Special thanks to ThisDayinMusic.com.
On this day in 1975, a young music buff named Steven Morrissey had a letter published in U.K. music weekly, Sounds. In the letter, titled “Dolly Mixture Wasn’t Right,” Morrissey, who 10 years later would be notorious the world over as the lead singer of The Smiths, complains about the public ignoring his favorite band, The New York Dolls:
“The British public are very wary of new bands. Anything that aims to change the day-to-day routine of the rock world is carefully observed before admitted. What a shame the New York Dolls and Jobriath were a little too fond of their satins and silks because I am sure that they both had enough – and more, to please the media. After two albums, several European tours and a large amount of money spent on publicity, the Dolls are back on the streets of New York with the bands whose path was paved by the Dolls. It is often forgotten that the Dolls were the beginning of a whole new music scene in America which has produced such rarities as Kiss, Aerosmith, The Tubes, Wayne County, the Dictators, and the current genius, Bruce Springsteen – names which wouldn’t stop the show, but have been the topic of much enthusiastic journalism. Not to mention the truck loads of amateur bands which, as I pen this epistle, will no doubt be screeching away at unrecognizable chords after bathing in the latest brands of cosmetics. – Steve Morrissey, Kings Road, Stretford, Manchester.”
The New York Dolls, under Malcolm McLaren’s tutelage had forged glam rock with punk and developed the prototype of rebellion music that would explode with McLaren’s next band, the Sex Pistols.
But for the teenage Morrissey, the New York Dolls were number one. In fact they’d stay that way for Morrissey right through his career with the Manchester-born star naming the Dolls his top selection on BBC radio show Desert Island Discs (celebrities chose the records they would want to take if stranded on a desert island).
But in 1975 he was President of the New York Doll fan club in England and took his position very seriously. A few months later, Morrissey picked up his pen again, and with his very “Morrissey” delivery stated: “Methinks that The Dolls weren’t the ‘damp squid’ that Nick Kent would have us to believe because if you look closely at the increasing number of British ‘punk’ bands emerging by the shipload, you will see in each one, a little bit of The Dolls. I think it’s time that NME broke the office rules and had an article on the New York Dolls. You know it makes sense. Steven Morrissey.”
In 2004, curating the Meltdown Festival at London’s South Bank, Morrissey re-connected with his teenage heroes by convincing the New York Dolls to reunite for the event. Morrissey contacted the band’s manager, Darren Hill, who recalled to XM London radio station that he called, “and said that he was the president of his local New York Dolls fan club as a kid.” Morrissey then got hold of Dolls singer David Johansen, who according to MTV said, “That was the last thing on my mind. But I thought about it for a couple of days and thought, ‘That could be a hoot’.”
It was more than that for Morrissey who recalled the emotions to Morrissey fanzine, True to You: “As for Meltdown, that moment when David, Sylvain [Sylvain] and Arthur [Kent] trooped on – I was standing up in the balcony, frozen, unable to hold back the tears. David Johansen later asked me to sing on the new Dolls album, but I had to refuse – I’m not from New York and I’m not a Doll and I know my place... if nothing else.”