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Johnny Thunders: Age 38 | Cause Of Death: HEROIN

New York Dolls

(b. John Anthony Genzale Jr., 15 July 1952, New York, d. 23 April 1991, New Orleans)

Johnny Thunders first gained recognition as a member of the New York Dolls, an aggregation that built a reputation for its hard R&B-influenced rock sound and glam/punk appearance in the early ’70s.  Thunders left the band in 1975 along with drummer Jerry Nolan, and the pair formed a new band alongside ex- Television guitarist Richard Hell called the Heartbreakers. Thunders earned a reputation for his shambling stage performances owing to an excess of drugs and alcohol.  He later gigged with fellow junkie, Sid Vicious in the Living Dead.  Thunders was found dead in a hotel room in New Orleans, Louisiana in mysterious circumstances in 1991. He was 38. Despite Thunders’ notorious drug dependency, the autopsy failed to reveal the cause of death although later reports cite a heroin overdose.  Visitor’s note: “Also, it might be worth noting in Thunders’ section that his body was doubled over into a ‘u’ and in full rigor when they found him in a room full of drug debris. ~ Allison  Mc
Willy DeVille: “I don’t know how the word got out that I lived next door, but all of a sudden the phone started ringing and ringing.  Rolling Stone was calling, the Village Voice called, his family called, and then his guitar player called.  I felt bad for all of them. It was a tragic end, and I mean, he went out in a blaze of glory, ha ha ha, so I thought I might as well make it look real good, you know, out of respect, so I just told everybody that when Johnny died he was laying down on the floor with his guitar in his hands. I made that up.  When he came out of the St. Peter’s Guest House, riga mortis had set in to such an extent that his body was in a U shape. When you’re laying on the floor in a fetal position, doubled over – well, when the body bag came out, it was in a U.  It was pretty awful.”  from Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain