Johnny Thunders info
Johnny Thunders' 20-year career -
a chronological timeline of his life.
From the New York Dolls, to The Heartbreakers in NY and London. Then 'So Alone', 'Gang War', 'Que Sera Sera', 'Copy Cats', etc; reunions and gypsy times in Paris, Stockholm, London & L.A. Compiled from various sources including Nina Antonia's biography 'Johnny Thunders- In Cold Blood' and my own recollections working with Johnny 82-91.
Please add dates, correct mistakes and leave comments.
In Queens, a suburb of New York City, from the New Town High School a band sometimes loosely referred to as ACTRESS (ARTHUR KANE, BILLY MURCIA and RICK RIVETS), are joined by one JOHNNY VOLUME, later THUNDERS, as bass-player.
At rehearsals, Rick Rivets starts a tape-recorder to try to hear what they're doing with Johnny's songs and first vocal attempts. Many years later, this tape is exhumed for analysis on a CD release, 'Dawn Of The Dolls'. (Some rough tunes now sound familiar, as later they've developed into Subway Train and So Alone.)
Rivets is replaced by SYLVAIN SYLVAIN. They change their name first to THE DOLLS.... then Thunders adds 'NEW YORK'.
Towards the end of the year, DAVID JOHANSEN, then vocalist of the VAGABOND MISSIONARIES, joins the NEW YORK DOLLS.
The New York Dolls rehearse at Rusty's Beanies Bike Shop, overnight.
The Dolls first ever performance is a Christmas Party at the Endicott Hotel, filling in for a cancellation, they play a set of R&B and soul covers.
Support slots start in the Oscar Wilde Room (cap. 100) at the Mercer Arts Center, Mercer Street, Greenwich Village, NYC. They get noticed, start to steal the show, and gain a residency on Tuesday nights.
They're picked up by former plugger and Paramount A&R man MARTY THAU, who takes them to record demos - nine tracks that are later released on ROIR firstly on cassette, then on LP & CD, as 'LIPSTICK KILLERS'.
Shortly afterwards he enlists booking agents STEVE LEBER and DAVID KREBS who've just left the William Morris agency. All three set up Dollhouse Productions and Lipstick Killer Publishing. Thau deals with the band, press, recordings and promotions, Leber and Krebs deal with accounting, tour booking and legals.
The New York Dolls play their first 'official' gig, at the Palm Room at the Hotel Diplomat on W.43rd St. (or: late May; 2 weeks later opening for Eric Emerson's Magic Tramps at Mercers; says Wicked Ways of M.McLaren.)
The Dolls now become the 'in' group to see at their residency at the Mercer. Various stars come to see them: David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Todd Rundgren, Bette Midler, John Cale, Lou Reed, etc. September:
UK Melody Maker journalist Roy Hollingsworth writes a rave review (or was it July, as it says in Wicked Ways?) of the Dolls' Mercer St gigs... the buzz reaches Rod Stewarts' management who decide they sound just right for a support slot with Rod at the massive Empire Pool (now named Wembley Arena).
The New York Dolls arrive at Heathrow, London, and are met by a horse and carriage that takes them to the Essex Hotel.
?th: Play with Rod 'The Mod' at the Empire Pool.
?th: Record demos at Escape Studios, Kent; there's big interest in the UK for a record deal; maybe these demos would secure it. These tapes are later released over and over without the band's knowledge- on Bellaphon, Kamera, See For Miles, etc. - no doubt the sessions having never been paid for.
6th: Billy Murcia dies, at age 18, of drowning in a bath whilst drunk.
Thau, Leber and Krebs hear the news whilst discussing signing to The Hendrix & Who label Track Records with Kit Lambert and Danny Secunda. Suddenly everything is suspended.
7th: The planned Manchester Hardrock gig is cancelled, and they all fly back to New York on a 7.00 am flight, devastated.
JERRY NOLAN fills the vacant drummer stool, and performs his first gig with the band … there's a Jerry anecdote of this somewhere.
20th: The New York Dolls sign to Mercury at the instigation of A&R man PAUL NELSON.
It takes just a week to record their debut album, with Todd Rundgren producing.
27th: "New York Dolls" album is released. It peaks at no. 116 in the Billboard chart.
28th: The band embark on their first US tour.
The 2-month tour includes four sold-out nights at L.A.'s Whiskey A-Go-Go; a support slot to Mott The Hoople at Madison Square Gardens; an appearance on Burt Sugarman's 'Midnight Special' TV show, performing 'Personality Crisis' and 'Trash'. The Dolls are at their height, and the toast of New York.
Malcolm McLaren visits New York to exhibit 'Let It Rock' designs, meets the Dolls who already love his clothes, they take him under their wing to endless parties, introduce him to countless celebrities.
31st: Halloween is celebrated with a 'costume ball' in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, before flying to Europe. The band smash some plate glass windows, go on 2 hours late, and truncate their set. Howard Stein says he'll never book them again.
2nd: Their gig at the Paris Olympia Theatre gig is videotaped for French TV, but never shown due to a police riot being censored! Also filmed for a 2-hour French documentary that never surfaced. (Or was this DECEMBER 2nd?)
26th & 27th: In London, they play 2 nights at the Rainbow Restaurant on the roof of Biba's Boutique (the ultimate fashion shop had taken over a department-store), making an event instead of a gig. McLaren is now so impressed that he goes on their tour of Europe.
28th: They perform 'Jet Boy' and 'Personality Crisis' on the Old Grey Whistle Test TV show, after which 'whispering' Bob Harris describes them as 'mock-rock'. The show is seen by thousands of UK youngsters, later recalled as a turning point for many of the future punk generation.
In Paris, Johnny throws up arriving at the airport, in front of a massed media reception. At the gig he smashes his guitar over the head of a spitting fan.
In Germany, they are filmed for the 'Musikladen' TV show. In the US, Circus magazine votes the New York Dolls the best new group, however Creem magazine votes them both the best - and the worst - new group of 1973.
Back in France for Christmas and New Year, two gigs later appear as bootlegs: 'Live In Paris' (on 23rd Dec.), and 'Trash (Don't Take My Life Away)' from New Year's Eve.
Back in the USA they start recording their second album 'Too Much Too Soon' with Shadow Morton producing.
11th: A St. Valentine's All-Night Party at the Mercer Arts Center.
15th: At a New York Academy of Music gig, they are preceded by a friend and official Dolls photographer Bob Gruen's film that he has made of the band over the past year.
They perform at a transvestite bar, the '82 Club', N.Y.C, in full drag.
'Too Much Too Soon' album released. It peaks at no. 167 in the Billboard chart, shipping 58,000 copies.
The Dolls begin a national US tour- their last. A poor quality bootleg, 'Dallas '74', documented it.
In L.A., they were filmed acting as a trashy 50's N.Y. street gang, by Fritz The Cat director Ralph Bakshi. When the film, 'Hey Good Looking' finally appeared in 1982, all their footage had been cut out. Bob Gruen also filmed them 'dressed to kill', and some of his footage is used interspersed with Don Kirshner's Rock Concert TV programme.
Four gigs are booked at the Roxy, although the first is a sell-out the other three get cancelled.
A third trip to the UK is cancelled due to visa problems.
Other problems abound; excess drugs and drink were beginning to take their toll. Johnny and Jerry get into shooting heroin, Jerry gets hepatitis, Arthur has a stand-in due to his alcoholism; Peter Jordan, who sometimes plays Arthur's bass lines from back-stage.
Marty Thau falls out with Leber & Krebs- it's he who has to keep coming to them for more money to support the band's expensive lifestyle. Leber and Krebs want the Dolls to drop Thau, they refuse, but reach an impasse.
Mercury Records start asking for loans and advances to be repaid before another album is recorded. 'Their record company eventually grew to hate them', says Paul Nelson. It seems that the Dolls have used up all their credit.
Suspended by Mercury, ignored by their management, the future looks bleak.
