The 69-year-old musician – who was an original member of the band and stayed with them until they split for a second time in 2012 – had been battling cancer for over two years but passed away on Wednesday (13.01.21).
A statement shared on his Facebook page by his wife, Wanda O’Kelley Mizrahi, read: As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and 1/2 years.
“Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease.
“While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain. Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let’s send this beautiful doll on his way.”
The band’s frontman, David Johansen, has also paid tribute to his “best friend”.
He wrote on Instagram: “My best friend for so many years, I can still remember the first time I saw him bop into the rehearsal space/bicycle shop with his carpetbag and guitar straight from the plane after having been deported from Amsterdam, I instantly loved him.
“I’m gonna miss you old pal. I’ll keep the home fires burning.”
The statement from Wanda also included a touching tribute from musician Lenny Kaye, who touchingly reflected on the life of the “lynchpin” of the group.
Lenny wrote: “Syl loved rock and roll.
“His onstage joy, his radiant smile as he chopped at his guitar, revealed the sense of wonder he must have felt at the age of 10, emigrating from his native Cairo with his family in 1961, the ship pulling into New York Harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time.”
“His role in the band was as lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision.
“Though he tried valiantly to keep the band going, in the end the Dolls’ moral fable overwhelmed them, not before seeding an influence that would engender many rock generations yet to come.
“The New York Dolls heralded the future, made it easy to dance to.
“From the time I first saw their poster appear on the wall of Village Oldies in 1972, advertising a residency at the Mercer Hotel up the street, throughout their meteoric ascent and shooting star flame-out, the New York Dolls were the heated core of this music we hail, the band that makes you want to form a band.
“Syl never stopped. In his solo lifeline, he was welcomed all over the world, from England to Japan, but most of all the rock dens of New York City, which is where I caught up with him a couple of years ago at the Bowery Electric. Still Syl. His corkscrew curls, tireless bounce, exulting in living his dream, asking the crowd to sing along, and so we will. His twin names, mirrored, becomes us.
“Thank you Sylvain x 2, for your heart, belief, and the way you whacked that E chord. Sleep Baby Doll.