July 15, 2004 by

Arthur Kane


Categories: Musicians

Arthur Harold “Killer” Kane Jr., a bass player and charter member of The New York Dolls, died on July 13 from complications of leukemia. He was 55.
In 1971, five cross-dressing musicians combined glam rock and punk to form The New York Dolls. After building a dedicated following and touring with The Faces in Great Britain, the group’s drummer Billy Murcia drowned in his bathtub. The Dolls hired Jerry Nolan as a replacement, signed with Mercury Records in 1973 and released its self-titled debut, an album that heavily influenced future punk rockers.
Their sophomore effort bore the prophetic title: “Too Much Too Soon.” It met with disappointing sales and critical disregard. With the help of manager Malcolm McLaren, the band revamped its image, but failed to nab another record deal. Guitarist Johnny Thunders left the group to form the Heartbreakers while frontman David Johansen and guitarist Syl Sylvain fired Kane. The Dolls eventually disbanded and focused on other projects.
Thunders died from a drug overdose in 1991. Nolan died from a stroke in 1992. Johansen recorded several solo albums as lounge singer named Buster Poindexter, and launched a movie career. Kane went on to play bass with The Corpse Grinders and The Idols.
Earlier this year, Johansen, Sylvain and Kane re-formed the band and performed at Morrissey’s Meltdown Festival in London. The new version of The Dolls, which included former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin and ex-Libertines drummer Gary Powell, had planned to release an album in September and tour with the White Stripes later this year.
New York Dolls Download Songs From “New York Dolls”

35 Responses to Arthur Kane

  1. leslie

    I was an original fan of the New York Dolls but never got to see them live. I was still on a high after managing to see the Royal Festival Hall performance a few weeks ago. I already have my tickets for Belfast in August and am so sorry that this had to happen. Goodbye to a great bass player whose music and memory I will treasure..

  2. MITCH

    I saw the Dolls 4 times in the short time they were together.Met and shared a bottle of wine with Arthur at the Dudley Creek Rock Festival,July 27 1974,in Larue,Ohio, where they were second on the bill to Blue Oyster Cult.Thank you Killer! MM

  3. nick mercer

    Silvain to the audience at the royal festival hall re Arthur “He wrote this!” shades of spinal tap. Later “he doesn’t move, he’s a monster, (faux cockney)He’s a bloomin’ monster!” Johansen, clearly enjoying himself, “you know 2 weeks ago i was this fuckin’ bedraggled like folksinger with a a fucking beard like john martyn? Now look at me i look like one of the fucking scissor sisters!” While above it all sat Morrisey alone in a box and other luminaries scattered around. everybody wanted to see the new york dolls. and the whole place was rocking and feeling good and i guess 99.9% of us had never seen them other than record covers and offshoots. Standing ovation – and a sense of a beginning rather than the tired old resurrection many were expecting. Thanks arthur at the risk of wrong diagnosis its a shame you never made the rooms. In the immortal words of Johansen uttered on that same hallowed stage “lets sing a gene pitney song, just for the fuck of it!” nick m

  4. Chris Donovan

    Am so sorry to hear of Arthur’s death, what a quality band New York Dolls were !!!! –
    “Personality Crisis” was awesome – these guys were years before there time!!!!!!

  5. Rick Rivets

    Ain’t if funny how David and Syl fired Arthur. David and Syl weren’t even original Dolls so wasn’t it nice that they fired the founder.And Davids comments about Arthur. Why do you think Syl never takes his hat off. Come on fess up boys you never liked Arthur and he never liked you. It is a shame and a disgrace that Arthurs body is still in a freezer at the L.A. Morgue because there is no money to bury him. Put your money where your mouth is and donate the money from your NY gig to bury him alongside with Johnny and Jerry but that’ll never happen because those two will milk this like they did after Johnny and Jerry and Arthur left in the 70’s and D & S went out as the Dolls. The Dolls died with Johnny so don’t be fooled by some bad imitation. Rivets

  6. Anna

    Of The New York Dolls, Arthur Kane was my favorite. He was the one in the band that stood out in my eyes. He was apart of what I considered the most outrageous and original rock band ever,and he will always be remembered. God Bless Arthur, and thankyou for being apart of my life.

