Telling Tales – Girls in Bands – Women in Rock – Rock Chicks – Heavy Rock – Rock ‘n’ Roll Frontline
In Britain during the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new phenomenon emerged, with female guitarists, bass-players, keyboard-players and drummers playing in bands. Before this time, women’s presence in rock bands, with a few notable exceptions, had always been as vocalists. This sudden influx of female musicians into the male domain of rock music was brought about partly … by the ethic of punk rock (anybody can do it!’) …
‘A strong element in the rock newspapers (NME, Sounds and Melody Maker) felt that female instrumentalists were just a gimmick. This was part of a continuous debate in the music press during the early months of punk, in which both male and female reviewers adopted challenging stances regarding the ‘girls in bands’ issue. For instance, Julie Burchill (NME) was against whereas Vivien Goldman (Sounds) was for; Phil McNeill (NME) was for whereas Garry Bushell (sounds) was against.’
The Lost Women of Rock Music – Female Musicians of the Punk Era – by Helen Reddington
Without a shadow of a doubt Girlschool must be recognised as the leading pioneers in the battle against sexism. This was finally proved when the sweaty horde of Bingley’s HM Barn Dance greeted their set with a unanimous roar of approval – Sounds
‘A woman lion can roar just as loud as a male lion … it’s some sort of celebration of something very animal’ – Vi Subversa – Poison Girls
As Enid (at age fourteen) says: ‘I bought it (bass guitar) second-hand out of my paper round, it was 13 pounds, I was very shocked that it only had four strings, ‘cos I thought that all guitars had six.’ (Of course now I play a Five-String Bass and split the difference!!) – ‘The Lost Women of Rock Music’
‘We all had very working class backgrounds, and we were very lucky that we had parents that helped us out. My dad mortgaged the house so that we could buy a PA.’ – Enid Williams – ‘Frock Rock’
Enid: ‘I listened to some records and tried to copy them. I had a few music lessons from some guy, but not very much. The thing is we were never ‘musician’ musicians, we were always performers … we were always band members, so we were entertainers, songwriters, musicians, all rolled into one. It was always, ‘Yeah, let’s give that a go …’
‘At that time, the guys we knew who could play didn’t want to know at all about us. Females playing in a band, at that time, was totally unheard of. They thought, ‘Oh, girls.’ They won’t be serious and they won’t carry on. And they wouldn’t be any good, anyway.’ – Kim McAuliffe – Girlschool … and here we still are, 40 years after we first strapped on our guitars!
Vi Subversa – Poison Girls: ‘It took a year before I turned my guitar volume up … I turned the knobs down on my guitar … suddenly I thought … I’m not going to do that anymore … I get a buzz out of handling big energy and I think it can be subverted … I’ve learnt how to make a big noise … and I like it. And I’m not going to be told by any boy that I’m on their preserves and get off!’ – Frock Rock – Mavis Bayton
‘One of the reasons that people liked us was that we were very friendly … it’s just that we were young, outgoing … it was like a big family thing, like let’s have a laugh, everyone can join in; journalists would just jump in the back of van with us, have a few drinks and let’s have a party.’ – Enid Williams – ‘The Lost Women of Rock Music’
Women in rock, sexism, the future is female … Girlschool are a group and a bloody good one at that! – Sounds
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Rock, Pop and Soul Singing
During the early 80s Enid was singer, bassist and co-writer in Framed, a band formed with Dave Parsons, guitarist and songwriter in chart topping punk band Sham 69. They released two singles and worked alongside platinum selling disco producer Biddu (Kung Fu Fighting!). She also ran a vegetarian cuisine company creating dishes for local delis and banquets with an astrologically themed menu. After gaining a postgraduate diploma in Music Performance and Communication Skills at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Enid spent three years as vocal tutor at the Haringey Music Workshop and ran Rock Performance courses at several venues. She also taught the Pop Singing course at Morley College alongside classical/jazz singer Lore Lixenberg and ran several workshops for, amongst others, Opera North, Spitalfields and Salisbury Festivals, London Sinfonietta, Modern Music Theatre Troupe, Battersea Arts Centre and the Maidenhead School of Pop Music.
In 1990 Enid helped produce the Women in Music festival at the Southbank, which included the premiere of her first opera The Waterfall, staged at the ICA. She also put together a group featuring members of Girlschool – Kim McAuliffe, Denise Dufort and guitarist Chris Bonacci – alongisde Au Pair’s guitarist Lesley Woods and featuring Toyah Wilcox on vocals. They performed as She-Devils at the Shaw Theatre, then went on to play as Strange Girls (minus Denise and Lesley) supporting the Beach Boys at festivals in Germany. They recorded a session for Emma Freud’s BBC Radio show and three tracks in the studio. The live set featured original songs alongside Girlschool and Toyah classics.
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The same sensations that you get in heavy metal are in horror movies. Heavy Metal sounds evil and horror movies are evil, ha ha! Kirk Hammett
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I love this video!