Malcolm McLaren has turned up in New York, fills the vacuum and injects enthusiasm. Although Dollhouse are still officially the management, he sets to work relaunching them, first enrolling Johnny and Jerry in a methadone clinic, checking Arthur into a detox centre
Malcolm McLaren turns up, fills a vacuum, and injects enthusiasm. Under his persuasion and sartorial guidance, they present the 'Red Patent Leather' shows, complete with Chinese revolutionary communist flags and VIVIENNE WESTWOOD red designs.
Bob Gruen again is filming the Dolls, this time a new project with a 3-D process(!), (or was it Canadian film crew?- MM in W.Ways) provisionally titled 'Trash'. It was never completed.
Four shows at the New York Little Hippodrome Club (starting Feb. 28th) go down so well that more are booked for the following weekend - with Television supporting. However, the rock media reaction to the hammer and sickles reflected American communist paranoia- the Vietnamese war was still on. These are the last ever New York appearances of the New York Dolls. The show of March 2nd is released years later as 'Red Patent Leather' on Fan Club (via New Rose, France), and in '92 enhanced with extra tracks, in the USA on Restless.
The Dolls attempt a tour of eight dates in Florida, with Malcolm McLaren. But Johnny and Jerry split from the band in the middle of the tour, from Jerry's mother's house in Tampa.
Johansen & Sylvain continue the 'Dolls' for a Japanese tour and other dates, struggling on until December '76.
11th: Johnny and Jerry form THE HEARTBREAKERS, together with RICHARD HELL, former bassist with Television. They'd talked the month before at the Hippodrome gig; he'd left Television two days earlier.
29th: The Heartbreakers' first ever gig is in Queens, NY.
Former Demon's guitarist WALTER LURE is added to the band as second guitar and vocals. July:
7th: Their second gig with Walter Lure is at CBGB's, which soon becomes the breeding-ground for upcoming New York bands. A recording of the gig appears in 1992 as a short-lived CD issue on Greg Shaw's Bomp label, titled 'What Goes Around'.
Mercury officially terminate the New York Dolls agreement.
16th: Peter Crowley, later of Max's Kansas City, books the Heartbreakers at Mothers, NYC. Three tracks from this gig are included on Bomp's 'What Goes Around' CD.
At SBS Studio in Yonkers, the Heartbreakers record a demo: three songs recorded live on 16-track equipment. The band continue to gig around New York and the East Coast.
The 'New York Rocker' magazine is launched. An article titled "Opinion: Heartbreakers" by Theresa Stern profiles the band, with the lengthiest piece on Richard Hell, not mentioning that Theresa is Richard Hell's pseudonym. He writes: 'Johnny Thunders is quintessential rock and roll. Rock and roll is life and death. No exit.'
Max's Kansas City holds an Easter Rock festival 11th-15th and 18th-22nd, with the Heartbreakers, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, and the Ramones as main attractions. Other, smaller acts on the bill include Talking Heads, Blondie, Mink De Ville and Pere Ubu.
15th: The Heartbreakers plus Tuff Darts pack out the club.
The Heartbreakers' demo is reviewed in 'New York Rocker'.
The problem of egos with the band having not one, but three lead vocalists comes to a head - Johnny and Walter feel that Richard wants to sing and write most of the songs. The matter is only resolved by Richard leaving, being replaced by BILLY RATH, a more experienced bassist from Boston who'd been working as a gigolo in Florida whilst between bands.
23rd: The Heartbreakers first gig with Billy Rath is at Max's Kansas City. It's enthusiastically reviewed by one Nancy Spungeon in a full-page feature for the 'New York Rocker' magazine. She starts following the band around, attaching herself to Jerry, eventually to London where she and her drug habits will meet up with Sid Vicious.
The Heartbreakers find themselves a manager: LEEE BLACK CHILDERS, whose curriculum vitae included being personal minder to Iggy Pop, vice-president and official photographer for David Bowie's MainMan management company, and stage director of 'Pork' (1971), a play based on Andy Warhol's tapes of conversations in his 'Factory' ("Makes 'Oh! Calcutta!' and 'Hair' look like a vicarage tea-party" leered the News Of The World). They each sign a personal management agreement for a 5-year term.
Sometime in the fall they go into Jay Nap Studios to record some demos. Almost 30 years later they are found, and eventually mixed and released on a Jungle 3-disc set 'Down To Kill'.
1st: The Heartbreakers and Leee arrive at London's Heathrow airport, with one-way tickets and no work-permits, to join the SEX PISTOLS, the CLASH and the DAMNED on the 'Anarchy Tour'. Malcolm McLaren has to spend a long time pleading with immigration to let them in. They go straight to the Roxy, Harlesden, for rehearsals with all four bands. Before the Pistols get to rehearse, they get whisked off to do a TV show that EMI have arranged for their new signings after Queen pulled out at short notice.... the Bill Grundy presented 'Today' programme....
2nd: Reading the front-pages of all the national papers of the Pistol's 'outrageous' appearance, the Heartbreakers wonder what they've got themselves into... all they've got is one-way tickets and lots of promises from Malcolm.
Meanwhile, they've managed to score drugs within 24 hours of arriving in the UK, and are later blamed for introducing heroin into the young, naive UK punk scene.
Gig after gig of the 'Anarchy Tour' gets cancelled, and the press shock-horror orgy continues for a week and more.
15th: The Heartbreakers headline the Roxy Club, getting seen by Track Records to whom they later sign to. A few dates actually happen, filmed by Roxy DJ Don Letts on Super 8mm film - later released as 'The Punk Rock Movie'.
20th- 22nd: Demos are recorded at Essex studios prior to sessions for their debut album. Three tracks are later released as 'Vintage '77' on Jungle Records.
Nancy Spungeon arrives in London looking for Jerry Nolan. She is desparately avoided by the band and blocked by Leee who fears her influence, she finds herself a Sex Pistol instead.
15th: Two sets at The Speakeasy, London, are recorded by Track Records, later released by Jungle Records as 'D.T.K.'.
The gigs are a warm-up for the 'L.A.M.F.' recording sessions: they then go into Essex Studios and record All By Myself, Let Go, Get Off The Phone, I Wanna Be Loved, Can't Keep My Eyes On You, and I Love You with producer Speedy Keen, the vocalist and composer of Thunderclap Newman's Something In The Air.
At Ramport Studios they record eight more: Going Steady, Baby Talk, Do You Love Me, Born To Lose, Chinese Rocks, Pirate Love, It's Not Enough and One Track Mind.
22nd: At Ramport Studios, they begin their lengthy mixing sessions with Speedy, starting with five numbers including Baby Talk and Going Steady.
29th: More mixes at Ramport.
13th: A 'Letter of Intent' with Track Records' Chris Stamp Band Limited is signed prior to the full agreement. It's for two albums per year for three years; neither band nor company exist beyond the first album.
28th: 'Heartbreakers Limited' is incorporated in the UK (and 'Inc.' in the USA) by Leee and partner Peter Gerber, intending to branch out and handle other artists.
After a tour of Holland, Belgium and France, they go back to mixing, and now decide to try out different studios.
16th: At Olympic Studios, mixing All By Myself and Get Off The Phone, the engineer marks on the tape box as the title: '2 downers before the overdubs'.
19th: Olympic Studios, mixing Going Steady.
24th: Now at Trident Studios, mixing Baby Talk and Going Steady.
1st: Back to Ramport Studios: mixes of One Track Mind and It's Not Enough.
3rd: The Heartbreakers fingerprints are taken by Leeds police after the band get held up at gun-point in their hotel-room. The prints get used on the Track Records 'L.A.M.F.' cover.
5th: Ramport Studios: more mixes of Baby Talk and Going Steady.
7th: Ramport Studios: mixes of Do You Love Me and Pirate Love.
8th: Ramport Studios: mixes of Pirate Love and All By Myself.
10th: Ramport Studios: mixes of I Love You, Let Go and Can't Keep My Eyes On You.
11th: Ramport Studios: mixes of I Love You and Let Go
22nd: Ramport Studios: mixes of One Track Mind, It's Not Enough, I Love You and Do You Love Me.
