Saturday, January 16, 2021

Latest music deaths

It's a new year but nothing much has changed on the live music front. We're in another lockdown. Music deaths, however, continue, so it's time to catch up on a few. The latest is Sylvain Sylvain, aged 69, guitarist with the New York Dolls, the band that foreshadowed the punk era of the late seventies with their fuck you approach and loud and often out of tune stage act. Synvain was born in Cairo but grew up in New York where he was in a band called Actress, with Johnny Thunders before joining the Dolls in 1971. I never got to see them at the time, but I did catch Sylvain and singer David Johansen at the Forum in 2006. Here's what I wrote on The Vinyl Word at the time: 'Being at a loose end last night I went to see the New York Dolls at the Forum. It was a fairly ear splitting experience but an interesting one. The two remaining original members David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain showed plenty of energy and enthusiasm and the show improved as it went on. It would have been good to have seen them in their heyday in the early seventies when their outrageous camp appearance and in your face stage act paved the way for the punk era that followed. I have a soft spot for punk, because it re-awakened my interest in pop music at a time when the blandness of seventies music seemed to have killed it stone dead. But I was only marginally aware of the New York Dolls, who by that time had long since drifted into drug-fuelled oblivion. Today, Johansen continues to look like an ageing clone of Mick Jagger and his cigarette smoke ravaged voice is rough and out of tune but he still has a degree of stage presence. Highlights of the show were 'Pills', 'Trash', 'Fishnets and Cigarettes' and 'You can't put your arms around memories', a tribute to Johnny Thunders who died of an overdose in New Orleans during Jazzfest 1991. Many of the numbers were unfamiliar to me, but the ageing ex-punks in the audience seemed to know them all. I'm not going to rush out to buy their newish CD on the basis of this occasionally exciting but basically tuneless performance, but the New York Dolls can still put on a polished show, even if they do assault the eardrums mercilessly.'
Another recent death is that of Gerry Marsden of Pacemakers fame at the age of 78. He was a legend in Liverpool where his version of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' remains the anthem of the Reds and 'Ferry Across The Mersey' is also fondly remembered. They enjoyed mega hits with 'I Like It' and 'How Do You Do It', their first two records, and continued their success for a couple of years, including an appearance in the musical film 'Ferry Across the Mersey', before the group disbanded in 1966. Gerry continued a solo career but never regained the heights of his early days. Also passed away, aged 76, is Tim Bogert, one of the founders of Vanilla Fudge, who enjoyed success with distorted but interesting versions of 'You Keep Me Hanging On', 'Eleanor Rigby, 'The Look Of Love' and 'Shotgun' and recorded five albums. He moved on to the rock band Cactus and joined up with Jeff Beck in Beck, Bogert and Appice. Photo shows Vanilla Fudge's first LP produced by Shadow Morton.

1 Comments:

At 12:20 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Garth Cartwright commented: Great photo of Syl - I saw the Dolls at RFH when they first reformed and were great! Then again around 2010/11 and they were sounding a bit tired so its good the retired the band. You should check their 2nd LP Too Much Too Soon - produced by Shadow Morton, features inspired covers of great R&B tunes and several strong originals. A lot of fun!

 

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