- 15 Jan 21
The iconic guitarist had been battling cancer since 2019.
Tributes have been pouring in for New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain – who died on Wednesday, January 13, following a battle with cancer. The news of his death was confirmed on his Facebook account, alongside a tribute penned by guitarist Lenny Kaye.
"The New York Dolls heralded the future, made it easy to dance to," Kaye wrote. "From the time I first saw their poster appear on the wall of Village Oldies in 1972, advertising a residency at the Mercer Hotel up the street, throughout their meteoric ascent and shooting star flame-out, the New York Dolls were the heated core of this music we hail, the band that makes you want to form a band.
"Syl never stopped. In his solo lifeline, he was welcomed all over the world, from England to Japan, but most of all the rock dens of New York City, which is where I caught up with him a couple of years ago at the Bowery Electric. Still Syl. His corkscrew curls, tireless bounce, exulting in living his dream, asking the crowd to sing along, and so we will. His twin names, mirrored, becomes us. Thank you Sylvain x 2, for your heart, belief, and the way you whacked that E chord. Sleep Baby Doll."
Taking to Instagram, New York Dolls vocalist David Johansen recalled the first time he met his "best friend" Sylvain:
"I can still remember the first time I saw him bop into the rehearsal space/bicycle shop with his carpetbag and guitar straight from the plane after having been deported from Amsterdam, I instantly loved him. I'm gonna miss you old pal. I'll keep the home fires burning."
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The Waterboys' Mike Scott also paid tribute to Sylvain, describing him as an "all-time great rock and roller".
Travel on well Sylvain Sylvain you all-time great rock and roller (February 14, 1951 - January 13, 2021) pic.twitter.com/8K124zl0IN
— Mike Scott (@MickPuck) January 15, 2021
See more tributes to Sylvain Sylvain below:
RIP New York Dolls legend Sylvain Sylvain.
He guest DJed at my club Stay Beautiful in 2004. He told me, 30 secs from the end of a track, he'd run out of songs. From then on, I frantically chucked on NYC punk/glam tunes while he announced them like Murray The K.
— Simon Price (@simon_price01) January 15, 2021
So very sorry to hear of the passing of Sylvain Sylvain. A true original with a pure Rock And Roll heart. So thankful for the time we had. I’ll be cranking up the Dolls tonight. Like most nights but tonight it’s bittersweet. ❤️💔❤️#ripsylvainsylvain #sylvainsylvain pic.twitter.com/GmgVkInY4b
— Todd Dammit Kerns (@todddammitkerns) January 15, 2021
It’s edifying to see so many people having such good things to say about Sylvain Sylvain. We got to play with him once in New Orleans, c. 20 years ago. He was kind, happy, encouraging, and made me feel both not as old as I’d been feeling, and yet ok w/the process unfolding. RIP.
— Ted Leo (@tedleo) January 15, 2021
Syl Sylvain, 1951-2021. The heart of the New York Dolls, responsible for the best of David Jo's solo material, and his own records were unfailingly soulful. Truth and Soul-that was the name of Syl’s fashion line and an apt description of his music too. Sleep well, baby doll. pic.twitter.com/7pWQ8jyFge
— Bob Mehr (@BobMehr) January 15, 2021
RIP Sylvain Sylvain, bringing the style and swagger to the original Glam-Punk Gods #NewYorkDolls! Heroes to my Heroes... I’m gonna put on “Trash” & “Pills” & “(There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown” in honor of Sylvain and the rest of the lipstick killers! pic.twitter.com/Vm9Oo5bDrD
— Mike McCready (@MikeMcCreadyPJ) January 15, 2021
No no no no. It's too much. Sylvain Sylvain I'm speechless with this loss. He lived so completely and deserved better. Photos from when I got to sit in with him. One of my BEST rocknroll nights of life. It went so well we talked about touring together. Insanely sad pic.twitter.com/tDQeXm3Q7v
— Kathy Valentine (@Kathy_Valentine) January 15, 2021
RIP the original Syl. Great great guy. Very talented. Underrated. Always welcoming positive energy. Essential member of the legendary New York Dolls. Syl lives forever in the Underground Garage. https://t.co/nLFF0PTwtn
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) January 15, 2021