2nd: Ramport Studios: mixes of Pirate Love and Let Go.
4th: The Heartbreakers open the Vortex Club in Wardour Street, with The Buzzcocks.
22nd: Ramport Studios: mix of Baby Talk.
16th: Johnny gets married to Julie.
10th: Now they try Advision Studios: mixes of Baby Talk, Going Steady and One Track Mind.
15th: Advision Studios: yet more mixes of Baby Talk and Going Steady.
3rd: The Heartbreakers set out on a UK tour to promote the release of 'L.A.M.F.' on Track Records. However, the mix on the album is universally greeted with disappointment, and Jerry Nolan quits the band over the issue. Sex Pistol Paul Cook substitutes for him, accompanied by Steve Jones. Jerry re-joins, but with a terse statement that it's 'as a hired musician, not a member, on a temporary basis.'
13th: Middlesborough Town Hall
14th: Edinburgh Clouds
15th: Manchester UMIST
17th: Stafford Top O World
18th: Cardiff Top Rank
20th: The tour reaches its London climax, where they headline at the Rainbow, with Siouxsie and the Banshees plus The Models supporting. They kick off their set by smashing a plate glass window conveniently set up on stage, with a brick.
21st: Leeds Polytechnic
22nd: Bath Pavilion
23rd: Shrewsbury Tiffanys
25th: Birmingham Barbarellas
26th: Liverpool Erics
27th: Coventry Locarno
29th: Newcastle University
Jerry Nolan carries out his plan of leaving the band. He's replaced by Terry Chimes, formerly of The Clash. Track Records issue the single 'It's Not Enough', just before the label going under. A couple of shows at the Vortex are the last the Heartbreakers will play in the UK until 1984.
Without a record company to support them, or the five-year old nucleus partnership of Johnny and Jerry, the band fall apart. Whilst Johnny stays in London, Billy and Walter fly back to New York for Christmas, not to return.
A possible new record deal with CBS collapses, and Leee quits as manager.
'The Speakeasy' in London was a late-night drinking club inhabited by the music business: musicians, managers, agents and record company executives; plus roadies, groupies, druggies and wannabees made it an essential hang out.
A notorious incident involving Sid Vicious mugging prog rock DJ Bob Harris there (he of the 'mock-rock' Dolls jibe) was the catalyst for the '77 crowd to invade the previously hallowed hall of the flares and spliffs fraternity.
Johnny puts together some gigs there with musicians he's been hanging around the club with, under the names 'The Living Dead' and 'Johnny Thunders' Rebels'. Members come and go as other commitments allow, they include: Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, Peter Perrett and Mike Kellie from the Only Ones, Patti Palladin from Snatch, Henri-Paul, Andy Gray and Steve Nicol from the Hot Rods.
18th: A Speakeasy performance as The All Stars Living Dead with the Only Ones' Peter Perrett, Mike Kellie and Alan Mair, plus Patti Palladin, is recorded and makes it onto a double-7" bootleg 17 years later.
The impromptu gigs result in Johnny landing a solo deal with Real Records, through WEA. Owner Dave Hill has just left the failing Anchor Records, and Johnny is to be his first release. His second signing is The Pretenders, whom he then goes on to manage for many years. Most of the Living Dead appear as guests on the album, 'So Alone'.
The Living Dead play 3 dates at the Gibus Club in Paris, as well as continuing dates at the Speakeasy.
17th: 'Chris Stamp Band Limited', the Track Records company that the Heartbreakers are signed up to, goes into voluntary liquidation at a meeting of creditors.
7th: Accountants handling the liquidation of CSB Ltd (Track Records) find that the Heartbreakers have spent £29,283.76 over and above the contractually due £50,000. They rather hopefully write a letter to Leee, demanding repayment within 14 days failing which they will place the matter in the hands of solicitors for recovery.
26th: The single 'Dead Or Alive' is released on Real Records.
The recording of 'So Alone' at Island Studios. Johnny is joined by his 'Living Dead' cronies, plus Walter and Billy from the Heartbreakers, Phil Lynott, Chrissie Hynde, and Steve Marriot, no doubt all dragged down from the Speakeasy.
Back in New York, Johnny, Billy and Walter earn some money by playing a Heartbreakers re-union (with Ty Styx on drums) at Max's Kansas City, later to be released as a live album.
6th: The album 'So Alone' is released on Real Records.
9th: Johnny arrives back in London for the 'Johnny Thunders' Allstars' concert at the Lyceum that's been arranged to promote the album.
12th: The Lyceum concert features Peter Perrett, Patti Palladin, John Earle, Mike Kellie, (but who's on bass… Paul Gray? etc?)
13th: In interviews (with Sounds and Zig Zag), Johnny talks about his friends Sid and Nancy who've just made headlines with Nancy's death and Sid's arrest for murder. Asked of his plans, he says:-
"My dream come true. I've got someone to finance me to go to New Orleans and I'm gonna try and find a bunch of old black musicians and start a a band with them. New Orleans is full of the greatest music you ever heard in your life."
"After 'So Alone' I went back to America and tried the family life for a bit, got married, had some kids. I moved to Detroit and met up with Wayne Kramer (ex- MC5 guitarist) and started 'Gang War'."
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the early version of Gang War - Johnny, Wayne Kramer (not long out of jail serving two years of a four-year drug bust), Ron Cooke and the Senders' P. Marcade, record their first demos: I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys, I'm Gonna Be A Wheel, Who Do Voodoo, and Just Because I'm White.
But there were to be no releases during the life of the band; only some tiny press foot-notes and a few US club-goers got to know of them.
6th: 'Live At Max's Kansas City' album is released in the UK by Beggars Banquet.
Gang War play a gig at the Ritz, together with the Lenny Kaye Band. Iggy Pop joins Gang War on stage. The gig is reviewed in New York Rocker's February edition.
Gang War gigs were few and eventually dried up; few in the US wanted to know about two washed-up ex-guitar heroes. So Johnny, Wayne and Gang War drifted apart. Wayne has sometimes blamed drugs, and also commented that Johnny was more of an entertainer than a musician. Various gigs were recorded, including two from Boston & Toronto that were issued as the 'Gang War' CD on Skydog and later Jungle, but dates are sketchy.
Little is recorded of Johnny's activities between Gang War and him reappearing in New York in '82.
25th: Since 1979, I have been working as label manager at Fresh Records. Leee Black Childers has been managing Levi Dexter, who has a single released on the label. Casually he mentions that he's going to France to try and get a deal for some Johnny Thunders tapes, the only place it seems there's still a market for him - 3 years silence being a very long time in show-business. He returns having been unable to do a deal, so on the 25th we sign a deal for the Track tapes, Fresh folds five months later before issuing anything by Johnny.
Johnny has now sold his guitars for drugs and living in a squalid New York basement.
Wayne Kramer's ex-wife, rock photographer Marcia Resnik, introduces Johnny to CHRISTOPHER GIERCKE, an underground film-maker, who's interested in working with Johnny on a film project and takes him under his wing.
In 'Wired', the biography of John Belushi, Bob Woodward relates how on the 28th, Marcia took Belushi to Christopher's New York apartment, five days before Belushi's death in Hollywood. Woodward comments dramatically: "Giercke represented an extreme of counterculture. He was the rebellion and the underground that Belushi flirted with, the hardcore."
At Euphoria Sound Studios, Revere, Johnny records 'Diary Of A Lover', 'Look In My Eyes' and 'Green Onions', with Rolling Stones producer JIMMY MILLER. Musicians: Walter Lure & Billy Rogers.
Then with Nolan & Sciorrci, Johnny finishes the 'Too Much Junkie Business' recording sessions and flies to Sweden for a TV show, at Mandasborgen:-
Scandal in Sweden:- Johnny hits the front-page headlines, with the tabloids screaming: "Burnt Out, Wasted, A Drugged Human Wreck". They continue for the best part of a week.
