Punk in 1976: David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, CBGBs and the Sex Pistols Anarchy Tour.
Above Photo: Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers play on the Sex Pistols’ 1976 Anarchy tour.
I recently came across an interesting article by Bart Bealmear and a video on Dangerousminds.net (see link below), which contained a short interview with Johnny Thunders. Thunders was being (sort of) interviewed by David Johansen outside CBGBs about his imminent appearance with the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash on their ill-fated 1976 Anarchy tour of the UK. Many gigs on that tour were subsequently cancelled in the wake of the Sex Pistols’ Bill Grundy furore in the UK.
I have edited the article below, added more photos and put a link to the full article at the end.
By Bart Bealmear
“The New York Dolls essentially came to an end while touring Florida in 1975. A few months prior, the band was on their last legs when future Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren stepped into the picture. McLaren had some insane ideas, such as re-imagining the androgynous Dolls as tongue-in-check Maoists. Drummer Jerry Nolan later recalled McLaren’s vision of “dressing us up in matching red leather suits and playing in front of a giant communist flag. It was so stupid!”
Nolan and guitarist Johnny Thunders quit the band and headed back to New York, forming the Heartbreakers. Their earliest gigs, with original bassist Richard Hell, were at the club that would eventually be known as the ground zero of punk: CBGB’s.
As for the Dolls, vocalist David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain recruited various musicians over the next couple of years, soldiering on until 1977 when they finally called it a day.
In the footage featured below, Johansen is seen conducting a mock-interview with Thunders in front of CBGB’s. Likely recorded in the fall of 1976, the two cover a lot of ground in the brief clip. Johansen asks about the Heartbreakers upcoming overseas tour, which turns out to be the ill-fated “Anarchy in the U.K.” tour with the Sex Pistols.
At the time, Thunders has no idea of the ultimate fate of the outing, in which nineteen shows are scheduled, though all but three are cancelled due to a backlash after the Pistols infamous appearance on Bill Grundy’s television program. Malcolm McLaren organized the tour, and when his name comes up the two have a few sardonic yucks aimed at their former manager (Thunders says he’s “the neatest”).
They also talk about how the Heartbreakers might have to change their name, as there’s a new band making the rounds with a similar moniker: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The former band-mates are seen smoking and joking like the old friends they already were at that point. To be honest, I had no idea the pair were even on speaking terms during this period, so it’s nice to see them getting along so well (it’s worth noting that the reconstituted New York Dolls is one subject they don’t broach).”
And one of my favourite Heartbreakers’ tracks:
This is the link to the full article: http://dangerousminds.net/comments/david_johansen_and_johnny_thunders_talk_sex_pistols_and_tom_petty_in_front