Glam rock guitarist Sylvain Sylvian dies

New York Dolls are said to have been the precursors to punk


Pioneering guitarist Sylvain Sylvain has died aged 69 of cancer.  

The New York Dolls founding member, whose real name was Sylvain Mizrahi, was diagnosed with the disease two and a half years ago. 

A statement on his Facebook page says: “While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain. Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let’s send this beautiful doll on his way.”

Sylvain was born in Cairo in 1951. Soon after, his family left Egypt, emigrating to New York in 1961 after a stay in Paris. 

A decade later, he co-founded the New York Dolls, a glam rock quintet named after a doll repair shop located just across the street from his clothing shop, Truth and Soul.

The New York Dolls achieved little commercial success but created a sound widely considered to be a precursor to punk music. 

“Being a Jewish boy from Brooklyn I joke about always being broke,” he told the JC in 2009 ahead of his UK tour. 

“The true job of any creator is to create. It’s not about taking it to the bank. Our real payment is manifested through love over the years and people being influenced by our songs and lifestyle.”

Fellow Jewish guitarist Lenny Kaye said the New York Dolls “heralded the future” and made it “easy to dance to.”

“From the time I first saw their poster appear on the wall of Village Oldies in 1972, advertising a residency at the Mercer Hotel up the street, throughout their meteoric ascent and shooting star flame-out, the New York Dolls were the heated core of this music we hail, the band that makes you want to form a band.”

Mr Kaye also paid tribute to Sylvain’s love of rock and roll: “His onstage joy, his radiant smile as he chopped at his guitar, revealed the sense of wonder he must have felt at the age of 10, emigrating from his native Cairo with his family in 1961, the ship pulling into New York Harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time.” 

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