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Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Music of Johnny Thunders

(Photo by Kees Tabak)

Someone dropped me a line a few days ago asking the question why I only ever seem to post about old music and old musicians and dead musicians! Can you believe that? I thought I'd tackle that question here as I post another bunch of old music by a dead musician!

Firstly the old music, well, a lot of it was actually new music once upon a time, especially when I was a kid (there were some artists I listened to back then who had already passed out of the world) and a lot of it formed the soundtrack of my young life. I feel I shouldn't need to apologize for keeping the memory of good "old music" alive!
Also some of these older artists, who are still pretty much alive, are making great new music as well, with a lot of them sounding much better than they have done so for years and it's a good thing to turn the spotlight on it and them.

As to the dead musicians, what can I say? Death is one of the only certainties in life, like taxes! It seems the respectful thing to do in honouring the life work of a musician to keep all that he has done out in the public so it will not be forgotten. Again, there really is no need to apologize for such a thing I think!

This brings me to Johnny Thunders. A lot of people are just prepared to write him off as "just another mixed up junkie" (to borrow a line from a song by The Boys' Terminal Love) but in doing so miss out on a wealth of brilliant music stretching back to the early 1970s when he was in the New York Dolls, to the mid to late 70s when he was rocking it with The Heartbreakers and then into the 80s and early 90s when he was doing various band projects but also out performing on his own. I've included an album of each period below. Enjoy.
Today is the anniversary of his death in New Orleans back in 1991. He apparently died from drug related issues but some have contested that there was foul play at work because the levels of drugs in his system were not regarded as fatal according to the autopsy. The autopsy also revealed that he had advanced Leukemia. Depsite the efforts of his family to get the New Orleans Police Department to re-investigate Johnny's death, it still remains a bit of a mystery.

Thirty six hours before his death Johnny Thunders was recording for the last time. He was with Die Toten Hosen laying down Born to Lose for their up and coming Learning English Lesson 1 album that featured many old school punks singing their songs with the band (there doesn't appear to be any of the album on You Tube apart from the track they did with Ronnie Biggs, so apologies for not sharing anything from it).

(New York Dolls)

New York Dolls
Mercury Records
27th July 1973
Produced by Todd Rundgren

Track Records
3rd October 1977
Produced by Speedy Keen and Daniel Segunda

Hurt Me
New Rose Records
Produced by Johnny Thunders and Christopher Giercke

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