looking for johnny thunders - The I-94 Bar
Seems not so long ago (and in fact, it was the late 1980s) that the shadow of a still breathing, although not always fully-functioning, Johnny Thunders was almost everywhere you looked. His records filled the racks and every second person in a band wanted to look like, if not be, JT. As in buying the T-shirt with no need to tap a vein.
It was P.I. (Pre-Internet) so we didn’t have the same visual options that YouTube and Torrenting now offer, but you had to wonder how someone whose wasted pictures and sound defined the term “fucked-up” so convincingly could continue to make music.
Of course, way down in Australia we got our answer when an at least partially cleaned-up Johnny toured, with the ever-present legend Jerry Nolan on drums and a real live Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock, on bass. That had to be the year I was overseas, but by all reliable reports The Man and His Band were both lucid and great.
His music tends to be overshadowed by the fact that Thunders was a hardcore junkie for the second tw-thirds of his career, at first by choice and then, over the years, by necessity. You might argue that he also milked that reputation for all it was worth, to the point that it was a marketing tool as much as a cross to bear.
There are few survivors from when New York City’s rock and roll world revolved around a few seedy nightspots in a now unrecognisably gentrified district called The Lower East Side who are still musically active. Joey Pinter is one of them, making spirited, raw guitar music on their own terms, and this is his debut solo album.
Transplanted to Los Angeles and now living in Chicago, Pinter is best known as Walter Lure’s guitar foil in his killer post-Heartbreakers outfit, The Waldos. These guys should have been huge but labels kept their distance and Walter had a career in stockbroking that clipped their touring wings. Their solitary album, "Rent Party", was recently re-issued and kicks arse.
Pinter played in a host of other NYC bands, most notably with Max’s Kansas City regulars The Knots whose solitary 45 “Heartbreaker” b/w “Action” is highly collectable. So he has lots of form.
Johnny Thunders and his biographer Nina Antonia.
Recently, I was obliged to dig through about 30 of my 100 boxes from storage and came across Greil Marcus' philosophical punk book “Lipstick Traces”. Highly regarded around the world, I recall reading it with irritation at the time, feeling that... there was a distance to his writing. He just didn't seem excited.
I suppose it was that the man was a music journo, and obliged to listen to so much pap that after a while... everything is part of the same thing. I liked how he got the world-wide impact of what punk did, but I really don't think he came close to nailing his topic.
When I had the opportunity to conduct an e-mail interview with UK author Nina Antonia, I grabbed it with both hands. Nina Antonia is the author of biographies on Johnny Thunders, the New York Dolls and Peter Perrett (The Only Ones) and has a knack of always nailing her topic. She's a delight to read. A quick scamper through bookdepository.com - armed with her name - is always exci
Directed by Danny Garcia ("The Rise and Fall of The Clash"), "Looking For Johnny" is promised to be the definitive documentary on New York City's legendary guitar player Johnny Thunders.