Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders

American musician
Date of Birth: 15.07.1952
Country: USA

  1. Johnny Sanders: A Biography of an American Musician
  2. Early Life and Music Career
  3. The Heartbreakers and Solo Career
  4. Later Years and Controversial Death

Johnny Sanders: A Biography of an American Musician

Johnny Sanders was an American musician who was born on July 15, 1952, and grew up in Jackson Heights, New York. He was a second-generation Italian-American.

Johnny Thunders

Early Life and Music Career

In his childhood, Sanders played baseball but was unable to join the Little League because it required the presence of a player's father. He also refused to cut his hair short. Under the pseudonym Johnny Volume, he started playing in a group called "Johnny & The Jaywalkers" at his school, Quintano High.

Johnny Thunders

In 1968, he began attending concerts at the Fillmore East and the bar "Nobodys" on Bleecker Street during weekends. He found a job as a salesman at the leather store "Da Nazz" on the same street, where he met future members of the "NY Dolls," Arthur Kane and Billy Murcia. He joined their band "Actress," which later changed its name to "New York Dolls" after the arrival of David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain in 1971. It was during this time that Johnny Gensale took on his last pseudonym, Johnny Sanders, derived from a character in a comic book. Together, they recorded two critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums, "The New York Dolls" and "Too Much Too Soon."

Johnny Thunders

The Heartbreakers and Solo Career

After the dissolution of the "NY Dolls" in 1975, Sanders founded "The Heartbreakers" with former "NY Dolls" drummer Jerry Nolan and "Television" bassist Richard Hell. They were later joined by former "Demons" guitarist Walter Lure. After an unsuccessful attempt by Hell to become the lead vocalist, he left the "Heartbreakers" to form the band "Voidoids." He was replaced by bassist Billy Rath. "Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers" embarked on tours in America and the United Kingdom and released a studio album, "L.A.M.F" (like a mother fucker), in 1977. The album became a punk classic, documenting the important connection between the American and British punk scenes. The band relocated to the United Kingdom, where they enjoyed greater popularity than back home in the US.

Johnny Thunders

In the late 1970s, Sanders collaborated with former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer in a project called "Gang War." They recorded several demo tapes and played a series of concerts before parting ways. Their self-titled album was released in 1990 on the Zodiac label.

Sanders also released several solo albums, starting with "So Alone" in 1978. The album was recorded while under the influence of drugs and featured collaborations with artists such as Paul Cook and Steve Jones from the "Sex Pistols," Billy Rath, and Walter Lure from the "Heartbreakers."

Later Years and Controversial Death

Sanders continued to perform and record until his death in 1991, although his heroin addiction hindered his ability to work consistently in the 1980s. He played with Sid Vicious in the band "The Living Dead" for a period after the release of "So Alone." In the early 1980s, "The Heartbreakers" regrouped for several tours, and their last recording dates back to 1984. The album "Que Sera Sera" with new songs was released the following year. Three years later, Sanders recorded a cover album with vocalist Patti Palladin called "Copy Cats," featuring Jane County.

Sanders' death in New Orleans in 1991 remains surrounded by rumors and controversy. While it is widely believed that his death was drug-related, some speculate that it may have been a violent death. In his book "Lobotomy: Surviving The Ramones," Dee Dee Ramone wrote that the day after Sanders' death, rhythm guitarist Johnny, Steve Classon, called him and said, "They told me that Johnny got involved with some scumbags... who stole all his methadone. They pumped him full of LSD, and that's what killed him. He had a pretty big supply of methadone in England, so he could travel and stay away from those assholes, drug dealers, Sanders imitators, and other losers."

The circumstances surrounding Sanders' death remain unclear. His room was reportedly cleaned out, and most of his belongings, including his passport, clothing, and makeup, were missing. Witnesses described his body as contorted into an unnatural position resembling a pretzel under a coffee table. Friends and acquaintances claim that he had not used heroin for some time, relying instead on his methadone. The police did not investigate his death.

Sanders is survived by his wife Julia and four children: John, Vito, Dino, and Jamie. His eldest son, Vito Gensale, has served time in Auburn prison for drug trafficking and had previously been incarcerated in Attica prison for a similar offense.