The New York Dolls For Beginners!!!
By John Saleeby
July 1st, 2006
Given the general impression one gets of The Dolls in the press, one can hardly be blamed for avoiding them. I mean, Geez! Holy Cow! My Goodness! A bunch of hophead drag queens whose influence first gave us Kiss, Queen, and Aerosmith, then The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash, and then - Yes, there's MORE! - Motley Crue, Poison, and Guns N' Roses? "And don't forget us! Don't forget about us!!" Oh, yeah - Hanoi Rocks. Give it up for the technically competent Finnish guys, everybody! Hanoi Rocks! "Thanks!" So yeah, all that makes listening to The New York Dolls sound about as appealing as a toothless blowjob in the back of a cab. Which only proves what a prissy little flit you are cause if there is one thing in life even more fun than a toothless blow job in the back of a cab it's The New York Dolls!
What about Iggy And The Stooges and The Velvet Underground?
Well, Iggy is Tops but - Hey! Look outside! Isn't that Claire Danes?
I knew that would get rid of those faggots.
Who were The New York Dolls?
Five schmos from the Outer Boroughs who taught The World how The Music really goes! Individually -
David Johanson - Lead Vocals (Still alive as of 3:00 AM June 30)
Everybody knows David Jo! He's the Buster Poindexter guy! There oughta be a "Best Of The New York Dolls" CD Collection late nite infomercial hosted by Buster - "These are the records I made back in the Seventies when I still had High School emotional troubles and adolescent lover boy angst!" People will scarf that up like an Ellen Degeneres - Portia DiRossi sex video. Johanson is terrific on both of the New York Dolls albums although still not as good a singer as he eventually came to be. But what are we talkin' 'bout here - Journey? What do we care about technical polish? Johanson is the ultimate Life Of The Party on these records although, considering some of the other people who are in attendence, you might not want to be there yourself. Johanson is so nutzo he could make searching for dead bodies after a plane crashes in the swamp sound like a good time. "Oh Lawd! Looks lack de al-i-gat-ors got hold o' dat lady! My, Oh My! Ain't nobody gonna be invitin' her to no Senior Prom! Whoa!" He's crazy!
Johnny Thunders - Lead Guitar, Vocals, Pain In The Ass (Dead)
More than a Musician, Johnny Thunders was a Terrorist, a Criminal, a Creep, a Poet, a Comedian, and a Genius. He was also a truly Bad person who did all he could to fuck over and rip off everyone he had anything to do with. But he did have several close friends who will swear up and down the street what a Swell Guy he was - HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THOSE PEOPLE!!! Man, when you found out that Johnny Thunders was coming to town you went out in your backyard, dug a hole ten feet deep, and buried everything you owned until Thunders had come to town, played his gig, and got the hell out. Sticky Fingers? Maybe that was the Secret of his unique style of guitar playing. In 1991 Thunders decided to go live in New Orleans for some knuckleheaded reason and immediately died of a heroin overdose which, if you ask me, saved him one hell of a lot of trouble. I lived in New Orleans for twenty years and if I had died at Day One it sure woulda cut my losses.
Sylvain Sylvain - Guitar, Piano, Vocals (Still alive as of 345 AM June 30)
Every band's gotta have one
Arthur Kane was always drunk and he couldn't play bass to save his life - Which might be why he died. One day Arthur was feeling kinda down so he went to the Doctor who took one look at him, said "You got Leukemia!", and Arthur died a coupla hours later! Crap! But things like that always happened to Arthur - One night his girlfriend got it into her crazy groupie head that she didn't want Arthur to leave her behind while he went out on the road with The Dolls and - Here comes the GOOD part! - cut off Arthur's fingertips with a knife while he was passed out drunk! Women! Did Tony Iommi go out with that girl, too? See . . . Cause Tony Iommi had all his fingertips cut off in a factory accident . . . And . . . Tony Iommi is the guitar player in Black Sabbath! So . . . it's like . . . Aw, how come nobody ever gets my Tony Iommi gags? Crap!
