New York Doll’s Johnny Thunders allegedly took his name from this fine fellow, stole it actually, but hey it’s just a name and the two styles were so different and a decade apart and nobody in either camp noticed. Then of course there’s the DC comics Johnny Thunder where the name was borrowed from in the first place.
As far as the song, it was originally released in the same year by Tommy James and The Shondells and written by Tommy James and Peter Lucia Jr (Tommy James’ drummer). It was another example of the influence that Psychedelic Pop was having on black musicians as Johnny Thunder recorded his own stirring version of the song. (It was also covered by English singer Don Fardon and professional Welshman Tom Jones).
Johnny Thunder (real name Gil Hamiliton) was the singer of The Drifters for a short while, but in 1963 had his biggest solo hit with Loop de Loop. By 1969 he was grooving to Psychedelic sounds and in my opinion recorded the best version of I’m Alive, putting that black thang into that white thang to great success. It’s the fuzzy guitar, together with his R&B voice that make this a ‘hybrid’ Psychedelic Soul classic. Unfortunately I can’t find a picture of Thunder later than 1962.
Sadly Peter Lucia died of a heart attack on a Los Angeles golf course at the age of 39. Lucia also co-wrote the Tommy James and The Shondells sixties classic Crimson And Clover a US No.1 single.