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Johnny Thunders

Following in the footsteps of his idol Keith Richards, Johnny Thunders (born John Anthony Genzale, Jr.) lived the ultimate rock & roll life, spending most of his days wasted and churning out tough, sloppy three-chord rock & roll. He made his greatest impact as a member of the New York Dolls, the proto-punk glam rockers of the early '70s. During the late '70s, he was a familiar figure on the New York punk scene, both with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist. Thunders kept performing and recording until his death in 1991, turning out a series of records that inadvertently documented his descent into heroin addiction.

Under the name Johnny Volume, Genzale began performing in high school with Johnny and the Jaywalkers; after leaving that band, he joined Actress, which featured future Dolls Arthur Kane and Billy Murcia. Actress became the New York Dolls in 1971 and Genzale renamed himself Johnny Thunders. After recording two acclaimed but unsuccessful albums, the Dolls broke up. In 1975, Thunders and the group's drummer Jerry Nolan formed the Heartbreakers with former Television bassist Richard Hell and guitarist Walter Lure. Hell left the group shortly afterward to form the Voidoids and was replaced by Billy Rath. With Thunders leading the band, the Heartbreakers toured America and Britain, releasing one official album, L.A.M.F., in 1977. The group relocated to the U.K., where their popularity was significantly greater, particularly among punk bands, than it was in the U.S. Thunders earned a reputation for incoherent, sloppy, drunken performances, as well as appearing on-stage, unannounced, with other artists. After several months, the group returned to America, where they played a series of farewell gigs in New York.

Thunders went solo in 1978, recording So Alone with various rock and punk celebrities, including the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and Paul Cook, Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble Pie), Peter Perrett (Only Ones), Paul Gray (Eddie and the Hot Rods, the Damned), and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott. After its release, Thunders and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious played in the Living Dead for a short time. During the early '80s, Thunders re-formed the Heartbreakers for various tours; the group recorded their final album in 1984.

For most of the '80s, the only Johnny Thunders product available was haphazard compilations of live tracks and demos. In 1985, he released Que Sera Sera, a collection of new songs that showed he could still perform convincingly. Three years later, the guitarist recorded an album of rock and R&B covers with vocalist Patti Palladin, Copy Cats. Late in the decade, Thunders formed a group with ex-MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer called Gang War; they released one album in 1990.

After years of abuse, Johnny Thunders was found dead in a New Orleans hotel room in April of 1991. While the autopsy didn't disclose the cause of death, most later reports claimed the guitarist died of a methadone overdose. Although it was a sad ending, it was appropriate -- no other rock & roller ever lived as hard as Johnny Thunders. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

back in the day I used to pay my respect to Johnny Thunders grave he's buried in Queens New York I used to live right near the cemetery
Bobonit can suck it! If u can't understand this is good music go back to listening to five finger death punch... F*g!
He stinks. Thumbs down.
milosdad
Loving going back and buying classic punk vinyl. Just bought You Can't put Your Arm Around a Memory and played it for my kid. my favorite era in punk. A reminder that rebellion does not always mean anarchy or destruction.
So many conflicting reports about his death. What most likely happened: given that he had been diagnosed with T-cell Leukemia, he probably decided to take his own way out in New Orleans, via heroin (while he was already on methadone). Except the dealer gave him a cocktail of a different kind (i.e. PCP) and then robbed him of his methadone, passport, etc. (Oh yeah, he was robbed.) But since he was just a junkie in the eyes of Nola PD, there was never a proper murder investigatio n .
Johnny Thunders, gave us all he had, great music from the heart. If you don't feel this, please don't leave a comment<><
F**k the comment box
morepower119 1 9
why won't Gibson make a johnny thunders signature les paul junior?
hohenshellm
Johnny Thunders.... . . . . . . . . . . m a n they broke the mold,when he was delivered to us Rock n Roll won't ever be the same with out him.... Ciao
jable
Great RNR Guitar tone
JIM GRECO FOR PRES! Bake and Destroy
Thunders was the best
Ah Johnny Thunders, I always love his music. I still have my vinyl copy of So Alone. Great stuff man.
Ahhhh the good stuff. This and the Ramones are some of the best American music made since the fifties and early sixties.
A mess but I like him.
In The early '70s crossing the 59'th st bridge,to Brooklyn one night, saw sign, JOHNNY Thunder! Here Tonight! Intered the Place,asked for Manager, He asked who I was, I told Him Johnny Thunder, He Stopped The Band Playing On Stage, and announced Ladies and Germs! "THE Real Johnny Thunder" The Band Was "The New York Dolls" asked Guitar player Why was He Using My Name He Said He ThoughtI Was Dead.I'm Alive! johnnythunde r . c o m
Thunders was THE original punk rock guitarist
Hands down the best Rock n Roll guitarist ever. He defined Rock n Roll. Gritty, beautifully sloppy, wrenching at times but always with a beat and melody that made you want to jump up and go insane!
msheydayi
no he wasn't just another junkie. he was really really influential. do your research. the Dolls? the Heartbreaker s ? c'mon...
Your kidding right? this guy just another doped up musician
poor heron killing ev'ryone. them birds gets no justice!
don1983
He WAS rock. R.I.P.
Johnny Thunders was one of the godfathers of Punk Rock. Yes, his personal life was a mess and it interfered with his music,(he even put his beloved guitars in hock in order to buy smack), but when he rocked he rocked ! He had the best guitar-sound I ever heard ; it sounded like a beast! Punk Rock was alive and well with Johnny Thunders ! Rock on , Johnny !
party til yer retarded dude!
msheydayi
because you're living with me, we're one and the same.
bromide01
Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah. Blah.

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