cover image To Hell and Back: My Life in Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers

To Hell and Back: My Life in Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers

Walter Lure, with Dave Thompson. Backbeat, $27.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-4930-5169-4

Guitarist turned Wall Street businessman Lure offers a wildly entertaining firsthand account of the life and death of legendary rock band the Heartbreakers (not to be confused with Tom Petty’s band), formed in 1975 by guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan after they left the glam-rock pioneers the New York Dolls. Lure is an entertaining writer who focuses on how the band initially combined the image of “street-fighting tough guys from the Lower East Side” created by its bass player, ex-Television founder Richard Hell, with the sound of Thunders and his Keith Richards–inspired “intuitive understanding of rhythm and sound and pace.” Lure details how after he joined the band he learned to deal with Thunders’s heroin addiction, a habit that “would make it very hard to plan for the future.” After a number of gigs, the band was chosen to tour the U.K. with the Sex Pistols and the Clash, where they were uniformly praised in the music press as being “more New York Dolls than the New York Dolls.” After the tour, the band stayed on in London for a year, where they recorded their only album, L.A.M.F. While the other members spent most of their downtime scoring drugs, Lure additionally explored London and saw such productions as The Mousetrap in the West End. After arguments about who was to blame for what they felt was poor sound quality on the LP after it was released, the members decided to go their separate ways, with Thunders starting a successful solo career. This is perfect for fans of punk and post-punk music. (Mar.)