The New York Dolls -
Rock'n Roll's Great Big Kiss
By Thomas Goze
A historical event
is about to take place at the London Meltdown Festival in June. At the
request of Meltdown's host Morrissey, the legendary New York Dolls will
be reunited for a unique show.
To general surprise, the surviving members of the lipstick killers-
David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain and Arthur Kane- agreed to get back
together for the festival, some 30 years after the band was initially
All of the members of the Dolls played in NY bands before they got together
The band, which was supposed to be called Actress, first consisted of
Guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets, bassist Arthur Kane, and
drummer Billy Murcia. They were soon joined by lead vocalist David Johansen.
Early in 1972, Rivets was replaced by rhythm guitarist Sylvain Sylvain.
The New York Dolls were born and the group started to play on a regular
basis in Lower Manhattan, establishing residency at the Mercer Arts
If they quickly gained a dedicated following, their well-known cross
dressing wasn't going to be of any help and record companies were afraid
of signing them.
The New York Dolls toured England in 1972. Record companies started
to be interested in them, but Billy Murcia died of drug overdose during
the England Tour.
The band went back to the USA, deeply hurt by the death of their drummer.
If they were already hated by some people because of the way they dressed,
now they would also be labeled 'drug addicts'.
The death of Billy Murcia could have put an end to the Dolls, but they
decided to find a new drummer.
Marc Bell (who would later change his name to Marky Ramone) showed up
to the audition, but eventually Jerry Nolan got the job.
After Nolan joined the band, and despite their noncommercial sound,
the Dolls finally secured a record contract with Mercury Records.
The band eponymous debut album, produced by Todd Rundgren, was released
in the Summer of 1973. If it received positive reviews, it failed to
make a major commercial impact, peaking at number 116 on the US charts.
The band's next album, biographically entitled 'Too Much Too Soon',
was produced by legendary Shadow Morton. Released in the Summer of 1974;
it didn't do better than their first opus .
Mercury Records dropped them, and that's when Malcolm McLaren came in.
Despite an attempt to revive the band, Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan
left the group in the mid-75 to form the Heartbreakers.
Johansen and Sylvain soon got rid of Mclaren and assembled a new lineup
of the band, but in 1977 they decided to break up the band permanently.
Johansen went on to a solo career. Sylvain played with him for two more
years before he also went solo.
Johnny Thunders died on April 23, 1991. The following year, his pal
Jerry Nolan also passed away.
The New York Dolls two studio albums have never gone out of print since
they were released.
Their influence over generations of musicians is incalculable.
It will be the first New York Dolls show since 1977. It was said that
fans can't expect any sort of comeback tour yet. It might not be at
the Mercer Arts Center, but trust me you'd better be there.
When I say I love them, you best believe I love them...
Someone once asked me what I would do if I had a Time Machine. I remember
I answered that I would go back to the early 70s to see the New York
Dolls...I wasn't kidding.
They used to call them fags, drug addicts and alcoholics, but who were
the New York Dolls?
Some people in the music industry did everything to stop them, why?
Yes the Dolls were wearing make up, lipstick, and girl clothes.
Yes the Dolls lived what they thought it was to be a Rock Star.
But the truth is that they were out there just to play Rock'n Roll.
So let's talk about them for their music, because it's really all that
Some people said they weren't good musicians. Just one more of those
Anyway, it takes lot more than musical skills to make great music. The
Dolls had a soul.
The Dolls came as a reaction to stupidity that surrounds us. They were
everything a rock band should be. They were a light of freedom glamorously
glowing in darkness.Musically speaking, they turned everything upside
Of course their roots and influences were in 50s and 60s Rock, and Rhythm
& Blues. But out of that they started their own thing, which is
very rare. The Dolls paved the way for everything that followed.
You can find everything in their music. Rock, Glam Rock, Old school
Rock, Hard Rock, Punk Rock. If I like Rock'n Roll it's because, to me,
at its best - it looks like life.
If you grew up in the streets, if you ever spent a night outside with
nowhere to go and no one to talk to, if you ever laughed, if you ever
cried, if you ever took a walk in the rain, if you ever felt frustration,
if you ever had dreams, ...then you know what I am talking about. Rock
is like that. It's a mix of despair and hope. But it's fun too, because
one is able to smile at fate.
Both because of their music and what they represented, there's not a
single band that could define Rock better. The New York Dolls are the
ultimate in Rock'n Roll band. The best Rock band ever.
Despite all the attempts to stop them on their way- and despite the
tragic end of the group- the New York Dolls are like a lipstick mark
left on your shirt by the girl you love. You love her so much that you
never want it to fade away. And it makes you smile, because you know
that anyway, it could never be washed away. They will always be there,
no matter what.
The New York Dolls ended up being a Rock'n Roll crash...but they really
gave us the best ride we've ever had.
In memory of Billy Murcia, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan.
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