Friday, January 15, 2021

RIP Sylvain Sylvain

As you may have heard, Sylvain Sylvain, co-founder and guitarist of the New York Dolls, died Wednesday of cancer. He was 69. 

An appreciation via Jem Aswad at Variety:
While singer David Johansen was a classic Jaggeresque frontman and Johnny Thunders oozed degenerate charisma and played snarling lead guitar, Sylvain was the group's foundation, bringing textured riffs and rhythmic power that underpinned the songs' melodies and meshed with the bass and drums. The twang of his Gretsch guitar countered Thunders' blistering, distorted leads and gave the group a melodic bedrock.
Sylvain previously lived in the East Village, starting in 1967. 

Johansen is now the only surviving member of the original lineup, seen in the above video with "Stranded in the Jungle" from 1973.


XTC said...

The Dolls were one of those bands on a short list (not many, Mott the Hoople comes to mind) that could have been as big as the Rolling Stones. Great songs, great live show, not quite Glam, not quite Punk but who weren't quite ready for prime time......I guess alcohol, heroin and the fact that David Johansen wanted to go solo did them in. Their last manager (of sorts) , Malcolm Mclaren, had the silly idea to present them as red patent leather communists which was the final nail in their coffin but he had the good sense take that EV NY vibe back to the UK and form the Sex Pistols. Fair to say Punk Rock, along with all it's cultural, fashion, and artistic implications, started on the corner of St Marks Pl and 2nd Ave in 1973.

I remember seeing the Dolls first reunion show in 2004 at Irving Plaza and Sylvain saying to the audience, "Oh man, we've got to do this more often!" There was a little bit of magic, joy, and love in the air that night. Life has its moments. Hail, hail Rock n Roll.

Anonymous said...

14th Street Beat is still one of my favorite odes to downtown NYC.