Johnny Thunders, seminal punk guitarist for the New York Dolls and frontman of the Heartbreakers, will have his life story honored with a biopic, set to be released in 2017. TheWrap reports that the film will be adapted from Nina Antonia’s acclaimed biography Johnny Thunders in Cold Blood — with Antonia also serving as one of the film’s screenwriters.
The movie will also be directed by Jonas Akerlund, a longtime MTV fixture for his work on music videos by Madonna, The Prodigy, Lady Gaga and many more, and one of the directors behind Beyoncé‘s Lemonade visual album. “Rock ‘n’ Roll movies are always something of an awkward beast to nail,” Antonia says of the decision to hire Akerlund. “Do you get an insider or an outsider to direct? Finally we got both in Jonas Akerlund.” Akerlund is also scheduled to direct Lords of Chaos, about the Norwegian black metal group Mayhem, in 2017.
Thunder was a founding member of the New York Dolls, a critical proto-punk group in the mid-’70s, responsible for classic albums like 1973’s self-titled debut and 1974’s Too Much Too Soon. Leaving the band in ’75, he went on to form the Heartbreakers (later Johnny Thunder & the Heartbreakers, to avoid confusion with Tom Petty’s similarly named outfit), creating one of punk’s best-remembered power ballads with “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” Thunders died in New Orleans in 1991, reportedly from drug-related causes.