News Segment


October 28, 2005

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – There is little about the sweetly unassuming 55-year-old with the wispy yellow hair that hints at Arthur “Killer” Kane’s days as a hard-partying bass player with 1970s rock legends the New York Dolls.

Until, that is, he describes the day he became a Mormon: “The only thing I could liken it to was a trip,” Kane says in a forthcoming documentary about his life. “An LSD trip from the Lord.”

Directed by first-time filmmaker Greg Whitely, “New York Doll” picks up where the glam/punk band left off 30 years ago, when it disintegrated. Lead singer David Johansen later performed as Buster Poindexter, as well as acting in films.

“Probably every day of his life, Arthur would go, ‘What can I possibly do to hasten the moment when the New York Dolls will once again rule the rock ‘n’ roll world?”‘ says Whitely, a fellow Mormon who knew Kane as an inspirational harmonica player at his temple. “It was the biggest regret of his life that this band was given this opportunity and blew it through drugs and in-fighting.”

Fifteen years after becoming a Mormon, Kane’s wish came true: Rock star and former New York Dolls fan club president Morrissey asked the group to reunite for two shows at the 2004 Meltdown Festival in London.

Shooting for “New York Doll” began as a favor to Kane, who, as soon as he learned of his chance to return to the stage, asked Whitely for a ride to the pawn shop that was holding his guitars.


“I felt this project could be a memento that Arthur could have for his friends, because no one would believe he was going to play this show in London,” Whitely says. “But right away, all these twists and turns were happening to him, and I got the sense that this could be something much bigger.”

The film contrasts vintage footage of the band in vinyl platform shoes, rouged lips and heavy eyeliner with the softer, weathered faces of reunited members Kane, Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain.

Interviews with Morrissey, the Clash’s Mick Jones, Bob Geldof and the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde underscore the group’s influence on rock history, but it is Kane’s rocky relationship with Johansen that becomes the film’s core.

Nervous about seeing Johansen again after so many years, Kane is reassured by his bishop in one scene: “Arthur, be a good Latter-day Saint, do your job, and everything will be fine.”

Sure enough, minutes after the highly charged reunion performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall, a flushed Johansen grabs Kane, kisses him on the lips and says: “I love you so much. You make me so happy.”

Many people who will see the film know that Kane died in July 2004, but Whitely declines to discuss how the film handles his passing, preferring that the details “hit audiences the exact way they hit us while we were making it.”

The film, distributed by First Independent Pictures, opens nationwide November 4.

Courtesy of