the use of solid black or yellow pinstripes on the paint finish instead of his traditional pinstriped design which lies on the bevels of the guitar.

The guitars for the US market originally came in two finishes: black with yellow stripe and white with black stripe. The guitar has a neck-thru 25.5” design, using a 3-pc unfinished maple neck with a 24-fret ebony fingerboard and pearl sawtooth inlays, although Alexi did not actually use these in live shows.

The ESP Alexi includes white binding on neck and head, the ESP custom shop version comes with a natural maple neck while the LTD is painted, and it comes with professional-quality components including a Floyd Rose original tremolo, Gotoh tuners, Schaller straplocks and a single EMG HZ H4 humbucker. Alexi's personal guitars, as well as Custom shop, Standard, and the models made for the US market are equipped with an MM-04 preamp.

As of 2007, a cheaper model (the Alexi- 200) is also available, in either solid black or white finish. It's a bolt on, 25.5" Scale with the body made out of basswood, with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. It features a Floyd Rose Licensed bridge and one EMG-ESP LH-301 bridge pickup. There is also a Limited Edition Alexi signature guitar (the ESP LTD Alexi-600SE) which is black and pink. He also has a Custom Shop and Standard version of the Black and Pink guitar in his traditional pinstriped design that is not available in the United States.

There were seven ESP models that Alexi frequently used

  1. Scythe (available in Standard version, Custom Shop Version and longer winged US version) Cream white with unfilled black pinstripes and Scythe inlays, Chrome hardware
  2. Arrow Head (Alexi's first ESP signature) (Only available in Custom Shop version) Black with solid yellow pinstripes very much like the US Alexi and the Alexi 600 but with pearl Arrow Head inlays, Gold hardware
  3. Sawtooth (2006–2008) (Custom Shop Version) Black with luminous pinstripes and luminous sawtooth inlays (Standard Version)
    1. Black with yellow pinstripes, sawtooth inlays, Black Hardware and
    2. White with Solid Black Pinstripes, sawtooth inlays, Black Hardware
  4. Katakana (STD&CS) (originally there were 10 CS made for the Finnish market) Black with yellow pinstripes 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 frets with pearl sawtooth inlays katakana (Japanese letter) inlays in the 12 fret which spelled "Alexi", gold hardware with larger cutaway, frets 21–24 scalloped.
  5. Pink Sawtooth (STD&CS) Black with Pink pinstripes pink sawtooth inlays frets 20–24 scalloped, black hardware with larger cutaway
  6. Blacky (STD,CS, & longer winged US) Matte black with gloss black pinstripes black pearl sawtooth inlays, frets 20–24 scalloped, black nickel hardware with larger cutaway
  7. Greeny – (CS&LTD) Black, light green pinstripes and green skeleton.
  8. Wild Scythe (CS & E-II) "I Worship Chaos" graphic. Red pinstripes, red inlays, red pickup, gold hardware.


  1. The 2010 version of Scythe, Sawtooth, and Arrow Head has the larger cutaway like the Pink Sawtooth.
  2. The following models have LTD versions: Black with yellow pinstripe Sawtooth, White with black pinstripe Sawtooth, Scythe, Pink Sawtooth, Blacky, Greeny.
  3. E-II is just a rebranding of the STD series of instruments.


Alexi Laiho has used the Lee Jackson GP-1000 preamp since touring and recording Something Wild, where he used a Peavey 5150, and up until his endorsement with ENGL, still always employed it with various other different amps and preamps, creating a stereo of amp sounds. For the first half of his career, he used Marshall 1960A cabinets (with 75-watt Celestion speakers) and various power amps, including Lee Jackson Sp-1000, Rocktron Velocity 300 among others. After Hate Crew Deathroll, he started experimenting with different amp heads including the Krank Revolution, Marshall JCM800 KK (which he used to record Blooddrunk, and which he still used frequently), and the Engl Special Edition EL34 head (in Sinergy, mainly). In August 2011, Laiho signed with Engl and used the e530 preamp with various power amp and cabinet combinations on Relentless Reckless Forever. On Halo of BloodI Worship Chaos and Hexed Alexi used a Marshall JVM 410H head with Marshall 1960A cabinets equipped with Celestion speakers. He also used this rig live. Alexi stated that the Marshall rig gets him closest to the tone he achieved with the Lee Jackson preamps without the reliability issues that led to him retiring them touring. He also used a Dunlop Kirk Hammett wah pedal, a Boss CH-1 Super Chorus pedal, and a Boss DD-7 digital delay pedal for effects both live and in the studio. Unlike many metal guitarists who cut mid range frequencies out of their tone (commonly known as "scooping"), Alexi emphasized the mid range frequencies in his tone above all else.

Laiho first used an Ibanez RG 220B (maple fingerboard) along with a Jackson Custom Shop (bought from a member of the Finnish band STONE (Jiri), which Roope Latvala was part of) to record the first Children of Bodom record and eventually switched completely to Jackson Guitars which he used for several years until two of his 3 Jacksons (the one with the WildChild sticker and the one with white pinstripes) were stolen. He asked Jackson to make him another one, but the time-table they gave him for its production was too long (around a year's time). ESP came to him and said that it would take around three months for his new signature model to be up and running, so Laiho took this offer. Thus he switched to ESP guitars. The change occurred shortly after the release of Hate Crew Deathroll. His ESP guitars are based on the Jackson Randy Rhoads, except the body is cut slightly differently on North American models. They all feature a single-bridge pickup and double-locking tremolo. He is known for using a passive EMG ALX pickup with an on-board active preamp circuit to filter and boost the output signal, as opposed to using active pickups. Laiho used Audiotech Guitar Products Source Selector 1X6 rack-mount audio switchers.

