Sylvain Sylvain, New York Dolls Guitarist and Punk Icon, Dead at 69

Photo: Marc Marnie/Redferns

Sylvain Sylvain, a formative figure in punk and glam-rock music and guitarist for New York Dolls, has died at the age of 69 from cancer. Rolling Stone reports that Sylvain, born Sylvain Mizrahi, had been battling the disease for several years. Shredding on genre-defining songs such as “Personality Crisis” and “Trash” with an androgynous flair, Sylvain remained with New York Dolls throughout their entire tenure as a band, beginning with 1973’s self-titled debut up until their final album, 2011’s Dancing Backward in High Heels. Lenny Kaye, a member of the Patti Smith Group, penned an obit for his friend on Facebook. “His role in the band was as lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision,” he wrote. “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.” Fellow New York Dolls member David Johansen also mourned Sylvain on social media, writing that he “instantly loved” his “best friend” when they first met at a rehearsal. “I’m gonna miss you old pal,” he added. “I’ll keep the home fires burning.” Read on for more tributes.

Sylvain Sylvain, New York Dolls Guitarist, Dead at 69