  7. Nick Sant Nicola

    **** Arthur Kane (RIP) Love and Miss You ****
    by Nick Sant Nicola
    It was You that formed the act that went on to change the ‘scene’ forever!!
    Like a frame from Fellini, I met Arthur in 1971 at bar Nobody’s on Bleeker St. With George ‘Rick’ Rivets, he took me to jam out in a bike shop on 82nd St where the Dolls idea was born.
    I knew Johnny from The Filmore….he was also recruited.
    I split to Italy in ’71… when I returned in ’73…. they were All-Stars !!!
    May God give them Light Forever – AMEN

  8. Suzy

    I was treated to see Arthur Kane get and play onstage at I believe it was at Sylvain Sylvain gig in LA at the Knitting Factory in ’01 or ’02. It was charming. My friend was a great friend of Arthur’s and Arthur had finished a book, I was so delighted to know he finished it because of what a good writer he was and the interesting stuff he had to say. I’m hoping it will be shared with the public. He will be missed. It will be apparent he’s gone at the upcoming NY Dolls show in LA. I know his friend said he was “on cloud 9” about things picking up for him with the band reuniting and their upcoming plans.

  9. Tony Eckman

    Such a shame that the man passed on.The Dolls were a big influence on me and i still have all of the original vinyl and some old magazines from the 70’s.In actuality it is not a shame because he shall be revered and remembered forever.A pioneer and a legend in the annals of rock n’ roll history.

  10. Alex

    Writing from Italy.
    Found only now that the “Killer” Kane has died, such a shame, that only after one month from the show in London, in the DVD Arthur quote: I was forgot and called a loser for nearly 20 years, now they call me back again” It seems honored, I think I can talk for everybody, never got a chance to meet them, too young, big heart and a big gift, Arthur Kane you are the ultimate “Artist”. Thanks for everything, God bless you, I know you love it.
    L.o.v.e. Alex

  11. Stefan

    It is now about two years since I found out that I have a connection in the United States. In my searching for ancestors I discovered that there is somebody living in LA, called Arthur Kane, that seem to be the only son of my fathers cousin, whose name was also Arthur Kane. At this time I had absolutely no idea that I was about to contact one of the biggest inluences to the punk music. I remember when first searching for him in some forum’s on the net. Everybody knew about Arthur Kane, one of the founders of the New York Dolls, but they also told me that I should not expect to find him, since he was supposed to be long tide dead. Nobody had heard anything from him for the last ten years or so. Anyway, I was told to look at some other places, and suddenly I found myself talking to someone who had actually seen Arthur on that very same day. He told me that Arthur was now working for the Mormones in LA, and that’s where we finally established contact. I never spoke to Arthur irl, but we had a lot of long conversations through e-mail. He knew very well of his Swedish roots, and was delighted to find out more of it. I had plans to visit Arthur in LA one day, but now this won’t happen, and I am so sorry about that. I used, by all those e-mails, to know a very gentle and kind relative of mine, and I relly looked forward to meet him head-to-head.
    Arthur also told me, last spring, that he was about to finalize a biography about his life with the New York Dolls, but I don’t know if he made it. Dear Arthur, rest in peace! I will never forget all your kind words, and your advices for my son’s bass guitar playing.
    To everybody: Links to pictures of Arthur are much appreciated. Also I would like to know if his biography was ever finalized, and if it is available from any store. Any close friends to Arthur are welcome to contact me. I do have a lot of non-answered questions.

  12. dewlover

    I think Rick Rivets should give it a rest, and get something going on his own for a change, rather than make bashing the great David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain his life’s work…
    R.I.P. Artie!!

  13. still-kickn-LAMF

    Arthur was a true original a star and an artist
    I doubt he will ever know how many people’s lives and hearts he touched and even molded.
    Since I read what Rivets posted on this site I have been in touch with him so as to do what is necessary to get Arthurs ashes placed over at MT ST Marys in Queens where Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nigs Nolan are resting. Well Rivets posts a mean e-mail but I get get him do much else. I need him to tell me how to reach Arthurs ex-wife who Rivets says has his ashes…does anyone know how to reach her, I’ll pay for his grave site in Mt St Marys and a marker if I can get some HELP
    Well anyway I am not quitting help or not I am going to keep trying to help get Arthur a final resting spot at Mt St Marys…
    Thank you Arthur Harold Kane RIP

  14. Andres

    i am from venezuela south america..and i don’t speak english very well…i’m 24 years old and since i listened new york dolls at my 15 years i knew that nyd is my all time favorite band i’m really sorry about arthur kane died….
    jhonny… arthur ..billy jerry RIP god bless you all rock and roll party for ever!!!!

