Kate Mossman looks beyond the cliches of grunge babes and rock chicks as she goes behind rock's untold stories to discover if it has always been different for the girl in a band.
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This programme contains very strong language.
All too often, every female rock musician
has had to answer a predictable question -
"What's it like being a girl in a band?"
Rock and roll is supposed to be
a place where you can be what you want to be,
but history suggests that rock bands
are not equal-opportunities employers.
For many, the sight of a girl shredding a guitar
or laying into the drums is still a bit of a novelty.
Since the birth of the rock-and-roll band,
boys have spent hours tinkering on their Les Pauls
while girls are merely the object of the songs,
or so the story goes.
As soon as women stepped across the line and formed their own bands,
they were given labels -
"The rock chick".
"The girl band".
One half of the rock-and-roll couple.
And sometimes just "the other one".
I wanted to meet the women who crossed the line, formed bands
and tried to go their own way.
If you want to do something, just do it. Don't talk about it.
And don't criticise other women.
If... If they want to go out, you know,
and swing on a wrecking ball naked, why not?
They related to the world on their own terms.
We don't want to stand how men stand, with our legs wide open,
our guitar right down there
like we've got great big, heavy bollocks hanging down!
They followed the magnetic pull of the rock-and-roll lifestyle.
"You're going to meet the biggest rock stars.
"You're going to play the biggest venues
"and tour the world!"
I was like, "Wow! I've got to tell my mom!"
# A lot of people telling me what to do... #
There is the predictable.
It always used to be, "Get your tits out!" basically.
A photographer was going, "If you open your legs a bit
"and kind of le..." And I was like...
-"Fanny! Fanny! Fanny!"
Imagine our surprise! I was like, "Oh, they love us!"
These are the untold stories from half a century on rock's front line.
I want to discover,
has it always been different for the girl in a band?
MUSIC: Rebel Girl by Bikini Girl
# ..Rebel girl
# Rebel girl, you are the queen of my world... #
Before the modern concept of the rock-and-roll band
took shape in the late 1950s,
you could try and join a jazz band,
but playing in smoky LA clubs was considered no place for a lady.
I'm here to meet someone who muscled in on that world
and became an exception to the rule.
This is the story of the invisible woman.
The girl who ended up the number one called player in the session band
that played on some of the biggest records of the 20th century.
Was it unusual for a girl to be playing guitar?
Well, you know what? I didn't think of it.
I started to hear this bebop jazz on the radio
and I said, "That's what I want to play."
JAZZY GUITAR SOLO
The teenage Carol cut her teeth as a jazz guitarist
in clubs around Los Angeles, and being the only girl in the band
meant she often had to stand her ground.
There's always one guy in every band that's going to test you.
You have to get the whole band to laugh at THEM, you know,
in other words, repeat back to them what they say, you know,
like this one guy that said,
"Oh, you're..." I mean...
"You're a dumb cunt, Carol."
I said, "Well, you're a dumb prick, too."
Undeterred by the catcalling,
Carol carried on playing around LA's jazz clubs
until she caught the ear of record producer Bumps Blackwell,
who asked her to play guitar on Summertime
for the legendary Sam Cooke.
# And the living is easy... #
MUSIC: La Bamba by Richie Valens
It wasn't long before Richie Valens came calling.
# Para bailar La Bamba... #
SHE PLAYS ALONG TO LA BAMBA
And as the jazz clubs around LA began to close,
Carol begin making money from the new music of the time, rock and roll,
playing guitar for artists like Duane Eddy and Chris Montez.
# Hey baby, won't you take a chance?
# Say that you'll let me have this dance
# Well, let's dance... #
"One dollar, two dollar, three dollar... I love rock and roll!"
"Five dollar, six dollar... Jazz, what's that?"
# ..Any old dance that you wanna do
# But let's dance... #
The spirit of it was
how to create a hit record with a simple little line.
See, that was the challenge.
And was that a challenge that was given to you from the start?
Oh, yeah, yeah,
because if you didn't create a hit line,
you wouldn't... You probably wouldn't work next year.
# She's a rebel and you'll never be any good... #
Carol was now in demand as a bass player
and next up, she entered the Wall Of Sound, working on songs
with Phil Spector and some of his main draws,
like The Righteous Brothers.
Tell me about meeting and working with Phil Spector.
We all thought he was kind of weird...
And he would kid with the musicians.
Pretty soon he started kidding pretty hard
and he'd pick on them a little bit.
-Did he ever pick on you?
-He did one time.
I told him to F off or something like that.
# You've lost that lovin' feeling, now it's gone... #
Do you ever come across surprise from people being brought in
just to do vocals on the pop records that you were a female player?
Frank Sinatra, he was kind of, like, standoffish.
He was like... "Oh, I've got a woman on today."
You know, but they were all cool.
# And then I go and spoil it all
# By saying something stupid like "I love you..."
GOOD VIBRATIONS BASS LINE
After proving herself to the Rat Pack,
Carol helped a certain Beach Boy shape his musical vision.
# I'm picking up good vibrations
# She's giving me excitations... #
I got along with Brian very well. I was like an older sister to him.
He brought in his parts.
They weren't written very well, you know,
so you knew that he was not schooled in music.
Sharps and flats on the wrong side of the note,
stems on the wrong side of the note, you know...
Sometimes you had to recopy the bass parts.
