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New York Dolls Bassist Dies at 55

Arthur Kane, original bass guitarist for the 1970s-era punk rock group New York Dolls, has died of complications related to leukemia. He was 55.

Kane died Tuesday after being admitted to a Los Angeles hospital and diagnosed with leukemia, said band manager Darren Hill.

“He didn’t even know,” Hill said Thursday. “It wasn’t until he went into the hospital that afternoon that they diagnosed that.”

The New York native had been suffering from severe flu-like symptoms for several days, forcing him to back out of a July 11 reunion show in Manchester, England, Hill said.

In a statement on behalf of himself and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, Dolls frontman David Johansen said: “His bass playing and presence were the heart and soul of the New York Dolls and the secret ingredient of our sound.”

Kane helped form the New York Dolls in 1972. The group recorded only two studio albums before they split in 1975, but their hard-edged sound and glam-punk image influenced the punk rock wave that followed and, years later, the late 1980s glam-metal scene.

Johansen said Kane suffered an abusive childhood, then conquered years of alcoholism.

“Practically every trauma that could befall a person happened to Arthur. But finally 12 years ago, through spiritual studies, he was able to overcome that vicious cycle and put his life back together,” Johansen said.

Kane had been working at the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Los Angeles. But he rejoined the band after British singer and Dolls fan Morrissey persuaded the group to play at London’s Meltdown Festival last month.

“I will always remember the look of bashful happiness on Arthur’s face as people in the audience constantly called out his name. He was finally back where he belonged,” Morrissey said in a statement Thursday.

The Dolls will still perform Aug. 14 in New York. “They are going to carry on in Arthur’s honor,” Hill said.

Several of the original Dolls members have died. Original Dolls drummer Billy Murcia drowned in 1972. Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders died of a drug overdose in 1991. Murcia’s successor, Jerry Nolan, had a fatal stroke in 1992.

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