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Friday, 19 January 2007


No history from me about Thunders, if you wanna find out more check out Nina Antonias biography In Cold Blood, it tells you all you need to know about the man, the legend and the junkie. What you're gonna get instead are my memories of a gig I promoted 17 years ago. You can put yer arms around them if you like.

When Thunders rolled into town, he was suitably late and in a confused state as he wandered round the venue; the local youth club, Bowes Lyon House. It was a costly gig to promote (£600), paid for by the youth service. Other venues on the tour had refused to pay the full fee on account of Thunders being "so bad" Not really a shining example for young people to look up to, it's a good job the audience of around 60 was older, but a shame as the kids missed a night of emotional, wasted and strung out rock and roll, and also a real advert that showed how hard drugs really can screw you up. The gig started with fine sets from Dave Kusworth and Stevie Vayne. Time for Thunders, no surprises that he's in the dressing room suitably wasted. His manager assures me that it's OK and he's just "getting his head together" as he introduces me to Johnny, who's idea of getting his head together involves a pint of Irish Cream and Brandy, and around 5 joints in various stages of construction on the dressing room table, plus whatever else he'd consumed. He didn't look a well man, as I looked him in the eye and thought; will he make it to the stage. Well he did, it took ten people to steady him as he stumbled down the steep concrete stairs leading from the dressing room to the stage. There was a moment when I thought I could be the lucky or unlucky promoter, depending on your point of view, who had Johnny die on stage. Finally he stood in front of the mic strummed his guitar once and put it down, unable to play. "Play some fucking guitar" shouted a local Thunders wannabe. "Do ya want yer money back" was Thunders response. 45 minutes later the show was over and Johnny went off to the bed and breakfast he'd been booked into. A while later I took a call from them. They were rather concerned about the Thunders entourage, asked if he was alright, said he didn't look well. I went down to reassure the owner that everything would be fine, which it was, spoke to the proprietor the next day who remarked that everyone had been "polite and considerate."

The recording shows Thunders sensitive side, the haunting saxophone of Jamie Heath and basic guitar strums by Mick Vayne give Thunders a dark sleazy sound. So Alone never sounded so true on that night played to a sparsely filled hall of rock'n'roll voyeurs. Most left feeling sad at what they had witnessed; the slow death of a genius whose potential was never realised further than his faithful followers who loved him and still do....Dead or Alive!

Johnny Thunders @ The Klub Wiv No Name, Stevenage 10/5/90



Anonymous said...

He was a little "tipsy" Oh happy days!

Nuzz Prowlin' Wolf said...

A 'little tipsy' he was hammered, pretty much like he was the other times I've seen him, except the week he played at the marquee in '84, when he was in reasonable condition for 5 'straight' nights.

gomonkeygo said...

Thanks! I got to see Johnny back in '89 and it was thrilling - full band, backupsingers, staggering Johnny (though I thought half of it was an act, honestly). But it was the voice and the songs that did it, just like heaven.

Nuzz Prowlin' Wolf said...

Couldn't agree more gomonkeygo, every time he was different, but always 100% pure rock'n'roll. There will never be another.