New York Dolls

New York Dolls

Formed : December, 1971 // New York, NY, United States
Disbanded : 1975
Reformed : 2004

All of the members of the New York Dolls played in New York bands before the band formed in late 1971. Guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets, bassist Arthur Kane, and drummer Billy Murcia were joined by vocalist David Johansen. Before changing their name to New York Dolls, the band was called Actress (3) which recorded full set demos in early 1971. Early in 1972, Rivets was replaced by Syl Sylvain and the group began playing regularly in Lower Manhattan, particularly at the Mercer Arts Center. Within a few months, they had earned a dedicated cult following, but record companies were afraid of signing the Dolls because of their cross-dressing and blatant vulgarity.

Late in 1972, the Dolls embarked on their first tour of England. During the tour, drummer Murcia died after mixing drugs and alcohol. He was replaced by Jerry Nolan. After Nolan joined the band, the Dolls finally secured a record contract with Mercury Records. Todd Rundgren -- whose sophisticated pop seemed at odds with the band's crash-and-burn rock & roll -- produced the band's eponymous debut, which appeared in the summer of 1973. The record received overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it didn't stir the interest of the general public; the album peaked at number 116 on the U.S. charts. The band's follow-up, Too Much Too Soon, was produced by the legendary girl group producer George "Shadow" Morton. Although the sound of the record was relatively streamlined, the album was another commercial failure, only reaching number 167 upon its early summer 1974 release.

Following the disappointing sales of the Dolls' two albums, Mercury Records dropped the band. No other record labels were interested in the group, so the Dolls decided to hire a new manager, the British Malcolm McLaren, who would soon become famous for managing the Sex Pistols.

By the middle of 1975, Thunders and Nolan left the Dolls. The remaining members, Johansen and Sylvain, fired McLaren and assembled a new lineup of the band. For the next two years, the duo led a variety of different incarnations of the band, to no success.

In 2004, former Smiths vocalist Morrissey invited the surviving members of the New York Dolls to perform at the 2004 Meltdown Festival, a music and cultural festival that was being curated that year by the singer. To the surprise of many, David Johansen, Syl Sylvain, and Arthur Kane agreed to the gig, with Steve Conte standing in for Thunders and Gary Powell from the Libertines sitting in on drums. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, taken from

Members : Rick Rivets (guitar), Billy Murcia (drums), Johnny Thunders (guitar, vocals), Arthur Kane (bass), David Johansen (vocals), Sylvain Sylvain (guitar, vocals), Jerry Nolan (drums), Peter Jordan (bass)

New York Dolls Discography Tracks


New York Dolls New York Dolls (Album) Mercury US 1973 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Too Much Too Soon (Album) Mercury US 1974 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Lipstick Killers (Album) ROIR (Reachout International Records) US 1981 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Red Patent Leather (Album) Fan Club France 1984 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Seven Day Weekend (Album, Comp) Receiver Records Limited UK 1992 Sell This Version
New York Dolls New York Tapes 72-73 (Album, Comp) Skydog France 1993 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Paris' Burning (Album) Skydog US 1993 Sell This Version
New York Dolls I'm A Human Being (Live) (Album) Receiver Records Limited UK 1998 Sell This Version
The New York Dolls* / Actress (3) The New York Dolls* / Actress (3) - Actress: Birth Of The New York Dolls (Album) Get Back Italy 2000 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Endless Party Get Hip Recordings US 2000 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Live From Royal Festival Hall, 2004 Attack Records (3) UK 2004 Sell This Version
New York Dolls One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This (Album) Roadrunner Records Japan 2006 Sell This Version
A 727831 New York Dolls Live At The Fillmore East(CD, Album) Sony BMG Music Entertainment Custom Marketing Group A 727831 US 2008 Sell This Version
New York Dolls 'Cause I Sez So (Album) ATCO Records US 2009 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Dancing Backward In High Heels (Album) 429 Records UK 2011 Sell This Version
MVD5902LP New York Dolls All Dolled Up(11", Pic + DVD-V + Ltd) MVD Visual MVD5902LP 2014 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Butterflyin' (Album) Easy Action UK 2015 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

