The New York Dolls – Jet Boy

9th September 2022 · 1970s, 1973, Glam, Music, Punk

Punk before punk was invented, The New York Dolls made a sensational debut on British television’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973 – much to the disgust of host Bob Harris.

“Mock rock,” smirked the bearded hippie after the Dolls blew his conservative values into a cocked hat and adorned it with a feather boa.

With one foot in the past (specifically the Stones) and one foot in the future (prefiguring the Pistols, and the entire punk explosion to come) they gave Glam a New York makeover. And then some.

That fact that Harris couldn’t disguise his contempt only added to the thrill of seeing the Dolls on British telly, glammed up to the nines, terrifying and threatening the likes of Harris in their make-up and high heels.

But most of all because of the raw and raucous rock’n’roll racket they played.

Preening and pouting, David Johansen was the ultimate front man, out-caricaturing his lookalike Mick Jagger with his androgynous moves, and Johnny Thunders was not just one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived, he was everything a rock’n’roll star is supposed to be.

Sneering and spiky-haired, heroin coursing through his veins and not giving a fuck, you just knew he would live fast and die young. And he did – but thankfully not before I’d seen his next band, The Heartbreakers, half a dozen times.

The Dolls were the bridge between glam and punk: the only real surprise is that it took three more years to become a ‘movement’.

There’s a convincing argument that their brief two-album career was the perfect career for a rock’n’roll band because, well, where would they have gone after this?

They lived (and died) up to the title of their second and last album in 1974: Too Much Too Soon.