“BUZZ: Newspaper Article”
May- Jun 2011 (#3-C)
Recently the “New York Dolls” opened for Motley Crue & Poison at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. My friend Tommy S. said “The arena was 3/4 empty during their set” My friend Bakko said “That’s because in this day and age no one knows who they are” I for one am appalled!! Never has there been a more influential band than the “New York Dolls” in the early 70s no one, and I repeat No One was bigger than “The Dolls” the fashion, the trend, the attitude and lastly the music!!!! I first heard of “The Dolls” from my High School buddy Eric D. he and I were in a band he formed called ‘Palace Guard’ and I was telling him how I wanted to mix KISS, Motley Crue & Hanoi Rocks all into one. One fateful Saturday morning Eric hands me a copy of “The Dolls” first LP, my reaction “That’s it!!! ” You can see a picture of us shortly after this event on my “fb”.
* The very beginning;
Junior High School buddies Sylvain Sylvain (Ronald Sylvain Mizrahi: 14 Feb 1951 Cairo, Egypt) & Billy Murcia (William Murcia: 1951 Bogota, Columbia – 7 Nov 1972 London, UK) formed a band called “The Pox” in 1967. Then sometime after this Sylvain work at a boutique across from the “New York Doll Hospital” rumored to be the inspiration of the origin of the name. Sometime in 1970 Sylvain & Murcia recruited one Johnny Volume aka Johnny Thunders (John Anthony Genzale Jr. 15 July 1952 Queens, NYC – 23 April 1991 New Orleans, LA.) on bass at first, to form the short lived band “The Dolls”. Sylvain splits to London, mean while Thunders is recruited by one Arthur Harold “Killer” Kane Jr. (3 Feb 1949 Bronx, NYC – 13 Jul 2004 Los Angles, CA.) & Rick Rivets (George Fedorick: 1949 NYC) to form a band called “Actress” Thunders convinces Kane & Rivets to replace the current drummer with Billy Murcia.
* Finding Buster
Kane had noticed a local street preacher (and one time soft porn star) David Johansen (David Roger Johansen: 9 Jan 1950 Staten Island NYC) singing with the local band “Vagabond Missionaries” Johansen possessing a boisterous voice like Eric Burdon Kane thought this was the perfect front man for their new band. Johansen “Arthur knocks at my door one day and asks me if I’m a singer, I say “Yea” he just stands there looking at me until I say “is there something you want?” Kane says “Yea we want you in our band come down to this place” Soon after Sylvain replaces Rivets on guitar and the “New York Dolls” are born……….
* Out on the streets
In this burgeoning New York Music Scene there are many other bands born from the Glam Rock wave that “The Dolls” created such bands as: “Harlots of 42nd Street” “Teenage Lust” “Street Punk” with Bassist Jimmy Haslip (James Robert Haslip 31 Dec 1951 NYC) “Luger” “Planets” “Flaming Youth” (friends of Ace Frehley) “Wayne County” (Gene Simmons will cover their song “Man Enough to be a Woman”) “The Brats” (formed by Rick Rivets after leaving the Dolls in 1971 who were considered by many 2nd only to the Dolls and way more Popular than their usual opening act “KISS”) “Twister Sister” (note: Dee Snider is not the original lead singer as he is not hired until 1976) and “KISS” who in their very early stages dress much like the “Dolls” until one day Ace points out “Guys, we can’t really pull off this Dolls look as they are small & pretty and we are not” which changes the direction of ‘KISS’ forever, with the exception of “KISS” & “Twisted Sister” all but “The Brats” have faded into obscurity.
* In the year 1972
The “Dolls” hone their craft by rehearsing in a bicycle shop being locked in over night and perform at least 43 shows this year before a major record release cutting a demo tape in June 1972 at Blue Rock Studios produced by; Marty Thau released as “Lipstick Killers” 1981 ROIR noted for being the only studio recording with original drummer Murcia. Stand out tracks to me from this are: ‘Human Being’ & ‘Don’t Mess with Cupid’
On 29 October 1972 “The Dolls” are invited to open for superstars “The Faces” at Wembley area. On 6 Nov the “Dolls” are partying at a nightclub in London, Murcia passes out from excess of Alcohol & Pills, his girlfriend put him in a bathtub of ice water and forces hot coffee down his throat and he dies from asphyxiation.
Jerry Nolan (Jerold Nolan: 7 May 1946 Brooklyn NYC- 14 Jan 1992 NYC) former gang member of the “Phantom Lords” is hired to replace the deceased Murcia runner up for the drummer’s slot is one George Peter Criscoula (20 Dec 1946 Brooklyn, NYC aka Criss) who will go on the be one of the founding members of Rock Icons “KISS” Peter and Jerry met when both were members of the street gang “Phantom Lords” In an interview I conducted with Criss in the early 90s Criss said “Nolan was born into the “Lords” interesting side note, Nolan was Criss’ best man at Criss’ wedding in 1970.
* Breaking Big
On 20 March “The Dolls” sign a 2 record deal with Chicago based Mercury Records. They release their first LP “New York Dolls” 27 July 1973 produced by; Todd Rundgren (22 Jun 1948 Upper Darby, PA.) formerly of the “Nazz” Johansen hand picked Rundgren, Thunders hated the result Thunders once said “Todd, yea he F****** up an album of mine once” ‘RollingStone’ Magazine placed this LP in the top 100 LPs of all time! Personal stand outs for me are: ‘Jet Boy’ ‘Private World’ & ‘Bad Girl’
August 30th of 1973 Kane’s girlfriend Connie did not want him to go on tour so she tried to cut off his thumb with a steak knife while he was sleeping. (She later stabbed the Ramone’s drummer in the rear end for the same reason) This was “The Dolls” busiest year performing some 137 concert dates, sometimes 2 shows per night.
