Thursday, April 26, 2007

You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory... Show # 142

Johnny Thunders was born John Anthony Genzale Jr. in Queens, New York and is known as being the guitar player in the proto punk glam rock band, New York Dolls. A band that influenced numerous punk bands such as Sex Pistols and The Clash. Johnny Thunders was a guitarist that would struggle with battles of drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, living similar to his idol Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Thunders influences included The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and various blues and R&B artists.

Thunders originally went under the name Johnny Volume being in various bands before joining the New York Dolls in 1971. At this time he renamed himself Johnny Thunders, possibly due to the fact that the Kinks had a song called "Johnny Thunder" on their 1968 album The Village Green Preservation Society. After releasing two albums The New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon, The New York Dolls broke up. They were also managed by a short time by future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm Mcclaren.

The Heartbreakers were formed shortly after with New York Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan, Walter Lure on guitar, and Richard Hell on bass. Richard Hell would leave just after being in this band for a short while, he was replaced by Billy Rath. With Johnny Thunders as the band leader, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers released L.A.M.F. (Like a Mother Fucker) in 1977. The album was one of the best punk albums to come out of New York at this time. It featured Sleazy punkish rock and roll in true Rolling Stones fashion. The album contained numerous tracks and one titled "Chinese Rocks" that was written by Johnny Thunders, Dee Dee Ramone, Richard Hell, and Jerry Nolan. The song a reference to heroin was featured not only on L.A.M.F., but also on the Ramones album End of The Century. The song makes reference to Dee Dee Ramone in the Thunders version with the line "Hey is Dee Dee Home" and to Johnny in the Ramones version with the line "Hey is Johnny Home". 

The band was featured on the Anarchy Tour with UK punk acts such as Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned in 1977. The tour known for having more shows cancelled than played was an infamous tour in UK punk history. The band would move to the UK as well. The band would tour on and off, but would split up after this album, which got poor promotion. 

In 1978, So Alone a Johnny Thunders solo album was released. The album would feature guest musicians such as Steve Jones and Paul Cook of Sex Pistols, but also Chryssie Hynde (Pretenders), Walter Lure, Billy Rath, and Peter Perrett (Only Ones). The basic band was Thunders, Jones, and Cook though. The album featured a remake of a New York Dolls song "Chatterbox" from their album Too Much Too Soon; It was retitled "Leave Me Alone". The album also featured a cover of the Chantay's surf classic "Pipeline", and the excellent Johnny Thunders track "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory". This album along with L.A.M.F. is Johnny Thunders best work. Due to laziness probably caused due to drug addiction, Thunders continued to record, but it was off and on. Apparently shortly after its release Thunders played in the band The Living Dead for a little while. In 1984 L.A.M.F. was re-released as L.A.M.F. Revisited. It was a remixed version of the 1977 album done by Thunders and members of The Heartbreakers. In 1985 a collection of new songs by Thunders was released Que Sera Sera.

Thunders would continue to perform throughout the 80s and was also in the band Gang War with MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer. The band has several live bootleg recordings, but also did record some demos. In 1991, Thunders died of what many people believe was a drug overdose. The issue of his death is controversial because some people believe that he was murdered. The details of how he passed may never be known, but his music still stands up in not only the New York Dolls, but also Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers and as a solo artist.

Several years after this post, I wrote an article on The Heartbreakers L.A.M.F. album.  Check that out here.  

Here's this weeks play list:

1. MC5 – keep movin’
2. Velvet Underground – foggy notion
3. The Who – (I’m a) road runner (live)
4. The Stooges – she took my money
5. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – pirate love
6. Diodes – blonde fever
7. The Furies – what do you want me to be
8. Corsage – shame I feel
9. U-J3rks – Eisenhower and the hippies
10. The Saints – messin’ with the kid
11. John Lennon – cold turkey
12. The Clash – Janie Jones
13. The Clash – Capital radio one
14. The Dogs – no way
15. Modernettes – Barbra
16. Popular Front – synchronized swimmers
17. Ramones – rockaway beach
18. Ramones – cretin hop
19. Libertines – vertigo
20. Ride Theory - i'm on board
21. Dirty Pretty Things – blood thirsty bastards
22. Radio 4 – as far as the eye can see
23. Subways – with you
24. Raconteurs – broken boy soldier
25. Arctic Monkeys – brianstorm
26. Arctic Monkeys – teddy picker
27. The Gruesomes - come and see me (i'm your man)

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