Happy Birthday to David Johansen

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As crazy as this may seem, there was a time before punk music existed. During the early 70’s in New York City, there were no Ramones, Blondie or Television yet. There was only a vacuum created while underground music essentially decided where to go next. Enter a group called the New York Dolls (so named for the New York Doll Hospital, which adorably fixed broken dolls) that mixed the street-glam aesthetic popularized by Bowie and Lou Reed with the raw immediacy of the Stooges and created something completely new. It was fast, it was nasty, and as it turned out, it was punk. There just wasn’t a word for it yet. For their moment, the Dolls were the Kings of New York, and they paved the way for the first spurt of punk, which was only a few short years away. Though band members Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan would later form The Heartbreakers and become punk legends in their own right, they weren’t front and center in the Dolls. The face of the New York Dolls was David Johansen, and he embodied the punk frontman in so many ways before such a thing existed. Johansen recently celebrated his 67th birthday last week, so it seems a fitting time to give him a shout-out.

Of course, if you don’t recognize David Johansen yet, you may be familiar with  the name “Buster Poindexter.”

Yes, Johansen had a very successful second career, even scoring a hit with “Hot Hot Hot” in 1987. You also may recognize him from the film Scrooged, with Bill Murray. Personally, I feel this film is underrated, but that’s immaterial to the topic at present.

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Regardless of how you were introduced to David Johansen, let’s just be glad that he exists. He’s a punk pioneer and a novelty song superstar, and that’s a resume that nobody else on Earth can claim.

Photo: By Montecruz Foto from Berlin, Alemania (Image on Flickr Uploaded by UAwiki) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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