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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Hell’

Died On This Date (August 16, 2014) Billy Rath / Bassist For Johnny Thunders And The Heartbreakers

Posted by themusicsover on August 16, 2014

Billy Rath
August 8, 1948 – August 16, 2014

billy-rath

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Billy Rath is perhaps best remembered as the second bassist for Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.  The band formed in 1975, and Rath came on board in 1976 to replace Richard Hell who left to form the Voidoids.  Hitting Europe just as punk rock was taking hold, the Heartbreakers immediately fell into the scene and were quickly invited to tour with the Sex Pistols on their doomed Anarchy in the UK tour.  The band soon recorded their first and only album, L.A.M.F (Like A Mother Fucker), to mostly mixed reviews – although critics liked the band and the songs, they didn’t care much for the album’s production.  The Heartbreaker’s label soon went out of business, and the band’s dissolved in late 1977.  They did reform for occasional gigs in New York City during the late ’70s and early ’80s, but Rath left for good in 1985.  Over the next two decades or so, Rath stayed away from music business.  He studied Psychology and Theology, and eventually worked as a counselor addicts.  In 2010, he resurfaced at a  Max’s Kansas City reunion which lead to the formation of his own band, Billy Rath’s Street Pirates.  Rath continued to perform live to adoring crowds,even touring the UK during the final years of his life.  Billy Rath died at the age of 66 on August 16, 2014.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

Thanks to David Plastik of eRockPhotos for the assist.

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Died On This Date (April 23, 1991) Johnny Thunders / New York Dolls

Posted by themusicsover on April 23, 2010

Johnny Thunders (Born John Genzale Jr.)
July 15, 1952 – April 23, 1991

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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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Died On This Date (January 14, 1992) Jerry Nolan / New York Dolls

Posted by themusicsover on January 14, 2010

Jerry Nolan
May 7, 1946 – January 14, 1992

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Jerry Nolan is best remembered as the drummer for iconic protopunk band, the New York Dolls.  Prior to his work with the Dolls, Nolan played in early bands of Billy Squier, Suzi Quatro, and Jayne/Wayne County.  In 1972, he was hired by the Dolls to replace the recently deceased Bill Murcia.  He played on the band’s first two albums, New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon.  In 1975, Nolan and Johnny Thunders left the group and formed the Heartbreakers with Richard Hell.  He eventually left the band to work on solo projects that never really got off the ground.  He also collaborated with others over the years.  In late 1991, while in the hospital with bacterial meningitis, Jerry Nolan suffered a stroke and fell into a coma.  He was 45 when, several weeks later, he passed away as a result.

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