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New York Dolls

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Morrissey has covered Trash, Subway Train, and Human Being live in concert. "Human Being" was released as a B-side on You Have Killed Me (CD2).

From New York Dolls pay tribute to Morrissey - NME (November 23, 2006):

Speaking exclusively to NME.COM, reclusive guitarist and founder member Sylvain Sylvain took the time to give props to former Smiths frontman Morrissey for reuniting the band for the 2004 Meltdown festival in London.

He said: “I think David Johansen (singer) thought that those shows would just be a one-off but deep down, I knew that once we got back together the fans wouldn’t let us go.”

As a youngster, Morrissey bombarded the offices of NME with letters declaring his love for the New York Dolls and at one point was even the head of the UK fan club.

Sylvian added: “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have got back together and thankfully we managed to do it before Arthur Kane (original bassist) died. We’ll always be grateful to Morrissey for that and he’s a great guy too… and so are his cousins!”

From Moz The Cat - LA Weekly (January 31, 2007):

All right, I’m trying to imagine experiencing glitter rock fresh, and I want to know what it was like for you when you were 11 or 12, and you were seeing it happening as a kid. Did it seem like these were other English people to you or did it seem like they may as well be from Mars?

It seemed to me as if they were from Mars, because even though it was 1970, 1971 in reality, the fact is that England in 1971-’72 was really still stuck in 1958. So, if you can imagine how 1958 was, and then suddenly you have the New York Dolls, they seemed so intergalactic, absolutely nothing to do with the human race, and thank heavens for that.

But really, people can no longer comprehend how bleak the turn of the ’70s was. There was nothing to buy. You couldn’t buy decent clothes. So therefore, when you would see somebody like the New York Dolls, you would be absolutely mystified as to where they actually found their clothes and their shoes, because certainly in Manchester, there were no accessories. Everything was very, very fundamental and very drab. So, the very idea of, as you term it, glitter rock, or, as some people term it, glam rock . . . It was more extraordinary than people can really even imagine. It was an absolute revolution.

If you can examine what was happening within music, if you can examine all the things that were successful, you can then realize how completely perverse the very idea of the New York Dolls was. For me, when something can break into the mainstream and it’s so obviously subversive, it’s worth its weight in gold. And to me, that’s what the New York Dolls were then. They were smashing through, and to hell with anybody who didn’t approve or didn’t like them. And even now, I look at the old footage and it’s an art form. It’s not even pop music. It’s art. The same goes for certain other people of that period — which was very brave, it was very robust, and it flew in the face of absolutely everything that was accepted and was approved of, and that really takes guts, I think.

Morrissey picked the New York Doll's album New York Dolls #1 in FOR HISTORIC RECORD, BEFORE I DIE. ...the ten most important recordings - Morrissey Central (2019).

Morrissey also picked New York Dolls #1 in Morrissey's favourite 13 albums of all time (2010).

Morrissey picked "Jet Boy" in Morrissey's favourite 13 singles of all time (2010).

Morrissey picked "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown" in Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4 (2009).

Morrissey picked "Vietnamese Baby" for Songs_To_Save_Your_Life (2004).

Morrissey picked "Trash" for Under The Influence (2003).

The "Jet Boy" and "Looking For A Kiss" videos have also been used in pre-concert intermissions.

See also:

David Johansen

Arthur Kane

Mentioned In

Discogs Information



Formed : December, 1971 // New York, NY, United States Disbanded : 1975 Reformed : 2004

All of the members of the New York Dolls played in New York bands before the band formed in late 1971. Guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets, bassist Arthur Kane, and drummer Billy Murcia were joined by vocalist David Johansen. Before changing their name to New York Dolls, the band was called Actress (3) which recorded full set demos in early 1971. Early in 1972, Rivets was replaced by Syl Sylvain and the group began playing regularly in Lower Manhattan, particularly at the Mercer Arts Center. Within a few months, they had earned a dedicated cult following, but record companies were afraid of signing the Dolls because of their cross-dressing and blatant vulgarity.

Late in 1972, the Dolls embarked on their first tour of England. During the tour, drummer Murcia died after mixing drugs and alcohol. He was replaced by Jerry Nolan. After Nolan joined the band, the Dolls finally secured a record contract with Mercury Records. Todd Rundgren -- whose sophisticated pop seemed at odds with the band's crash-and-burn rock & roll -- produced the band's eponymous debut, which appeared in the summer of 1973. The record received overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it didn't stir the interest of the general public; the album peaked at number 116 on the U.S. charts. The band's follow-up, Too Much Too Soon, was produced by the legendary girl group producer George "Shadow" Morton. Although the sound of the record was relatively streamlined, the album was another commercial failure, only reaching number 167 upon its early summer 1974 release.

Following the disappointing sales of the Dolls' two albums, Mercury Records dropped the band. No other record labels were interested in the group, so the Dolls decided to hire a new manager, the British Malcolm McLaren, who would soon become famous for managing the Sex Pistols.

By the middle of 1975, Thunders and Nolan left the Dolls. The remaining members, Johansen and Sylvain, fired McLaren and assembled a new lineup of the band. For the next two years, the duo led a variety of different incarnations of the band, to no success.

In 2004, former Smiths vocalist Morrissey invited the surviving members of the New York Dolls to perform at the 2004 Meltdown Festival, a music and cultural festival that was being curated that year by the singer. To the surprise of many, David Johansen, Syl Sylvain, and Arthur Kane agreed to the gig, with Steve Conte standing in for Thunders and Gary Powell from the Libertines sitting in on drums. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, taken from

Members : Rick Rivets (guitar), Billy Murcia (drums), Johnny Thunders (guitar, vocals), Arthur Kane (bass), David Johansen (vocals), Sylvain Sylvain (guitar, vocals), Jerry Nolan (drums), Peter Jordan (bass)

External Links

Wikipedia Information


New York Dolls were an American rock band formed in New York City in 1971. Along with the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, they were one of the first bands of the early punk rock scenes. Although the band never achieved much commercial success and their original line-up fell apart quickly, the band's first two albums—New York Dolls (1973) and Too Much Too Soon (1974)—became among the most popular cult records in rock. The line-up at this time comprised vocalist David Johansen, guitarist Johnny Thunders, bassist Arthur Kane, guitarist and pianist Sylvain Sylvain and drummer Jerry Nolan; the latter two had replaced Rick Rivets and Billy Murcia, respectively, in 1972. On stage, they donned an androgynous wardrobe, wearing high heels, eccentric hats, satin, makeup, spandex, and dresses. Nolan described the group in 1974 as "the Dead End Kids of today".According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music (1995), the New York Dolls predated the punk and glam metal movements and were "one of the most influential rock bands of the last 20 years". They influenced rock groups such as the Sex Pistols, Kiss, the Ramones, Guns N' Roses, the Damned, and the Smiths, whose frontman Morrissey organized a reunion show for the New York Dolls' surviving members in 2004. After reuniting, they recruited new musicians to tour and record. They released three more albums—One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This (2006), Cause I Sez So (2009) and Dancing Backward in High Heels (2011). Following a 2011 British tour with Alice Cooper, the band once again disbanded.