BASS TO WICHITA LINEMAN
Carol Kaye played on over 10,000 sessions
and laid down some of the Sixties' most famous basslines,
from Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman
to Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound.
Despite her huge success, she was always a lone pioneer who constantly
had to defend her unique position in the session business.
In 1964, a band of Liverpudlian teenagers struck out
to find fame amid the exotic delights of Hamburg's Reeperbahn.
The kids couldn't get enough of the Fab Four.
# It tastes real good but it's so hard
# Peanut, peanut butter... #
Val, Mary, Sylvia and Pam were The Liverbirds.
They were part of the Merseybeat scene.
It wasn't only Cilla who found success working in the Cavern Club.
Alongside the Beatles, The Liverbirds were chosen to play
at Hamburg's famous Star Club.
It's there that I met up with them to talk about
the reaction they got when they formed
their all-girl rock-and-roll band in the early 1960s.
-This is all the groups that played here?
-Where are you?
-We're right next to The Beatles!
-Ah, there you are!
SCREAMING DROWNS MUSIC
Tell me what made the Hamburg scene
so different from the Liverpool scene.
In them days, it was the dream of every group
to come and play in Hamburg.
If you went back to Liverpool or wherever you came from
and you had the Star Club sticker on your guitar case,
it meant that you had achieved something.
The Star Club may have been the rock-and-roll Mecca
to all up-and-coming bands,
but being nestled in Hamburg's infamous Reeperbahn
made for an eye-opening experience for these good Catholic girls.
-When you arrived here in Hamburg, you were 18 and 17.
What did you make of the Reeperbahn?
And the taxi dropped us off at the side street and all I saw,
cos all I was interested in in those days was church...
"Oh, God, there's a big church!" And then we went round
the corner and saw all the strip clubs. We couldn't believe it!
# If you've found someone who loves you more
# Give you love you've never had before... #
It was such an unusual group. I mean, you dressed a little bit like boys.
How did you decide what you were going to look like?
We only had males that could influence us.
We wanted to look like them, as well.
How did people react to a group with all girls on guitars?
We were only rehearsing at the time, and we went into the dressing room,
there's John Lennon and Paul McCartney getting changed.
And John Lennon says, "What's this? Girls with guitars?
"I bet you that never works out."
Proving Lennon wrong, The Liverbirds found success in Germany.
In fact, they never returned to England
and played on until 1967 when they were still
one of the club's main draws.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
# And the red queen's off with her head... #
So, was it now becoming acceptable for girls to start rock bands?
Psychedelia blossomed across America, producing dazzling frontwomen
like Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin.
# Oh, whoa-oh... #
If you were a girl in the late 1960s and you wanted to pick up a guitar,
there was pretty much only one frame of reference.
You had to play like a man.
The first all-girl rock band to be given a major label record deal
in the US were called Fanny.
When we got to California in 1961,
it was all about acoustic guitars.
In the entire world, we knew of no other young women
or girls who were playing electric.
I mean, we were very confident cos we knew we could play.
That really is what separated us maybe from a lot of people
who wanted to do it, even boys!
We were a lot better than a lot of boys that we ran into.
We've played the Fillmore East. We've played the Fillmore West.
We've played with The Kinks, with Procol Harum and we...
We've just done so much. We were in the circle.
And I think they were all pretty thrilled to have us come in,
you know, these "chicks" who could play.
# I've got too much time on my hands
# I've gotta find me a superman... #
And when a band called Fanny started writing songs,
their lyrics tapped into the sexually liberated spirit of the age.
# Cos I'm a hot lovin'
# Good lovin'
# Sweet lovin' woman and I know how to love... #
It was just a complete lifestyle change that was moving with society,
with civil rights, with feminism,
that was coming but we didn't know it, you know?
We were with the times and it was just this little sliver
that opened up and "boom", we just went right through.
Back to Fanny, who have been conquering
male chauvinist hearts everywhere.
# Special care
# Has been taken to make you aware... #
Was there amusement in the UK press at the name Fanny when you came out?
You know, I don't even remember who broke it to us,
-what Fanny means...
-..in the UK,
but it just seemed really funny to us.
-"Fanny! Fanny! Fanny!"
Imagine our surprise!
-I was like, "Oh, they love us!"
SHE PLAYS SPECIAL CARE
40 years later, and June's now running a school of rock for girls,
using her experiences to show the next generation
what to expect from the business.
So, tell us about this IMA rock camp you set up for girls.
What I'm doing is I'm giving back cos I feel like I was really lucky,
even though when I left Fanny, people didn't understand.
I needed to find something else...
-They didn't understand why you were leaving?
-Yeah. I barely understood.
My body just broke down cos I was so tired but I didn't want to leave,
but my body just said, "Hey, you're done."
So, when I talk about the music biz to the girls,
I'm not telling them, "You should go out and become a star."
What I tell them is, "It's a lot harder to be a star than you think."
MUSIC: Special Care by Fanny
JUNE PLAYS LAST NOTE OF SONG
Back in Britain, Elkie Brooks seemed to be the perfect singer
on the '60s pop circuit.
# These lonely nights are getting so hard to bear... #
But for some reason, the decade never quite sat right with her.
She transformed herself into a smouldering blues rock siren...
MUSIC: Proud To Be A Honky Woman by Vinegar Joe
..and found her musical home
alongside Robert Palmer in the band Vinegar Joe.
# I'm sorry if I wear mascara and I paint my toenails red... #
She thought they would last forever
but it wasn't so easy with two lead singers pulling on the reins.
