- 15 Jan 21
Following news of Sylvain Sylvain's death, we're revisiting our interview with the legendary New York Dolls guitarist – originally published in Hot Press in 2013.
Ireland-bound New York Dolls legend Sylvain Sylvain waxes lyrical about reunions, bust-ups and anniversaries and tells Edwin McFee that he's happy to have inspired the likes of Bono and Morrissey along the way...
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2013 sees the 40th anniversary of the New York Dolls' self-titled debut album. An utterly seminal piece of work that inspired everyone from the Sex Pistols to The Smiths, the record spawned multiple genres such as punk, US glam and sleaze and has been fawned over by generations’ worth of rock fans. So what are the Dolls doing to celebrate this achievement? Unfortunately not much, according to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain.
“It’s the 40th anniversary no-one is doing anything about it,” he says with a rueful shake of the head. “I called up the record company, some of the old managers and [Dolls singer and only other surviving member David] Johansen but nothing has happened, which is a real shame.”
For his part though, the songwriter is doing his best to keep the music alive every night on tour because, as his band-mate, the late great Johnny Thunders put it, you can’t put your arms around a memory.
“I’m still having a great time and at this point in my age and financially unsuccessful career, if I don’t have a good time, then shit, I won’t have nothin’.”
With the New York Dolls who reformed back in ‘04 currently on hiatus, Hot Press feels compelled to ask what the status is on one of rock 'n' roll's most lovable bunch of fuck-ups.
“Things were really great in the beginning when we got back together, but it kinda fizzled out,” he reveals. “I could go on to explain exactly what happened, but I don’t think it’s the right time for it. Never say never though. God willing we’ll be back onstage together one day.
“I haven’t made much money in this business,” he continues. “I’m recognised as being an influence on so many great bands and it means a lot. Bono said that when they were forming U2, The Ramones influenced them. Well shit, there would never have been a Ramones if there wasn’t a Dolls.”