“Madrid Memory”: In 1984, Johnny Thunders paired up with ex-NY Dolls for “The Golden Age”

By on April 8, 2019

On June 14th & 15th, 1984, Johnny Thunders appeared on the Madrid-based Spanish TV show “La Edad de Oro” (“The Golden Age”), playing numerous instrumentals and vocal songs from throughout his amazing and often erratic recording career, including tracks from solo albums — including 1978’s So Alone, and 1983’s In Cold Blood — as well as several classic punk-infused cuts he’d recorded with the New York Dolls.

Watch footage of this long-lost live concert performance, Johnny Thunders: Madrid Memory — featuring Thunders and his band, and for this particular gig he’s joined by former New York Dolls bandmates Sylvain Sylvain and Jerry Nolan, plus Billy Rath — which you’ll now find available for streaming on Night Flight Plus.

The 60-minute concert performance (released as a CD/DVD double set by Cleopatra Entertainment in early April 2019) also features a Spanish flamenco guitarist accompanying Thunders during the acoustic set.

According to what we’ve read, the broadcast version of the show eliminated some of the “hilarious” miscommunication between band members.

Here’s a listing of all of songs performed: “Pipeline,” “Personality Crisis,” “Too Much Junkie Business,” “In Cold Blood,” “Just Another Girl,” “Alone In A Crowd,” “Sad Vacation,” “Don’t Mess With Cupid,” “Green Onions,” “Copy Cat,” “14th Street Beat,” “I Love You,” “Born Too Loose,” “Eve Of Destruction,” “Diary Of A Lover,” “Hurt Me,” and “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.”

In the summer of 1984, the self-destructive New York rocker — born John Anthony Genzale in Queens, NYC, in 1952 — was spending a lot of time in Europe, and was, at the time, based out of Sweden.

In fact, he had flown to Madrid to appear on “La Edad de Oro” in between appearances in Paris, France, at the Gibus Club, and a show at Stockholm, Sweden’s’s Södertälje, where he played on the same bill as a young Finnish heavy metal band named Hanoi Rocks, who had admittedly modeled themselves on the New York Dolls and their name was, in fact, inspired by the Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers heroin song “Chinese Rocks.”

At the time, Thunders was living with a twenty year old Swedish hairdresser Susanne Blomqvist, who he met at an earlier gig with Hanoi Rocks just a year earlier.

For the rest of the summer, Thunders and his band (which featured a variety of players, some playing just one gig with him before moving on) ping-ponged back and forth between Sweden, Finland, Holland, and Paris, France.

He also appeared at the Marquee Club (then located on Wardour Street), where he played five consecutive nights during what was billed as “Thunders Week,” August 20th through the 24th, sold out every night.

Read more about “Le Edad de Oro” below.

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“Le Edad de Oro”“The Golden Agem” although the full name is sometimes listed as “The Golden Age of Spanish Pop” — was a popular albeit short-lived live music show, filmed at the studios of Televisión Española (TVE) in Madrid, Spain.

Although the show was ostensibly focused on “La Movida Madrileña” (“The Madrilenian Scene”), many American and European rock bands would appear on the show, occasionally speaking with the show’s host and director, Paloma Chamorro, in between sets of live music.

At the time, Spain was enjoying a special time in their history after decades of censorship under Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship, which ended with his death in 1975.

The show’s debut happened not long after the electoral victory of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party in 1982.

“Le Edad de Oro” made its broadcast debut on May 17, 1983, on TVE, moving from Tuesday nights to Thursdays at some point.

A partial list of the non-Spanish bands who appeared on the TV show include the Dream Syndicate, Violent Femmes, the Gun Club, the Residents, Tuxedomoon, John Foxx (ex-Ultravox), the Durutti Column, Tom Verlaine (ex-Television), Alan Vega (ex-Suicide), Aztec Camera, Cabaret Voltaire, Marc Almond (ex-Soft Cell), Psychic TV, Divine, Culture Club, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lou Reed, Nick Cave & the Cavemen, and the Psychedelic Furs, among many, many others.

Throughout its short two-year existence, there were many controversial moments which caused problems for the show’s producers and the national network.

This would include the time Stiv Bators — then fronting the band the the Lords of the New Church — dropped his trousers on camera, and another time when, during an interview segment with Ms. Chamorro, transgressive Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar talked about his favorite drug of choice being “angel dust.”

Moments like these led to critics frequently singling out the program as something which should be heavily edited and censored before the episodes were aired.

The controversial show faced its heaviest criticism when, on October 16, 1984, Psychic TV brought onstage a crucifix picturing Jesus Christ with the head of a pig, along with a naked couple in a coffin.

These images were said to have violated the Spanish Constitution, and a formal complaint was lodged, the controversies precipitating the cancellation of the program, which broadcast for the last time on April 2, 1985.

That same year, Chamorro was prosecuted for crimes of blasphemy and for “offending Catholics,” although in 1993 Spain’s Supreme Court would end up absolving her of any charges.

Paloma Chamorro died in 2017.

For more Johnny Thunders, check out the Danny Garcia-directed documentary Looking for Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders, which you can read more about here.

Watch Johnny Thunders: Madrid Memory on Night Flight Plus.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.