23rd: More front page headlines: "I Don't Have The Strength To Play Tonight", and eventually:
"Police Arrest Pop Star".... Johnny is caught by the tabloids in a double-page spread - photographed in a classic "who, me?" pose when being confronted by a policeman and an air stewardess showing him an airplane medicine box, that someone has rifled and stolen all its drugs ...
Johnny is in London for a tour of the clubs (Hope and Anchor, Kensington, Rock Garden).
22nd: At the Venue he's joined onstage by Sylvain Sylvain, who can't hide his amusement when Johnny can't remember the chords to 'Chinese Rocks'. A Michael Beal photograph (featured in Nina Antonia's biography) shows him back-stage being held up by his band - by now TONY JAMES (former Generation X, future Sigue Sigue Sputnik & Sisters Of Mercy bassist), STEVE NEW (former Rich Kids guitarist), and Jerry Nolan.
Together with three other former Fresh Records employees we form JUNGLE, and buy the Fresh label from the owner.
3rd: The last UK date before flying back to Sweden with Tony and Jerry. Jerry meets Charlotte, who runs a fanzine. They soon are to marry, and Jerry stays in Sweden.
On his return Johnny gets busted at Heathrow for possession of a small amount of heroin, and is thrown into Pentonville Prison for a few days.
At Wickham Studios, three tracks are recorded as demos: 'Sad Vacation', 'Give Me More' and 'Ten Commandments Of Love'. The eventful European trip comes to a close, and Johnny returns to New York.
Gig at the Peppermint Lounge with Walter. (Or is this the 15th?)
15th: Johnny's 30th birthday is celebrated with a gig at the Irving Plaza, NYC., the same day Christopher Giercke formalises a management agreement with Johnny, forming a close partnership that is to last for three years.
6th: A gig at Jonathan Swifts club in Cambridge (USA) is recorded and later released as an extra live album with 'In Cold Blood', on New Rose Records.
A Swedish TV crew turn up to interview Johnny- his live TV recording there was taken off the air, they're turning it into a semi-documentary piece about the dangers of drugs.
30th: A gig at the Mudd Club is filmed and recorded for Lech Kowalski's movie, 'Stations Of The Cross'. It is later released on ROIR Cassettes under the same title.
At Downtown Studios, Boston, Johnny records another two numbers with Jimmy Miller: 'In Cold Blood', and 'Just Another Girl', later coupled with the Euphoria Sound Studios tracks to become the 'In Cold Blood' mini-LP (and issued as 'Diary Of A Lover' in the USA).
'Vintage '77', a 12" single featuring three demos from prior to the 'L.A.M.F.' sessions, is released by Jungle.
I meet Johnny and Christopher for the first time. At first there's a lot of questions about the deal with Leee for the Track tapes, but Leee searches for documents to prove the rights reverted to his management company when Track folded.
9th: At the Lyceum, London, Johnny headlines a packed house. In the band are Jerry, Billy Rath, and Michael Thimren from Sweden; encore guests are Peter Perrett and Patti Palladin. In the audience are Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Damned and many other London luminaries, and Johnny puts on a great show. Supports are Jayne County and Turkey Bones & The Wild Dogs.
10th: Christopher makes a deal with us for Johnny to re-mix 'L.A.M.F.' to coincide with a Heartbreakers re-union tour in March. In the same week he makes another deal with promoter John Curd for a live recording of the Lyceum show. Jim Robertson at PAN Agency (later at ITB and JLP) becomes Johnny's booking agent.
Christopher arranges for Johnny to see a top Harley Street doctor to treat his drug addiction. The doctor, a now retired psychiatric specialist in addiction cases, prescribes Johnny methadone. The treatment continues for most of the rest of Johnny's life, visiting London every two or three months for an appointment and prescription. The situation is far more civilised than in New York, where junkies are made to queue every day for their methadone ration.
Later in Paris, Johnny goes into Studios W.W. to record the semi-acoustic 'Hurt Me' album for New Rose Records.
After completing the 'Hurt Me' album, a projected UK visit is postponed due to lack of a work permit.
A couple of low-key gigs in the UK herald the release of 'Hurt Me': at the Brighton Escape Club (5th), Dingwalls (6th) plus an acoustic set afterwards at the 'Pipeline Club' at Gossips which has a tiny, restricted view stage. Many people go home from the tiny packed club after hearing the DJ play the 'Hurt Me' test-pressing thinking it was his live set!; Johnny doesn't actually go on until nearly three in the morning.
Johnny returns to Sweden to spend Christmas- he's met Susanne Blomqvist there, and they've fallen in love.
Johnny stays in Sweden with Susanne.
9-11th: Re-mixing 'L.A.M.F.' with Tony James in all-night sessions at Greenhouse Studios, Islington. Christopher and Susanne also in attendance. 'Hurt Me' is released as a 7" single by New Rose.
10th: Johnny starts filming in Paris with Patrick Grandperret. As his band in the fictional film, Billy Rath, Henri-Paul and Jerry Nolan attend.
19th & 20th: The Heartbreakers have gigs in Paris. (with Walter?)
21st: We sign a settlement with Christopher, Leee and the band for the Track tapes.
22nd & 23rd: With Walter, the Heartbreakers reunion tour visits Nottingham Palais and Manchester Hacienda.
24th: Johnny has a BBC Radio One interview with Richard Skinner. Despite a couple of vodkas beforehand, Johnny isn't too talkative but Skinner skims through his history, plays a couple of the remixed 'L.A.M.F.' tracks including the single 'Get Off The Phone', and gets Johnny to plug the Lyceum date:- "Be there or be square!"
25th: At the packed London Lyceum, being recorded (for ABC's live album) and filmed (for Jungle's video 'Dead Or Alive'), a nervously apprehensive Johnny has rather a lot of vodka with his orange juice. The show is good, but doesn't quite gel like the earlier one. Johnny is in the mood for repartee entertainment; Walter looks to the heavens when a Johnny monologue during 'So Alone' goes outrageously over-the-top. After an 'interval' for further 'refreshments', it goes positively downhill with a 'Chinese Rocks' jam. The vodka, tiredness, on-stage spliffs and whatever else has hit - Johnny, who earlier was wildly abusing the audience in his inimitable infamous fashion, by now hardly acknowledges them.
26th: Walter splits back to his day-job as a commodity broker on Wall Street, others for Paris.
28th - 30th: Johnny and Tony James mix the Lyceum album at Wessex Studios, with Johnny adding guitar and vocal overdubs to improve the recording, forgetting about the synchronisation with the video.
Ten dates in Sweden (from 28th March) have been cancelled due to work-permits being refused due his bad publicity. This time Johnny uses the media, posing in Stockholm centre in front of a ship, claiming he would play on it outside of Swedish waters.
5th - 8th: Four dates in Finland. Michael Thimrem replaces Walter.
Back in Paris, the Gibus Club as always, hosts a gig for Johnny.
14th & 15th: In Madrid, the show on the 14th is filmed by Spanish TV for a 60-minute rock programme 'La Edad De Oro'. Sylvain Sylvain has now joined the line-up, so with three Dolls together, a few more old Dolls songs are added to the set. The Spaniards donate a flamenco guitarist to accompany Johnny on his acoustic set; the hilarious non-communication between them is eventually cut from the show.
18th: In Stockholm's Södertälje the young Finnish band HANOI ROCKS who model themselves on the New York Dolls, support Johnny on this rescheduled Swedish gig.
19th: Johnny plays a Stockholm club.
21st- 25th: Four gigs in Finland again.
2nd: We did some more post-production on the video, which is turning into a lengthy nightmare. "Japan, late July/August" it says in my diary. Did it happen?
More filming with Patrick Grandperret in Paris.
17th & 18th: Dates in Holland.
20th - 24th: 'Thunders Week' at the London Marquee; Johnny is the first and only artist to play five consecutive nights at the Marquee (then in Wardour Street), and even though it's a heatwave in London, every night is sold out. With Billy and Jerry, it's a three-piece version of the Heartbreakers, forcing Johnny to concentrate on his guitar. Many who were there say it's the best they saw him.
