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Happy Birthday Johnny Thunders!
Johnny Thunders was everything a punk rocker should be. His wild and intense guitar style mirrored that of his life; he was untamed, provocative and during his time with the New York Dolls, led the way for a music movement that defined the late Seventies.
In 1970, Johnny Thunders (born John Anthony Genzale Jr) met Arthur Kane and Rick Rivets in ‘Nobodys’, a club in the West Village. Together they formed The New York Dolls, a proto-punk outfit that put a glamorous twist on sex and sleaze. Trailblazers for the later punk invasion that would infiltrate both the US and UK, the Dolls were lewd and outrageous with a bad attitude. Emerging from the ‘peace and love’ era of the late Sixties, this was a band who were at once divisive and unapologetically brash. Tarted up in sky high platforms, feather boas and smudged lipstick, they combined the ferocious energy of the Stooges with melodic riffs, deafening performances and an attitude that made Sid Vicious appear humble.
Thunders personified rock and roll recklessness; a notorious hedonist who seemed to court death. With his jagged black mop of hair, razor edged cheekbones and groupie girlfriend (the infamous Sable Starr) he was a rock and roll dandy, albeit slightly tattered around the edges. When he left the Dolls in 1975, the makeup and hairsprayed locks disappeared and were replaced by a 50s style quiff for his new band The Heartbreakers. After playing on the Anarchy Tour with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, Thunders remained in the UK and embarked on various attempts as a solo artist.
The New York Dolls paved the way for some of music’s most revered acts, from Blondie to the Ramones. Despite enjoying little commercial success themselves, their raw energy, unabashed stage presence and innovative musical style provided the counter cultural music scene with a new style to inspire and influence. While Johnny Thunders’ life may have come to a premature, and somewhat predictable end, his rebellion and musical legacy is forever immersed in punk lore.
So from us at Rockins Happy Birthday to Johnny Thunders!!