23 November 2006

Real-life Spinal Tap

One can probably tell from the Underground Garage photo album to the right that I've listened to Little Steven's Sirius channel a good bit recently.  One of the bands currently touring is the New York Dolls.  Not knowing much about them, I checked out their AllMusic.com bio, and was fascinated by a story that makes This Is Spinal Tap tame by comparison.



To summarize the bio, two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, and vocalist form the band in late 1971.   By early 1972 guitarist #2 was replaced by guitarist #3.  Late in 1972, drummer #1 died after mixing drugs and alcohol whilst touring in England, and was replace by drummer #2.  Producer #1 works on album #1 in 1973, which received strong reviews but didn't sell much.  Hoping to turn around their fortunes, the band works with producer #2 on album #2, which, like the one before it, failed to stir much public interest upon its release in 1974.



After two commercial failures, the band is dropped by label #1.  So manager #2, in an attempt to garner publicity, dresses the group in red leather and has them pose in front of USSR flags.  Surprisingly, this tactic fails to woo labels and the public, so, in 1975, guitarist #1 and drummer #2 leave the band. 



The remaining members give it a go with various fillers for the next two years, but, in 1977, they disband for good.  Separately, guitarist #2 and vocalist #1 work together on a few projects, as do guitarist #1 and drummer #2.  The latter partnership ended in 1991, when guitarist #1 ("one of the more notorious drug abusers in rock & roll history") dies of a heroin overdose.  Later that year, a few months after performing a benefit concert for guitarist #1, drummer #2 dies of a stroke at age 40.



Fast forward to 2004.  A popular artist, who was once president of the British New York Dolls fan club, invites the remaining members to perform at a festival.  Shocking many, bassist #1, guitarist #2, and vocalist #1 agree.  The gig was very well received, and thoughts of a renaissance arose.  Alas, within a few weeks of the festival bassist #1 dies of leukimia, after checking in to the hospital only hours before with what he thought was the flu.



More of the New York Dolls' story at Wikipedia.

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