Johnny Thunders, born John Anthony Genzale, Jr. (July 15, 1952 - April 23, 1991), was an Italian American rock and roll/protopunk guitarist, singer and songwriter.
Genzale was born July 15, 1952, and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY, in a second generation Roman Catholic Italian family from Avellino. As a boy he played baseball but could not join the Little League as it required the presence of the youth's father. He also refused to cut his hair short.
Under the name "Johnny Volume", Genzale began performing music at Quintano High School with "Johnny and the Jaywalkers".
He came to prominence in the early '70s as a member of the New York Dolls, and later played with The Heartbreakers and as a solo artist.
In 1968 he started going to the Fillmore East on weekends and later a West Village bar on Bleecker Street, Nobodys. He got a job as a salesclerk at Da Nazz leather shop on Bleecker. It was on Bleecker Street that he met future Dolls Arthur Kane and Billy Murcia. He joined their band, "Actress", which eventually became the New York Dolls when David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain joined in 1971. At this time John Genzale renamed himself Johnny Thunders, after the DC comic book of the same name.
They recorded two critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful albums, The New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon. The band was managed, for a short time, by Malcolm McLaren and was an inspiration for the Sex Pistols.
In 1975 the original line-up for the Dolls broke up. Their early recordings are still in print today and continue to influence young bands with their trash/glam/punk attitude.