Mild-mannered, 55-year-old Arthur Kane endures Los Angeles’ bewildering public transportation system each day to and from his job at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint’s Family History Center library. Though a tad frayed-at-the-edges Arthur is neatly dressed in a suit and tie. Thirty years later, and a lifetime removed from his former alter ego, “Killer Kane,” the one time statuesque bassist of 70s gender-bending, glam rock pioneers, The New York Dolls, Arthur blends effortlessly into his current environment, despite the fact that he’s speaking to a camera crew who tags along with him on his daily routine.
After the break-up of the Dolls in 1974, the majority of the band went on to expand on those early, hopeful horizons, while Arthur Kane faded away into virtual obscurity for almost three decades. Relocating from New York to Los Angeles, Arthur battled alcoholism as he watched the continued imitation of his former band echo in the pop world. He embarked on a troubled marriage as he attempted repeatedly to resurrect his musical career. But the majority of his time was taken up by an obsession with his short-lived fame and an intense longing for a return to the spotlight.
In 1989, his marriage over, Arthur converted to Mormonism and eventually settled into a job at the Family History Center library, assisting in the location of long-lost relatives and the reconnection of severed relationships through genealogical records. It would be a foreshadowing task of employment, and as he rode the bus to and from work every day, Arthur dreamed the fool’s dream of rekindling his own broken friendships with the only family he felt he had left, The Dolls.
In early Spring 2004, rock star Morrissey, formerly of The Smiths, and curator of London’s 2004 Meltdown Festival, asked the surviving three New York Dolls to reunite for the London spectacular. Caught between disbelief and angst, Arthur was nonetheless ecstatic at the notion of realizing his life-long dream. His friends at the church gave him money to retrieve his guitars from a local pawnshop so he could begin practicing.
The gentle rocker arrived at his five-star London hotel excited to play for what he considered to be “not an audience, but just a bunch of friends,” and on June 16, 2004, The New York Dolls played to wildly enthusiastic fans at Royal Festival Hall. Critics hailed the show as “a sensational comeback,” exclaiming “the kings of New York…they’ve never played better!” It was a triumphant return not only for The New York Dolls, but for Arthur “Killer” Kane.
Returning to Los Angeles meant hanging up the “Killer” persona and abandoning the luxury rock coach for the city bus once again.
No one, however, could imagine the twist of fate visited upon Arthur next...
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