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.

1979-1981

"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'."
Lots more happened during this period than is listed, but little was documented at the pre-internet time this was written. Fill in any gaps in the comments section.

June '79:
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.
July '79:
6th: 'Live At Max's Kansas City' album is released in the UK by Beggars Banquet.
January '80:
Gang War play a gig at the Ritz, together with the Lenny Kaye Band. The gig is reviewed in New York Rocker's February edition.
At The Heat, Iggy Pop joins Gang War on stage; they perform Chuck Berry's 'Round and Round' (thanks to Johnny Morgan for the info, contributed below).
Spring '80:
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.
He regularly visited Philly, in particular gigs at The Hot Club, also at The Kennel Club and Revival.
Early in 1981 he played The Second Chance in Ann Arbor, with Walter, Jerry and... Tiny? Who's he?   (Check out or add to the comments section below; this info is all thanks to some who were there.)
November '81:
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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Iggy didn't join us onstage at the Ritz. It was at the Heat and the song was Round and Round by Chuck Berry. Johnny Morgan

Anonymous said...

Your 79 - 81 diary is a bit sparse. I knew Johnny, Billy and Walter, and hung around with them in NY then. Johnny was in NY off and on during those years, and performed a number of times that don't appear in your diary. I recall in particular one show at Max's that was a defining moment. I remember exactly the situation upstairs, and it was absolutely pure Johnny in classic form, at a moment that I think was the point where the past and the future for him overlapped in a way they never did at any other time. That was the time when all the best of the past, and the potential and risks of his future were standing together and hanging in the balance. Honestly, I don't know who else is alive to remember those times. I haven't been in touch with anyone from that particular chapter for 25 years and I must be honest and admit that the whole blur was very blurred indeed, but there are specific moments, places, bathrooms, backstages, spoons, toilet tank tops, conversations, escapades, ashtrays, apartments, days, mornings, nights that are as clear as crystal as if I were there every time I remember . . . who is there from 70 - 81 who isn't either dead or too damaged to add some information and corroborate mine . . . ? Hello? Are you there?

Susi Johnston
susi@macantidur.com
The Sleeping Tiger on the Island of Bali
http://susijohnston.com

ecuadoriana said...

All the focus is on New York, London, but Johnny came to Philly a LOT in those days and played at the Hot Club, on 20th and South Streets. Always a packed house, crowds overflowing into the street... All of us old Hot Clubbers, those of us who are left, remember Johnny's gigs very well. Everyone had a blast and I don't regret anything.

Anonymous said...

Johnny, Walter, Tiny and Jerry(?) played the Second Chance in Ann Arbor in Jan or Feb of 1981. I've heard both audio and video exists.
Anyone remember the exact date?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget johnny's show at the Kennel club and Revival in philly!

Anonymous said...

Anon...who was 'Tiny'?

Larry Barnard said...

In the fall of 1981 I was staying at a hostel in NYC's upper west side. A bunch of us went down to the Mudd Club one night - think it was November. I can't remember who was the headliner but the openers were called the Stilettos (pretty sure, but I could be wrong) , anyway partway through their set they announce a 'special guest' and out comes Johnny Thunders. He plays two songs: Chinese Rocks and Too Much Junkie Business. He sounded great, though I could be biased, given it's the only time I ever saw him. In between the two songs he said, "here's another song in the same vain".

terryfunku said...

Tiny is bassist Tony Cairo. He played bass with JT in the Heartbreakers murky revival years and for the Waldos. He died in the mid-1990's.

You may have misheard "Tony" as "Tiny" OR Tiny might be a play off Tony being a really big guy. He was as tall as Waldo, but built like a refrigerator.

-terryfunku

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