The musician’s Facebook profile claimed that Sylvain Sylvain died on January 13, but did not clarify the place of his death.
“As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and a half years. Although he fought bravely, he passed away yesterday from this disease,” the statement said on the Facebook page.
“Although we mourn her loss, we know that she is now finally at peace and pain free. Please rock her music, light a candle, say a prayer, and let’s send this beautiful doll on her way,” he added in a game of words with the name of the group New York Dolls (the dolls of New York).
David Johansen, the New York Dolls singer and the only member of the band’s classic line-up still alive, said goodbye to his former partner today.
“I’m going to miss you old man. I’ll keep the house fires burning. ‘Au revoir’, Syl, ‘mon vieux copain’,” he wrote on Instagram.
Born in 1951 in Cairo as Sylvain Mizrahi into a Jewish family, the musician passed through France with his parents before moving to New York.
He played in various bands before replacing guitarist Rick Rivets in the newly formed New York Dolls in the early 1970s.
With David Johansen as singer, Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain on guitars, Arthur Kane on bassist and Jerry Nolan on drums (who replaced the deceased by overdose Billy Murcia), New York Dolls were an exciting group that served as a bridge between different styles.
They drank from the street rock of bands like The Rolling Stones and used the sexual ambiguity of glam-rock, but they also anticipated the provocation and rebellion that punk would bring in the second half of the 70s.
His fantastic debut album “New York Dolls” (1973), with songs like “Personality Crisis”, usually appears in the lists of best rock albums in history, is considered a clear precedent for punk, and was an important influence for groups like Ramones.
Very given to using androgynous “looks” in their appearances, the New York Dolls released their second album, “Too Much Too Soon” (1974) a year later, before going into crisis and finally dissolving in 1977.
Sylvain Sylvain continued to play with Johansen for a time and also launched her solo career after the New York Dolls.
In 2004, Morrisey, the former singer of The Smiths, invited the three living members of the New York Dolls (David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain, and Arthur Kane) to perform at the Meltdown Festival.
This meeting had a very sad epilogue as Kane died a few weeks later from leukemia.
With only Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain at the helm, New York Dolls released three albums with new material in the 21st century: “One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This” (2006), “Cause I Sez So” (2009) and “Dancing Backward in High Heels” (2011). EFE and Aurora