He also used DR Strings Hi-Beam 11–50 gauge for D standard tuning. For Drop C, he used DR Jeff Healey Signature 10–56 strings. He has also been given a signature set of DR strings. He used Jim Dunlop Jazz III picks.


The band is one of Finland's best-selling artists, with more than 250,000 records sold in their native country.

Prizes and awards

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


  • D Standard (D G C F A D) : Hatebreeder, Follow The Reaper, Blooddrunk (Smile Pretty For the Devil; Done With Everything, Die for Nothing; Roadkill Morning), Are You Dead Yet (Next In Line), Relentless Reckless Forever (Not My Funeral, Cry of the Nihilist), Halo of Blood (Transference, Your Days Are Numbered, All Twisted, One Bottle and a Knee Deep), Hexed (This Road, Glass Houses)
  • Dropped C (C G C F A D) : Hate Crew Deathroll (Sixpounder, Angels Don't Kill), Are You Dead Yet? (except 1 song), Blooddrunk (except 3 songs), Relentless Reckless Forever (except 2 songs), Halo of Blood (except 4 songs)
  • C# Standard (C# F# B E G# C#) : Something Wild, I Worship Chaos (Hold your Tongue, Suicide Bomber)
  • Dropped B (B F# B E G# C#) : I Worship Chaos (except 2 songs), Hexed (except 2 songs)

Personal life

In February 2002, Laiho married Kim Goss during a private ceremony in Finland. Prior to the marriage, they dated for four years.

In 2004 they separated, but still remained close friends. For several years after he was then 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 December 2017 in a private ceremony in Australia. He has the letters "COBHC" (Children of Bodom Hate Crew) tattooed on his left hand and "HATE" tattooed on his right hand as an homage to Ozzy Osbourne, who has a similar tattoo with the letters O-Z-Z-Y, except that it is on the left hand. Laiho has been featured on the cover of Young Guitar Magazine several times, as well as being on the cover of Guitar World along with master guitarists Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde. The "Wildchild" nickname is derived from the song "Wild Child" by the band W.A.S.P. He also has a clothing line called "wild child industries".

Laiho was married to Kelli Wright-Laiho for three years before he died, and had a step child with her. He died at his home in Helsinki after battling "long-term health issues."


Children of Bodom

Main article: Children of Bodom discography
  • 1997: Something Wild
  • 1999: Hatebreeder
  • 2000: Follow the Reaper
  • 2003: Hate Crew Deathroll
  • 2005: Are You Dead Yet?
  • 2008: Blooddrunk
  • 2009: Skeletons in the Closet
  • 2011: Relentless Reckless Forever
  • 2013: Halo of Blood
  • 2015: I Worship Chaos
  • 2019: Hexed


  • 1999: Beware the Heavens
  • 2000: To Hell and Back
  • 2002: Suicide by My Side


  • 2004: Keisarinleikkaus (EP)
  • 2005: Turpa Täynnä
  • 2007: Lisää Persettä Rättipäille (EP)
  • 2007: Peräaukko Sivistyksessä

Impaled Nazarene

  • 2000: Nihil


  • 2005: Accept the Fact
  • 2009: Japanese Hospitality
  • 2014: First of the Five Elements

Guest appearances

  • 1999: All Eternity – To/Die/For ("In The Heat of the Night")
  • 2003: No Holds Barred – Griffin ("The Sentence", "Bleed")
  • 2005: Lauri Porra – Lauri Porra ("Solutions")
  • 2005: Warmen – Accept the Fact [vocals on "Somebody's Watching Me"]
  • 2006: Raskaampaa Joulua (Various artists) – [guitar solo on "Petteri Punakuono (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer)"]
  • 2006: Rytmihäiriö – Seitsemän Surman Siunausliitto [guitar solo on "Pyörillä Kulkeva Kuoleman Enkeli"]
  • 2006: Stoner Kings – Fuck the World [guitar solo on "Mantric Madness"] (2006)
  • 2007: Guitar Heroes album – [all guitars and bass on the song "Sioux City Sarsaparilla", and guitar solo on "12 Donkeys"]
  • 2007: Godsplague – H8 [guitar solo on "Don't Come Back"]
  • 2007: Pain – Psalms of Extinction [guitar solo on "Just Think Again"]
  • 2007: Annihilator – Metal [guitar solo duel with Jeff Waters on "Downright Dominate"]
  • 2008: Megadeth Live – Peace Sells [Gigantour 08 live background Vocals]
  • 2009: Saattue – Vuoroveri [BASS solo on "Vapahtaja"]
  • 2009: Warmen – Japanese Hospitality [vocals on "High Heels on Cobblestone"]
  • 2011: Root (Live) [Additional Guitar] – Adrenaline – Deftones
  • 2014: Marty Friedman – Lycanthrope (With Danko Jones)
  • 2014: Warmen – First of the Five Elements [vocals on "Suck My Attitude", "Man Behind the Mask"
  • 2015: Various Artists – Immortal Randy Rhoads – "Mr. Crowley"


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