Barry Jones |
Johnny Thunders | Video
The Roxy Club London | Central Elements
London Cowboys | Flyer Art
Johnny Thunders as told by Barry Jones
Of course I knew of Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan from the New York Doll's albums, and as the Heartbreakers from the Sex Pistols tour, my friend Mick who was also on that fiasco, used to call and fill us in on what the yanks were like, how rock n' roll they were etc... I didn't get to meet them until we booked them for the Roxy club, I remember how excited Steve and me were, they were huge legends, loads of cred like Iggy. Well, they were definitely on that night and blew us all away with one of the best shows I ever saw them do...they were so solid and dangerous, you'd never have guessed that the band was falling apart and they were fighting like schoolgirls..... on that first Roxy gig they raised the bar New York style.
A year later, Steve and I were in New York, and, after a little hick-up with a bass player, were in one of the hottest bands in town, our band the Idols, with Jerry Nolan on drums and Arthur Kane on bass. Jerry was seriously trying to show Johnny he could do very well without him, but at that time Johnny would never take Steve seriously just regarded him as another Johnny wanna-be, and as for me, I think he just couldn't place me, there were no black guys playing our type of stuff, and I know he teased Jerry about being in a band with me. Like one time we were playing a rooftop gig downtown and Johnny wanted to get up and do a number, we agreed, but then he said he wouldn't get up unless I stepped down, we told him to fuck off...so he did a couple of songs with us. That was the first time I played with Johnny, not very auspicious...I only tell this story because we later became pretty good friends.
We played with Jerry on and off over the next six years in our next band London Cowboys, which was pretty much a continuation of the Idols; but I think it was 1986 before I played with Johnny again...I was back in London and the Cowboys were doing very little, in fact I was on the dole, when Jerry called me and said Johnny was in really good shape and he was gonna do a Japanese tour with him, they were thinking of getting me on second guitar and Glen Matlock on bass...was I interested? The funny thing is Jerry and I had played Tokyo the year before with the Cowboys, I'd loved it but thought I had little chance of returning, so of course I jumped at the gig.
They were both living in Stockholm at that time, so Glen and me flew in to rehearse for a week. I knew that Jerry had got me the gig and I hadn't seen Johnny in a few years, so the first practice was intense, it took me a little while to relax. That first week I felt like Johnny was trying to catch me out, maybe he'd had someone else in mind, he did love those copy cats... but hell I'd played some great gigs with Jerry and Glen was also a sometime member of the Cowboys so once we jelled as a rhythm section it was a pure adrenalin rush. We played a small club north of the city, that went pretty well, and then we played the Hard Rock Café Stockholm, which went really well, it was just a kick ass band and Johnny was on form. I remember the manager, who was a big Thunders fan, hugging us saying it was the best band he'd ever seen Johnny with, he was really happy, pulled out the champagne...the next day we were off to Tokyo, which turned out to be only the first stop in a year of touring that took us to Japan, Australia, Italy, France, Spain and East coast and West coast U.S.