New York Dolls – New York Dolls
I saw the New York Dolls support Rod Stewart when he was in The Faces. That was at Wembley Empire Pool. It was the Dolls, the Pink Fairies and the Faces. I was there to see the Faces, and when the Dolls came on you've never seen a room empty so fast. Everybody just headed for the bar. David Johansen had a top hat on and Arthur Kane had some pink patent thigh-length boots and was being propped up at the back. They did a 15-minute version of 'Frankenstein', and that was good enough for me. I hadn't seen anything like it before. I gather Steve Jones was there as well – a few people were there who would go on to form groups.
They were these five tough New York kids and dressed like that, it was so provocative, so over the top. They went on The Old Grey Whistle Test and Whisperin' Bob Harris said, "I want nothing to do with this lot behind me." I lived in Chelsea in this flat with an American writer and I woke up in the middle of the night once and went in his room and Johnny Thunders was there. He asked me if I had a guitar and showed me a few chords. He was quite a nice bloke. That was when I was first starting out, in '77. He'd been over with the Heartbreakers doing the Anarchy tour with the Pistols. But to wake up and see him sitting there was bizarre. He'd had his hair cut by then. He always looked really smart. I loved the whole look of the New York Dolls. They had a real influence on me. They looked good wearing make-up, but there was no doubt that they were blokes. It was like, "Come on then, come and do something about it!" To walk around like that in the 1970s anywhere in America you were risking your life.
Tracks like 'Personality Crisis' – I think Malcolm [McLaren] lifted that wholesale for the Pistols, the rhythm section and the guitar sound, the heaviness, the weight of the rock & roll sound they made. That was a big influence on Malcolm. What you saw was what you got with the Dolls. I last saw Johnny Thunders at Dingwalls in Camden. I bought him a brandy. He was sitting there scowling. He was quite a dangerous person. When I was with him once, some girl came up to bug him or say something and he did that thing like in that James Cagney film – he just put his hand on her and pushed her away. He was a real tough nut. A real rotter.