When I started going to Heartbreakers shows (almost every one they played between 1977 and 1979) I didn't just like the music, find the scene at Max's and CB's interesting, etc., I wanted to BE Johnny. He really did not give a fuck. Not about the music, the band, the rent, nothing but junk. I was so bogged down in school and work, I envied that (stupid, in retrospect, but true.) So, it was fortuitous that a very good friend of mine had become a new coke connection for him in around Feb. '79. He took me to Johnny's house for what would be my first taste of dope. I have regrettably been at it on and off (in one way or another) ever since. Johnny was living with his wife and two kids in the East 9th Street apartment of a go-go dancer/dopefiend named Dee Dee. Dee Dee was less than hospitable. She was croaking something to the effect that I'd better not O.D. while she was searching for a spot in her own scabbed up veins. (It was a lovely place. Very sparsely furnished, a non-working fireplace that doubled as a garbage disposal - without the disposal part. Very nice.) And sure enough, when the stuff went in, I thought I was going to pass out. So my friend brought me into the next room to lay down on a single bed about two feet from where Johnny had nodded out, his arm around his very young son. To my sensibility it was a warm sight, very close to Norman Rockwell.
Later that day at my friend the dealer's house, Johnny took his package to the bathroom. It surprised me that he didn't just get off in front of everybody, but I found out why. When he emerged from the bathroom, he was "nice" and oblivious to the fact that he had a big drop of blood hanging from the tip of his nose. I later went to the bathroom myself. It looked like the site of a quadruple murder. Blood on every wall and the ceiling. Guess he had difficulty finding a vein at that point. The coke made him talkative. He kept eyeing the empty tinfoil in my hand. "So Alone" had recently come out. I asked him why the song, which I really liked, wasn't on the album. He said he'd been too fucked up during the recording session. (It's on a newer longer "So Alone" CD now, and you can certainly hear what he meant. He couldn't even come in on cue.)
Anyway, I saw him from time to time, particularly at the end of a Max's date, when he would have to pay every dealer who'd fronted him stuff. People would be upstairs, waiting for him to get paid to get their money. He'd be downstairs, disrespecting the "bridge and tunnel" people (from Jersey and Brooklyn) who turned out every time he played. He was always playing "Sad Vacation" for Sid Vicious, like "sorry, kid, but you just weren't made for this kind of life." No one was, though.