22nd: In the afternoon, Patti Palladin and Johnny rehearse their duet 'Crawfish' together with Jerry, Billy and Only One's guitarist John Perry at 313 Studios, Holloway. An interview of Johnny is filmed there for the Jungle video, the camera later captures them at the Marquee with 'Sad Vacation' making it onto the final film. Many years later all six tracks filmed at the Marquee appear on the DVD of the Jungle 3-disc set 'Down To Kill'.
26th - 29th: More UK gigs: London Fulham Greyhound, Nottingham Rock City, Leeds Warehouse and Manchester Hacienda, and poss. 31 Dublin, 1st Belfast?
2nd: London's Dingwalls Club. Gigs in the capital are reaching saturation point.
10th - 16th: A tour encompassing Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Afterwards both Jerry and Billy Rath - who has now also found himself a Swedish companion - both resume their domestic lives in Stockholm.
Johnny forms a new band: Terry Chimes on drums, Keith Yon on bass, and Dick Trueman on guitar.
11th - 22nd: Johnny joins the ascending Hanoi Rocks for a double-bill UK tour.
23rd: A solo gig at Portsmouth Poly.
26th & 27th: In Ireland, at Dublin's TV Club and Belfast Queens.
29th: Headlining London's Tufnell Park Savoy, plus the March Violets and Three Johns.
Tony St. Helene (known just as 'T'), a friend of Yon's, replaces Terry Chimes for a full European tour. The tour is scheduled to take in Sweden (2nd - 10th), Spain (14th), Italy (19th - 21st), and from the 28th to December 8th in France.
After France, the tour continues to Austria (9th), Switzerland (12th & 13th), Germany (14th - 21st), and Belgium (22nd). In Germany they are filmed for TV shows at Munich ('Formula One') and Dusseldorf ('Music Convoy').
With 95 gigs in 1984, things are getting back on a more even keel.
The tour resumes in Switzerland (11th & 12th), Spain (17th - 20th), and then they fly out to Japan on the 24th for a ten-day visit. Suzanne accompanies Johnny on this trip.
3rd: They fly back from Japan to Paris. Johnny and Christopher then visit London and visit record companies looking for a deal. Then back in Paris, under Susanne and Christopher's guidance, Johnny attempts to detoxify. Six weeks is the aim, but after three or four weeks he gives up following some violent rages. As well as Johnny, Suzanne and Christopher are bitterly disappointed.
In London at Tin Pan Alley Studios, some demos are recorded together with Keith and T, Henri-Paul, Stiv Bators and Mike Monroe. 'Blame It On Mom' (later added to the 'Que Sera Sera' album) and 'Countdown Love', a Jerry Nolan composition, are recorded.
1st, 2nd and 3rd: Three nights at New York's Irving Plaza - and it's been a while since he last played New York. Guests on stage include David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain, Arthur Kane and Walter Lure. Not quite the triumphant homecoming - 'I fucked up', he admits. Christopher hasn't been with him, saying he thinks it's time for Johnny to learn to stand alone. It's the end of their partnership, and he's also split from Suzanne. Returning to London, for the first time in many years he's so alone.
Down and out in London, he's been crashing at Stiv Bator's flat, Patti Palladin's flat, etc, for as long as people would put up with him. Teams up clubbing with Mike Monroe and others, and gets into a mess; meets 'Chief' (Peter Judd), a former Damned roadie who offers to help Johnny out with his career. This of course means that Johnny has to move in with him and his girlfriend. A series of sporadic one-off solo gigs ensues: Brighton Escape (5th), Fetcham Riverside (26th), but he's played everywhere and there's no new product to create interest except for the 'Dead Or Alive' and a 'Chinese Rocks' ep both released this month.
8th: The Ad Lib
10th: Johnny returns to Paris for a solo date on the 13th.
18th: Meet with Johnny to discuss new recordings. The first idea is for a mini-LP.
20th: Prepare agreement for Johnny for the 'Que Sera Sera' album. Meet with him and his Finnish sound-man, Hessu. Unfortunately Johnny knows of a drugs supplier near our office whom he likes to visit on his way. Discussing the contract over a pizza, Johnny keeps nodding off, mid-sentence. Hessu and I look at him and each other as his head slowly lowers and lowers; his face almost lands in the pizza.
27th: Croydon Underground with Keith & T.
A short UK tour has been put together from the 1st: Derby, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, and the London Clarendon on the 5th.
14th: A London Marquee gig.
19th: Meet Johnny and Chief to finalise details for the 'Que Sera Sera' album. "Oh, and also, we need to get a special guitar sent over from Paris..."
21st - 29th: Johnny is in Canada for gigs on 26th, 27th and 28th.
1st - 3rd: Rehearsals start at the Brent Black Musician's Co-op, then move to the Depot. 8th: Recording starts at West 3 Studios, Acton.
9th: Recording stops. Johnny has a Fender Gibson, a semi-hollow Gretch, a 12-string Gibson 335, a Telecaster and a Les Paul Jnr., but insists he can't record without the special guitar made by James Trussart in Paris; Chief and the band all back him up. I offer to hire any guitar in London, but they insist. I try to call James, but eventually only get an assistant who says he'll be in the shop later. I decide to go to Paris and pick it up, I should be back by late afternoon. Later, at the 'Guitar Station' shop in Rue Dupere, Paris 9, James isn't there, no-one knows where he is. Outside, I bump into Henri-Paul who offers to put me up. That night he takes me to the Gibus Club, which seems to be a shrine to Johnny, with pictures and posters of him everywhere. 10th: Back at the shop, they now think James has gone to the country to see his kids, and they can't contact him. After frantic hassling and pleading, they might be able to contact someone who might be able to contact James. I pass some time sightseeing with Henri-Paul, go to the Gibus Club again but the novelty is wearing off, even the same band is on. Henri-Paul has been speeding all weekend, I last saw him when the club closed at 3.00 am - they don't seem to notice him crashed out in a corner.
11th: I've got hold of James and get the guitar. Rush back to London, and recording resumes. Predictably, the guitar is hardly used.
12th - 15th: Recording at West 3. Johnny insists that he, Keith and T all play and record live and loud together. This later makes problems with 'overspillage' when mixing.
20th - 23rd: Recording at West 3. On the 22nd, the guests arrive: Mike Monroe, Stiv Bators, John Perry, Nasty Suicide, Dave Tregenna and Patti Palladin. Wilko Johnson joins in on a separate day.
27th - 30th: Mixing at West 3.
31st: Johnny flies to Stockholm to make it up with Suzanne, taking a copy of 'I Only Wrote This Song For You' to her. The mixes aren't finished, but Johnny leaves it in Patti's hands, who tries to cope with the overspill problems.
6th: While Patti mixes, Johnny arrives back in London, to leave for the USA the next day.
13th: The final mix is 'Blame It On Mom' from the Tin Pan Alley sessions, which together with 'Tie Me Up' from Patti's 'Crawfish' b-side makes the album full-length. 'Talk About Me' is left as an outake.
Johnny is back in Stockholm, eager to be on his best behaviour to please Susanne. An American tour is being booked by US agent Dean Brownrout. After most of the dates are booked in, Johnny 'crushes his hands in a car door' and postpones them. Some speculate that the real reason is that he's anxious to stay with Susanne for a while and live a quiet domestic life.
28th: 'Crawfish', the single recorded by Patti and Johnny is released on Jungle. Patti's deal with London has collapsed, so the tapes are sold to us. It gets good reviews and reaches the top 5 of the UK indie charts.
3rd: Johnny is back in London for a few days. Matt Kellet joins the band on guitar.
8th - 11th: Tour of the Netherlands. Dates on the 13th and 14th get cancelled.
25th: 'Que Sera Sera' album is released.
11th - 15th: Tour of Sweden.
17th - 19th: Tour of Finland.
The postponed USA tour has been rescheduled to start at Philadelphia on the 13th. Johnny flies out early, and meets Sylvain, and persuades him to join the band for the tour. The night before Matt flies out, Chief tells me to tell him that he's not now needed.... after the New York dates, Sylvain changes his mind, so they proceed as a three-piece.
