Posted by themusicsover on April 23, 2010
Johnny Thunders (Born John Genzale Jr.)
July 15, 1952 – April 23, 1991
Born in Queens, NY, Johnny Thunders formed his first band while in high school. At the time, he went by the name Johnny Volume, and that band was Johnny and the Jaywalkers. By the late ’60s he was hanging out down around Bleeker Street where he hooked up with Arthur “Killer” Kane and Billy Murcia. Their first band together was called Actress, but when David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain came on board a couple of years later, the name was changed to New York Dolls, Johnny Volume became Johnny Thunders, and the rest is history. The Dolls released two albums that were virtually ignored by the public (including most of those that now claim to have been fans back in the day…you know, just like the Ramones). By 1975, the band had broken up, but they would continue to strongly influence bands like the Sex Pistols and Guns ‘n Roses, and whatever crawled out of the gutter in between. Thunders went on to form the Heartbreakers with former Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan and Richard Hell. They recorded on and off until 1984, at one point moving to London where they were very popular with the up-and-coming punk bands. Thunders also recorded a few solo albums during this time, including the awesome So Alone, which featured a stellar cast of allegedly drug-fueled guests including Phil Lynott, Steve Marriott, Paul Cook, Steve Jones, and Chrissie Hynde. The album featured the beautifully sad and perhaps autobiographical “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.” All the while, Thunders himself was falling deeper into the clutches of heroin abuse. In 1991, while in New Orleans, Johnny Thunders was found dead in his hotel room. Although the cause of death was never stated in the autopsy, it was widely assumed that he died of a methadone abuse. Not without controversy, others have sworn that foul play was involved, pointing to strong evidence that he was killed perhaps by drug dealers who were after his large stash of methadone. It was also reported that the autopsy revealed he was suffering from advanced stages of leukemia. Whatever the case, local police never bothered to open a criminal investigation.
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