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David Johansen

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David Roger Johansen (born January 9, 1950) is an American rock, protopunk, blues, and pop singer, as well as a songwriter and actor. He is best known as a member of the seminal protopunk band New York Dolls.

Early lifeJohansen was born in the New York City borough of Staten Island, New York to a librarian mother and an insurance sales representative father. Johansen’s family was Catholic. His mother was Irish American and his father was Norwegian American.

CareerJohansen began his career in the late 1960s as a lead singer in the local Staten Island band the Vagabond Missionaries and later in the early 1970s as the singer/songwriter in the protopunk band the New York Dolls. The Dolls only released two albums, their self-titled debut (1973), and Too Much Too Soon (1974). The bulk of the material was written by Johansen and guitarist Johnny Thunders. The Dolls were critics’ darlings with a cult following, but their failure to break commercially may be due to their being ahead of their time in that their sound and image both anticipated and influenced aspects of the later 1970s’ punk rock movement.

Drugs played a role in the departure of Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan from the band in 1975. Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, along with Peter Jordan, Chris Robison and Tony Machine, continued on briefly, as their already booked gigs as the New York Dolls. Later that year, Johansen embarked on a solo career. His first two albums, David Johansen and In Style, featured several enduring originals.

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