New York Dolls


One night I was in Folk City drinking w/ my good friend Rick Frank, drummer for Elephant's Memory. [I was no longer in his band, for the second time] Rick says,with his wild eyes."Chris, wanna go to Japan?" "Sure!" "Then go up to this audition tomorrow." I did, to a rehearsal space in the East 20's where The Ramones were rehearsing. There in the other room was David Johanson, Sylvain Sylvain, Peter Jordan on bass and Tony Machine on drums. We jammed a few hours-they had a nice Hammond B-3 organ for me to play. They invited me back for the next afternoon and we jammed away a few more hours. I said, "So David, do I pass the audition?" He gave me that great Johanson shit-eating grin an' said simply, "Yeah..."

We toured Japan that summer ['75] with Jeff Beck, and Felix Pappalardi of Mountain, and had a blast. The best gig was at Tokyo Baseball Stadium where we played to 55 thousand screaming people-big stage set up on 2nd base and we played towards home plate. As we were making our frantic escape surrounded by screaming girls and boys and uniformed police wielding billy clubs,
Sylvain almost caused a riot: We were dashing for the limo and somehow in the next moment Syl was ON TOP of the car inhaling a helium balloon and screaming "ARRIGATO" in a high pitched helium induced voice ----They went WILD! and the cops started swinging their clubs full force at the fans. I managed to empty a sapporo beer onto the back of the head and shoulders of one of the riot police and when he spun around towards me brandishing his club -- well, that was one of those sublimely odd moments that stay with you always.

I've come across a really excellent bootleg of that historic eve, which I can forward to anyone for just shipping and a dollar for the CD disk--Photographer Bob Gruen has a video of that show -- maybe he'll make it available some time.

One of my biggest regrets in life is how my growing problem with alcohol back then led to a certain night of whiskey- induced rage and mental distortion. I was in a blackout and to this day don't know exactly what I said to Sylvain--but it was enough said to convince Syl and the boys to leave for the Cobo Hall Michigan gig without me. I woke up the next afternoon and they were already gone, and so was my stint with The New York Dolls. Sorry, guys ..... Months later, though, Sylvain invited me to play with his band the Criminals up in Boston. And I've continued to be a big fan of David's projects Buster Poindexter, and the Harry Smiths. When the Dolls ground to a halt that next year, bass player Peter Jordan joined me in my next project, Stumblebunny.