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.
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'.