Saturday, July 26, 2008

"The Life and Times of Johnny Thunders" (BBC Radio 1 1992)


This is a radio program I downloaded somewhere I can't recall a while ago. I converted the WAV files to mp3/320 and made that "cover" for it that you see up there. I got a real thing about not having artwork in my iTunes uglying up the cover flow and all. Plus I get to get a little creative, even though I rarely spend more than 10 minutes making them up.
The program itself is a pretty good half-hour overview of his life and career and notorious reputation. I should state right here that Johnny Thunders is one of my all-time favorites. I've had a few friends who've idolized him mainly because they played at being junkies and I guess he was the unabashed rock 'n' roll king of junkies. I, never being a junkie (well, heroin, anyway), was a huge fan just cos he was so fucking great. Never have I heard sparks fly from a guitar like that man's. And what with his NYC street-tough accent and image (and yes his sentimental tunes), was always the epitome of cool to me. Junk or no.
Anyway, back to the program: It was a memorial-type episode put together shortly after the man's death. There's interviews with Waldo, his Mom, etc. They mention a period in the late 80's as his peak, and though there's scant studio recordings from the period the live shows were incendiary, to which I can attest. The first and only time I saw Johnny live was during this period, at Trenton City Gardens in 1987. He positively smoked. My friends and I were buzzing on that show for DAYS afterward, incredulous and listening to scant else but Johnny and periodically saying things out of the blue, like "How about how fucking great Johnny was the other night?", apropos of nothing.Johnny onstage at City Gardens, Trenton, NJ 1987. By Me.

Here's a kinda funny Johnny story: a few years later my wife and I went to see him in NYC. He was scheduled to play at a club called the Continental on St. Marks. It was getting pretty late and he hadn't shown up, though the crowd was still all there since he was notorious for showing up very late. We had to endure all the idiots around us going on about him nodding backstage or in a basement somewhere down the street or whatever. However, as it started pushing 3am we went home. Not even Johnny was gonna show up that late.
Sometime the next day or the day after we heard of his passing in...New Orleans. Yeah, the same night he was supposed to be playing at the Continental he was in The Big Easy busy being died. I was sad but also pissed off though not at him but at that fucking club which probably knew damn well he wasn't even in town and didn't tell anyone just to keep a full, drinking house there on a night with nothing else going on. This kinda shit goes on in New York all the time. In '96 the night after The Fall's notorious onstage brawl/breakup (which I videotaped and which was used, uncredited, in the BBC's 2005 Mark E. Smith documentary in a badly generated copy. But that's another story) at Brownies, they were telling callers that yes, the second show is ON, come on over! But I didn't fall for it not being completely gullible. Not after what I witnessed at the first show the night before.
I seem to have strayed from the subject of this blog entry...where was I? Oh yeah, Johnny done died on us. And a week or two later my sister-in-law came to visit with the great idea we should go visit the grave, since she found out at which of the many cemeteries in Queens where he was interred. So we get out there and realze: none of us knows his real last name! (Ginzale). We make an effort wandering around looking for fresh graves, but it's hopeless - the place is huge.
So we never did see Johnny that night and we never did see his grave.
Oh well.

The radio show is broken up into 6 parts, get it HERE.

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