I Doll: Life and Death with the New York Dolls by Arthur “Killer” Kane (Book)

There are a number of things you can criticize about Arthur Kane’s posthumous memoir, but being frank is not one of them. In his decades in the making book, Kane, the bassist and co-founding member of the New York Dolls, is certainly not shy about opening up and telling off those he feels have slighted him in the past, from New Your Doll’s front man David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) to the band’s managers Marty Thau and Steve Leber (referred to by Kane as “Mighty Thud and Mr. Slave Labor,” the “evil manipulators” and a slew of other juvenile names).

For those interested in a first-person history of one of the most influential U.S. glam bands, I Doll is a fairly insightful read, but it is a bit difficult to get past Kane’s rambling, drug-influenced writings and often petty asides. There are also plenty of false recollections and accusations that are hinted at in the beginning of the book and cleared up in various footnotes. A Publisher’s Note also humorously states “What (Kane) says about his former band mates and managers should not always be taken as literal truth.” There is plenty of text devoted to the band’s fashion sense and homemade outfits and a handful of chapters spent detailing the group’s first tour of England, but far more interesting details, like the ultimate demise of the New York Dolls and Kane’s sudden conversion to Mormonism in the 90’s are barely touched on in the memoir.

Kane’s widow, Barbara does a commendable job of trying to fill in some of the holes in the book’s epilogue (detailing far more interesting tidbits like Kane’s short-lived band with pre-W.A.S.P front man Blackie Lawless). Despite some glaring inaccuracies and often confusing rants, Kane’s I Doll offers a one-of-kind perspective into a highly-influential band that never really got the respect it deserved.

I Doll: Life and Death with the New York Dolls by Arthur “Killer” Kane/Chicago Review Press/242 pages/Hardcover

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