# But I was raised in a city
# On the wrong side of the tracks... #
There was quite a transformation from '60s Elkie to the amazing rock chick.
I just loved it. It just seemed very natural for me.
It just progressed in Vinegar Joe
to more of a raunchy look.
Did you feel that you were fitting quite naturally
-into that more sexy image?
-Yeah, I suppose it was quite...
You know, a little bit of rebellion in me. I've always had that.
# Proud to be a honky woman, yeah... #
It was quite unusual to have a male and female
singing in tandem like that, vying off each other.
I hated being on my own so much in the '60s.
And you were happier in the band dynamic, is that right?
Oh, I loved it. I loved it.
# With your bizarre repertoire
# You perform on your Japanese guitar... #
You had a great chemistry with Robert on stage.
I thought he was marvellous. A wonderful, wonderful singer.
And incredible looking!
He was a wonderful looking man.
I think I sang with him
rather than he sang with me.
# Oh, no
# With your bizarre
# Repertoire... #
So, Melody Maker made you the "Face of 1973".
What was the reaction to that?
"Face of '73", yeah.
No, Robert wasn't very happy about that
because we, in actual fact, as I found out later,
were only supposed to be Robert Palmer's backing band.
But of course, the press picked up on me
and that wasn't the way it was supposed to go.
# Oh, lady of the rain... #
'He was just bitter about it.'
Because, obviously, he was jealous that they hadn't picked up on him.
# It's some kind of harmony
# The shadows you see... #
How did the band come to an end?
Well, quite simply,
Robert said that he was leaving the band.
And Vinegar Joe was no more.
We did our last gig, I think, in March 1974.
How did you feel when it finished?
Didn't really know what to do.
For months, I would sit
and put all the old press cuttings together in a scrapbook.
You know, I was very much still living in the past.
it was difficult for me to pick myself up and do something else.
# Pearl's a singer
# She stands up
# When she plays the piano... #
Within three years,
Elkie found she was better standing on her own two feet.
How do you feel about Vinegar Joe now?
I really have put it down to experience.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
It's made me the person I am today.
# Sha-sha-oo-ooh... #
# And your boyfriend's name is Eagle
# And he lives up in the sky... #
Things were changing.
Suddenly everyone wanted to see women in bands.
Record executive Mickie Most
had masterminded Suzi Quatro's career
and Suzi became a big influence on The Runaways.
# So make a stand for your man, honey
# Try to can the can... #
I met up with guitarist Lita Ford.
# Can't stay at home
# Can't stay in school
# Old folks say... #
Lita looks back on her time in the band
and remembers the call she got from LA impresario Kim Fowley,
luring her with the promise of rock and roll
when she was just a teenager.
# Hello, Daddy
# Hello, Mom
# I'm your ch-ch-ch... #
# Cherry bomb!
# Hello, world
# I'm your wild girl
# Cherry bomb! #
Kim Fowley gave me the rap of a lifetime.
"You're going to meet the biggest rock stars.
"You're going to play the biggest venues and tour the world."
And I was like, "Wow! I gotta tell my mom!"
# Cherry bomb! #
What did Kim teach you about being in a band?
He would teach as how to talk, how to sit, how to stand.
"Don't wear that sweater.
"Wear something in black that's low-cut."
He would tell us,
"Don't wear that. Put on some high heels."
"Like, Kim, she's 15 years old,
"why would you want her to wear high heels?"
"Because, she's sexy.
"Because she's jailbait.
"And don't talk to me that way!
"I'm the boss here, you don't tell me what to do."
When you were in the studio with Kim
and he would call you "dog meat" or "dog shit",
-did that have any effect on your confidence?
To say the word, "Hey, you piece of shit," it was like...
You know, I took it more with a grain of salt.
Despite Fowley's verbal abuse,
the band got to experience mass adulation from their teenage fans,
as they toured Japan.
When we got off the plane,
there were thousands of people in the airport.
They had to hold a human barricade back
so the girls could walk between.
# Let me tell you what we've been doing... #
After the huge success in Japan,
it seemed Fowley's rap about being the biggest band in the world
might have paid off, until things started to go wrong.
When did you first realise that the group might not last?
Well, Cherie quit awfully fast.
She was dating the assistant manager, Scott,
and he ended up getting her pregnant at 16, which...
..you know, being a rock band,
it's not like you're home with Mom and Dad.
And we didn't want to break up the band.
Our only option was for Joan to sing.
# Used to being a troublemaker
# Hated homework, was a sweet heartbreaker... #
You had the sex, drugs and rock-and-roll lifestyle
when you were so young.
What would you change if you could go back?
There was a couple of us...
..that were violated...sexually.
That, I would change.
Had I have known and had I have seen it coming...
..I would have definitely done something to prevent that.
I wasn't raped and I didn't know Jackie was.
I hate that she was.
I never knew until now.
Those are the things that, actually...
..make me sick.
And that shouldn't have happened. Motherfuckers.
# School days
# I'm starting to slip I'm losing my mind... #
The time is now, the time is now...
But not every girl in rock
was suffering at the hands of a manipulative male manager.
In 1975, an androgynous, liberated rock star
appeared out of nowhere.
# Surround by horses, horses, horses, horses... #
Patti Smith changed things forever for girls in rock bands.
Whether you had grown up in CBGB's,
or Ferryhill Working Men's Club.