  15. Mike

    I saw the Dolls on TV in ’73 when I was 12-the Midnight Special. It was the only time I ever saw them in their heyday, but they had a nuclear impression on me. I immediately hammered my folks for my allowance, and picked up their first album. To me, Sylvain and Nolan were forgetable. But Johanssen confident frontman attack, Arthur towering in the background, and Johnny Thunders with those little jerks and gyrations; and his definitive guitar sound? Man, what a team of defining rocksters! They commanded the stage rivaling any of the greatest in rock history! When I watch clips of past shows, it makes it all seem like yesterday. The passing of Thunders made the stalwart stage presence of the Dolls permanent history. And now with Arthur’s passing, it’s just the voice of the Dolls-DJ. Arthur wasn’t a flash bass player, but he had a signature tone that can’t be replaced. His final year on earth, he gave glory to Jesus Christ, and now he’s at home with His savior. See you in a few years, bro!

  16. consuelo

    I remember Arthur Kane playing at the Mercer Street Arts center, with his unique pink stockings and his mellow attitude. I remember Arthur Kane visiting me at my East 3rd Street Apartment in New York City. He didn’t speak much but made sense. My last immage of Arthur Kane was my last night in New York City (Dec/22/72) in front of a restaurant in China Town. While other Dolls and friends were having dinner, Arthur and I were at the door drinking beer. I was leaving on vacation to Colombia in the morning. I spoke of the mountains and the jungle and he told me he prefered the neon lights. I also gambled my life hard, and never returned to New York City. I am still in Colombia, teaching. But I will never forget Arthur Kane. He was himself, he was unique, really unforgetable.

  17. Satori

    Unique,himself and unforgettable? That describes the Arthur I knew as well. Spiritually miles ahead of me and I am so happy he got that last chance! Love you Arthur! May you never be forgotten again.

  18. chris fung

    hello and thank you for all these notes.
    i am going to see the new york dolls movie next week and i am so happy to hear about Mr arthur Kane.
    thank you.

  19. Ken Finger (a.k.a. "Fang")

    I will never forget my high school days of ’67-’68 in a band with Arthur and those crazy guys who later took on the names of Rick Rivets, and Stu Wylder. Without Arthur, we wouldn’t have had his basement to play in after school! At that time, Arthur was a soft-spoken, nice guy, and the most conservative of the group. We were all surprised (and pleased) when he beat the crap out of our asshole drummer after a gig for hiding his guitar in a backstage refrigerator. I called him “Killer” and I guess the name stuck from that point on. Although I moved on with college and left NY, I regret that it wasn’t until 2002 that Arthur and I reconnected via e-mail and found out that both of us had been living in the L.A. area for many years. How unfortunate that I relocated soon thereafter, so we never had the chance to rendezvous. Thanks for the memories old friend – you were may you rest in peace.

  20. i.p. van vliet

    Just watched the new Dolls dvd, All Dolled Up. Since I was 13 and I first saw a pic of the Dolls in a German magazine I thought Arthur Kane was visually most sophisticated and intriguing among them. Knowing that his middle name was Killer I expected some not to friendly Gene Simmon/Lemmy type of character. This dvd shows that he was a nice, gentle friendly person.
    One of those people you regret you will never have the chance to meet.

  21. M.W.S.

    There is a great little “indi” flick out called “New York Doll” all about Arthur’s life as a New York Doll and beyond. It is a supremely well-done movie with lots of interviews with Arthur and friends and was done shortly before his untimely death, and includes excellent footage of the Dolls’ reunion concert. Do yourself a favor and check out this movie if it’s playing in your town. Rest in peace, Arthur…and thanks for the memories!!

  22. W.A.R.

    A year ago I read an article about a documentary of the last few months in the life of Arthur “Killer” Kane. At the time I didn’t know anything about the New York Dolls. When the DVD “New York Doll” came out, I ordered it and watched it with my husband. I enjoyed the movie very much but did not know how my husband felt, until he said, “this is one of the best stories ever told.”
    The truth is, I haven’t stopped thinking about Arthur and feeling happy that he got the wish of his heart, playing again with the band that had made him so happy in his youth, before being called Home to his Maker.
    Thank you, Arthur, for your humble example. Till we meet at Jesus’ feet.

  23. Caren Nelson

    I missed the heyday of the New York Dolls and admit that I didn’t know who they were. I read about the dvd in a catalog from my church bookstore and bought it. My husband and I watched it today.
    WOW!! What an amazing man. I had started reading about the Dolls before I got the dvd so I knew that he had passed away, otherwise I would have been so upset to get that information at the end of this wonderful story. Arthur’s sensitive spirit and tenacity came shining through and I too was so glad that he got the dream of his heart to play with the Dolls again. I cannot stop thinking about him. I can’t wait to meet him someday. Thank you for showing me that no matter how tough life gets, there is always hope. Rest in peace, my new friend.

