New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain dead at 69

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Sylvain Sylvain, who was the guitarist for the New York Dolls, died Wednesday. He was 69 years old.

Sylvain’s wife, Wanda O’Kelley Mizrahi, paid tribute to her late husband in a Facebook post written Thursday. 

“As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and 1/2 years,” she wrote. “Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease. While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain.”

“Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let’s send this beautiful doll on his way,” Mizrahi added.

Sylvain, whose real name was Sylvain Mizrahi, was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1951 and his family moved to France and then on to New York.

The musician helped found the New York Dolls in 1971. The rock band also featured Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, Arthur Kane and David Johansen.

Sylvain Sylvain died Wednesday after battling cancer for over two years. 
(Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Sylvain was credited with guitar, piano and vocals on the pioneering punk and glam band’s debut self-titled album in 1973 and its 1974  sophomore album, “Too Much Too Soon.” The band eventually broke up in 1977. 

Sylvain went on to release his first solo album in 1979 and more music into the 1990s. When the New York Dolls reunited in 2004, Sylvain contributed to their final three albums, “One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This” (2006), “Cause I Sez So” (2009) and “Dancing Backward in High Heels” (2011).


Included in the Facebook post was a tribute written by guitarist Lenny Kaye.

“His role in the band was as lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision. Though he tried valiantly to keep the band going, in the end the Dolls’ moral fable overwhelmed them, not before seeding an influence that would engender many rock generations yet to come,” Kaye penned. 


“The New York Dolls heralded the future, made it easy to dance to,” he continued. “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.”

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