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Legacy: Sylvain Sylvain

What is it like being a New York Doll in 2014?

I feel like the music is an evolution. The New York Dolls were always a surprise back in the day and I hope we still are. I’m always a Doll. I felt like a Doll even when we broke up in 1975. Breaking up was like shooting ourselves in the foot. Fuck, we were just about to get accepted, finally.

Any regrets about them never being a huge stadium band?

A musician’s life is a lot better with money than without, but the true job of an artist is to inspire and turn people on. That’s the job of an entertainer. So in those terms, you can forget everyone else. We’re Number One. We were the first band out of the fucking gate in New York City, before there was anybody else.

Getting signed was a huge wall to break down, because before the New York Dolls you had to be fucking Foghat or Led Zeppelin. And we were so fucking bored with that generation. Whole shows were built around stadium rock, and the song itself had lost its pizazz, its sex appeal. So it was a case of: if they can’t deliver it, then we’ll have to do it ourselves. I’m so proud that we did what we did, against all odds. They used to say we couldn’t sing or write a tune and had no excuse to be on stage. But it was the audience who kept us going.

Rob Hughes
Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.