In London, an American has visited our office offering to make videos for unrefusable rates. Johnny wants a video made, so I arrange for the band to be filmed at the soundcheck at the Irving Plaza. I fly out to New York for two dates on the 14th & 15th. Chief has made all the prior arrangements for the tour, booking vans and equipment, etc. However, Johnny has hooked up with Steve .........., (boyfriend of Alison Gordy) and starts introducing him to people as 'his business manager', which irks Chief.
14th and 15th: The camera crew are set up in the Irving Plaza, but Johnny has partied well past dawn, and won't get up. He can't get up, can't possibly be filmed today. Hosts of friends, fans and hangers-on are in his room protecting him from such intrusions as soundchecks or filming. The next day it's the same, appearing at 7.00 pm, no soundcheck, no video. The crew pack up and go home. However, the two nights at the Irving Plaza go down well; as well as Sylvain, Johnny is joined on stage by James Brown's horn section, it sounds so good he wants them on the whole tour. "I'm back - Bruce Springsteen, look out!" he crows at the end of the gig.
16th: Cambridge, Boston. Typically, the bus leaves late and they get there too late for a soundcheck. Johnny is booked into the Bradford Hotel with his new best friend Steve, whilst Chief, the band and crew sleep in the huge Winnebago bus. After the gig, Chief is frantically wound up about Johnny's put-downs, and starts talking about quitting the tour. Everyone tells him to shut up and go to sleep, but he's incensed and cracking up. At six in the morning, those half-awake realise that he really has packed his bag and is now walking down the road, on his way back to London. Later we find he was holding the cash, which he takes towards his flights and what he considers his due for his work.
17th: Steve is elevated to tour manager; but he hasn't been outside of New York for eight years. The tour takes in the whole of America, and has another seven weeks to go…
The US tour continues on it's way.
At the Chelsea Hotel at the end of the tour, Keith and T have not been paid, and they're angry. They reckon Johnny and Steve have had lots of money, so they quit, but not before throwing Johnny's belongings out the window of the Chelsea, adding yet another incident to that establishment's history. Johnny is very freaked and afraid by their threats. He returns to Stockholm around the 21st.
26th: 'Short Lives' is remixed by Patti and Ken Thomas. It's scheduled as a single (JUNG 27) but not released, only appearing as extra tracks on the CD of 'Que Sera Sera'.
Johnny is in London from the 2nd - 15th. 13th: At a gig at Dingwalls, London, Johnny presents his new line-up: Jerry Nolan, former Pistol's bassist Glen Matlock and Barry Jones on guitar, who've all been playing together in the London Cowboys. Johnny and Jerry strike up what is planned to be a new 50/50 partnership. Jerry's wife Charlotte is to take care of business.
28th: A gig at the Stockholm Hard Rock Cafe.
5th: Johnny and band arrive in Tokyo for four dates 7th - 11th. Afterwards, they go to Bangkok for a week where Johnny and Jerry buy numerous hand-made fitted silk suits.
21st: Back in London, both Johnny and Jerry have to visit their doctor who's currently in Kent, for their methadone prescriptions. Jerry is on a much bigger dose than Johnny. I take them by car, the drive, through London, the suburbs and well into the country, takes the best part of the day.
10th: A two-week Australian tour. The tour promoter, Peter Noble is also driving them, and rolls the tour bus. Everyone's shaken and shocked, Jerry breaks his collar-bone but carries on drumming, using just his wrist.
6th - 14th: In Spain for seven dates. Johnny is hurting, he says it's his teeth and that he wants to see a dentist. It becomes obvious that he really just wants to demand more valium and pain-killers, promoter Robert Mills and everyone ignores his requests. He phones the Spanish record company, myself in London, and anyone else who'll listen, pleading that he can't go on without more downers from a dentist. Meanwhile, Glen is having problems with alcohol, and Jerry is on a high methadone dose; Barry's maybe on something else - none can communicate as they're all on different chemicals. The tour is messy.
4th - 20th: A tour of USA east coast, now with Arthur Kane on bass it makes a trio of New York Dolls, plus guitarist Barry Jones. The shows are good - the gig at the Roxy in L.A. is later released as a DVD and CD. But by the end of the tour, Johnny and Jerry have fallen out again, badly. Jerry wants to record a new album, and there's money rows too.
15th: Johnny arrives in London for a busy week, making new plans.
17th: At Matrix Studios, he remixes 'Short Lives' for a single release.
19th: At Remaximum Studios, the song 'Que Sera Sera' is recorded for a single as an afterthought to the album of the same name. He's joined by Glen Matlock, Patti Palladin, former Members guitarist J-C Carroll (now on accordion!), and former Sham 69 drummer Dave Mackintosh.
21st: Mixing 'Que Sera Sera' at Remaximum. The sessions are completed without any problems, and Johnny and Patti bring up the idea of a covers album.
March & April:
Johnny is in Paris filming again for the revamped Patrick Grandperret film feature.
8th: Johnny is in London to prepare for 'Copy Cats'. He's staying in Star Street, W2, which causes some amusement.
11th - 15th: Rehearsals with Glen Matlock, J-C Carroll and Dave Tregenna in Holloway. But it doesn't sound right to Patti and Johnny; Patti complains that all the numbers they try end up sounding likeThe Small Faces. They want more of a session musician approach to cover all the widely differing styles. We're told that they can't possibly continue as planned.
21st: At Falconer Studios, a new short-list of musicians gains shape, some called up by the studio. Recording starts, late, without rehearsals. A couple of shit-hot drummers are called up who put down backing tracks with Gil Scott Heron's bassist Robbie A Gordon and The Only Ones guitarist John Perry; these are all excellent players. But learning songs from scratch in the studio still takes time.
Meanwhile, Johnny left alone at nights has started to imagine things... such as the men outside his room, waiting to steal his money. It keeps getting stolen - coincidentally in amounts divisible by the price of a gram of cocaine. Early one morning a paranoid, a whispering Johnny is on the phone asking me to pick him up. He's escaped from his room with his guitar, and checked in to the nearest cheap hotel he could find.
Unfortunately, it was on Sussex Gardens and mainly hired out for very short lets to the local prostitutes... he's twigged it too late after trying to sleep on the well-soiled bedsheets - he needs rescuing and reassuring.
Just a few nights later I have to rescue him again - he's whispering that it's Darth Vader outside his window; he's so genuinely fearful it takes me some time to realise that there isn't actually anyone else there.
27th: A new flat without the ghosts - we find him one in Oakley Street, Chelsea.
8th: Johnny returns to Stockholm on BA 650.
17th & 18th: Patti is organising overdubs... and more overdubs... and more overdubs. The album is now overdue, over budget, and nowhere near finished.
8th: A crisis meeting with Patti, her lawyer Tony Simon, my partner Graham Combi and myself at the Churchill Hotel. We need to know exactly how and when the album will be finished, so we can re-budget and plan a release. Patti can't tell us when the album will be finished. We have to agree it's sounding good, but we're in uncharted territory here - the album was meant to be finished a couple of months ago. We try and reach some sort of inconclusive compromise.
16th- 17th: Patti needs a horn section, just to finish the album off, so Graham calls some friends who put us in touch with noted London jazz players Jim Dvorak and Nick Evans. Patti brings in John 'Irish' Earle to complete a trio.
20th- 24th & 27th: More various musicians overdubbing.
28th: Johnny returns to London to add his vocals. He promptly completely loses his voice.
2nd: Johnny goes back to Stockholm, having completed some just adequate vocals.
9th-11th, 15th-17th, 20th-23rd: More and more musicians are brought in for that special effect, that final overdub, including Alex Balenescu (the classical violinist), David Cunningham (Flying Lizards), Bob Andrews (Brinsley Schwartz and The Rumour), Maribel La Manchega (a professional Spanish flamenco castanet player) and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. By the end, a total of 28 musicians (including Patti's dreadlocked dog 'T-Bird') are to be credited on the album's sleeve.
