All female band
All-female bands (commonly known as all-women bands, all-girl bands or girl bands) are musical groups in which females sing and play all the instruments. They are distinct from
girl groups,Dubious|Terminology|date=March 2008 in which the females sing but do not play any or all the of the instruments.
History of "girl bands" prior to 1970
Goldie and The Gingerbreads were the first rock and roll girl group to ever hit the charts. they were signed to Atlantic Records in 1964.Women have long been a part of the musical landscape, with composers such as Anna Amalia, Princess of Prussia. The sister of
Frederick The Greatwrote music in the 1700s and, more recently, Germaine Tailleferreof Les Sixworked with Jean Cocteauand composed for the theatre and dance troupes. In the Jazz Ageof the 1920s, "all-girl" bands such as "Helen Lewis and Her Jazz Syncopators" were briefly popular. (In 1925, Lee DeForestfilmed Lewis and her band in his short-lived Phonofilmprocess, in a film now in the Maurice Zouary collection at the Library of Congress. [ [http://www.silentera.com/PSFL/data/H/HelenLewisandHerAllGir192X.html Silent Era : PSFL : Helen Lewis and Her All-Girl Jazz Syncopators (192?) ] ] ) In the 1930s, with the commencement of the Big Bandand Swing Era, all-female bands began to emerge. Perhaps the best-remembered of such orchestras is the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Gloria Parkerduring the Swing Era lead and played the marimbawith several all-girl swing bands, Gloria Parkerand the Starlets traveled on tour with the USO. Author and professor Sherrie Tucker published a book detailing the times and trials of All-Girl Swing bands of the 1940s, titled "Swing Shift", in 2000. (Duke University Press)
Groups composed solely of women began to flourish with the advent of
rock and roll. As evidenced by numerous compilations, particularly of garage bands during the 1960s, many women were playing in bands, although few were signed to major labels and did not come to the forefront of public attention. However, records by all-girl bands on smaller, regional labels are being rediscovered and are highly prized by collectors today. For instance, Feminine Complexreleased their self-titled album in the 1960s; in the 1990s, it was re-released on CD by independent label Teen Beat Records. One of the strangest groups from the 1960s is undoubtedly The Shaggs, a group of sisters who had limited mastery of their instruments and song structures. The Shaggs created their own unique musical language and today are revered as outsider musicians with a devoted cult following.
Roger Ebert, in his audio commentaryfor " Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (1970) claims credit for inspiring all-female rock bands with the fictional band The Carrie Nationscreated for the film, stating that such bands were quite rare at the time, but started to spring up in the film's wake.
The Roche sisters, Terre and Margaret/Maggie, recorded their first major-label album in 1975. Their younger sister Suzzie joined them to form
The Roches, who typically recorded with male session musicians; additionally, The Roches usually toured without supporting musicians. All three play guitar and other instruments.
In 1975, the Canadian duo of sisters,
Kate and Anna McGarrigle, recorded the first of a string of albums. Joan Jett's first group The Runawayswere an early commercially successful, hard-edged, all-female band, releasing their first album in 1976; other members included Michael Steele, then known as Mikki Steele, and Lita Ford.
In the 1970s, a number of
feminist folk music-based performers began fostering a Women's MusicMovement, although it was not long before women with a background in rock musicand jazzstarted women's bands to escape from the 'chick singer' trap. This included Jam Today, which started in a Peckhamshed during the spring of 1976. Jam Today I (1976-1979) participated in a film sponsored by the BFItitled "Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair" and were often seen at feminist marches and rallies. Jam Today II (1979-1980) retained some of the founding members and was more jazz-based, later returning to a more jazz-rock tradition with Jam Today III (1980-1984). The band released an EPcalled "Stereotyping" on their own record label, Stroppy Cow Records, in 1981 and took part in the television series "Something Else". Moreover, they participated in a programme for BBC Open Universitycalled Women in Rockwith two other female bands, Tour De Forceand The Raincoats.
1980s and 1990s
A number of women moved between the more-traditional folk festivals and the women's gatherings, including some of the members of the 1980s all-female bluegrass band Blue Rose. More recently, another bluegrass and related-music all-female group,
Uncle Earl, have been touring the festival circuit (apparently named in honor of bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs).
Punk, a progression in some ways of the garage rock of the 1960s, included all-female bands as garage rock had in the 1960s. This opened the door wider for women with a desire to perform, spawning groups such as
The Go-Go's, The Raincoats, the Slits, and Liliput. Some well-known otherwise all-female bands had men in the band at times, particularly but not limited to drummers.
The 80's also, for the first time, saw female musicians reach Billboards top 10 charts. When Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" hit the top 10 along with the Go-Go's it sent a strong message out to many industry heads that females who could play could bring in money. The down side of this as that while Joan Jett seemed to get the respect as a leather clad, tough as nails, female singer and guitarist who led an all male band the Go-Go's had an almost care free silly girly girl image that even Rolling Stone poked fun at when they put the band on their cover bouncing around in their underwear with the caption "Go-Go's Put out!". However serious musician magazines were starting to show respect to female musicians putting Bonnie Raitt and Tina Weymouth on their covers. While the Go-Go's and the Bangles, both from the LA punk/garage scene, were the first all-female rock bands to find sustained success, it was individual musicians who helped pave the way for the industry to seek out bands that had females member and allow them to be part of the recording process.
