Johnny Thunders- guitar hero!
Johnny Thunders- guitar hero!

Born to Lose!

Johnny Thunders- guitar hero!
Johnny Thunders- guitar hero!
the author lying on the New Orleans bed where Johnny Thunders died...
the author lying on the New Orleans bed where Johnny Thunders died...

As a non drinking, non drugging vegan type you would think that Johnny Thunders would hold little interest for me but if his personal props seem a bit uninteresting his rock n roll was firebrand fierce and captivating.

I still remember clearly seeing the Dolls on the Whistle test back in 1973 and being mesmerised. I didn’t have a clue who they were. I think I even thought that the Rolling Stones had got good again- but then I was only 12. Thunders stole the show that night. His amazing crows nest hair, beautiful white Les Paul and too small leather jacket with the skull and crossbones on the back- he encapsulated guitar hero in one series of mincing moves and killer riffs.

No guitar player has looked cooler since then- just ask Johnny Marr who spent a good half hour explaining the genius of Thunders and his quest to but a leather jacket like his or Morrissey who loved the Dolls or Mick Jones or any of the people who really understand rock n roll.

The Dolls of course went into meltdown but they had sewn the seeds and Thunders struck out on an erratic solo career that had moments of genius like ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’ or ‘Born To Lose’ mixed in with moments of druggy mess.

But when he was hot he was hot. Pete Doherty has, perhaps not too wisely, based his life on him and several other key figures acknowledge his genius in interviews I’ve done over the years…and they all understand that loving girl groups, rock n roll and being a romantic with your heart on your sleeve and looking tough, cool and vulnerable are where it’s at…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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  2. […] 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 […]

  3. Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”

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