The album is sounding really good, Patti's vision is taking shape, so it's difficult - or perhaps impossible - to cut the recording sessions down. But we're now forced to go and borrow some more money to finish it. The studio bills have completely cleaned us out.
1st -5th, 8th -11th, 14th -18th: Three more weeks of overdubs and working on the tapes.
21st -23rd: At last, some final mixes of 'Copy Cats'!
25th: The first stock of Nina's book 'Johnny Thunders - In Cold Blood' has arrived, and review copies are sent out.
1st & 2nd: Johnny visits his home from home, the Paris Gibus Club, for two shows.
4th -6th: Five 'Copy Cats' mixes are now completed. This album has now become a very big investment.
8th: Johnny arrives at Gatwick, we find him a flat at 12 Stanhope Place, Marble Arch.
9th: Interviews at the Cumberland Hotel with David Quantick from NME, Caroline Sullivan from Melody Maker, and Peter Paisley (Adrian Maddox) for Record Mirror.
10th: We hold a launch-party for the publication of Nina's book at The Limelight Club. Johnny signs some copies and does a satisfactory twenty-minute acoustic set.
29th: A UK tour starts at the Bristol Bierkeller, then on to Manchester and Leeds...
2nd: Now the prestige, comeback gig: and the London Town & Country Club is reasonably full, it's the first time Johnny has played the capital for ages. Although 'Copy Cats' isn't quite finished we're building up press interest by publishing the biography, advance tapes, and interviews. Upcoming band The Quireboys are support, and go down well. They finish, and after 20 minutes gap, promoter Jim Robertson tersely asks if I can go and get Johnny and the band - I find out to my dismay they're still at the hotel in Paddington, a full twenty minutes drive away!
I rush over there, they're casually hanging around, Johnny 'isn't quite ready', he's actually still in his room taking drugs with John Perry, says he has laryngitis and is feeling lousy.
Eventually at the venue, Jim has called a doctor who supplies a syringe with a dose of Vitamin B. Jim administers the shot and pushes him onstage, outrageously 90 minutes late; meanwhile people are already queuing up to get their money back. Melody Maker's Carol Clerk, a huge fan, reviews the gig:-
"It was the night that Johnny finally blew it, the night that the joke, if ever there was one, died a pitiful death and began to stink. Even the diehards, the Thunders clones who will usually accept anything from their hero so long as he's legendary (ie out of his head), found this apathetic performance quite unacceptable, saw the legend revealed as a lazy little man who was prepared to take the money and not even run, just stumble sadly, through a mere handful of songs with all the enthusiasm of a stuffed goat. I've seen Thunders clean, on-form and brilliant, I've seen him stoned and absolutely bloody awful, but I've never seen him like this, so listless, so tedious, so depressing. There was nothing glamorous about any of it and there was nothing, not a stir, to suggest that a single person in the audience was finding this anything other than an immense disappointment and embarrassment, an outrageous waste of money."
Angry music-biz members of the audience on their way out accost Jungle staff saying 'this is your fault, you got me here'; it's also a huge disappointment for Nina Antonia who's brought numerous friends to celebrate her book publication; she won't even dare venture out to a Johnny gig for a couple of years.
Afterwards, Johnny protests about Dave Tregenna and others honesty:- "Hey Alan - they think I'm high! I thought they were my friends!".
Just the sort of show we didn't need. What have we invested into?!
3rd - 5th: The tour continues to Newcastle, Glasgow and Liverpool, without known incidents.
13th - 15th, & 19th: Patti at last completes the final mixes of Copy Cats!
22nd: A tour of Japan starts in Nagoya, followed by Osaka and 2 nights in Tokyo.
29th - 3rd: After the band leave, Johnny does some acoustic gigs in Hakata, Kobe, Kyoto, Sapporo and Tokyo.
7th: A Tokyo TV show, joining some Japanese musicians.
8th: Johnny goes to Bangkok until the 13th.
3rd - 12th: A tour of Sweden and Norway.
24th: Johnny arrives in London, to rehearse with new musicians at Nomis on the 31st.
11th: Johnny needs a doctor. A letter from the flat agency we've used for Johnny documents holes made in walls, carved up dining-room tables, wilful destruction and a complete unsanitary mess. Plus a bill for a good few hundred pounds.
The album 'Copy Cats' is finally released in the UK and Europe by Jungle, in USA by Restless (annoyingly with 2 tracks deleted to cut down on publishing royalties), and local releases also in France, Japan and Australia.
20th: A one-off gig in Dusseldorf is recorded for 'Rock In The Night' on WDR Radio.
10th: Johnny goes to Canada for gigs at the El Mocombo on the 15th, returning to New York on the 18th.
20th & 24th: The New York Limelight Club traditionally gave Johnny a gig during the New Music Seminar, typically Johnny went back for a second one.
8th: Johnny confirms his new band as: Jamie Heath (sax, USA), Alison Gordy (vocals, USA), Jill Wisoff (bass, USA), Chris Musto (drums, UK) and Stevie Klasson (guitar, Sweden, replacing Quinn Patterson who lasted a couple of weeks). This line-up was to stay with him (bar Jill who left after a year) until his death, a longevity not seen since the New York Dolls - despite being a six-piece and scattered over Europe and USA, making touring logistics more difficult and expensive. With Alison sharing live lead vocals shortly after the 'Copy Cats' release, she was often mistaken for Patti, to the amusement and slight annoyance of both. (Please note: Alison is an Amazonian peroxide blonde; Patti is a petite brunette.)
23rd: Johnny arrives back in London for preparation for a two-month European tour.
30th & 31st: The tour kicks off with two nights at The Marquee, London.
1st: An acoustic gig at the London Limelight. 4th: Festival in Lausanne, with Siouxsie & The Banshees and Mink De Ville.
6th: Italy; followed by
8th - 16th Germany;
18th - 26th Denmark, Finland, Norway & Sweden.
6th - 8th: The tour continues to Holland, then on to Spain 11th - 16th for four dates, and back to the UK for eight dates 20th - 29th, including two more at the Marquee.
The tour is scheduled to end in France with dates in Paris and Lyon. 'Born To Cry' is the second single released from 'Copy Cats'; so an impromptu mimed video promo is made for a French TV show.
20th - 30th: Seven gigs for £7,000 are booked in Spain, but it's too soon after the October visit, so they get cancelled at quite short notice.
2nd - 9th: Another UK tour, but poor attendances mean they don't get paid.
11th: A one-off in Greece, at Athens Rodan Club, before returning to France.
22nd: In Paris, at Le Palace.
30th & 31st: Back in New York, Johnny supports The Replacements (who've earlier written about him in the song 'Johnny's Going To Die') at the Beacon Theatre, New York. They also offer the support for the whole tour, but the money available is not enough to pay the band.
5th: At the New York New Ritz, there's a plan for Johnny to do 3 numbers alongside Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and The Ramones... later collector tapes surface of Johnny joining Debbie Harry on stage.
10th: A visit to London for just two days to see his doctor.
The film by Patrick Grandperret is being finalised as 'Mona Et Moi', and we discuss the possibilities of a soundtrack album. Johnny, who's in Philadelphia, instead proposes the 'Bootlegging The Bootleggers' album.
10th: Johnny arrives in London, to see his doctor again and confirm the 'Bootlegging...' deal. He plays us numerous live tapes with lots of new numbers, but doesn't want any of those included, he'll keep them for later. He gets £5,000, half the advance for the album. A booking agent, Kip Elbaum, has met up with and got on with Johnny. He books a US mid-west tour starting with 3 nights in Winnipeg from the 28th.
1st - 8th: The short tour continues through Minneapolis, Madison Wis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Ann Arbor and Detroit.
1st: Jerry Nolan arrives in London from Stockholm to get his methadone prescription filled. On his way out to New York, he gets busted at Gatwick carrying 840 5mg. tablets of methadone, and thrown in Lewes Prison without them, although he's been prescribed them at 60mg. a day. Customs officers charge him with illegally exporting a controlled drug.
