Slash and Billy Idol lead tributes to New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain
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Slash and Billy Idol lead tributes to New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain

Born Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo, Egypt to a Jewish family, the musician died of cancer aged 69

The New York Dolls (left to right Sylvain Sylvain, David Johansen, Sami Yaffa, Brian Delaney and Steve Conte) in the dressing room at KoKo in Camden, north London. Slash and Billy Idol have led tributes to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain after he died of cancer at the age of 69.
The New York Dolls (left to right Sylvain Sylvain, David Johansen, Sami Yaffa, Brian Delaney and Steve Conte) in the dressing room at KoKo in Camden, north London. Slash and Billy Idol have led tributes to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain after he died of cancer at the age of 69.

Slash and Billy Idol have led tributes to New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain after he died of cancer at the age of 69.

As part of the pioneering 1970s rock band, Sylvain bridged the gap between punk and glam, and helped to inspire the new wave movement.

His wife, Wanda O’Kelley Mizrahi, announced his death in a statement on his official Facebook page.

She said: “As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and 1/2 years. 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.”

Born Sylvain Mizrahi in Cairo, Egypt, to a Jewish family, his family moved in the 1950s to France before settling in Queens, New York.

After playing in a series of bands as a teenager, he founded the New York Dolls in 1971, taking the name from a doll repair shop in his neighbourhood called the New York Doll Hospital.

Despite releasing only two albums during their 1970s pomp and failing to make an impact commercially, the band would later become influential cult figures.

Sylvain Sylvain (right) and Sami Yaffa of The New York Dolls in the dressing room at KoKo in Camden, north London. Slash and Billy Idol have led tributes to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain after he died of cancer at the age of 69.

Sylvain’s death leaves frontman David Johansen as the only surviving member of the original line-up from their 1973 self-titled debut album.

He paid tribute on Instagram, writing: “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. au revoir Syl mon vieux copain.”

Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash shared a photo of Sylvain on stage on Twitter in tribute.

English rocker Idol posted an image of Sylvain with fellow New York Doll Johnny Thunders from the 70s.

Jonathan Ross described the late rocker as “one of the true originals” and shared a video of the band appearing on his chat show.

In 2004, three of the original line-up members including Sylvain reformed after being invited to perform by Morrissey at that year’s Meltdown festival in London, which the former Smiths frontman was curating.

They later released three further albums and embarked on a 2011 Glam-a-Geddon tour alongside Motley Crue and Poison.

Sylvain published a memoir, There’s No Bones In Ice Cream, in 2018.

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