Follow TV Tropes


Music / New York Dolls

Go To
The cover of their eponymous debut album, 1973. Left to right: Arthur Kane, Sylvain Sylvain, David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan.

The New York Dolls are a landmark Glam Rock band from, well, New York City, and are a major influence on Punk Rock, New Wave and Alternative Rock, especially bands such as The Ramones, Blondie, Television, and The Smiths. Their look was also a major inspiration for Hair Metal.

Founded in 1971, New York Dolls are Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll incarnate, and three of the original five members had to pay for it. Led by singer David Johansen, they were dismissed by audiences due to crossdressing, and their The Rolling Stones-esque Protopunk landed them in the punk hall of shame.

Today they are re-formed, although three of the members have died. They've averted The Band Minus the Face, since Johansen is still alive.



The Original Two Albums

The Compilations

During The '80s, as the ex-Dolls pursued solo careers and their mystique continued to grow, several semi-official collections of demos and live tapes were released by a variety of small labels. Most of these had alternate versions of songs from the original albums, but some (notably Red Patent Leather and Seven Day Weekend) had previously unreleased Cover Versions. The most interesting of these might be Actress: Birth of the New York Dolls, an album's worth of otherwise unavailable originals by Actress, an early version of the band.

The Post-Reunion Albums

These are the albums the Dolls have released since their reunion in 2004.
  • One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This (2006)
  • 'Cause I Sez So (2009)
  • Dancing Backward in High Heels (2011)

The following tropes are looking for a kiss:

  • The Alcoholic: Arthur "Killer" Kane, to the point where he often would be too drunk to play bass.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Johnny Thunders.
  • Big Applesauce: Where they were born, raised and started. It's even in the name.
  • The Casanova: Even by rock star standards, the Dolls pulled LOTS of women, and prided themselves on stealing groupies from other bands. Nancy Spungeon, of Sid and Nancy fame, started out as a New York Dolls groupie and was madly in love with Jerry Nolan, who was uninterested in her.
  • Advertisement:
  • Compilation Rerelease: Their debut album and Too Much Too Soon were reissued as a double album in the U.K. in 1977, as well as on one CD in Japan in 1988.
  • Cover Version: The band had an extensive repertoire of Blues and Soul covers from The '50s and The '60s, with the occasional Rock & Roll or girl group pop number thrown in. Here they are, along with the releases they originally appeared on.
    • New York Dolls: Bo Diddley's "Pills"
    • Too Much Too Soon: The Cadets' "Stranded in the Jungle", Archie Bell & The Drells' "(There's Gonna Be a) Showdown", The Coasters' "Bad Detective", Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'"
    • Lipstick Killers: Otis Redding's "Don't Mess With Cupid"
    • Red Patent Leather: Eddie Cochran's "Something Else", Hank Ballard And His Midnighters' "Daddy Rolling Stone", Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "Ain't Got No Home", Larry Williams' "Dizzy Miss Lizzie"
    • Seven Day Weekend: Gary (U.S.) Bonds' "Seven Day Weekend", Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA", Muddy Waters' "Hootchie Cootchie Man", The Shangri-Las' "Great Big Kiss"
    • Dancing Backward in High Heels: Patty La-Belle and the Bluebells' "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman"
  • Creepy Crossdresser: How some people regarded the band.
  • Destructive Romance: Johnny Thunders and Sabel Starr.
  • Drugs Are Bad: EVERYONE in the band's initial run was fucked out of their tree on a near constant basis, and it contributed a great deal to the infighting that led to their dissolution. They also wound up being the official cause of Johnny Thunders' death, though family and friends claim it was foul play.
  • Five-Man Band: At first, it was vocalist David (The Leader), the hotheaded drummer Billy (The Lancer), soft-spoken bassist Arthur Kane (The Big Guy), and cheerful Sylvain Sylvain (The Chick), with Johnny Thunders as the Tagalong Kid. After Billy's untimely death, the power shifted in the band with the addition of Jerry Nolan. Johnny Thunders became The Lancer, with Jerry as his backup, in opposition to Sylvain and David, with poor Arthur stuck somewhere in the middle.
  • Glam Rock: They were among the first major players of the genre.
  • "I Am" Song: "Human Being"
    And if I'm acting like a king
    Well, that's cause I'm a human being
    And if I want too many things
    Don't you know that I'm a human being

    And if I've got to dream
    Baby baby baby yeah I'm a human being
    And when it gets a bit obscene
    I'm a human being.
  • Large Ham: David Johansen was not a subtle performer or someone who did anything by halves, to put it simply. Every song has him giving everything he has and every live performance has him leave teethmarks in the scenery.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan were very much this to one another. They spent most of their adult lives together, played in most of the same bands, and, according to friend/rock photographer Leee Black Childers, Johnny would break down emotionally during spats with Jerry. He would lay with his head in Childers' lap and say, "Where’s Jerry? I can’t live without him, I can’t work without him, I can’t be without him." At Johnny's funeral, Jerry was inconsolable and said, "What am I going to do? My best friend is dead. My soulmate has gone." He died only a few months after Johnny, and they were buried very near one another in the same cemetery.
  • Proto Punk: Their music is seen as a progenitor to Punk Rock, both in sound, attitude as well as outfits.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: They absolutely epitomized this trope, having a reputation for hedonism that made other bands sound like alter boys.
  • Shout-Out: Johnny Thunders, which is one to the song of the same name by The Kinks.
  • Start My Own: A one-time touring guitarist by the name of Steven Duren would eventually go on to form WASP.