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The New York Dolls, during and after their all-too brief existence, were a huge influence on David Bowie and Mott the Hoople, KISS and Aerosmith, Guns n’ Roses and Mötley Crüe; when they toured England under the supervision of punk impresario Malcolm McLaren, they indirectly caused the formation of the Sex Pistols. Their bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane died suddenly at age 55 in 2004, but he left behind not only the Dolls’ timeless music--and their many thousands of fans and friends--but this memoir of the Dolls’ early years.
Arthur Kane was playing bass for the New York Dolls before there even was a New York Dolls. Along with guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Billy Murcia, he founded the band in 1971. The next year they added guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and singer David Johansen--at which point they became famous at Max’s Kansas City, rubbed elbows with Andy Warhol and Lou Reed, recorded two landmark albums, unwittingly invented the thing we now call punk rock, and generally lived up to their slogan “Too Much, Too Soon.”
I, Doll covers in detail the first sixteen months of the Dolls’ time on earth, from Kane’s first meeting with Thunders to Murcia’s tragic death in London. To read it is to revisit a glorious, glamorous era of high drama (drug busts and brawls with bouncers) and low comedy (how Kane locked himself out of his studio one winter night while in full Dolls drag and tripping on LSD). This distinctive and extroverted memoir of an undisciplined showman is supplemented with a foreword and epilogue by Kane’s widow, Barbara, bringing his full story to light. Never has there been a rock’n’roll memoir like this one--a book that captures the music, the style, and the life in all its foolhardy glory.
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Arthur "Killer" Kane was the bassist for the New York Dolls and the subject of the hit 2005 documentary New York Doll.From Publishers Weekly:
In this posthumous memoir, Kane details his outlandish experiences as bassist for the proto-glam/punk band the New York Dolls. Each of the brief chapters is like a Dolls' song in and of itself; discrete New York stories, which, taken together, flesh out with great energy what it meant to be a young and daring artist in the gritty Warhol-driven art scene of 1970s New York. As a former design student, Kane spills his passion for the band's unique and influential DIY fashion across nearly every chapter, unfortunately at the expense of any significant discussion of the Dolls' equally influential music. Kane's sense of humor is the book's greatest strength (he describes the experience of his pants splitting open during the Dolls' first concert as the dreaded banana-peeling feeling), expanding colloquial vocabulary with a Mel Brooks-on-LSD kind of timing suggesting the very spirit that infused the Dolls' New York milieu. At times, however, Kane's over-the-top prose renders his musings and recollections inchoate, particularly when his animosity toward the Dolls' early management degrades into near-incomprehensible rants. The foreword and epilogue, carefully and lovingly written by his widow, Barbara, fill in the space created by Kane's bombast. (Aug.)
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