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Sylvain Sylvain, New York Dolls Guitarist Dies at 69 — Details Revealed

Annette Shadeya
Jan 18, 2021
02:20 P.M.
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Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi, legendary guitarist from the famous 1979 punk band, New York Dolls, has died at 69. The guitarist battled cancer for one and a half years before succumbing to the illness.


Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi's wife, Wanda O'Kelly, broke the news in a lengthy Facebook post, where she disclosed to the rocker's fans Mizrahi died on Wednesday. David Johansen is the last surviving member of the group.

Although the band's existence was brief, their impact was extensive and are still cited as inspirations to many rock acts. The New York Dolls were provocateurs, with their explosive performances and raunchy lyrics.

Sylvain Sylvain from the New York Dolls in New York, October 2005. | Source: Erika Harding/Wikimedia Commons


In the tribute to her husband, Wanda recounted to Mizrahi's fans how he bravely fought but lost his battle to cancer. Wanda asked fans to honor her husband by offering prayer and playing his music.

Wanda also added the words from Mizrahi's close friend, guitarist Lenny Kaye. Kaye recalled Mizrahi's love for rock and roll that inspired others to make their own bands. Kaye went on to explain Mizrahi's influence as:

“In the end the Dolls’ moral fable overwhelmed them, not before seeding an influence that would engender many rock generations yet to come.”


Under Mizrahi, the group was composed of Arthur Kane, Billy Murcia, and Johnny Thunders, who played with Mizrahi in the band "Actress." David Johansen, the frontman of the New York Dolls, joined the group later.

The group's 1973 self-titled debut album remained at 113 for weeks in the music charts. Since then, it gradually gained cult status, and overtime Rolling Stone has named it one of the Greatest Albums of All Time.

Morrissey was once the U.K fan club president of "The New York Dolls."


Mizrahi was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1951 before his family relocated to France and finally settled in New York. It was in New York that the rocker co-founded the New York Dolls, named after a doll repair shop.

The shop was across the street from where Mizrahi worked, running a fashion company. The guitarist played in various bands before co-founding the New York Dolls with the intention of disrupting the 70's scene. Mizrahi said

"The 20-minute drum solos, songs that were a big operetta. They were sort of boring, they'd lost their sex appeal."


Mizrahi helped compose hits like "Trash and "Personality Crisis." The band failed to gain commercial success with record companies and was soon dropped. The group disbanded in 1977, but Mizrahi pursued his own career.

With their lyrics about alienation, sex, and dysfunction, the New York Dolls made themselves famous before signing with a label. English singer, Morrisey, took inspiration from the band, noting they were ahead of their time.


Once the U.K fan club president of The New York Dolls, Morrissey brought the band together again on his invite to the 2004 Meltdown Festival. The band took the opportunity, and Mizrahi composed their final albums.

The group released 2006’s "One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This," 2009’s, "Cause I Sez So," and 2011’s "Dancing Backward in High Heels." Wanda listed New York as Mizrahi's final resting place.