Sylvain Sylvain, guitarist of proto-punk band New York Dolls, has died. He was 69 years old.
The news was confirmed on January 15 (Friday) via a statement on Sylvain’s official Facebook page, where it was revealed that he had passed from the cancer he’d been living with for over two years.
“Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease,” the statement reads. “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.”
The statement also included a tribute from Lenny Kaye, a member of the Patti Smith Group.
“Syl loved rock and roll,” Kaye wrote.
“His onstage joy, his radiant smile as he chopped at his guitar, revealed the sense of wonder he must have felt at the age of 10, emigrating from his native Cairo with his family in 1961, the ship pulling into New York Harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time.”
“His role in the band was as lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision,” Kaye continued.
“Though he tried valiantly to keep the band going, in the end the Dolls’ moral fable overwhelmed them, not before seeding an influence that would engender many rock generations yet to come.”
Kaye signed his tribute off with, “Thank you Sylvain x 2, for your heart, belief, and the way you whacked that E chord. Sleep Baby Doll.” Read it in full below.
Sylvain Sylvain MizrahiRest In PeaceFebruary 14, 1951 ~ January 13, 2021As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer…
Sylvain was a part of New York Dolls from 1971 until their second dissolution in 2012. The band’s most recent album, ‘Dancing Backwards In High Heels’, was released in 2011.
New York Dolls vocalist David Johansen has paid tribute to Sylvain, whom he called eulogised as “my best friend for so many years.” He added, “I’m gonna miss you old pal. I’ll keep the home fires burning.”
Read more tributes to Sylvain from The 1975’s Matty Healy and members of Pearl Jam, The Waterboys, The Go-Gos and more below:
Travel on well Sylvain Sylvain you all-time great rock and roller (February 14, 1951 – January 13, 2021) pic.twitter.com/8K124zl0IN
— Mike Scott (@MickPuck) January 15, 2021
All Hail Sylvain Sylvain ! The New York Dolls did so much for me, personally, as an inspiration since my teens. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/6rRRwrqWVo
— Kid Congo Powers (@kidcongopowers) January 15, 2021
RIP Sylvain Sylvain, bringing the style and swagger to the original Glam-Punk Gods #NewYorkDolls! Heroes to my Heroes… I’m gonna put on “Trash” & “Pills” & “(There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown” in honor of Sylvain and the rest of the lipstick killers! pic.twitter.com/Vm9Oo5bDrD
— Mike McCready (@MikeMcCreadyPJ) January 15, 2021
No no no no. It's too much. Sylvain Sylvain I'm speechless with this loss. He lived so completely and deserved better. Photos from when I got to sit in with him. One of my BEST rocknroll nights of life. It went so well we talked about touring together. Insanely sad pic.twitter.com/tDQeXm3Q7v
— Kathy Valentine (@Kathy_Valentine) January 15, 2021
It’s edifying to see so many people having such good things to say about Sylvain Sylvain. We got to play with him once in New Orleans, c. 20 years ago. He was kind, happy, encouraging, and made me feel both not as old as I’d been feeling, and yet ok w/the process unfolding. RIP.
— Ted Leo (@tedleo) January 15, 2021
Aw man….One of the NYC originals, Sylvain Sylvain has passed away. He was a true sweetheart. In 1980 sitting on a couch in my old band loft, he gave me my stage name of Steve Stevens. Where’d ya get that beat, got that beat on 14th street. pic.twitter.com/90zp6zaDUj
— Steve Stevens (@Stevestevens) January 15, 2021