Rachel Bolan has paid tribute to Sylvain Sylvain, one of the founding fathers of punk rock as guitarist of legendary band the NEW YORK DOLLS, who died on Wednesday, January 13 at the age of 69. He had battled cancer for two and a half years.

On Friday (January 15), the SKID ROW bassist took to his Instagram to write: “This is a tough one. The first time I met Sylvain Sylvain was at the El Mocambo in Toronto in 87/88? We played to about 6 people. After the show the dressing room door opened and in walked Sylvain. I was dumbfounded. All I could think is that there was a New York fucking Doll in our dressing room. No one will ever believe me.

“He was such a great guy. Funny, stylish, compassionate (like I said. 6 people). We started talking about songwriting and I expressed what a profound affect the DOLLS had on me. Without missing a beat he said ‘We wrote songs by listening to Chuck Berry records with the turntable sped up!’ I will never forget that moment. To this day I’m not sure whether he was serious or not.

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“R.I.P. Sylvain. Thank you for the inspiration. #thereisnohashtag”.

The NEW YORK DOLLS were called many things — glam, proto-punk, hard rock — but are probably best understood as a “dirty rock and roll” band. Combining an aggressively androgynous style with street-smart New York attitude and campy humor, the NEW YORK DOLLS ushered in the era of CBGBs, heroin chic, loud guitars and referential lyrics which gave rise to Patti Smith, the RAMONES, TELEVISION and many more. Fans of the band range from GUNS N’ ROSES to Morrissey, who organized the reformation of the band when he curated Meltdown festival in 2004.


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Born Sylvain Mizrahi, Sylvain remained with the NEW YORK DOLLS until the group’s breakup in 1977. He later worked on various projects, including a band called THE CRIMINALS and another group called THE TEARDROPS. Sylvain reunited with NEW YORK DOLLS in 2004 and played on the band’s last three albums, “One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This”, “Cause I Sez So” and “Dancing Backward In High Heels”.

Sylvain‘s autobiography, “There’s No Bones In Ice Cream”, was released in 2018 via Omnibus Press.

In April 2019, a fundraising campaign was launched for Sylvain, who revealed at the time that he had been battling cancer for nearly a year.

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