Ironically enough the HEARTBREAKERS were born in Florida-USA, the death place for most(AlCapone, the Barkers). The NEW YORK DOLLS were at the time being managed by Malcom McLaren. Johnny Thunders at first was impressed by Malcom, Johnny enjoyed the glamour and the notoriety, but after awhile it became apparent that he and Malcom did not share the same directions. Divid Johansen and Sylvain were all into Malcom and were reday to go "all the way". After the red patent leather shit, Johnny and Jerry Nolan were pretty silly themselves. Frustated and bored, Johnny and Jerry left Malcom and the rest of his Dolls in Florida and caught a plane back to New York where they could cop some 'Chinese rocks' (a new brand of heroin that was going around the Lower East side at the time). Diavid and Sylvain were insulted and now what was once the mighty N.Y.DOLLS was merely a glimmer of the Sex Pistols in Malcom's eyes.
Meanwhile back in the jungle. Tom Verlaine's TELEVISION was making a big hit on the New York scene. Richard Hell was playing bass and sharing the vocals. Hella frustrated poet, he found himself being straight jacketed in Verlaine's band. Hell wanted to sing more and have more creativity in the band. Hell's and Verlaine's egos kept competing and the time had come for Hell toleave Television. Thunders, who never minced words, approached Hell: " Me and Jerry split the dolls, wanna make a band?" . Hell was surprised but gladly accpted Johnny's offer.
It was April 1975: Thunders', Hell's and Nolan's heroin habits were all still in their infancies, the posibilities were endless! Hell at the time was a more prolific songwriter; he brought with him some songs from hos old band the NEON BOYS , and Johnny revamped some old Dolls numbers. Early Heartbreakers numbers included 'Love Cums In Spurts', 'Hurt Me' , and 'Chinese Rocks' . The latter was co-written by Dee Dee RAMONES wouldn't do. The RAMONES did finally record the song and it became an anthem that autobiographically depicted a ime, mood, and place that was too familiar to many of us. 'I'm living on Chinese rocks all my best things are in rock" . Heroin and the romanticism that surrounds a junkie's lifestyle became a great part of the Heartbreakers, almost a necessary evil! Johnny and Jerry would become victims to heroin and they knew it, and in some sick way that was part of their charm. The original line up was Thunders on guitar, Hell on bass, Nolan on drums, and Thunders and Hell sang their own songs. They played one show at C.B.G.B 's as a trio. After that show, all agreed that they wanted to go back to a two guitar sound.
Enter Walter Lure , a very competent guitar player who could sing and write. He was a perfect compliment to the Heartbreakers's eloquently delinquent style. Hell epitomized the "Punk look" years before it became trengy: spikey hair, massacred T-shirts, and sun glasses. Thunders dressed like he was given a key to a Hollywood wardrobe where they filmed old gangster movies. Nolan never lost all that glam shit Malcom gave him; and Lure fir right in. They all shared that low-life quality that defined the Heartbreakers. Lur's band, the DEMONS, shared rehearsal space with the Heartbreakers. Lure had always wanted to be in the Dolls and in a roundabout way was given his chance. Thunders renamed Lure 'Waldo' and the two became great friends. "This song was written byChuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and my man Waldo' Thunders would say as he introduced ' Too Much Junkie Business '.
The Heartbreakers,now a quartet, developed an explosive live set and quickly became one of New York's finest. The summer of 1975 saw some great performances and January 1976 the Heartbreakers recorded demo tapes at SBS tudio in Yonkers. Their live shows were now a major draw with slogans going around like "Check out these guys while they're still aliv". Thunders' junkie stagger became as much of a trademark as Chuck Berry's duck walk, and the frequent vomits behind the amps from dope sickness were as theatrical as Pete Townsend's wind mills. Legend has it that Tom Petty did lot like the Heartbreakers and to show his disapproval he stole their name. Tom Petty is a dick!
Almost as fast as it came together, the Heartbreakers met with casualty, in the predictable ego clash of Thunders and Hell; Hell wanted to take his position as the band's front man, and after playing for David Jo in the Dolls, Thunders wanted nothing to do with playing for a front man. When Hell attempted to convince the others of Thunders's obsolescence, Hell was forced to leave, bruised ego and all. Shortly before this, Lee Black Childers was obtained to manage, but he was unable to prevent Hell's departure.
Exit Richard's hell, enter Billy Rath on bass. He had the perfect combinaison of agressive playing and sleazy look. More importantly, he had no ambition to become a front man. So with their new line-up set and Childer's management, the Heartbreakers were ready to leave New York. They signed to Marty Thau's and richard Gotteher's Instant records, and at the end of 1976 Childers booked them on the Anarchy Tour In UK. The shows included the SEX PISTOLS, the CLASH and the DAMNED. Allmost a perfect circle, after one year Thunders and Nolan found themselves backin ngland where they had first met Malcom McLaren. Thunders still did not trust McLaren, so this time he and Nolan called the shots; besides, Mc Laren had his new group (the sex pistols) to toy with.
The Heartbreakers remained in England and recorded "L.A.M.F." (Like A Mother Fucker) on Track records. The record was a commercial disaster and it bankrupted Track and the Heartbreakers. The band died an early death. "L.A.M.F." was remixed and rereleased and did finally meet with some degree of commercial sucess. The original version and the remixed "L.A.M.F. Revisited" on Jungle Records contain some of the best rock-n-roll ever!
After the Heartbreakers break-up, all went in different directions. Thunders was the most active, remaining in England and recording his first solo album ' So Alone' . ' So Alone' featured many great musicians, including Nolan and Lure aswell as Steve jones and Paul Cook.
Johnny THUNDERS (1952-1991)
Jerry NOLAN (1951-1992)