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Saturday, July 15, 2006

It's Johnny Thunders Birthday!

Another unnecessary and untimely junkie death, Johnny Thunders.

On Johnny's birthdate in 1981, Stiv, the Wanderers and I were all in NYC, on the Wanderers tour (NYC date with the Ramones! at the Palladium, also gone) and the night we arrived, Johnny's birthday party was going full swing and we joined in. Johnny's mom was there for a little while, and she gave him socks and underwear. She said those were the only things he wouldn't hock. Even she knew....

I knew it then that I was surrounded by a who's who of punk rock - it was Thunders, and the guys in his band, Walter Lure among them; the Wanderers - Stiv, Dave Parsons, Dave Tregunna, Rick Goldstein and Dean Klevatt, various members of the Ramones, and the Mayor of St Marks Place, the late John Spacely. Quite a lot of Stiv's lady friends were there, as well as the usual downtown NYC crowd.

Dee Dee & Stiv (buy it!)
Dee Dee Ramone loved having Stiv around

Jan Berry Meets Punks
Dave Parsons and Stiv meet Jan Berry while on tour

For all their bad-boy image, both Stiv and Johnny were nice enough guys; at least I felt confident enough to share houses with them, or let them crash at any number of apartments I had while they were alive. Once in Paris, I ran into Johnny in the the Forum des Halles, "Hey - you're from NY!" he greeted me, and we exchanged niceties and small talk and then he asked to borrow $50. "You owe everyone in NY $50, Johnny, but I will give you $50 for that jacket." And we exchanged a crisp United States $50 bill for a beat-up pink leather jacket. I thought I got the good end of the deal! Then I would see Johnny all the time, for if I was around, then so was Stiv. We all ended up back in London, and Johnny made a record and Stiv guested on it, as did our flatmate, ex-Hanoi Rocks front man, Michael Monroe.

Sad to say, I do not have Johnny's jacket got thrown out of my apartment when I wasn't looking by someone who didn't realize the importance and sentimental value of that beat up stinky piece of leather. Johnny's memorable song haunts on many levels... you can't put your arms around a memory... don't try...

Until the limited supply sells out, you can buy prints of Stiv from the 1981 Wanderers tour. See what's in store here.

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