Arthur Harold Kane Jr. Born February 3, 1949 was best known as the bass guitarist for the Legendry New York Dolls. Kane was an integral part of the band until he was kicked out in 1975., Following the departure of Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan.
In 2004, Kane rejoined the surviving Dolls (Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain) to rehearse and play a reunion concert in London, which was the subject of the 2005 documentary New York Doll.
After leaving the Dolls Kane collaborated with Blackie Lawless in Killer Kane, which resulted in the single “Mr. Cool.” Lawless was an old friend from New York City and had replaced Johnny Thunders during the ill-fated Florida tour in 1975.
After the Dolls, Kane was involved in several bands that included: playing bass in the band formed by Sid Vicious, The Idols (with Jerry Nolan), and The Corpse Grinders (with Rick Rivets); and joining Johnny Thunders on a few tours in the 1980s.
In the early 2000s, Kane met filmmaker Greg Whiteley through his work with the Latter-day Saints, and the two became friends. Whiteley commented that all Kane ever talked about was how he wished that he could somehow get the Dolls back together. The idea of doing a film on Kane’s life followed. Coincidentally, in 2004 Morrissey a high-profile fan of the Dolls—offered Kane an opportunity to perform a reunion show with the surviving Dolls (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain) at the Royal Festival Hall in London as part of his Meltdown Festival.
When Kane called Whiteley to ask for a ride to the pawn shop to retrieve his bass guitar, Whiteley asked if he could bring along a camera. From there Whiteley filmed Kane’s experiences preparing for the reunion, rehearsing with the Dolls in New York, and reconciling with Johansen, culminating in two sold-out shows in London; which for Kane was all a fulfillment of a nearly thirty-year dream. Whiteley’s footage resulted in the 2005 Sundance featured documentary, New York Doll.
On July 13, 2004, just 22 days after the reunion concert, Kane thought that he had caught the flu in London and checked himself into a Los Angeles hospital, complaining of fatigue. He was quickly diagnosed with leukemia and died within two hours. He was 55 years old. Johansen described Kane as “nonjudgmental, bawdy and holy.”
In 2009 Kane’s autobiography was published entitled, I, Doll: Life and Death with the New York Dolls, with the foreword and epilogue written by Barbara Kane.
Kane met Barbara when he was with the Dolls, and they were married in 1977. Although they were separated for many years, their divorce never became finalized. She was interviewed for the New York Doll documentary, portions of which are interspersed within the film’s narrative.
In 2005 the documentary, New York Dolls: All Dolled Up, was released on DVD. The directors, rock photographer Bob Gruen, and his then-wife, Nadya Beck, owned an early video camera and shot many hours of footage of the Dolls in the early 1970s. Edited down to 95 minutes, the black and white film shows the Dolls in different locales, such as backstage or at an airport, and documents several of the Doll’s live performances in New York City and California. Kane appears in some of the footage wearing a plaster cast on his left arm. This was the result of his volatile girlfriend Connie attempting to cut off his thumb so that he would be unable to play bass anymore. In his autobiography, fellow bass player and Dolls fan Dee Dee Ramone mentioned Kane when discussing Connie, whom he himself later dated. Dee Dee and Connie’s similarly violent and tumultuous relationship would inspire the 1977 Ramones song “Glad to See You Go”. Kane passed away on this day in 2004. If you’ve never seen the Documentary then go see it its funny, enlightening, sad yet uplifting. Arthur Killer Kane RPM salutes you. One of the good guys Gone but not Forgotten.