John Anthony Genzale Jr. aka Johnny Thunders was a legendary American rock and roll, punk rock guitarist, singer and songwriter.
Member of the New York Dolls (formed in 1971) the group were responsible for creating a protopunk sound which prefigured much of what was to come from the punk rock era which followed with bands such as The Ramones, Blondie, Television and Talking Heads, taking over the world.
After massive success in 1975 he left the band and formed The Heartbreakers, a hand picked super group made up of New York Dolls, drummer Jerry Nolan, bassist Richard Hell and Walter Lure, former guitarist for the New York City punk band The Demons.
With Thunders at the helm, The Heartbreakers toured America extensively before heading over to Britain to join the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned on their legendary Anarchy Tour, (replacing the Ramones, who had quit the tour due to a lack of organisation).
In April 1991 in true rock and roll style Johnny’s body was found in a ransacked hotel room in New Orleans. Reports accused his long-term drug addiction (it was well known that over the last ten years of his life he had been using heroine like it was going out of fashion) but those closer to him had other more sinister suspicions. Claiming that for some time before his death he’d been mixed up with a crowd who used him, supplied him with LSD instead of the meth he needed to get clean and stole from him on a regular basis.
Thunders was a trendsetting, innovative music genius who knew how to rock. Long may he be remembered as a legend of he punk rock world.