One of the first all-girl rock bands I knew about were The Runaways. They were cool and I liked them just as much for their music as much as I had certain…ahem…fantasies about some of the members of the band.
What I didn`t know at the time was that there were another all-girl band way before The Runaways called Fanny. Formed as early as in 1969, they had a name that invited you to speculate and wonder if these girls were even more outrageous and sexy than Cherie Currie singing “Cherry Bomb”. The problem was that in a time before the Internet there was no concert videos to see, and because they disbanded as early as in 1975, there were no records to be bought from this band, when I discovered them 10 years later, in my local record store.
So, this article are for all of you nerdy people who know about these bands from the darkest depths of rock`n`roll history. Me, you and David Bowie (who is a fan) can, to our luck, check them out on YouTube these days. Enjoy!
Unnnghhh! Grunt, slurp…
…goes John Ingham. Fanny just smile sweetly and go on rockin`…
Let`s be sexist for a coupla paragraphs.
You take a look at the cover of Fanny`s new album, “Rock and Roll Survivors”, and there`s Jean Millington looking very come-hither, and memories well up of when Fanny were second on the bill at the Whiskey A-Go Go and she used to prop that bass in her crotch and make it talk, and the dreams and desires would stand at attention.
Then you take an eyeful of new guitarist Patti Quatro, and…well, kids, that`s a face and pair of legs whose promises are only fulfilled in fantasies. It`s like rock and roll`s initial thrill made corporate before your gonads; true D.O.M. heaven; a breathtaking reason to forget being jaded; the—— Down, rover; give us some straight facts.
Like, if Nickey Barclay (tinkler of ivories) is leaving the group, why do a UK tour with Jethro Tull?
Over to you, Jean, in Birmingham.
“Well, Ian (Anderson) was over for dinner one night when we just had the new album, and we played it for him and he really freaked. He just stood there and played it over and over and out of that we got the tour.”
Nickey, of course, had already left in July to pursue a solo career, so rather than try and (a) find a new member fast (not the easiest task, given genetic limitations) and (b) teach her the ropes, the band asked her to return for this tour. The result, naturally, is a less than unified band, not helped by the fact that 90 per cent of the time you can`t hear the keyboards. In the middle is the diminutive Cam Davis, former Press Officer`s assistant. To either side stand Ms. Millington and Ms. Quatro,
initially in black cloaks that hide all but face and arms.
When they are dropped…ah! Jean is wearing a red skirt that is cut in an arc across the front, revealing a delectable turn of thigh. Patti`s legs never end; her costume seems to be rags held together by perspiration. Men all over the auditorium rise in appreciation.
The music is frenetic; Cam sounding like a juggernaut coming through Dover, Jean unloading great dollops of oomph in all the right holes, Patti unleashing savage steamrollers of noise and then throwing in a flurry of precise, clear notes to float on top, moving across to Jean in a guitar duel, riding her axe, stomping her feet. When this band is complete it`s going to pulverise a lot of heads.
But is there still a hangup, in these enlightened mid-70s, of you being a…”chick group”?
“It`s hard to tell,” purrs Jean. “We`ve never been men.”
Patti maintains they all took sex change operations in search of an original gimmick. Turning the other cheek: “It`s harder to get people to take what you`re doing seriously, especially if you give off that vibe. But if you`re really working and putting out, they aren`t going to say, `Oh, you play good for a chick`.”
“People thought they were giving us compliments by saying that,” interjects Jean. “But starting two years ago the papers in L.A. stopped talking about us as a female group and just reviewed us as Fanny. It will probably stop completely when we get a hit record and headline tours.”
But couldn`t you use your feminity as an “easy” ride to rock heaven?
Jean: “We don`t really think about it, to tell you the truth. We just concentrate on the music, because if that isn`t good it doesn`t mean shit. If you can`t cut the mustard, being the prettiest girl in the world won`t help.”
Patti: “But on the other hand, we don`t hide it. A lot of women would go up there in jeans and feel ashamed and think, `Oh, they`re not going to take me seriously.` If you`ve got the confidence, you should be able to go up there nude and it shouldn`t make any difference. When I go on I want to feel like I look good, and if it`s a skirt then it`s a skirt.
“And when you sweat a lot, you don`t want to be completely covered in pants…But you don`t want to hear that…It`s all so sordid, my dear.”
No, really girls, it sounds quite clean to me.
“Oh, we`re a clean group. We come off stage smelling like a perfume bath.”
But before we leave these dabblings into matters of gender, how about groupies, especially in a country where it seems even Bryan Ferry can`t score.
“Oh, there was a boy of about 14 outside the stage door last night, who asked for a kiss,” says Jean. “And I couldn`t think of a good reason to say no, so I gave him a little kiss and he was waiting for a French one and he said (plaintive voice), `Is that all?`”
It rapidly transpires that Fanny have no trouble in the organic electric blanket department, though, Patti says, “They don`t have the nerve to say, `You want to screw,` so it`s all in terms of `Would you like a drink`.” She smiles innocently.
How about other females?
“They`re more like truck drivers,” grimaces Jean. “But we do get a lot of girls in out of the way places who have been inspired to form groups because of us. It makes you feel very responsible.”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Elton John, The Crystals, Yes, John Sebastian, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Rod Stewart, Johnny Winter, Frank Zappa, Magna Carta, Ray Shulman (Gentle Giant).
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