David Johansen

Best known for his tenure fronting the hugely influential New York Dolls, David Johansen was a true chameleon; throughout the course of a career which saw him transform from a lipstick-smeared proto-punk hero into an urbane blue-eyed soul man and finally into a tuxedo-clad lounge lizard, he remained a rock & roll original, an unpredictable iconoclast and a true cultural innovator. Born January 9, 1950, in Staten Island, NY, Johansen joined his first band, the Vagabond Missionaries, in his mid-teens. A tenure with Fast Eddie & the Electric Japs, as well as an attempt to mount a career as a theatrical actor, followed before a club-hopping Johansen met bassist Arthur Kane, who extended an invitation to join his band, Actress. After changing their name to the New York Dolls, the group began building a notorious reputation for their menacing, edgy music, drug-fueled lifestyle, and outrageously campy, drag queen-inspired glam image; although neither their eponymous 1973 debut nor 1974's Too Much Too Soon even cracked the Top 100, the Dolls established an enduring cult following, and their influence on the rise of punk was unmistakable.