Jerry Nolan - Drums (Dead)
Jerry Nolan was more of yer Swinging Musican Hipster Cat, if he had been born a few years earlier his existence might have been polluted by Lenny Bruce rather than Johnny Thunders. As a kid Jerry studied The Big Beat from Big Band Drummer Gene Krupa alongside Peter Criss who eventually joined . . . Man, if you don't know the end of that sentence you really are a dumb fuck. Going pro while still a teen, Jerry traveled hither and yon playing in all kinds of bands and grew up into the kind of A1 Bad Ass who could have played any kind of music but musta walked under a ladder or something cause there he was in The New York Dolls. Jerry never got around to learning how to read, if he had he might have caught a few of the articles about The New York Dolls in the magazines and held out until Springsteen fired Mad Dog Vinnie Lopez. Yes, how different life would have been for Jerry Nolan if only he had learned to read! Does Peter Criss know how to read? Shortly after Thunder's death, Jerry told his life story in a heartfelt Village Voice memoir and then died of AIDS. He got it from the Village Voice, of course.
Were they fags?
Nah, they were just crazy guys who liked to goof on people for cheap laughs. That sounds cool today, but in the Early Seventies being a light hearted prankster was far more controversial than being a homo. This was a very SERIOUS time. The only way a Rock and Roll band could raise up a tremendous ruckus without being politically suspect was to be so inconspicuous onstage that people in the crowd couldn't tell the difference between the band and members of the road crew standing around hoping to get blow jobs from groupies who mistook them for members of the band. British bands were kind of "flamboyant" but, hey, they were British weren't they? The Dolls didn't care about any of this, they were so ridiculous that not only could they be mistaken for fags but a lot of people thought they were British! Hey, what's the difference?
Were they junkies?
Legend has it that all of The New York Dolls were heroin addicts, but Thunders and Nolan were the only ones that were really strung out. Johnny and Jerry finally quit The Dolls when their addiction made it impossible for the band to go on the road. They would run out of smack out in the Mid West somewhere and immediately go right back to New York to get fucked up without giving a moment's thought to what David, Sylvain, and Arthur were doing back in Wisconsin. They clearly had different priorities from the other guys - "They wanna be Rock Stars! What a buncha cornballs!" - so finally Johnny and Jerry started their own band, The Heartbreakers, an outfit in which maintaining a steady high would be of utmost importance and anybody concerned with bullshit like "gigs" and "records" could go jump in a fuckin' lake.
Which doesn't mean that the rest of the band was sitting in a garden eating cucumber sandwiches, drinking mint tea, and reading out loud from "The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom" - Although with this band I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they did that at least once or twice. Arthur was putting away so much vodka he was later offered a Technical Advisor job on "Sex In The City" (That's for those of you who were insulted by the Claire Danes joke) while David and Sylvain were typical rock stars at a time when no one would have given Pete Doherty a second look. Which is impossible anyway because once you've had your first look at Pete Doherty he will be arrested and put into rehab before you can take a second look.
Much has been made of how "Influential" The New York Dolls were. Is this true?
Who cares? Unlike The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, and that godawful MC5, The New York Dolls are way too fun and entertaining to need that wussy "Influential" label to justify their existence. The Dolls SWING! Add the Magic that is The New York Dolls to your life and see if you need Lou Reed around for anything. He's too rich to take the trash out on the way to his car, no way would you trust him to baby sit the kids, what good is he? Put on a New York Dolls record and food tastes better, girls are prettier and easier to talk to . . . Will it make the cartoons on Adult Swim any funnier? Whoa! Hold it right there, lil' buddy! The New York Dolls were a Rock And Roll Band, not a freakin' magic act!
On July 25 Johanson, Sylvain, and their new bandmates will release the first New York Dolls album in three decades. Pick it up - It ain't like Emerson, Lake, And Palmer and The Pure Prairie League are still around to distract you with their stupid shit.
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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