Johnny Thunders
Remembered: 21 Years
Since His Death...
By: Gus Bernadicou
Through the blindness of reality, a seer of the truth always struggles to survive. Johnny Thunders saw reality and untimely gave into it in his ultimate demise in April of 1991. With the many vices watching his every move and pulling him down, Johnny was a fighter pushing against the every blow against him.
He didn’t die the death of a junkie, he died the death of a stranger. A stranger to the world, and his new home, New Orleans; he died, with his possessions gone and dreams squashed. He died broker than we he began, and with a name that meant more dead than alive.
Johnny Thunders, to a teenager represents all the right things in all the wrong ways. He represents a struggle to find oneself in the shadows of reality and society as a whole. He represents the lost dream of longing, and the lost dream of happiness. To adults Johnny represents a punk, a person that kids should not look up to… But why? “His death also heralded the fragmentation of a generation,” Nina Antonia, Johnny Thunders’ biographer stated. Johnny represents a wasted youth that can only be understood through the patience it takes to comprehend the numerous layers of his ideology. The person who taught Johnny Thunder’s how to hold, let alone play, his guitar, Sylvain Sylvain stated, “Johnny represents America, he is America…” He continues on, “Johnny was just your average guy, good at baseball; his father broke his heart…” Through the nature of being heartbroken, the pride of overcoming the difficulties is overwhelming in its sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment was short lived for Johnny. He partied with Mick Jagger in his days with the Dolls. Toured with the Sex Pistols in England as a Heartbreaker. . Fell in love in Sweden. And watch his world crumble as he died from Leukemia, depression, and an overbearing addiction with heroin.
“His guitar was his bitch, but his bitch he loved the most,” is a humorous attempt at the truth when Jayne County (punk rock pioneer) described Johnny… Johnny was the king of guitar, the king of the guttural riff, and made Bo Diddley seem like a parody of himself. Walter Lure, Johnny’s right hand man in the Heartbreakers stated, “It is unique - to be able to create a sound and style that no one else ever did before and was never really duplicated, in spite of the millions of wannabes out there who tried it.” His 1978 debut, “So Alone” paints the vivid picture of the hopeless reality of the singer; “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.” If anything, Johnny tried to have fun while remembering the sorrow of his well being. It has been twenty one years since Johnny has passed, and twenty one years since a legacy has been left to heat up from the embers of the New York Dolls, and Heartbreakers. To most, Johnny Thunders is irrelevant but to the people struggling to survive, attempting to find their niche, Johnny Thunders is a hero.