New York Dolls Guitarist Sylvain Sylvain Dies at 69

    New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain has died of cancer aged 69. The news was confirmed on his official Facebook page with a tribute penned by Lenny Kaye, stating that he had been battling the disease for two and a half years. “While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain,” the statement reads. “Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let’s send this beautiful doll on his way.”

    Sylvain Sylvain was born Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo in 1951. His family fled Egypt after facing anti-Semitism and emigrated to New York City when Sylvain was 10. He joined the New York Dolls in 1972 after becoming friends with the proto-glam punk band’s original drummer Billy Murcia at his Queens school. Sylvain played on the group’s first two albums, 1973’s New York Dolls and 1974‘s Too Much Too Soon, and stayed with them until their breakup in 1977. “His role in the band was as lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision,” Lenny Kaye wrote. “Though he tried valiantly to keep the band going, in the end the Dolls’ moral fable overwhelmed them, not before seeding an influence that would engender many rock generations yet to come.”

    Following his time with the New York Dolls, Sylvain embarked on a solo career and released his self-titled debut album in 1979. He continued putting out solo records up until the late 1990s and appeared on the Dolls’ final albums – 2006’s One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, 2009’s, and 2011’s Dancing Backward in High Heels – after the band reunited in the early 2000s. He also toured with the band until their dissolution in 2011. His memoir, entitled There’s No Bones in Ice Cream, came out in 2018.

    “My best friend for so many years, I can still remember the first time I saw him bop into the rehearsal space/bicycle shop with his carpetbag and guitar straight from the plane after having been deported from Amsterdam, I instantly loved him,” the New York Dolls’ David Johansen wrote on Instagram. “I’m gonna miss you old pal. I’ll keep the home fires burning. au revoir Syl mon vieux copain.”

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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