William DuVall has paid tribute to Sylvain Sylvain, one of the founding fathers of punk rock as guitarist of legendary band the NEW YORK DOLLS, who died on Wednesday, January 13 at the age of 69. He had battled cancer for two and a half years.

On Thursday (January 14), the ALICE IN CHAINS frontman took to his social media to write: "I idolized the NEW YORK DOLLS as a kid. Along with the MC5 and the STOOGES, the DOLLS were like superheroes to me.

"I remember being in 7th grade in 1979 writing fictional short stories for school that had Johnny Thunders as the main character. Fast forward sixteen years and somehow I struck up a fast friendship with Sylvain Sylvain circa 1995-96. He was living in ATL then and I can’t remember how we met but he heard some of the songs I was writing and producing for my band at the time, MADFLY, and he asked me to produce a solo album for him. In particular, he loved a song of mine called 'Chains Around My Heart'. He told me he wanted to record that song or at least write something like it with me. For several weeks, we either met up or talked on the phone pretty much every day. This was the pre-cellphone era of answering machines. So whenever Sylvain would call my apartment and I wasn't home, he would sing 'Chains Around My Heart' on my answering machine in his thick Noo Yawk accent. It's one of the most treasured memories of my early career. I think I still have some of those micro-cassette tapes from that old machine somewhere.

"We never ended up making that record of his but I really enjoyed that time getting to know him and hearing his many amazing stories.

"As cliche as it sounds, in Sylvain's case, the old adage is true: They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

"Rest In Peace and power, Sylvain Sylvain. Thank you for all you did for rock-n-roll. #sylvainsylvain #newyorkdolls".

The NEW YORK DOLLS were called many things — glam, proto-punk, hard rock — but are probably best understood as a "dirty rock and roll" band. Combining an aggressively androgynous style with street-smart New York attitude and campy humor, the NEW YORK DOLLS ushered in the era of CBGBs, heroin chic, loud guitars and referential lyrics which gave rise to Patti Smith, the RAMONES, TELEVISION and many more. Fans of the band range from GUNS N' ROSES to Morrissey, who organized the reformation of the band when he curated Meltdown festival in 2004.

Born Sylvain Mizrahi, Sylvain remained with the NEW YORK DOLLS until the group's breakup in 1977. He later worked on various projects, including a band called THE CRIMINALS and another group called THE TEARDROPS. Sylvain reunited with NEW YORK DOLLS in 2004 and played on the band's last three albums, "One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This", "Cause I Sez So" and "Dancing Backward In High Heels".

Sylvain's autobiography, "There's No Bones In Ice Cream", was released in 2018 via Omnibus Press.

In April 2019, a fundraising campaign was launched for Sylvain, who revealed at the time that he had been battling cancer for nearly a year.

I idolized the New York Dolls as a kid. Along with the MC5 and the Stooges, the Dolls were like superheroes to me. I...

Posted by William DuVall on Thursday, January 14, 2021


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