Johnny Thunders

Another wonderful story from Drummer Johnny Morgan! Enjoy! RK

Written by John Morgan:

Gang War was on one of their first east coast tours that ended up in NYC with a gig at The Mudd Club. The Mudd Club was an interesting gig. The dressing room was upstairs and you rode a freight elevator down to the stage. The curtain on the stage was a metal garage door that rose up when you started the show.

The fans were banging on it before it rose it up. The dressing room was packed because this was Johnny's big comeback to NYC after being on hiatus and cleaning up his act in Michigan. David Johansen was there and asked Johnny to introduce us. "So is this your new drummer Johnny" David said in that thick New York City accent.

Real nice chap. Willie (Mink) DeVille was there with his girlfriend and looking very stylish in a New York way. Gang War rides the elevator down to the stage and puts on a good performance. There's a recording of this show that is circulating but I haven't heard it yet. It's been getting good reviews.

We ride up the elevator to the dressing room and we can hear the crowd downstairs wanting an encore. Johnny is putting on black face make-up like Al Jolson for the encore whom he admired. We go down the elevator with David Johanson and Willie DeVille who has his harmonicas. Johnny goes into "Just because I'm White" with Willie on harmonica.

After the show the party continues and we go to CBGB's and park our RV right in front of the entrance until a cop comes along and informs us we gotta move it. The next day we're driving around NYC on our way out of town to head back to Detroit. In the RV are Wayne Kramer, Ron Cooke, Johnny Thunders, Gary Burmele (Johnny's caregiver) and myself.

Johnny and Gary are in the midst of arguing about something, who knows what, probably drugs or behavior issues. We're driving around the garment district in this huge RV where clothes are hung outside the store fronts to lure shoppers in. Johnny stops in mid sentence of his argument with Gary and says "I gotta have that coat", referring to a full length raccoon fur coat he saw that was hanging up out front of the store like the ones that were popular with male college students in the 1920's.

Johnny Thunders 1979

We stop the RV and Park it while Gary and Johnny go in to purchase it. The proprietor takes the coat down from out front and goes inside. Gary and Johnny, wearing his new raccoon coat, emerge from the store with big grins on their faces.

They get back on the RV and are all happy acting like some married couple who has had an argument and the husband buys her a gift to make-up for the quarrel and everything is alright again. We're driving back to Michigan and stop at one of those Gas station/quickie mart deals in Pennsylvania, I mean like hicksville man, and we're stocking up on eats.

Johnny is in line in front of me in his new full length raccoon coat and purchases his munchies from two hillbillies behind the counter wearing those CAT type hats that were popular in the 70's and goes out the front door to get back in the RV. So now I'm buying my eats and the two hillbilly proprietors look at each other like what the hell was that which just went through here? The one hillbilly says to the other "Hey! It's Corporal Klinger!" (Referring to actor Jamie Farr from M.A.S.H who wore a fur coat, earrings ,and make-up to try and get ejected from the service).

I never told Johnny that because I was afraid his feelings might be hurt but I told the rest of the band and they thought it was hilarious. Johnny was a very fashionable guy and taught us a lot about clothing and style. I guess the sticks of Pennsylvania just wasn't ready for Johnny's raccoon coat.



Susie Forkin said...

Luv that story!!

Don Hedeker said...

"great story!"

Retro Kimmer said...

Yes isn't John the best writer? I love his stories and look forward to posting more of them. Thank you so much Johnny

Marilyn Bettencourt said...

"great story, thanks!!! I had one of those coats from a 2nd hand store,,,loved it!!"

Niagara Detroit said...

"....those were ''Cat Hat Hicks''....
....Scotty Asheton called them that....anyway those guys were pretty observant of cultural phenomena...be interested to know
what happened that night in New Orleans between Willie and Johnny.... "

the I94 Barman said...

Willie said he never saw Johnny until he was carried out on the stretcher.

MJG196 said...

Great, great story. Thanks Johnny!

Scranton_Steve said...

Corporal Klinger, that’s a good one. Never underestimate hicks in hats.

Johnny Thunders singing Just Because I’m White in black Al Jolson face make up. Was that before or after he sang Chinese Rocks in white foundation make up? That Dude had issues I tells ya.

Judi Wilcox said...

"Fantasy Fashions!"

Karen Ann Hogan said...

"I had one, it was my mom's and the lining was so cool too, silky and with little frog closings hooky things and little inside secret pockets to stash all our lady things :)"

John Morgan said...

‎@ The Barman:) That's what I heard Willie say also. I think there is footage of him recalling this in New Orleans for "Born to Lose" the Last Rock n Roll Movie

Anonymous said...

Great story...Thanks a lot.
Chatterbox Thunders Forum.

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