In 1976, there wasn't any punk in the Durham pit town
where the teenage Pauline Murray lived.
So, she formed her own band, Penetration,
and brought punk to Ferryhill.
# Don't dictate
# Don't dictate
# Don't dictate, dictate to me
# Don't dictate
# Don't dictate
# Don't dictate, dictate to me... #
What was it like, being a punk in Ferryhill in Durham?
The general public of where we lived, I mean,
it was a totally different culture.
It was the workmen's club culture.
Men were men, women were women.
Most people didn't like to stand out,
because they would be worried about what other people thought of them.
A very close-knit community.
Everyone knew what everyone was doing.
So, when we started to go out and do things with the band,
obviously, people would discuss it.
And we did get chased
or we did get a brick through our window.
But nothing we couldn't handle.
# Penetrating voices going through my head
# I haven't listened to a thing they've said
# Always they removed the answers... #
What was the reaction in your family to the name of the band?
They thought it was a bit of a laugh.
Not that the neighbours did.
You know, I remember we went to Dundee and my dad had a T-shirt,
a home-made T-shirt that said "Penetration".
And we got out of the car and an old lady over the road shouted,
And I think he quite liked it.
# Time to think and ask anew
# Is it them or is it you?
# Let them go, set them free... #
Did you ever feel that you were being treated differently
by the other guys in the band because you're female?
I actually did just feel like one of the boys.
# It's all a fascination
# All your imagination... #
What were your aspirations when you got into a punk band?
-What did you hope for?
-It was about doing something creatively new
whilst operating almost outside of the system.
If that's at all possible.
And we did for a little while operate outside of the system.
# I want to know-oh-oh-oh
# Oooooh. #
Pauline and other girls were part of punk right from the start.
And female artists continued to fight for space in the scene,
gradually bagging record deals.
If Pauline found that changing attitudes
in a small northern town was a big ask,
you'd think that life as a punk in London might have been easier.
But as one Londoner discovered, opposition was everywhere.
You're a typical girl, you tried out being in a band with Sid Vicious,
that didn't work. Then you find your musical soul-mates.
You terrify the boys. The skinheads want to physically hurt you.
But you've got a vision, a manifesto, in fact,
and playing live is being on the front line.
So, you're going to have to be absolutely fearless.
The Slits lived in a very violent time.
You know, '76, '77.
It was very scary on the streets.
We had to go everywhere together as a group of three or four,
because the way we were dressed was so alien to the times
that men everywhere found us incredibly threatening.
And skinhead girls and Teddy girls.
We would be attacked physically, verbally.
Ari got stabbed twice in the street.
I mean, she was 15 years old.
We were often running for our lives.
'The infamous Slits, a much-publicised all-girl band
'who've never actually made a record.
'Indeed, they have refused offers from several record labels.'
Undeterred by the violence, The Slits remained united.
They didn't want to sell out.
After all, punk was about doing things on their own terms.
We had a vision. You know, we're going to change things for girls,
we're going to change things for music.
You know, we weren't just going and playing gigs,
we were doing something very new. We were absolutely driven.
We'd spent months and months discussing,
"How should we stand on stage?"
"Because we don't want to stand how men stand,
"with our legs wide open and the guitar right down there
"like we've got great big, heavy bollocks hanging down or something!"
We even talked about not using breathy, little-girl voices,
which a lot of women sang in back then.
You know, I said,
"Oh, I sing like you're shouting across a playground at a mate."
And actually, a girl's voice isn't that different to a boy's voice
when you're going, "Oi, John!"
# Typical girls get upset too quickly
# Typical girls... #
When you imagine The Slits' audience when you're up there on stage,
I mean, how important was it
to you that boys were there as well as girls?
I said, I want us to be a band that boys want to be in,
and the gang that boys want to be in
and wear clothes that boys want to copy.
I mean, of course, girls, we were there for girls mostly,
but also wanted to show guys that we were equally as cool.
# Typical boy, that typical boy Gets that typical girl
# That typical girl gets that typical boy. #
If the Brits were driven,
one girl who came out of the New York punk scene
was a little bit more reticent.
# You may find yourself in a beautiful house... #
Growing up, Tina Weymouth always wanted to be a boy.
However, she didn't particularly want to be in a band.
It took her boyfriend, Chris Frantz,
ages to persuade her into joining Talking Heads.
David Byrne made her audition three times.
Nobody played the bass, so that was her job.
She drove them to gigs, cut their hair and gave them her last sandwich.
However, what she describes as a sideline role
quickly proved to be crucial.
# ..Which is on fire
# On fire...#
So, tell me a bit about your early meetings
with the band, with Talking Heads.
Obviously, you were in a relationship with Chris at that point.
I was. It was Chris's idea to form this band.
It took two years for me to enter into it.
-Why was that?
-I just thought that it was too difficult. You know?
I just thought, "I'm going to be up against a lot of flak."
-For being the girl?
But Chris had another idea,
he thought it was going to bring attention to the group.
And it did.
And it worked.
Do you remember hearing from Chris
what David thought about you joining the group?
He said to me, he thought that women's role
shouldn't really be in the big world
-because it was a dangerous place for women.
-He really said this?
He really said this to me.
# Ba ba ba ba
# Ba ba ba ba... #
-You had very short hair.
-Where did that look come from?
Well, that came from David. One day he said, "You know,
"I think it will make your eyes look bigger if you have short hair."