He misses a gig with Sylvain (& The Ugly Americans), though NME review it complementing Jerry's (stand-in) drumming! The Ugly Americans are also televised for an MTV show, now to be found on Youtube, also crediting Jerry despite him being absent.
6th: Jerry appears at Horsham Court, after six days of cold turkey. The magistrates hear his repentant pleas, see the state he's in, and release him. He's elated at this, and also that he's got through the cold turkey barrier, and vows to cut his huge methadone dosage down.
15th: Johnny's in London to get his methadone prescription filled, and gets another instalment of his advance.
25th: Johnny back in Philadelphia staying with a friend and sifting through live tapes. A studio is booked with John Dunmore for compiling the album and recording introductions.
2nd: The final track-list comes together. Some that nearly make it include 'It's Not Enough' and 'Frankenstein' from New Orleans.
13th - 25th: A West-Coast tour of USA travels around California: Los Angeles, Capastrano, San Diego, Long Beach, San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hollywood.
31st: Johnny is staying at the Celebrity Hotel, Los Angeles.
8th: Johnny arrives at London's Gatwick for his regular Harley Street methadone visit. More cash against his advance.
4th: Final £1,000 of the advance is sent to Johnny's sister Marianne.
17th: A gig at the English Acid club in Los Angeles. Johnny is staying with various friends in L.A. and running out of money again, he asks me to try and collect some from New Rose, ABC Records and Virgin Publishing.
24th: Johnny arrives on TWA at London's Heathrow, for a visit to his doctor.
26th: Johnny meets with Luca, an Italian who's intrigued by Nina's biography, and thinks it would be 'interesting' to pair his music with classical musicians.
29th - 2nd: Luca records his project with Johnny in the studio. It's not rock'n'roll.
30th: A second visit in a week to the doctor, for 'some other medication'. I try phoning the doctor, asking him not to prescribe any tranquillisers. Desperate for cash for drugs, Johnny proposes 'Bootlegging... Volume 2'. I decide for him that it's not the best career move.
3rd: Johnny flies out to Paris after arranging to play some dates at the Gibus Club.
23rd: Johnny ends up at Stiv Bators's apartment after using up the hospitality of friends George and Octavio. In the studio, Johnny plays on what will become Stiv's last album, together with Dee Dee Ramone, Dr. & the Medics' Vom, the Godfathers' Chris Dolbymore, and Sigue Sigue Sputniks' Neal X.
Johnny calls to relate a sorry tale of a big bust-up there with Dee Dee Ramone: he'd accused Johnny of taking money, smashed Johnny's guitar, thrown bleach on his clothes and pulled a knife. Forlornly Johnny asks us to use the story to get publicity in the music press; as it portays the kind of junkie loser image we want him to lose, we decline.
13th: Johnny moves out of his friends flats into a Paris hotel.
19th: Johnny is completely broke. He's now at another number in Paris, and has booked two gigs at the Gibus Club for next month. Can we send him some money?
4th: At last, the French film 'Mona Et Moi' that Patrick Grandperret has worked on with Johnny over six years, opens at the Odeon cinema, Paris.
7th & 8th: The Gibus Club shows pay the rent and overheads yet again.
25th: Arriving in the UK in transit to Ireland for a few dates, Johnny gets held up by immigration. It seems he'll be too late to do the first Dublin date, which was to be televised. But in 2006 we find out he wasn't too late - the televised interview, together with a live performance, is posted on Youtube.
26th: The acoustic tour continues at Belfast, followed by Waterford and Dublin.
1st: The acoustic tour moves to the UK at Glasgow, followed by Leeds, Doncaster, Wakefield, Grantham, and Stevenage, but Johnny is not well- he's now been on a bender for six months, adding tranqullisers to his drug cocktail, and it shows.
11th - 13th: Three dates in Greece, in Athens and Salonika.
16th: Back in the UK as some Italian dates fall through.
21st: Off to Germany for the acoustic tour: Munich, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Krefeld, Hamburg, Berlin, then to Brussells. By now he's healthy again, the work keeping him busy and fit.
30th & 31st: Two nights at the London Marquee, teamed up with his band. On the 31st, Johnny, Stevie and Jamie go to B.S.B. studios to performing 'Lydia' and 'Nine Lives' for 'The Power Station' TV show. The film is lost when the studio closes when they merge with Sky.
1st: We meet with Johnny and some of the band at the Columbia Hotel, and talk about the possibility of recording a new studio album. Wary of the 'Copy Cats' financial scenario, we try and budget it. With six musicians to fly around from various countries, their fees and Johnny's large fee, a cheap studio is proposed to compensate - not the most enticing idea. We decide to think about it, and although Johnny is now alert, clear and lucid, we want to see if he can stay that way.
2nd: Johnny flies PAN-AM to the USA. On the way to the airport, we talk about the numerous releases that he wasn't getting royalties from, and agree that I should research for outstanding money from other labels and publishers, and if possible collect it on his behalf.
15th: Asbury Park, Fast Lane gig.
22nd: A friend of Jamie's, Amy Koster, is working at a management company and helps get Johnny some US gigs.
For the first time in very many years, Johnny the wandering gypsy gets himself an apartment, in New York. 'New York is very dangerous to my health', so we wonder how he'll get on.
Johnny checks himself into a health-farm! At last he's got the will to stop taking drugs. An advance fortuitously got for re-selling the 1984 live Lyceum album this time is spent wisely. He spends some six weeks there, getting completely clean, coming out not needing his methadone, for the first time in probably sixteen years. He's almost a changed man, calm, quiet and thoughtful, without the constant feeling of stress, panic and paranoia that the chemical dependency had previously induced.
The ROIR cassettes 'Stations Of The Cross' and 'Too Much Junkie Business' get released on CD in Europe by Danceteria.
Johnny moves flat to avoid the junkies who'd found out where he was living.
20th: Arriving at Heathrow with Jamie in the morning, a rehearsal is booked for later that day. For the first time, no appointment with the doctor for a methadone prescription is necessary! It is wonderful to see him straight. It's actually quite strange to talk to him without his drug barrier; no edginess or weird aloofness, he's just a relaxed regular guy!
21st: London Marquee date with the band. Johnny is enjoying himself, getting drunk and partying. No time to talk, they're off to Switzerland.
23rd: Gig at Fribourg, Fri-son club.
26th - 30th: Johnny and Jamie play five nights at the Gibus club in Paris.
Partying in Paris, Johnny has lapsed and got into tranquillisers. With his reputation, every drug-taker seems to gravitate towards him bearing gifts. He leaves Paris after another week, for New York. In London, we hear that our distributors Rough Trade are on the verge of bankruptcy, owing us tens of thousands of pounds. Now is not the time for speculative new studio projects.
Johnny phones from New York, and says he needs to see his doctor badly.
'I thought you didn't need anything any more?' 'I'm just the same old jerk, I guess.'
He has a tour of Japan booked, where he can't get anything, and wants to get methadone in London before he goes.
26th: He books a flight to arrive at Gatwick at 6.50 am, and a Harley Street appointment at 9.00am, I'm to pick him up and take him there. I prepare a pile of files on royalties I've researched, with a plan for him to get his affairs in order and register all his song compositions with M.C.P.S.
I wait at Gatwick Airport for four hours, before finding out that seven hours after missing his flight he has called to tell me not to go to meet him.
30th: He leaves for Japan directly from New York.
1st - 5th: 3 dates in Tokyo, plus Osaka and Nagoya with the band.
6th & 7th: Acoustic gigs after the band go home.
9th: Johnny visits Thailand for a few days holiday and to buy some new silk suits.
15th: Johnny arrives back in New York, the same day as I leave New York for London.
18th: Now Johnny has arrived London, calls our office needing £200 desperately to see his doctor.
19th: Straight off to Germany to record 'Born To Lose' with Die Toten Hosen for their album 'Learning English- Lesson One'. Does acoustic gigs while he's there.
22nd: Leaves Germany for New Orleans. Arrives, checks in to a hotel, ignoring jet-lag stays up all night.
23rd: Johnny dies in New Orleans, at St. Peter House, Room 37, aged 38.