When people think about punk rock bad boys they usually jump to the cartoon buffoonery of Sid Vicious and the myths that have sprung up around him. Take a step back and reconsider though. Wasn’t Sid just a babe in the woods stumbling about from one disaster to another following the breadcrumb trail left by the real kings of debauchery? All poor Sid wanted to do was emulate his heroes. He was a shadow dancer, a mere wannabe.
The real deal was of course Johnny Thunders. The former guitar slinger of the mighty NewYork Dolls, the leader of the Heartbreakers who walked it like he talked it.
Often drug addled, occasionally obnoxious and a human car wreck in the making, but also the possessor of an innate talent to effortlessly play dirty rock and roll that very few others can manage.
He was thee anti-hero of the punk scene. A wandering troubadour whose shows were legendary for being hit or miss affairs. On a bad night he could be a stumbling slurring wreck who could barely stand up never mind deliver a song or hold a guitar, but on a good night, well on a good night there was no one like him. He was a force of nature, bullet proof and seemingly immortal. On those nights everything revolved around him. He was the king of the jungle.
The press will make much of how he was clean, and had been for a while, when he met his end with an overdose in New Orleans. They will hint at dodgy dealings and conspiracies, but the fact is that no one can really be surprised at his demise. He flirted with death often enough. He danced with the devil whenever he rolled up his sleeve and raised a vein. The thing is he did it once too often.
He walked the tightrope for so long that he maybe thought that he would never fall.
Stumble, yes, but never fall. Unfortunately just like other junkies he did fall and left us agreeing with him that you can’t put your arms around a memory.
He wasn’t the first to shuck his mortal coil in this manner and he damn well wont be the last, and while some would mourn his passing I’d like to think that when we look back at what he did then maybe we can agree that he lived a couple or more lifetimes in one.
It was a wild trip and he squeezed a hell of a lot into it. Much more than most of us ever will.
So maybe, just maybe, what he really died of was old age. His mortal self just couldn’t keep up with his spirit. He grabbed life and rolled in the gutter with it until it decided that it was finished with him. He was never going to win, but what a glorious fight it was.
Yep. This boy looked at Johnny and took a lesson from him.
1. Leave Me Alone (Chatterbox) - Patti Palladin
2. Disappointed in You - Mike Monroe
3. In Cold Blood (Not in Vain) - Arthur Kane
4. Children Are People Too - Wayne Kramer
5. Some Hearts - David Johansen
6. Society Mades Me Sad - Sylvain Sylvain
7. Just Another Girl - Alison Gordy
8. Can't Kick - Filthy Lucre
9. You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory - Willy DeVille
10. Diary of a Lover - Die Toten Hosen,
11. I Love You - The Ramones
12. Let Go - Walter Lure
13. So Alone
14. Alone in a Crowd - Los Lobos
15. Help the Homeless
1. Joey Joey
2. As Tears Go By
3. Disappointed In You
4. Sad Vacation
5. Copy Cat
7. In Cold Blood
9. You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory
10. Bring It On Home
11. Eve Of Destruction
12. You Can Walk My Dog
13. It's Not Enough
14. So Alone