Revised and updated edition of the classic Johnny Thunders biography by Nina Antonia. I bought the original edition back in the eighties and must have read it a dozen times I loved Johnny Thunders and its fair to say obsessed about the man and his music – remember he was still with us and this was pre-internet so having a book written (very well I might add) about the guy and his music it was a doorway into the mystical magical world of one of Rock and Rolls biggest mavericks, an outlaw, a renegade and a genuine talent.
So the book and its relevance in 2023 might well be lost on a generation of kids looking to find out about youth culture or musicians who paved the way perhaps it’s just a catch-up and a top and tails or a full stop to the story of Johnny the man because his music has never gone away its always been with us and through RSD we spent years rediscovering live records and versions of one of the greatest albums ever made and to be fair Jungle always did a fantastic job of keeping his memory alive and now with this new version of ‘In Cold Blood’ the story gets a few additional chapters and Nina has updated a classic music book with just the right amount of empathy and sympathy as well as some wonderful new pictures from the archives.
Nina Antonia has always been the go-to person with regard to all things Thunders and always championed his corner and I think was well respected by the man himself who clearly loved her words and the way she told his story. It’s fair to say the new version of the book is bound in a very nice tactile softback jacket and a new forward from Mike Scott of the Waterboys fame. It was great to pick up a book I’ve read more than any other music biography but this time with a look into the rearview mirror and one with hindsight baked in. The author never sugarcoated Johnny and his struggles she never shied away from his shortcomings and it’s great to jog the memory of facts I’d forgotten. The real Jam here is post original book release. I saw the Oddballs play with Johnny a number of times and thought they were amazing and some of the bootlegs I have would back that theory up Johnny had a fighting chance and a band behind him that could see a resurgence in his popularity. Reading quotes from people inside the inner sanctum that orbited Thunders come across as a caring bunch whist the chaos that often circled his actions continued. Some of the final added chapters are heartbreaking and sad and ‘Fate and Fatality’ is a difficult read. Some words from Jerry about bruising are particularly difficult to read.
You just wish you knew him and could throw your arms around him and show him a little care but alas its history. and, I’m sure those close to him did and tried many times Johnny being scared by his health at the time and scared to seek medical help maybe because he knew and without an autopsy or a through investigation the final hours are in keeping with his life as a whole private, chaotic, mischevous, sad and tragic. I miss his music and reading about him or watching him play but through this book his spirit is kept alive and a treasure to own for all his shortcomings, he gave so much in such a short space of time.
Rest In Peace Johnny. And thanks to those involved in this new updated edition for keeping the flame burning for his memory. Along with ‘Looking For Johnny’ we now have the difinitive book lovingly updated without sugarcoating the man but letting it be known his soul was full to bursting with the good the bad and the ugly but also the talent, the love and the frailties of the man. If you only buy one book this year then make this it and let some love into your soul for the man who never made it to forty but lived the life of a man twice his age its mindblowing that this book is released on what would have been Johnnys 71st birthday – Boom! – ‘In Cold Blood’ Buy It!
In Conjunction with this book’s publication, Jungle Records will release the LAMF Demo Sessions digitally together for the first time mid July. visit www.jungle-records.net for details.
Author: Dom Daley