New York Dolls Jet Boy (Single) Mercury UK 1973 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Trash (Single) Mercury New Zealand 1973 Sell This Version
6837 153 New York Dolls Trash(7", Single, Promo) Mercury 6837 153 France 1973 Sell This Version
DJ-387 New York Dolls Personality Crisis(7", Single, Promo) Mercury DJ-387 US 1973 Sell This Version
New York Dolls Stranded In The Jungle (Single) Mercury Japan 1974 Sell This Version
73615 New York Dolls Puss 'n' Boots(7", Single) Mercury 73615 US 1974 Sell This Version
6837 207 New York Dolls Babylon / Human Being(7", Single, Promo) Mercury 6837 207 France 1974 Sell This Version
6160 008 New York Dolls Jet Boy // Babylon / Who Are The Mystery Girls(7", Single, RE) Mercury 6160 008 UK 1977 Sell This Version

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May 6, 2011
Blackie Lawless should NOT be listed as a member, let alone a vocalist (he played guitar). He was picked up for a handful of shows to help the band finish their final US tour leg in Florida. If nobody takes issue with that, I wanna remove him from the list of members.


October 26, 2009
Without any doubt, the New York Dolls were the seminal group of the New Wave movement in New York. The first group, formed in late `71, consisted of Johnny Thunders (then known as Johnny Volume), Kane, drummer Billy Murcia and guitarist Rick Rivets. The original name of the group was to be Actress, but when JoHansen (David Johansen) joined in early `72, they became the New York Dolls, soon afterwards substituting Sylvain Sylvain for Rivets. On a visit to Britain in November '72, Murcia died, allegedly of a drug overdose, and his place was taken by Jerry Nolan.
The most alarming thing about the Dolls was their appearance- "stack-heeled platform boots and bird´s nest coiffures" amounting to a grossed-out dyke look, complete with lots of leather and make-up. This bizarre image reflected a reportedly wild lifestyle and startled many observers.
The Dolls eventually signed with Merury Records after practically every other label had checked them out, but been deterred by their appearance. With Mercury, the Dolls made two albums, the first, simply titled New York Dolls, being produced by Todd Rundgren, and released in `73, and Too Much Too Soon, produced by Shangri-Las` producer Shadow Morton, coming out in `74.
Critical reaction to the group was decidedly negative, with the result that Nolan and Thunders eventually left while touring in Florida. However, before that the group had acquired a new manager in Malcolm McLaren, later to be the man behind the Sex Pistols. He met the group in 1974 when they came into his King`s Road, London, shop Let It Rock. A friendship developed and McLaren began to manage the group in early `75 in New York. He had inherited many problems, not least two of the group having to be hospitalized for drug abuse. In addition, the image so carefully nurtured during the group´s early days was by then out of date, having been largely overtaken by the "undernourished" look adopted by such as Tom Verlaine and Patti Smith. The group thus took on a `Communist chic`, playing in front of a `hammer and sickle` flag, dressed in red patent leather. Unfortunately, this image didn`t appeal to the audiences very much, and when Thunders and Nolan left, McLaren returned to Britian, and soon afterwards discovered the Pistols.
Thunders and Nolan got together with Richard Hell (bass), who had nearly joined the Dolls during the McLaren era, and Walter Lure (guitar), who had previously been in agroup called Demon, to become the Heartbreakers. JoHansen and Sylvain recruited Chris Robinson (keyboards), Peter Jordan (bass) and Tony Machine (drums) for a Japanese tour, but after it the fragmented Dolls broke up in May `75.
Thunders and Nolan remained in the Heartbreakers; Sylvain formed a group called Criminals in New York in April `77, Kane, after starting a band called Killer Kane in Los Angeles, became a member of LOK, back in New York. By mid-`77 David JoHansen started working on his first solo album for Blue Sky Records (the company owned by Johnny and Edgar Winter and their manager Steve Paul).
The New York Dolls were the originators of a hard, rough, raunchy rock sound which has been copied by numerous groups subsequently. There is no reference point, except perhaps the Stones at their most outrageous. The group`s attitude to what they were trying to do has been a great source of inspiration to many of those who have successfully followed their lead.

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