Sylvain Sylvain

Sylvain Mizrahi[1] (born February 14, 1951), known professionally as Sylvain Sylvain, is an American rock guitarist, most notable for being a member of the New York Dolls.

Sylvain Sylvain
Sylvain in 2005
Background information
Birth nameSylvain Mizrahi
Born (1951-02-14) February 14, 1951
Cairo, Egypt
OriginNew York, United States
GenresGlam rock, protopunk, punk rock, glam punk
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Associated actsNew York Dolls, The Criminals

Early years

Sylvain was born in Cairo, Egypt, to a Jewish family,[2][3] but his family fled in the 1950s,[4] first to France and finally to New York, United States. The Mizrahis lived first on Lafayette Avenue in Buffalo, New York, but later moved to the New York City neighborhood of Rego Park, Queens, while he was still a child. Sylvain has dyslexia.[5] He attended Newtown High School in Queens and Quintano's School for Young Professionals in Manhattan.[6]

Prior to joining the New York Dolls, Sylvain and future New York Doll bandmate Billy Murcia ran a clothing company called "Truth and Soul," which helped define his fashion sense and would play a role in the band's groundbreaking look.[7] He has one brother, Leon (deceased), and one sister, Brigitte.


Before joining the New York Dolls in 1971, Sylvain was a member of the band Actress, which also featured Arthur Kane, Johnny Thunders and former fashion partner, Billy Murcia. He played rhythm guitar for the Dolls[8] from 1971 until the group's final dissolution in 1977. Sylvain and singer David Johansen were the last remaining members at the time the group broke up.[9] After the dissolution of the Dolls, he frequently played with Johansen on some of his solo records. He started his own band, The Criminals, with another ex-Doll, Tony Machine, and continued to play the New York club scene. He landed a solo recording contract with RCA, and released one album with Lee Crystal (drums; later of Joan Jett's Blackhearts) and Johnny Ráo (guitar).

He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s and recorded one record, Sleep Baby Doll for Fishhead Records. His band mates on this record were: Brian Keats, drums, John Carlucci, bass, and Olivier LeBaron' on lead guitar, with guest appearances by Frank Infante of Blondie and Derwood Andrews of Generation X. In the late 90s he teamed up with the LA punk band The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs for some touring and they recorded a live radio broadcast on KXLU that remains unreleased. The tour ended with an Atlanta show at the Navarre annual conference co-headlining with John Entwistle. In 2004 he reunited with the surviving members of the New York Dolls, along with Steve Conte, Brian Koonin and Brian Delaney. Arthur Kane, who died in 2004, was replaced by Sami Yaffa.[1] They released three records: One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This, Cause I Sez So, and Dancing Backward in High Heels. The reunion was filmed as part of a documentary on former band member Kane that was released in 2005 as New York Doll.[10]

On March 18, 2010, at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, Sylvain and Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys and Rocket from the Tombs debuted their new band, The Batusis. Their EP is on Smog Veil Records.

In November 2012, Sylvain posted a video for his new single, "Leaving New York," on the Internet, and available on iTunes on December 2, 2012.

In 2013 and 2014 Sylvain joined with Glen Matlock as the Sex Doll Tour.

In 2015, Sylvain emerged with a new band called Sylvain Sylvain and the Sylvains[11] from Austin, Texas, consisting of Chris Alaniz (drums), Jason "Ginchy" Kottwitz (guitar), and Gabriel Von Asher (bass).[11] In March 2016, they performed at South by Southwest.[12]

In 2018, Sylvain joined forces with Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa, and Robert Eriksson for two one-off dates in Tokyo as "The Dolls." They played at Shinjuku Marz on February 11, and Shimokitazawa Garden on February 12.[13]

After living in Atlanta for several years, Sylvain has resided in Nashville since 2015.[14]

On April 27, 2019, Sylvain announced that he had cancer. He set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help pay for treatment.[15]


With New York Dolls

As Sylvain Sylvain

  • Sylvain Sylvain (1979, RCA Records)
  • Sleep Baby Doll (1998, Fishhead Records)
  • Leaving New York single (2012, self-released)

With Syl Sylvain and the Teardrops

With Sylvain Sylvain and The Criminal$

  • 78 Criminals (1985, Fan Club)
  • Bowery Butterflies (2000, Munster Records)

With She Wolves

With the Batusis

  • Batusis EP (2010, Smog Veil Records)

With Roman Sandals

  • This Is It Single (1984, Body Rock)

As producer

  • River City Rebels, Hate To Be Loved album (2004, Victory Records)


  1. Hermes, Will (July 23, 2006). "Return of the New York Dolls, What's Left of Them". New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  2. "Syl the One". Riverfront Times. November 29, 2006. Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  3. "Q&A with ex-NY Doll, Sylvain Sylvain". December 14, 2000. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  4. "An Interview with Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls". Brooklyn Vegan. September 5, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  5. "New York Dolls: We Re-Hatched Iggy Pop's Career". February 28, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  6. "School's Out" by Tom Sinclair. Brod, Doug, editor. SPIN: Greatest Hits: 25 Years of Heretics, Heroes, and the New Rock 'n' Roll. John Wiley & Sons, 2010. p 146.
  7. "Sylvain Sylvain all Dolled up". Now Magazine. December 14, 2000. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  8. McNeil, Legs; Gillian McCain (1996). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. New York City: Penguin Books. p. 116.
  9. "Former New York Doll Displays Musical Scrapbook". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 25, 1998. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  10. Chonin, Neva (November 25, 2005). "Documentary follows former N.Y. Doll from post-fame obscurity to reunion". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  11. "Sylvain Sylvain". Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  12. "Sylvain Sylvain". South by Southwest. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  14. "Syl Sylvain & the Sylvains". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  15. "New York Dolls Guitarist Sylvain Sylvain Is Battling Cancer". Retrieved April 28, 2019.


  • Lazell, Barry. Punk! An A-Z, Hamlyn, 1995
  • Ruppli, Michel; Novitsky, Ed. The Mercury Labels. A Discography, Vol. V., Record and Artist Indexes, Greenwood Press, 1993.
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