New York Dolls

Biography

New York Dolls (formed 1971)

The New York Dolls are an American punk, glam rock and new wave band.

New York Dolls: Formation

The New York Dolls got their name from the New York Doll Hospital, a doll repair shop. Sylvain Sylvain and Billy Murcia had opened a clothing business across the road from the hospital, having disbanded their first group, The Pox.

In 1970, Sylvain and Murcia formed a new band with Johnny Thunders, called The Dolls. Though the existence of the band was brief, Arthur Kane and Rick Rivets recruited Johnny Thunders and Billy Murcia. When Thunders stepped down as lead singer, David Johansen joined to take on the role. Rivets was replaced by Sylvain a few months into the band's existence. They played their first live gig at the Endicott Hotel - a homeless shelter - on Christmas Eve, 1971.

Though the band were notable for their distinctive sound, certain influences, such as The Rolling Stones, MC5, The Stooges and 1960s girl groups such as The Crystals.

New York Dolls got their big break when Rod Stewart invited the band to open for him in London. However, shortly after the gig, Bily Murcia died by drowning, after taking a cocktail of alcohol and drugs.

New York Dolls: Career

Murcia was originally replaced by Marc Bell, who went on to play with both Richard Hell and The Ramones. Bell was then replaced by Jerry Nolan and the band were signed to Mercury Records, who released their debut album, New York Dolls in 1973. The album was produced by Todd Rundgren and received mixed reviews at the time of its release, though it has since been widely hailed as a landmark release.

In 1974, New York Dolls released Too Much Too Soon. The album was produced by George Morton, who was notable for his work with the Shangri-Las in the 1960s.

When Mercury Records dropped the New York Dolls, the band looked to Malcom McLaren for guidance. Ultimately, however, Malcom's shock-tactic promotion style would backfire on the band and many have blamed him for their demise.

In 1975, Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan quit the band in the middle of a tour, whilst they were in Florida. Thunders was replaced by Blackie Lawless for the rest of the tour. The band continued to exist, with Sylvain and Johansen backed by Peter Jordan, Chris Robison and Tony Machine, with Bobby Blaine.

Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan went on to form The Heartbreakers with Richard Hell, who had left Television, Walter Lure and Billy Rath. The Heartbreakers toured Britain with The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Damned.

Johnny Thunders died in 1991 in New Orleans. The death was reported as an overdose of methadone and heroin, though some have suggested he was murdered and that the death was not investigated properly. The following year, Jerry Nolan died of a stroke, after contracting bacterial meningitis.

In 2004, Morrissey instigated a reunion of the three surviving members of the New York Dolls (Sylvain, Kane and Johansen). They performed at the Meltdown Festival in London, which was curated by Morrissey. Arthur Kane died unexpectedly in July 2004, from leukemia.

New York Dolls have been credited as a major influence for bands such as Blondie, Dead Boys, Guns N' Roses, The Smiths and Japan.

In May 2009, New York Dolls released a new studio album, entitled Cause I Sez So, on Atco Records.

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