The Heartbreakers – Johnny Thunders, Walter Lure, Billy Rath (replacing Richard Hell) and Jerry Nolan – were formed in 1975 out of the ashes of the New York Dolls. In 1977 they were at the centre of the London punk scene, having been invited by the Sex Pistols onto the infamous ‘Anarchy Tour’. UK punks treated the US band as rock royalty because of their New York Dolls pedigree. Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren had briefly managed the Dolls in New York.
Signing to The Who’s label, Track Records, they were treated to the best recording studios in London to record their only album, ‘L.A.M.F.’. But when the LP came out, there was universal criticism of the sound quality. Journalists who’d been championing the band such as Jon Savage, Julie Burchill, Nick Kent, Tony Parsons et al criticised the ‘muddy mix’, and drummer Jerry Nolan left the band because of it.
Both Track and the Heartbreakers ran out of money and collapsed when the album didn’t sell to expectations. Manager Leee Black Childers broke into the bankrupt Track offices to retrieve the multitracks and many mixes (though not the master), leading to efforts to remix the album in 1984 and finally, after Johnny and Jerry’s death, to recompile it in 1994. Since then, it’s been regularly acclaimed as a classic:-
To coincide with the album’s 40th anniversary in 2017, it’s been repackaged and remastered for October 27th release. The album comes with a 20-page booklet with the background story by Johnny Thunders’ biographer Nina Antonia, together with lyrics. Nina’s ‘Johnny Thunders – In Cold Blood’ biography is due to coincide as its first e-book publication.