Johnny Thunders Birthday Bash at the Bowery Electric, July 14, 2019

Johnny Thunders was a New York music legend. From his days playing guitar with the New York Dolls and then the Heartbreakers throughout the seventies and eighties, he was the ultimate rock star in musicianship and style. Nevertheless, his popularity remained largely underground and the best he could muster was an international cult following. On April 23, 1991, Thunders died of drug-related causes at the Inn on St. Peter in New Orleans, Louisiana; mystery shrouded his death, and the investigation was never conclusive.

Local music promoter Steve Krebs hosts a Johnny Thunders Birthday Bash every July at the Bowery Electric, whereby several of Thunders’ proteges, former alliances, and fans remember him by performing his songs. Walter Lure, who played alongside Thunders in the Heartbreakers, always headlines the “birthday bash” with his band, the Waldos. This year, Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group, the Carvels NYC, the Gotham Rockets, Lulu Lewis, the Ritualists, the Skelekasters, the Skullers, Krebs & the Maynard G’s, the Threads, and other local artists performed as well.

Set list:

1. The Beauty School Dropouts

I Like to Play Games (Johnny Thunders cover)

Just Another Girl (Johnny Thunders cover)

Bad Girl (New York Dolls cover)

2. DonBlackcat and Friends

I Love You (The Heartbreakers cover)

Gone (Don Blackcat song)

Blame It on Mom (Johnny Thunders cover)

3. Freddie Katz and the Thundertones

Hurt Me (Johnny Thunders cover)

So Alone (Johnny Thunders cover)

Subway Train (New York Dolls cover)

4. Gotham Rockets

Dead or Alive (Johnny Thunders cover, with Dina Regine)

Ask Me No Questions (Johnny Thunders cover, with Dina Regine)

(She’s So) Untouchable (Johnny Thunders cover)

Baby Talk (The Heartbreakers cover)

5. Lulu Lewis

In Cold Blood (Johnny Thunders cover)

Chatterbox (New York Dolls cover)

Born to Lose (The Heartbreakers cover)

6. The Skelekasters

Little Bit of Whore (Johnny Thunders cover)

Seven Day Weekend (Gary “U.S.” Bonds cover)

I Can Tell (Bo Diddley cover)

She’s So Strange (Johnny Thunders cover)

7. The Skullers

Downtown (Johnny Thunders cover)

Alone in a Crowd (Johnny Thunders cover)

Let Go (The Heartbreakers cover)

8. The Ritualists

Pirate Love (The Heartbreakers cover)

I Only Wrote This Song for You (Johnny Thunders cover)

Chinese Rocks (The Heartbreakers cover)

9. Lenny Kaye

Que será, será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) (Doris Day cover, performed solo)

Endless Party (Johnny Thunders cover)

You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders cover, with Dina Regine)

Gloria (Them cover, with Dina Regine, Lulu Lewis, Steve Krebs, others)

10. Soraia

Trash (New York Dolls cover)

Jet Boy (New York Dolls cover)

Personality Crisis (New York Dolls cover)

11. The Carvels NYC

Sad Vacation (Johnny Thunders cover)

Great Big Kiss (The Shangri‐Las cover, with Marc Rentzer on guitar)

Human Being (New York Dolls cover, with Danny Ray on saxophone)

12. Krebs & the Maynard G’s

Vietnamese Baby (New York Dolls cover)

I Wanna Be Loved (The Heartbreakers cover)

M.I.A. (Johnny Thunders cover)

Who Are the Mystery Girls? (New York Dolls cover)

Too Much Junkie Business (Johnny Thunders cover, with a verse of Bo Diddley’s “Pills”)

13. Walter Lure & the Waldos

One Track Mind (The Heartbreakers song)

All by Myself (The Heartbreakers song)

London Boys (Johnny Thunders song)

Cry Baby

Busted (Harlan Howard cover)

Crazy Kids

Let Go (The Heartbreakers song)

Pirate Love (The Heartbreakers song)

Get Off the Phone (The Heartbreakers song)

Born to Lose (The Heartbreakers song, with Danny Ray on saxophone)

Chinese Rocks (The Heartbreakers song, with Joe Sztabnik on guitar)

Too Much Junkie Business (Johnny Thunders song, with Shige Matsumoto on guitar, Danny Ray on saxophone and Steve Krebs on backing vocals)

Encore:

Do You Love Me? (The Contours cover, with Steve Krebs on backing vocals)

Sally Can’t Dance presents Stiv Bators, Celebrating the Life of a Dead Boy at the Bowery Electric, July 28, 2019

Sally Can’t Dance presented Stiv Bators, Celebrating the Life of a Dead Boy at the Bowery Electric on July 28, 2019. Michael T. of Michael T. & the Vanities hosted the event, and numerous local buzz artists sang songs from Bators’ catalogue, accompanied by a house band consisting of guitarists Derek Cruz and Sam Allen, bassist Matt Basile, and drummer Randy Schrager. The performers included the B-Girls, Chuck Bones, Matt Hitt, Paul Bearer, LG Galleon, Johnny Scuotto, Soraia Mansour, Rebecca Korbet, Dylan Hundley, Erik Toast, Sam Harris, and Dave Feldman. The Ghost Wolves and the Trash Bags performed earlier in the evening with opening sets. Cheetah Chrome, formerly Bators’ bandmate in the Dead Boys, Jimmy G of Murphy’s Law, and Sam Hariss of the Sweet Things were on the original schedule but then cancelled.

Steven Bator, better known by his stage name Stiv Bators, played in promising bands in his native Girard, Ohio, when he decided to pursue music in Cleveland, Ohio. There in 1976 he co-founded the Dead Boys, with whom he helped pioneer the first wave punk rock movement. Bators’ wild, unhinged performances quickly became a recurring staple at CBGB, the club at the epicenter of New York City punk culture. Ultimately the band moved to New York City.

Following the demise of the Dead Boys in 1979, Bators recorded solo. Relocating to London, England, he co-founded the short-lived Wanderers with bassist Dave Tregunna, formerly of Sham 69. Bators and Tregunna then teamed in 1981 with guitarist Brian James of the Damned to form the Lords of the New Church; that band split in 1989 when Bators injured his back and James reportedly began advertising secretly for a replacement singer.

Bators performed with reckless abandon with each of his projects. Frequently, he rolled on the floor, engaged in spit fights with fans, cut himself, and wound the microphone cord several times around his neck and pulled. Once, the hanging stunt went too far and Bators was pronounced clinically dead for several minutes, but he recovered.

Bators died in 1990 in Paris, France, after being hit by a car. He was taken to a hospital but reportedly left before seeing a doctor after waiting several hours and assuming he was not injured. He later died in his sleep as the result of a traumatic brain injury.

Bators and the Dead Boys were featured in two documentaries about the early punk years, Crash ‘n’ Burn and D.O.A.: A Right of Passage, and actors portrayed the Dead Boys in the film CBGB. Bators had bit parts in several films, notably in Polyester and Tapeheads.A documentary about Bators, STIV: No Compromise, No Regrets, was released on March 19, 2019.

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