So, I said, "OK," I thought,
"Well, if it pleases him."
We're going right on to the next number.
Tell me about your involvement with Psycho Killer.
David was listening to Alice Cooper
and thought, "I can do something really rude."
So, David said, "I need lyrics."
And so, we brainstormed.
I said, "Well, Hitchcock would say
"I'm gonna kill you because you're rude, you're not polite."
# You start a conversation and You can't even finish it
# You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything. #
And he had this really brilliant idea, which was,
"I want to create a sense of schism,
"where he changes personality
"from being one person to being another person.
"I think the best way to do that is change language."
So, I wrote lyrics to that effect.
# Oh, oh
# Psycho killer
# Qu'est-ce que c'est
# Fa fa fa fa... #
Didn't always get the pronunciation right
but it was a good approximation and people kind of got it.
Although I noticed today
that when people covered the song
they copy the mistakes!
# Realisant mon espoir
# Je me lance, vers la gloire, OK...#
Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth posited this idea
that women are drawn to the bass
-because it is a naturally nurturing role.
I don't think it has anything to do with gender
and it's one of the reasons I don't...I've always eschewed
answering "feminist" questions.
It's just such... It's so loaded.
If you want to do something, just do it, don't talk about it
and don't criticise other women.
If they want to go out, you know,
and swing on a wrecking ball naked, why not?
Let them do what they want!
We just are smart as women because
we have our balls neatly tucked inside where they're protected.
And that's that.
That's a-a-a-all! Over to you!
If David Byrne really thought
the world was a dangerous place for women,
he'd be aghast at the thought of our next band, Girlschool,
who found themselves in amongst this lot.
Heavy metal was the last male domain in music.
But one band piqued the interest of Lemmy and joined the hard-gigging,
hard-drinking, access-all-areas world of the monsters of rock.
Why do you think you were drawn to metal? What was it about metal...
Well, I grew up listening to it, you know?
First couple of concerts I went to, Hammersmith Odeon with my mate,
from school when we were 16, I think, something like that.
Black Sabbath, saw Black Sabbath there,
and Deep Purple on the Burn tour.
Little did I know that later on in the years
we'd actually be playing with them!
# Come on!
-# Nothing to lose, come on! CROWD:
-Nothing to lose!
# Nothing to lose! #
When you first played rock clubs
that had probably only ever seen male bands in them before,
do you ever feel you had to win the audience over?
I think at the beginning,
people didn't really know what to make of us.
You know, I think first of all they just looked at us
as if to say, "What the hell is going on here?" You know?
-Did you get any heckles?
-Oh, God, yeah,
it used to always be, "Get your tits out!" basically, you know?
And we used to say, "Get yours out first!"
# Oh, we're the barmy Girlschool army
# La-la-la-la-la! #
After learning their trade playing sweaty rock clubs,
Girlschool received the ultimate metal seal of approval.
This little band called Motorhead
happened to be looking for a support band.
And Lemmy heard the single
and he came down to rehearsal to see if we could actually play.
And, of course, then, we...
They invited us on their first major British tour.
# You can tell by the look in the eye
# The feeling comes as no surprise. #
We'd never been on a tour like it.
So, we didn't really know what to expect.
We shared a bus with Motorhead, as well, on the first tour.
So, of course, we hardly even knew 'em.
First of all, when we saw pictures before we actually met them
we were going, "What the hell?" You know? Petrified.
# Break down, b-b-break down
# Break down
# Break down, b-b-break down
# You got me, break down. #
On tour with Motorhead, were you under pressure
to party as hard as them because you had to keep your end up?
We didn't find any pressure whatsoever.
There was no mention of cups of tea or anything like that,
basically they used to bring us in crates of Special Brew.
# Please don't touch me, baby, cos I'm shaking so much
# Please don't touch me, baby, cos I'm shaking so much...#
So tell me about Please Don't Touch.
Vic Maile, our producer, basically.
And then started to work with Motorhead, as well.
And he's the one who came up with the idea, he said,
"Why don't you two get together to do Please Don't Touch?"
# Please, please don't touch
# I shake so much
# Please don't touch
# I shake so much. #
It went straight to number five.
That was, we've still got the silver, silver record.
I mean, it sold a quarter of a million and went to number five.
That was a really exciting time.
I mean, the first time we went on Top Of The Pops, it was massive!
# ..I shake so much
# Please, please, don't touch... #
Were you seen as dangerous girls?
One American tour, on the back of the T-shirts, it said,
"The Lock-Up-Your-Sons Tour",
which we thought was absolutely brilliant. So...
-All these innocent young boys coming to see you...
-Yeah, yeah, exactly!
-Yeah. I hope so!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Imagine being at a Joy Division gig
and being asked to stand in for Ian Curtis on stage.
Then joining the remaining members of the band in their new incarnation.
You're not the frontwoman, you don't get to sing and dance around,
but gradually you find yourself in charge of the technicals.
When Ian died, the manager, Rob,
he said, um, to Stephen
and the rest of the group, "What do you think about Gillian joining?"
Because you can never replace Ian
and they didn't want another singer, so,
they decided they needed one person to play keyboards and guitar.
Rob was a bit strange.
The first thing he said was,
"Right, you've got to learn how to tune up a guitar."
And I'm like, "Oh, God, I'll have to."
And then I didn't realise till a month later,
HE couldn't even tune a guitar.
Tell me about your own creative role in the group,
and how that emerged over time.
