Fanny was First
It’s been is a good year for The Go-Go’s. First came the fabulous Murder a Go-Go’s anthology of stories based on their songs and now the band is getting a long overdue documentary. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it arrives in theaters.
In the late 1970s, early 80s, my band played many of the same L.A. clubs the Go-Go’s were performing in at the time. They had created a local buzz long before their first record came out. I went to seem them at the Whisky a Go Go and they already had that great mix of punky attitude and 1960s girl-group musicality. Beauty and the Beast came out about a year later and was a huge hit, as you probably know. The Go-Go’s were rightly celebrated as the first all-girl band to hit the top of the charts.
But they weren’t the first great all-girl rock band. That was Fanny. Their first album came out in 1970, ten years before the Go-Go’s arrived. Give a listen to to the song Blind Alley below. That’s right. Fanny rawked!
I was fourteen years old when I first saw/heard Fanny on the Midnight Special TV show. As best I can remember my reaction was, well…adolescent male confusion. They sounded like a real rock and roll band. But they were girls. Girls didn’t play music like that. I wasn’t anti girl rockers, but…my aspirations to become a rock star were closely related to my being a quiet, nerdy male person who played an instrument reasonably well. I joined other male persons of the same sort to make a loud, rhythmic and occasionally melodic sound. That’s what rock bands were supposed to be. And now there was this! Mind blown.
Other folks were probably as confused as I was, maybe more so. Fanny did pretty well for their time, considering the level of sexism in the music industry. A couple of their songs made it into the Top 100. David Bowie promoted them and Barbara Streisand hired them as her studio band. They toured with Jethro Tull, Slade, and Humble Pie (the last two seem like particularly good match).
Anyway, thanks to the wonders of internet and music streaming, you can now give Fanny the listen they deserved all those years ago. Some links below: