MANHATTAN, NY—In 1975, vocalist/guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan quit the New York Dolls during the same week that vocalist/bassist Richard Hell left Television. The trio became The Heartbreakers and soon added vocalist/guitarist Walter Lure of the Demons. A year later, the rest of the band walked out on Hell and then reformed as Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers with Billy Rath as Hell’s replacement; although there were some changes later, this revised personnel became the band’s classic lineup. The Heartbreakers became an underground success, reigning over the New York club scene and opening for the Sex Pistols’ ill-fated Anarchy tour. The Heartbreakers released one studio album, L.A.M.F., and then officially split in 1977, although the band in various configurations reunited many times from 1979 until Thunders died in 1991. Lure is the sole surviving member of The Heartbreakers’ classic lineup, and has continued playing The Heartbreakers catalog with his band, The Waldos.
Jesse Malin recently conceived of an all-star lineup to pay tribute to Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers. The lineup featured guitarists Lure and Wayne Kramer (Kramer formerly of the MC5 and collaborator with Thunders in 1979 in a short-lived band called Gang War), bassist Tommy Stinson of The Replacements, and drummer Clem Burke of Blondie. Although some of the band members had never met one another, this tribute band was booked for three concerts in two nights at one of Malin’s clubs, The Bowery Electric, on November 15 and 16, 2016. Shortly thereafter, Malin and former concert promoter Trigger Smith of the Continental bar were sitting together in Tompkins Square Park and thought to add a fourth show at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall on November 15 as a benefit concert to assist Stephen Saban, a former journalist for Details who was battling pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles, California.
The core band first rehearsed the day before the first show. The shows ultimately included guest appearances from Malin, Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys, Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators, Lynne Von of Da Willys (first night), Liza Colby of the Liza Colby Sound (second night), and Deborah Harry of Blondie at the Marlin Room concert.
Event date: November 15-16, 2016