Johnny Thunders

Whether as a member of New York Dolls, the Heartbreakers or solo, Johnny Thunders was a fiercely uncompromising singer and guitarist who was an influential hero of the punk revolution of the 1970s, maintaining his dangerous reputation right up to his death in 1991 at the age of 38. Raised in New York, Thunders formed his first band The Reign in 1967 and based his image on Keith Richards after seeing The Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden in 1969. Hanging out in Greenwich Village he met Arthur Kane and Rick Rivets, joining their band, Actress. This evolved into the New York Dolls when he adopted the name Johnny Thunders after a comic book hero and developed his distinctively abrasive guitar style. Signed to Mercury Records, Thunders recorded two albums with the Dolls - New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon - but quit in 1975 to form the Heartbreakers with Jerry Nolan, Richard Hell and Walter Lure. Hailed as a godfather of punk, he joined the landmark UK Anarchy tour with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, recording the album LAMF. Beset by internal arguments the band split soon after and Thunders released his first solo album So Alone, with Phil Lynott, Chrissie Hynde, Steve Marriott and Paul Cook and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. He later reformed the Heartbreakers with different personnel, working closely with former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer on the 1990 album Gang War. He also performed with The Oddballs before his sudden, apparently drug-related death in 1991, although he was also said to be suffering from leukemia at the time.

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