Credit: Alamy/Matthew Crossick

New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain has died aged 69

The guitarist from the iconic pioneers of punk rock, New York Dolls, the wildly talented Sylvain Sylvain, has sadly passed away at the age of 69. The musician had been battling cancer for some years. He leaves behind a legacy which will never be tarnished.

Sylvain confirmed his cancer diagnosis back in April 2019 and has since been quietly fighting the terrible disease. At the time the guitarist launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover medical costs related to his treatment. He’s remembered as one of the most pioneering figures in punk history.

Born Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo, Egypt, his family fled the country after facing continuous anti-semitic actions that threatened their lives. After a brief stint in Paris, the Mizrahi family ended up in New York, a city that would become Sylvain’s beating heart.

The guitarist joined the New York Dolls in 1972 after being introduced to the group by the band’s original drummer Billy Murcia. At the time, there was simply no band who could match their ferocious advantageous style. Sylvain contributed guitars, vocals and piano work on the group’s first two records New York Dolls and the following year’s Too Much Too Soon.

Sylvain also enjoyed a solo career after his time with the band came to an end. He recorded numerous albums over his career up until the turn of the century. When the New York Dolls reformed, Sylvain once again picked up axe duties.

“My best friend for so many years,” the New York Dolls’ lead singer David Johansen wrote. “I can still remember the first time I saw him bop into the rehearsal space/bicycle shop with his carpetbag and guitar straight from the plane after having been deported from Amsterdam, I instantly loved him. I’m gonna miss you old pal. I’ll keep the home fires burning. au revoir Syl mon vieux copain.”