Johnny Thunders and
The One Pickup Guitar

Nitebob was the former soundman for The Dolls/Aerosmith/Stooges and has some insight into why Johnny played the Gibson TV. This is part of an interview with Tim Stegall that will appear in Revolver magazine.


NITEBOB: The reason Johnny Thunders played one pickup guitars was because he was too much of a klutz to deal with a pickup switch! I remember exactly how this happened. I wasn't at the show, but I remember hearing it from Peter (Jordan). They were playing a show in Memphis with the Stooges or something like that. A two pickup guitar has four controls and a switch. Somehow, (Johnny) had turned one volume off and the switch was in the wrong position. His guitar wasn't audible, and he was like, "ARRGH! THIS GUITAR SUCKS! I KEEP TURNING KNOBS AND THERE'S NO SOUND!" And he got frustrated and he smashed the guitar, and of course the audience went berserk! "RIOT!" (laughter) So, Peter was saying, "Listen you wanna recommend something? We wanna go up to 48th Street and get him a very simple, one pickup guitar." And I said, "Listen, you go up and see Mr. Friedman up there, and I'll betcha he'll have these nice banana yellow TV Juniors: One pickup, two knobs, no switch. And if you talk really nice to him and tell him I sent ya, he'll sell it to ya for $350!" And that's how he got that guitar. If you look before, he had that (Les Paul) Special that was like on the second record, with two pickups? That's the one that got sacrificed to Memphis.

Tim Stegall: I saw photos of him playing a Dan Armstrong, early on.

NB: Yeah, he had a Dan Armstrong, and he covered it in candy! He glued candy, those little hard, round things, like nonpareills have on 'em. He covered 'em in that. I remember that guitar being around. He had a black one, too. I bought that one from him.

TS: Do you still have it?

NB: (Audibly pained) No, I don't, unfortunately! I wish I did! It would be a rock icon now. Those guys were deep into vintage guitars too, because they were cheap back then! They go off and they'd buy something from We Buy Guitars or Mr. Friedman: "It's great! I got this big (Gibson) ES-295, it's gold, it's got a big body. I'm gonna look just like Eddie Cochran!" Plug into the Marshall, it'd go (elephant noises/feedback)AROOOH! AROOOH! "Let's get rid of that tomorrow! That's no good! Bring me a solidbody!"

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Managed by Chris Ridpath: chris@thunders.ca
Modified: April 7, 2001