Remembering New York Dolls Icon Sylvain Sylvain

'Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let's send this beautiful doll on his way'
Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls
Photo credit Getty Images

Sylvain Sylvain, guitarist and co-founder of the legendary early '70s glam-punk band New York Dolls, died at the age of 69 on Wednesday.

According to a Facebook post by his wife, along with prominent music writer Lenny Kaye, Sylvain passed after a two year battle with cancer.

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"As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and 1/2 years," Wanda O’Kelley Mizrahi, wrote on Sylvain's Facebook page. "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."

Calling him the "heart and soul of the New York Dolls, bearer of the Teenage News," writer Kaye also feted the musician with kind words as he "passed into his next astral incarnation."

Former Dolls lead singer David Johansen also posted a tribute to Sylvain saying, "My best friend for so many years, 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."

Born Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo, Egypt in 1951, Sylvain replaced original Dolls guitarist Billy Murcia who had died of asphyxiation following an accidental overdose in 1972.

With just two albums released in '73 and '74, Johansen (who eventually came to be known as Buster Poindexter in the late-'80s), lead guitarist Johnny Thunders (who passed in 1991 under suspicious circumstances), Sylvain, and drummer Jerry Nolan were integral in bringing forth the early look and sound of punk rock both in the United States and in Europe before disbanding in 1976.

A 2004 "reunion" with the surviving members, organized by Morrissey (firebrand singer and the Dolls' 1970s UK fan club leader), eventually took place resulting in another three official records. The band's final shows were in 2011 after finishing up the Glam-A-Geddon summer tour in the U.S. with Mötley Crüe and Poison, and a U.K. tour with Alice Cooper.

It was a tough week for longtime fans of the band. Just a day prior to Sylvain's passing, Johansen shared a tribute to late Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan who had passed on January 14, 1992 after previously suffering a stroke.

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