February 14, 1951 - January 14, 2021
Note: I'm aware this happened almost a month ago. I'm just posting it because I got lazy. RIP Syl.
Sylvain Sylvain, guitarist for punk pioneers the New York Dolls, passed away on January 14th. The news was confirmed by his Facebook page- saying the guitarist had been battling cancer for two and a half years. Sylvain had posted a GoFundMe in April 2019 to help raise money for his treatment.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Sylvain and his family would soon move to the United States. Sylvain's family would live in Buffalo, New York before moving to Rego Park in Queens. At some point in the 1960s while in middle school, Sylvain met drummer Billy Murcia. Together, they ran a clothing company called Truth and Soul during their teenage years. By 1971, the New York Dolls were formed- featuring Sylvain, Murica, singer David Johansen, guitarist Johnny Thunders and bassist Arthur Kane. The band got their name from a doll repair shop that was near where Sylvain and Murica used to work. While a long serving member, Sylvain didn't join the band until months after their first gig on Christmas Day of 1971- with Sylvain replacing guitarist Rick Rivets.
Despite the sudden death of Murica in 1972, the band soldiered on with new drummer Jerry Nolan. Signed to Mercury Records, the band would release two albums- their self-titled debut (1973) and Too Much Too Soon. Thunders and Nolan would leave the band in 1975 while the band managed to go on until 1977- with most of the members pursuing solo careers. For Sylvain, he would continue to work in music- releasing albums during the 1980s and 1990s. In 2004, he would reunite with Johansen and Kane for the Meltdown Festival- which was headlined by Morrissey that year. Despite Kane's death almost a week later, Johansen and Sylvain would continue with the reunited band until 2011- releasing three more studio albums. In 2018, Sylvain published an autobiography- along with playing several gigs in Japan as the Dolls.
With Sylvain's passing, he is the fifth member of the New York Dolls to pass away. The others being...
Billy Murica in 1972
Johnny Thunders in 1991
Jerry Nolan in 1992
Arthur Kane in 2004
With this, David Johansen is the lone surviving member of the band's classic line up.