New York Dolls Guitarist Johnny Thunders Subject Of New Documentary

New York Dolls Guitarist Johnny Thunders Subject Of New Documentary

August 19, 2014

Johnny Thunders was the legendary hard-living rock ‘n’ roll guitarist of the New York Dolls and Heartbreakers who inspired glam-metal, punk and the music scene in general. ‘Looking For Johnny’ is a 90-minute film, slated for release on DVD October 14th, that documents Thunders’ career from his beginnings to his tragic death in 1991.

When Johnny Thunders died in New Orleans on April 23rd 1991, he left behind a mystery. Though MTV and international broadsheets reported the guitarist’s demise, for many in the mainstream, Thunders was perceived as an enigmatic outlaw. He was adored by a legion of devotees and cited as an influence by at least three successive generations of musicians. Thunders refused to play the corporate game and was both elevated and damned for it.

‘Looking For Johnny’ is the creation of the documentary maker, Danny Garcia (‘The Rise & Fall of The Clash’) — through Chip Baker Films in association with Jungle Records and MVD Entertainment Group. The young Spanish filmmaker was seized by a question that wouldn’t let go — “just who was Johnny Thunders?” He spent 18 months travelling across the USA and Europe, filming interviews with fifty of the people who were closest to Johnny, building a compelling narrative drawn from first hand testimonies.

The film examines Johnny Thunders’ career from the early ’70s as a founding member of the influential New York Dolls, the birth of the punk scene with The Heartbreakers in both New York City and London, and later incarnations including Gang War and The Oddballs. It also explores Johnny’s unique musical style, his personal battle with drugs and theories on the circumstances of his death in a New Orleans hotel in 1991 at age 38.

Interviewees include Sylvain Sylvain, Lenny Kaye, Walter Lure, Billy Rath, Bob Gruen, Terry Chimes, Alan Vega, Peter Perrett, Sami Yaffa, three of his late managers (Marty Thau, Leee Black Childers and Malcolm McLaren), and many others.

The film includes forty songs (including “Born To Lose” and “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”) and historic film of Johnny with live performances from all periods, including unseen New York Dolls and Heartbreakers footage and photos. Cult filmmakers Bob Gruen, Don Letts, Patrick Grandperret, Rachael Amadeo and others contribute classic archive footage, helping illustrate the charisma, chaos and heartbreak inherent to the guitarist.

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