When you hear people doling out "the last rock star" moniker, you need to put David Johansen at the top of the list.
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He's the guy who was a hero to the Sex Pistols for co-founding the New York Dolls and basically started the whole punk movement. Not only are the New York Dolls still alive and well -- releasing "Coz I Said So" last year -- but Johansen continues to play solo tours. "I really don't think about it too much," Johansen said before a prior tour. "We hear that all the time, that we inspired hair metal, we inspired The Clash. We live the artist's life and we want to inspire other people. We make music we want to hear. If that inspires other people, that's good."
Perhaps not thinking about his lofty three-decade long reputation in the music industry is what has kept the man with the famous vocal growl, cutting-edge make up and clothing and in-your-face stage persona -- oh and let's not forget his cutting edge music -- that keeps him relevant while others have plunged into a form of musical parody.
But talking to Johansen -- who weaves commentary about art and literature and musical greats of the past into his conversations -- is interesting on many levels. This is a guy who is comfortable in his own skin. So comfortable, in fact, that when asked by the U.K's "The Independent" to describe his life in six words he said "In part of the out crowd."
Perhaps that's why the band -- which co-founder Syl Sylvain said often erupts into heated disputes that can turn physical while recording -- was able to emerge intact after a nasty break up which found each member going his separate way.
One look at the 2005 movie "New York Doll" -- which chronicles the life of the now deceased bass player Arthur "Killer" Kane -- and you have a solid idea of how Johansen never really left his Doll persona behind. Perhaps that's because that persona is really just the main part of who he is.
"We have all had interesting lives and interesting things happen to us," Johansen said. "I don't know ...Maybe instead of disbanding when we did, we should have just taken a three month break. But we were all impetuous and wanted to 'move on.'"