I was in charge of all the equipment,
all the keyboards,
and starting all the sequencers.
# Up, down, turn around Please don't let me hit the ground
# Tonight, I think I'll walk alone I'll find my soul as I go home... #
Because you were programming sequencers,
you had to know the note names,
cos they all played by ear.
Bernard used to say, "Oh, what note do you think will go in there?"
And I'm like, "Oh, it's an A sharp," and he'd be like, "Oh, right."
MUSIC: Blue Monday by New Order
What are your memories of Top Of The Pops?
We were in our "We want to play everything live" phase.
Top Of The Pops say,
"We don't do anything live. Everybody's got to mime."
"Well, no, we don't want to mime!"
So, that caused a big uproar.
# How does it feel When you treat me like you do
# And you've laid your hands upon me And told me who you are... #
Another thing about Top Of The Pops, they like you to move.
And as soon as they saw me, especially,
I had to start it all, and then just stand there waiting for my cue.
They couldn't get their head round that.
-It was like, "Oh, dear, we've got problems, they don't move!"
MUSIC: Blue Monday by New Order
But their lack of movement didn't deter the Football Association,
who needed a song for England's 1990 World Cup campaign,
and it was Gillian who obliged.
World In Motion, such a famously blokey song, how did that come about?
We'd worked on a Janet Street-Porter production
that was called Reportage.
I wrote the one at the end with the credits, and she'd said,
"Well, the Reportage piece could be the start
"of the World In Motion song."
MUSIC: World In Motion by New Order
They weren't really into football, the rest of New Order,
there was only me and my dad, we used to watch World Cup games
together, so I was really into football, so it was like, "Yeah!"
-My dad was so proud of me! Yeah!
And we met them in the studio,
and Paul Gascoigne came in and went, "Eh, that's a big organ, in't it?"
You know, the mixing desk.
# Love's got the world in motion And I know what we can do... #
World In Motion became New Order's only number one hit in the UK.
# ..And I can't believe it's true.. #
Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris had been in a relationship
for years, proving sometimes, rock-and-roll couples can work.
But can you expect such a harmonious ride when you marry Mark E Smith?
What really went on there? We only have this excerpt.
LA-born art student and Anglophile indie freak Laura Elisse Salenger
got talking to Mark E Smith one night after a gig.
Within six months, she was living in Prestwich, and a member of The Fall.
MUSIC: Cruiser's Creek by The Fall
Hello, Brix Smith, I'm Kate.
-Oh, look at these guys!
-Pixie and Gladys?
# There's a party going down around here
# Cruiser's Creek now... #
So, tell me how you found out about The Fall and how you became a member.
We saw in the Chicago Reader that The Fall were coming to play.
I was waiting in line to get beer,
and as I got my beer and I turned around,
bam, smacked into the singer.
He had a bottle of beer in each hand
and a line of white powder coming down his nose,
which should have been a red flag, but hey, rock and roll!
# I'm totally wired
# T-T-T-Totally wired... #
He said, "You know, we were invited to a party afterwards,
"do you want to come?" and I said, "Sure!"
And we got in the car and he said to me, "What do you do?"
and I said, "I'm in a band,"
and he said, "Oh, do you have any tapes of your music?"
And I put the tape in, and he said, "Who wrote these songs?"
and I said, "I did," and he said, "You're a fucking genius".
And, basically, it was sort of decided over the next couple of days
that he would bring me over to England to help me
get a solo record deal and sort of mastermind it and be my Svengali.
Mark E Smith had other ideas, and thought his new-found genius
would make a good addition to The Fall,
so he wooed Brix to the delights of Manchester.
When I landed, I was shocked.
Driving from the train station, I... It was just...so heinous.
And Mark was so excited, like, he is, like, loves Manchester.
He showed me the must-see sights.
So, he was like, "Look, Brixie, over there's Boddingtons' Brewery!"
And I'm like "Yeah, great(!)" He goes, "That's Strangeways prison!"
I'm like, "God...!"
# Purchased a pair of flabby wings
# I took to doing some hovering... #
But, saying that, I was where I wanted to be,
I was doing what I wanted to do, and I was with a man that I loved.
# Pick the fleas, Mister
# Eat y'self fitter... #
Three months later, they were Mr and Mrs Smith,
and Brix was now writing songs and a fully fledged member of The Fall.
MUSIC: 2x4 by The Fall
Can you explain what you brought to The Fall?
What I did was I just wove a bit of light into their dark,
which, sonically, people could hear,
like, aurally, and it would stay in their head.
MUSIC: 2x4 by The Fall
Did the TV appearances sort of escalate once you joined the group?
Yeah. When we got on TV, when we did videos,
I was on the cover of magazines, we were all on the cover. Um...
I felt great about this.
I think Mark was also extremely happy about it.
# Victoria... #
Between 1983 and 1996, Brix wrote songs
and featured on over seven albums for The Fall.
What would you say the most difficult thing on a day-to-day level
about being in a band with your other half was?
I don't know. I mean, he's not the easiest guy, personally,
but it was great to be kind of a double act, in a way,
because we had each other to bounce off,
and because we're so polar opposite,
it was fascinating to everybody how we could be a couple.
# Cruiser's Creek! #
In the late '80s, the American charts were filled with heavy metal bands,
and women were often the spandexed adornments.
# Girls, girls, girls... #
But there was an alternative.
Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth was to become the godmother of grunge,
inspiring a whole generation of girls in bands.