* The Saga Continues
The “Dolls’ release the 2nd LP “Too Much Too Soon” 10 May 1974 Produced By: Shadow Morton (of the ‘Shangri La’s’) Stand out tracks to me from this LP are: ‘Babylon’ ‘Stranded in the Jungle’ & ‘Don’t Start Me Talkin’ The Dolls record a few songs that do not appear on the 2nd LP but eventually find release on CD many years later. They continue to tour performing some 89 dates once again sometimes 2 shows per day a 7pm & 11pm concert. Taking on a Sax Player Buddy Bowser. I couldn’t help but notice that the band performed less and less dates through out the rest of the years for the band. Also appearing on ‘Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert’ 24 July from a Long Beach, CA. date.
On 1 Sep 1974 the Dolls play the Minnesota State Fair for the “Teen Fair” concert series. It has been reported that the members of the band had no problem exposing their ‘members’ to groupies through the chain link fence on they’re way off the stage. It is at this time Peter Jordan replaced Kane on Bass full time instead of just a substitute on tour due to Arthur’s excessive drinking problem landing him in rehab in NYC.
* Winding down the clock
So in 1975 the shock value of the ‘Dolls’ has almost run it’s course. Enter Malclom Mclaren (22 Jan 1946 London – Apr 8, 2010 in Bellinzona, Switzerland) a haberdasher from London who decides the “Dolls” need a new direction taking a cue from they’re new song “Red Patent Leather” McLaren has the band dress in variations of the same color of red with a communist “Hammer & Cycle” flag as a back drop, McLaren’s reasoning is “In today’s day and age you can be a cross gender or even gay but not a Communist” They are writing new songs for their potential 3rd LP “Red Patent Leather” “On Fire” “Teenage News” “Pirate Love” “Down Down Town” & “Girls” as well as pulling new cover songs like “Daddy Rolling Stone” “Something Else” & “Ain’t Got No Home” for their live performances which dwindled down to around 36 concerts this year. A live LP is release some years later “Red Patent Leather” 1984 Fan Club Records. Nolan and specifically Thunders hard drug use begins to show and take it’s toll on the members and the band. Johansen is becoming irritated by this as well as Thunders insistence to sing lead on more songs leaving Johansen to play harmonica & tambourine. At a band meeting in Florida Thunders and Nolan announce they are ‘junk’ sick and sick of the “Dolls” Johansen’s response “Anyone one in this band is replaceable” with that Thunders gets up to leave to Thunders surprise Nolan is right behind him “Where you goin?” Nolan “with you, I’m not stayin here” In order to fulfill several dates still left in Florida the band run an ad in the local paper. A young kid from the Bronx answers the ad one Blackie Goozeman (aka Lawless aka Steven Edward Duren: 4 Sep 1956 Staten Island, NYC) So Johnasen, Sylvain, Peter Jordan, Blackie and an unknown drummer finish out the last 5 dates of the tour.
* When it’s over
The band now return to New York to regroup an decide what to do. Johansen & Sylvain decide to forge on from August to December of ’75 with Peter Jordan still on bass. As Kane went to Los Angels with Blackie to form a new band “Killer Kane” & Tony Machine on drums, Tony had been the “Dolls” road manager indecently Tony Machine went on to play with Johansen in “Buster Poindexter’s Banshees of Blue” they hire Chris Robinson (on keyboards of Elephant’s Memory) Robinson “We toured Japan that summer [’75] with Jeff Beck, and Felix Pappalardi of Mountain, and had a blast. The best gig was at Tokyo Baseball Stadium where we played to 55 thousand screaming people-big stage set up on 2nd base and we played towards home plate. As we were making our frantic escape surrounded by screaming girls and boys and uniformed police wielding billy clubs, Sylvain almost caused a riot: We were dashing for the limo and somehow in the next moment Syl was ON TOP of the car inhaling a helium balloon and screaming “ARRIGATO” in a high pitched helium induced voice One of my biggest regrets in life is how my growing problem with alcohol back then led to a certain night of whiskey- induced rage and mental distortion. I was in a blackout and to this day don’t know exactly what I said to Sylvain–but it was enough said to convince Syl and the boys to leave for the Cobo Hall Michigan gig without me. I woke up the next afternoon and they were already gone, and so was my stint with The New York Dolls.”
* The final nail 1976
Now end is near Johansen & Sylvain replace Robinson with Bobby Blaine on keyboards and with Jordan & Machine in tow and end up playing around only 26 dates this year. Billed solely as “The Dolls” introducing yet more new material “Funky But Chic” “Frenchette” “Gimme a Pigfoot” “Cool Metro” “Kids Are Back” & “Check Mr. Popeye” among others. Many of these new songs will end up on Johansen’s solo LP in 1978 which Sylvain was still part of Johansen’s solo band. A few interesting things happened on this tour for example on 12 March members of ‘KISS’ attended the first show at the Ballinjax Electric Bistro in New Orleans. On 21 May at Max’s Kansas City in NYC Johnny Thunders gets up to play the last 3 songs of the night. On 26 June in New Orleans at Cord’s Underground former Management mates of Lieber & Krebs Steven Tyler & Joe Perry get up and sit in on “Flip Flop Fly” & “Pills” on the 4th of July in NYC at Max’s Kansas City Mick Ronson. The final concert of “The Dolls” takes place 30 Dec at Max’s Kansas City with “Blondie”.
From here on out they will be known as the ‘David Johansen Group’
In closing to me…the New York Dolls were much more than a band, they were a force to be reckoned with true inspiration to 3 poor kids from the west side of Sioux City, Iowa, who saw something more than the environment they were raised in, and inspired them to do something completely different than what was going on around them and even what was going on in the rest of the world in 1985.
R.L.Schwinden aka MrZero