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Famous Like Me > Actor > T > Johnny Thunders

Profile of Johnny Thunders on Famous Like Me

Name: Johnny Thunders  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 15th July 1952
Place of Birth: New York City, New York, USA
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Johnny Thunders, born John Anthony Genzale, Jr (July 15, 1952 - April 23, 1991), was a rock and roll guitarist and singer, first with 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. His guitar work was highly influential in punk rock music.

Johnny Thunders, c. 1980

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 "Killer" Kane and Billy Murcia. Actress became the New York Dolls in 1971 and Genzale renamed himself Johnny Thunders. After recording two critically acclaimed but commercial unsuccessful albums--The New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon--the Dolls broke up. The early Dolls recordings are still in print today and continue to influence young bands with their trash/glam/punk attitude.

He formed The Heartbreakers with Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan and Television bassist Richard Hell, who left soon after to form Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

With Thunders leading the band, the Heartbreakers toured America and Britain, releasing one official album, L.A.M.F.., in 1977. LAMF and DTK recordings are punk classics that document the important bridge between the U.S. and U.K punk scenes. The group relocated to the U.K., where their popularity was significantly greater than it was in the U.S, particularly among punk bands.

In late 1979 Thunders began performing in a band called Gang War. Other members included John Morgan, Ron Cooke, and former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer. They recorded several demos and performed live several times before disbanding. Bootlegs of their demos and live performances are circulating.

Thunders recorded a number of solo albums beginning with So Alone in 1978. The album was laid down in drug laden sessions with all the swirling turbulence of an atomic explosion. The complex bittersweet sound is a standard that many bands aspire to emulate and it is universally hailed as Johnny Thunders' masterpiece. It featured guests such as Phil Lynott, Steve Marriott, Glen Matlock, Steve Jones and Peter Perret of The Only Ones. After its release, Thunders and Sex Pistols ex-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.

In 1985, he released Que Sera Sera, a collection of new songs that showed he could still perform convincingly. Three years later he recorded an album of rock and R&B covers with vocalist Patti Palladin, Copy Cats.

Thunders kept performing and recording until his death in 1991, but problems with heroin addiction kept his output and songwriting sporadic during the 1980s.

His screeching, penetrating guitar sound is as distinctive as rock 'n' roll is dirty. Thunders was not the two dimensional junkie rock star cliché that many may label him. He tangled with the demons of fame and drug addition and left music that lays it bare.

Thunders always had a loyal following. No doubt there would be many more fans if not for the uneven performances and lack of good publicity. The flood of bootleg recordings has never slowed. His last recording: the live concerts in Japan shows a mature, and surprisingly clean, Johnny Thunders.

He died from methadone and alcohol poisoning in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1991.

The Murder City Devils have a song written in tribute to Thunders on the Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts LP.

In 1993, Guns N' Roses covered his song, "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory" on their collection of punk covers, The Spaghetti Incident?.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Johnny Thunders