Once upon a time, there were two sisters
raised on a diet of hair metal and The Sound Of Music in Dayton, Ohio.
One joined the Pixies.
# This monkey's gone to heaven... #
The other one became a programme analyst for a defence contractor.
When Kim Deal wanted to start a new band, she gave her sister,
Kelley, a call, even though Kelley couldn't play guitar.
Thus, The Breeders were born.
What's it like trying to penetrate the strange creative world
of identical twin sisters?
I always wanted to be in a band and play music with people.
Being in Dayton and being a girl...
I'm trying to think of anybody in Dayton at that time that
I can remember, that did anything other than sing,
or like, maybe played a keyboard, or played...
..tambourine or something.
How was it for you working in a band with two sisters?
I found it kind of difficult, actually, in the beginning.
Not only because I was like,
"Who is this person who's joined the band who can't play anything?"
And then second of all, because they do know each other
so very well, and sometimes, the gloves are off.
-Is it fisticuffs?
-God, I wish!
-Wouldn't that be great?
It's very raw and it's very, like, "Oh, my God,
"how can they be like this with each other?"
And then the next minute, everything seems like it's fine.
MUSIC: Cannonball by The Breeders
# Spitting in a wishing well
# Blown to hell, crash
# I'm the last splash... #
Tell me the best thing about being in a band with your sister.
Well, musically, there's a lot of short cuts.
"Pretend like you're going into McGuffy's House of Draft, OK,
"and you know the smell of the beer there, and that...
"OK, remember that one bathroom? OK, play it like that."
# In the shade
# In the shade... #
# With the lights out it's less dangerous... #
As grunge broke and Nirvana led the way, Kurt Cobain said
The Breeders' debut album, Pod, had been a huge influence on him.
All the media attention, it was about...
-you know, alternative music and Nirvana.
And the whole changeover from a certain type of music
to another type of music, I think, and we were in the middle of that.
Stuff that had been kind of obscure
and not particularly well-known, except for by...
-you know, aficionados.
-You know, trading tapes...
All of a sudden, that became what was mainstream.
# Want you Coocoo cannonball
# Want you Coocoo cannonball
In 1993, The Breeders were on a high.
The song Cannonball was named Melody Maker's single of the year.
The video was directed by Spike Jonze and Kim Gordon herself.
How did the media treat you for being a mostly female band?
We definitely got lumped in with...erm...
It became a bit of a thing, where, you know, a whole list of people
would be name-checked, as if it was some "movement".
# When we pretend that we're dead... #
The Breeders were part of a new shift of girl-fronted bands.
Grunge and the underground punk scene, Riot Grrrl,
gave girls a new freedom and a bigger say in alternative music.
To be talked about in the media as being part of that,
and name-checked as, you know, being a girl band and whatever,
it never really bothered me, because I subscribed to the Oscar Wilde
"the only thing worse than being talked about
"is not being talked about."
# I'm just looking for one divine hammer... #
I don't think I'd want to be in a band with all guys.
-I would find that so boring.
-Why would that be boring?
Oh, God... Cos guys are boring!
# One divine hammer
# One divine hammer. #
The Breeders and others were finding the world of rock
more accessible to girls.
British indie had also been accommodating,
and it offered a home from home for two girls from London.
# My eyes to heaven
# Pink cloud sits sky-high... #
When I was about 12,
my mum went to live in America, I lived with my dad,
he wasn't around very much, I'd moved schools, I was quite lonely.
That was the point when music became, like, a real obsession.
Music became my sort of community, and so, when I met Emma,
who was also in Lush, we were quite similar in that way, actually,
so we started going to gigs together,
and then suddenly being in a band is, like, quite easy,
actually, because everyone's in a band.
Most of them are awful, so you think, "Well, I can do that."
# Hand on my heart
# And I... #
When we started, it was just writing music and playing it live,
and we didn't really think that much about the sound.
In fact, we had no technical knowledge about guitars
or anything, and because we weren't confident musicians,
because we weren't confident singers, that, sort of,
effects and swirliness, it cloaks a lot.
It really does!
# Ah, oh... #
In 1992, Perry Farrell from Jane's Addiction liked their sound so much
that Lush found themselves catapulted
into America's alternative rock scene,
when they were asked to play at Lollapalooza
alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
So, we got onto this bill, which was just ridiculous,
and because we were the underdogs
and we had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain,
we had a really good time, actually, and we really enjoyed it.
But it was, you know, introduction to big American rock.
# What I've got you've got to give it to your mamma... #
A few years later,
Miki took her experience of meeting the Chili Peppers'
red-blooded Anthony Kiedis at Lollapalooza,
and used it as inspiration for Lush's hit Ladykillers.
# Hey, you, the muscles and the long hair
# Telling me that women are superior to men
# Most guys just don't appreciate this
# You just try convincing me you're better than them... #
Loads of people at the time that I wrote Ladykillers,
when it came out, they were like,
"Oh, it's really sexist towards men!
"And, you know, we're just...
"if we give women attention we're just trying to chat women up."
I don't mind flirting with people,
I just don't like being sleazed.
Watch this lot,
I once tried to get off with the lead singer after a Pulp concert.
Chatted her up a bit, she gave me her phone number,
when I rang it, it was a pizza delivery place.
So, I ordered an extra topping and never saw her again.
Till tonight, that is. Have a good look, this is Lush.
