Born John Anthony Genzale July 12, 1952 in Queens, New York. He was into the New York Glam scene and speed. Johnny was the guitarist for the New York Dolls, a pioneering glam band. Johnny was soon introduced to heroin from Iggy Pop while partying with his girlfriend the famous groupie, Sable Starr. The Dolls were never accepted into the mainstread and soon burnt out. Johnny and Jerry Nolan, drummer for the Dolls, grabbed Richard Hell (ex-Television) and started the Heartbreakers, a rock and roll group. Hell left before they went on tour with the Sex Pistols on the Anarchy tour of 76. Thunders was now a father of two, Johnny Jr. and Vito and was developing a worse habit. His wife eventually left him in the early '80's around the same time that the Heartbreakers split. He never saw his boys again. Johnny wondered the Earth playing gigs and capitalizing on his "heroin-chic" appeal, mostly for another fix. When in Sweden in the late '80's, he met the mother of his first baby girl, Jaime. Jaime's mother left Johnny because of his irresponsibility and unpredicability. Johnny grew up in a home without a father and was endlessly guilty about becoming a bad father, but his heroin habit was incredibly out of control. Dee Dee Ramone says that he doesn't know how Thunders made it as long as he did. Johnny ventured into solo acoustic work in the end of his career and life while trying to stick with sobriety. Sadly at the age of 42, John Genzale went to a slummy hotel in New Orleans and died the first night from unknown causes. One of his guitars, his clothes and money were missing. The autopsy revealed no substances in his body with high enough levels to kill yet it was discovered that Thunders had advanced leukemia and early AIDS. Needless to say the autopsy was inconclusive and all the original police records were eventually "lost". Generations of musicians have drawn from Johnny's charisma and unique style, punk, hard rock, rock and roll and hair metal all owe it to Johnny. RIP, Thunders.
Keith Richards + Italian hotness + Glam style + New York attitude =Johnny!
by Michelle April 22, 2005