One does not need to have hits to be an influential band. It was said of another band that is already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that their album only sold a hundred albums, but everyone who bought those albums started a band of their own. That is influence that must be respected. It can be said that the New York Dolls have that kind of influence. Yet it is not the sort of influence that can be recognized by the sort of discussions that I normally have about these bands. It is my general habit to comment on the popular songs and albums that a group had as a way of pointing out the influence that a group has because it is very easy to judge societal importance by how many spins a song receives on the radio or how much singles and albums sell. The New York Dolls simply do not have hits. But does that mean that they do not have any influence? Not at all. Discussing that influence, though, requires some unpacking.
The Influence Of The New York Dolls
How are the New York Dolls influential? It must be remembered that none of their albums ever hit the Top 100 of the Top 200 albums chart (not even the three albums released after the band was already relatively well known and critically well-regarded), and none of their singles hit the Hot 100. Yet that is not how they were judged as influential. Their first two albums were viewed as forerunners of the glam rock and punk movement through their fairly basic levels of musicality as well as their androgynous look. One of the members of a band that they had inspired encouraged the band to re-unify, which they did, releasing three more albums before breaking up again. Their influence is mostly related to their earliest work, of course, but all the same, the fact that they had a later career that is due to the encouragement of an artist they had influenced does provide evidence of that influence.
Why The New York Dolls Aren’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Given the widespread recognition of the New York Dolls as an act which inspired later acts even if their own records did not sell well, it is puzzling why they have not yet been inducted, unless they managed to get on the bad side of someone. I will leave it to my dear readers, who are more familiar with the band, to share their own ideas and speculation on these matters.