# Single girl, I don't wanna be a single girl... #
In 1996, Lush found themselves described in the press
as a Britpop band, and surrounded by new lads to boot.
# I live my life in the city There's no easy way out... #
I didn't really like the Britpop thing,
and I didn't like the association. To me, the landscape changed.
It was about being a bloke, it was about having swagger,
it was about "larging it".
# Looking for Girls who are boys
# Who like boys to be girls... #
Don't get me wrong, I have danced my arse off to Girls And Boys by Blur,
you know, it's fun, but I just felt excluded.
There was a lot of nice people,
but some of them were dickheads and arseholes.
Did you ever get any hassle from the male Britpop bands?
I remember Alex from Blur...
sinking his teeth into my arse.
And he thought it was hilarious,
and he thought I'd be really flattered,
and this is what I mean about the change.
Suddenly it seemed OK to relate to women in that way.
In the age of the lads' mag, the band soon discovered
that the media wanted more from them than just music.
We had a few experiences with photographers,
and I remember turning up,
and there was a sort of rail of, you know, stuff for us to wear, and...
I was honestly dressed in a skirt
that was like a football scarf or something,
I mean, it barely covered my arse.
And the photographer was going,
"Right, so if you could just turn around and sort of,
"you know, just bend over and sort of,
"if you just open your legs a bit and kind of..."
And I was like...
"Fuck!" Like, absolutely no way.
# Shake, baby, shake
# You know I can fit you in my arms... #
20 years after laddism became a dirty word, Lush have decided to reform.
It's a great thing to play a gig, it's so exciting.
You create something in a room, you know,
you create a real HAPPENING, it's an event.
And that, I think, you know, was visceral.
The rest of it, the kind of, you know, the...
Hanging out with whoever it is, you know, you can keep that!
# Single girl
# I just wanna be a single... #
Miki from Lush may have loved the creativity of band life,
although in the past few years,
it's female solo artists who have dominated the charts.
# ..For me
# Who run the world? Girls... #
But the bands are still out there.
Perhaps, having deconstructed everything,
we should be thinking about putting everything back together.
50 years after Carol Kaye had made Frank Sinatra do a double-take,
an explosive foursome from London still found themselves answering
the age-old line of inquiry, "What's it like being a girl in a band?"
Which is a pretty dumb question to ask Savages.
# Speaking words to the blind... #
When people ask, "How does it feel to be a woman in a band?"
I'm like, "OK, how does it feel to be a woman walking up the stairs?
"How does it feel to be a woman eating a sandwich?"
You see, like, I think it's just absurd.
# ..Who truly saw your soul
# I'm the one... #
Each one of us in the band were raised by our parents
thinking we could do anything.
Like, it wasn't special that Fay was playing the drums,
or Gemma was going to play guitar.
Have you ever had to deal with,
like, the classic male hecklers in the audience?
Yeah, it happened in Bridlington.
For some reason, the crowd was really crazy that night.
# Oh, God, I wanna get rid of it
# Oh, God, I wanna get Get rid of it... #
At some point in between two songs, they started shouting,
"Get your tits out for the lads."
I thought they were chanting something cool, like,
and I turned to Fay, the drummer, and I was like, "Hey!"
She was like...
"No! This is not cool!" And I didn't get it until the end of the show.
But the girls got it, and they were really angry.
But that was the only time it happened.
So, maybe it's just Bridlington.
# City's full of
# City's full of... #
It may have been a solo heckler in Bridlington,
but 20 years after The Breeders and Lush
found themselves getting headlines for being girls in rock bands,
the New York Times ran an article
suggesting that, even in 2015, girls in bands are an exotic sight.
The New York Times, they wrote a really good article about us,
but the title was "Girls At Work".
And under the picture, it was written,
"Savages, a female rock band from London."
A fan took a picture of that little caption,
and they crossed out the word "female".
It got a bit mental, like, all our fans retweeted it,
then the next day, when you went back to the New York Times website,
they had changed the title.
We're so used to that macho kind of vision,
and that's just normal, that's just how it is.
As soon you start pointing out that it's not right, that's how,
you know, things can start to change.
# City's full of
# Sissy pretty love, yeah. #
Looking back over the decades,
has there been any change for a girl in a band?
I think there must have been a change, but I think it's a bit slow.
What would you like to see in 10, 20 years' time?
I would like...
that when there's a woman
that starts to live a little bit louder than the others,
that she's not labelled feminist.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So, you've found yourself in a band.
You might be playing bass to cover the bills,
you could be escaping suburbia
by going out on the road for the first time,
or you could be teaming up with your sibling or your other half
and allowing that relationship to play out through music.
They say it's different for girls. What does that even mean?
One thing's clear, we're obsessed with music,
but sometimes you will find there's more to life
than being just the girl in the band.
# Let me tell you what we been doing
# Neon angels on the road to ruin
# Let me tell you what we been doing
# Neon angels on the road to ruin
# Let me tell you what we been doing
# Neon angels on the road... #
All too often, every great female rock musician has to answer a predictable question - what is it like being a girl in a band?
For many, the sight of a girl shredding a guitar or laying into the drums is still a bit of a novelty. As soon as women started forming their own bands they were given labels - the rock chick, the girl band or one half of the rock 'n' roll couple.
Kate Mossman aims to look beyond the cliches of fallen angels, grunge babes and rock chicks as she gets the untold stories from rock's frontline to discover if it has always been different for the girl in a band.