  24. Rory Sandberg

    Loved the movie about Arthur and the Dolls; even though I already knew how influential they were. I’m going to California in a couple of months and would love to visit his grave, anyone know where I could find it?

  25. Art Steinman

    I remember Arthur from the days when I played in Shaker. Just saw the film about him. Glad he had another chance to play with the group he loved before he died.

  26. Roger Dowd

    I was friends with Artie when he was a student at Pratt in 1967-68. I’ll always remember him as a gentle, quiet, friendly guy. After he joined The Dolls we lost touch. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I found him on the web and we corresponded. I feared that he might have died. He said “yes, I’m still alive after all these years. Thank you for asking”. At that time he still hadn’t reconnected with his former band members. I was really glad for him when I heard about the Doll’s reunion in the UK. Then when I heard about his death, it was just so sad. At least he found some peace at last.

  27. bwjenkins

    I never knew you in terrestrial life. I wasn’t even born when the Dolls broke up. I only learned of your life from your documentary though we even share the same religion. All of this and I still feel as if we were friends. My brother in law turned me on to your music a few years ago but I still never recognized our correlation. I wish I could have at least met you while you were here on earth but I hope, when I join you in the Kingdom of our Father, we can greet each other as brothers.
    I never knew you but I love you.

  28. sjwarren

    just watched the doc and found myself in tears at end. had only listened to a few Dolls songs in past, largely coz of Mozzers reported interest in them. wot a journey Kane had………

  29. andy

    just saw the doc. NEW YORK DOLL and became a dolls fan for life, just because arthur kane was in it. What a sweet simple guy, maybe he was different under the influence and he certainly didnt pick women wisely, but he seemed vulnerable and defenseless. I don’t know. I can’t stop thinking about this man and his life. I am an actor, so I know what it’s like to struggle and fail. It seemed like he had noone to help him, no family. The fact that his guitars were in pawn and he couldnt put 262$ together said a lot. When it finally looked like he would get some respect, the man dies. This guy should have been wealthy or at least comfortable, arthur dies from lack of real healthcare and dick cheney lives on an on…no justice in this world…..is that the message??…huh god?…..anyways I watch the movie again and again to celebrate a sweet simple man who was an artist that I appreciated….thanks Killer!!!

  30. Archie

    I too just watched the documentary “New York Doll.” While I am old enough to remember the dolls they were a band that never interested me, I’m sorry to say. I didn’t even know that David Johanson was the lead singer for Heaven’s sake. But as I watched the film I found myself more and more realizing what I missed. Arthur Kane had gone from rock & roll star to down-&-out alcholic with a death wish to a quiet and devout person. To watch him talk about his past and to see his wish (prayer?) of a reunion come to pass was just tremendous. And, unlike a previous tribute, I find myself almost at peace with his untimely death. It was God saying “Now that your greatest desire has come true, it’s time to come home, my son.” Arthur spent his final years in service to God and God rewarded him. I have no doubt tha Arthur is up in Heaven. God bless you Arthur “Killer” Kane.

  31. Vince Piggot

    I have to agree with Rick rivets……….don’t believe the hype…..only Johansen and Sylvain made on this………

  32. Carol M

    I also just watched the film. I was a big fan and thought I was the only one left. I cried for a week. After reading Rivets comments above made shortly after his death I’m wondering if anyone knows what happened to Arthurs remains? Regardless of what anyone thinks I’ve seen the Dolls twice in the past year and it’s been wonderful to relive that time just once more, I close my eyes and I feel 17 again, but I’m sad that Arthur is not there.

  33. John K

    Saw the Dolls at the Waldorf on Halloween 74..A night to remember..saw the indie flic on Arthur’s life..Seemed like a really nice man..I am glad he did go out on a high note…too bad Thunders and Nolan couldn’t have been there..the Dolls were ahead of their time..I still listen to the first album today….

  34. marissa

    Yesterday I was channel surfing and came across this doc New York Doll. I was immediately drawn in due to Arthur. What an unassuming man. As I watched I became so happy for him-thinking that he had come full circle-I had NEVER heard of him till yesterday but now I am completely overwhelmed by this story. It was on again today and I could not tear myself away. I had heard of the NY dOLLS but was only familiar with Johanson-now he is a jagger rip off-Arthur was truly a wonderful man-yes,it appears he had his demons but his life was somewhat tragic. Just hope he realized how many out there thought so much of him. I regret never knowing about this man or his band.
    Hope he can see down from heaven and feel the love.

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