Arthur "Killer" Kane, bassist for the New York Dolls, died Tuesday night in Los Angeles, due to complications from leukemia. Kane, 55, was a founding member of the legendary 1970s band and took part in its recent reunion. The Dolls' snarling, rudimentary sound is widely acknowledged as one of the key influences on punk rock.
Dolls vocalist David Johansen released a statement from "somewhere in Europe" in response to the news of Kane's death. "Arthur apparently died of leukemia," Johansen wrote, "which I was unaware he had, as was [Dolls guitarist] Sylvain [Sylvain], whom I just spoke to in London. I believe Arthur didn't know either. About two weeks ago, he came down with what seemed to be a lingering flu, for which he was under doctors' care. Last night, he went to the hospital where he died."
The Dolls, though officially disbanded in 1977, had reunited at the behest of Morrissey, the former president of their U.K. fan club, for London's Meltdown festival in June, with Steve Conte filling in for guitarist Johnny Thunders (who died in 1991) and Libertines drummer Gary Powell taking over for the late Jerry Nolan.
They were scheduled to perform at Little Steven's International Underground Garage Festival in New York on August 14 and at the U.K.'s Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds Festivals August 28 and 29. It is unclear if the band will go ahead with these shows.
On Thursday, Morrissey released a statement on Kane's passing, calling him a "very gentle soul." Of the reunion, he said, "I will always remember the look of bashful happiness on Arthur's face as people in the audience constantly called out his name. He was finally back where he belonged."
The band formed in 1971 and released two proper albums, 1973's self-titled debut and 1974's Too Much Too Soon, although there have been many subsequent releases. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren briefly managed the group late in its career.
In the mid-1970s, Kane formed his own band, the Killer Kane Band, and was also a member of the Corpse Grinders and the Idols.
Kane is the third founding member of the band to pass away, following the deaths of drummer Billy Murcia in 1972 from a combination of drugs and alcohol and guitarist Johnny Thunders in 1991 from a heroin overdose. Drummer Jerry Nolan, who replaced Murcia, passed away in 1991 from a stroke.
"It's good to know that he went out on a high point in his musical life," Johansen wrote, "but he will be sorely missed."