The 80's helped pave the way for female musicans to get taken more seriously however it was still considered a novelty of sorts and it was very much a male dominated world. When film maker Dave Markey, along with Jeff and Steve McDonald from
Redd Krossput together the mocumentary "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" it became an underground hit, but it also spawned a real band who, if they were a male band, would have gone unnoticed. The Lovedolls could barely play yet because of the film, and because they were an "all female band", they got plenty of press and gigs. While far more serious, Klymaxx, became the first all-female band in the R&B style of music to all play an instrument; several of their singles have charted successfully in both R&B and pop countdowns.
Leading into the 90's the surge of Heavy Metal in the 80's helped to shed another light on the roll of females in music. Because of the success of
Go-Go'smany females were frustrated at not being taken seriously or only thought of as "girls who could play nice pop music" and either joined hard rock bands or formed all female metal bands. One of those bands were playing the San Francisco scene along with their male counterparts in a then unknown band, Metallica. This "all female band" were so good and so heavy they were signed by Columbia/CBS records. The band was Rude Girl. However when the band broke up it forced Columbia/CBS to turn to another all female band - The Bangles. While at the other end of the musical spectrum this Hollywood band coming out of the "Paisley Underground" scene had a rabid following who loved the Beatles influenced pop songs and harmonies.
Around the same time a band from the Midwest had been picking up steam and was signed to an offshoot of Columbia/CBS, Jet records. In 1984 "We Reserve The Right" was released and spawned a fairly successful single, "High in High School". The band was Madam X and the Petrucci sisters were a focal point of the band. Roxy, the flamboyant lead guitarist, and Max, the heavy hitting drummer. Based on management decisions it was decided that it would be better if only one of the sisters were in the band but Roxy was placed in another band - an all female band that had been slowly picking up steam in Los Angeles. That band was was Vixen. Despite the musicianship of drummer Roxy and bassist Share Pedersen and their success in the pop metal market the band was never fully taken seriously and considered a female counter part of the "hair bands" flooding the market.
With the resurgence of interest in
pop-punkbands in the US in the early 1990s, along with the sunset strip 'hair metal' scene becoming extremely crowded, bands who combined a "non-image" with loud raw music started were gigging at clubs like Rajis in Hollywood. Bands such as Hole, Super Heroines, The Lovedolls and L7 became very popular, while demonstrating onstage and in interviews a self-confident "bad girl" attitude at times, always willing to challenge assumptions about how an all-female band should behave. Although it is debated whether the existence of all-female bands is inherently political or not, many groups composed of women have begun with a political aim in mind. In the 1990s, Riot Grrrl, Bratmobile, and Bikini Killhave addressed feminist and other socio-political issues they feel are inherent in the estate of the women's band. Other punk bands, such as Spitboyand its successor Instant Girl, have been less comfortable with the childhood-centered issues of much of the Riot Grrrl aesthetic, but nonetheless also have dealt explicitly with feminist and related issues. All-female Queercorebands, such as Tribe 8and Team Dresch, also write songs dealing with matters specific to women and their position in society. A film put together by a San Diego psychiatrist, Dr. Lisa Rose Apramian, along the former drummer from The Motels and The Droogs, Kyle C. Kyle, and a little help from filmmaker and roadie, Dave Eddy, the documentary "Not Bad For a Girl" explored some of these issues with interviews from many of the female musicians on the "RiotGrrl" scene at the time.
While many people focus on who was most popular one can not deny the ground work laid down by bands such as
The Pandoraswhose former members include members of The Muffs, The LunaChicks, Warbride whose founder and lead guitarist recently toured with Arjen Lucassen, Sleater-Kinneyand The Indigo Girls. Bananarama, the Spice Girls, Pussycat Dolls, Dream, and Eternal might be a relative subset of significant all-girl performers, but not really a band, as they don't play instruments. Also notable during the late 90s and into the 2000s are Kittie, The Donnasand Lillix(the latter no longer a girls group) All enjoy moderate success in the US and Canada.
Other all-female bands outside pop music
All-female bands are not restricted to the mainstream genres. The successful British/Australian string quartet Bond, who play classical crossover, is another example where women play all the instruments (first and second
violin, violaand cello) and sing the occasional vocals that accompany some of their tracks.
*" [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1921295066 Rock Chicks:The Hottest Female Rockers from the 1960’s to Now] " by Stieven-Taylor, Alison (2007). Sydney. Rockpool Publishing. ISBN 9781921295065
* Bayton, Mavis (1998) "Frock Rock: Women Performing Popular Music". Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816615-X
* Carson, Mina Julia (ed.) (2004) "Girls rock!: Fifty Years of Women Making Music". Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2310-0
* Gaar, Gillian G. (1992) "She's a Rebel: the History of Women in Rock & Roll". Seattle, Wash.: Seal Press. ISBN 1-878067-08-7
* O'Dair, Barbara (ed.) (1997) "Trouble Girls: the Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock". New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-76874-2
* Raphael, Amy (1995) "Never Mind the Bollocks: Women Rewrite Rock". London: Virago. ISBN 1-85381-887-9
* Savage, Ann M. (2003) "They're Playing Our Songs: Women Talk About Feminist Rock Music". Westport, Conn.: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-97356-5
List of all-female bands
List of female rock singers
* [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_von_Jazz-_und_Improvisationsmusikerinnen List of female Jazz- and New Improvising musicians in the German Wikipedia]
* [http://www.girlband.org GirlBand.org]
* [http://www.metalmaidens.com/home.htm Metal Maidens fanzine]
* [http://www.metalqueens.com Metal Queens] a site devoted to women in Metal
* [http://www.endemoniada666.com/ Endemoniada 'zine]
* [http://www.jennywoolworth.ch/archive/archive.html Women in Punk Archive] maintained by Nicole Emmenegger (aka Jenny Woolworth)
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