Forget the labels, but don’t forget Ari Up

Blast from the past: “The Slits are an all-girl band featuring a 14-year old singer called Arianna who stamped and screamed into a tantrum as the equipment made rude noises. This was at their world debut, opening for The Clash at Harlesden’s Colosseum…Noisy, aggressive, and trashy, but lotsa fun.!” (Kris Needs, “And the Best of the Rest…” New York Rocker 1977)

Ari Up passed away 21 October at age 48. The band that she formed when she was 14 years old, the Slits, “are known to many as an all-female punk band, such as the Clash is not known primarily as an all-male punk band.” (my italics, Rombes, 2009)

John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) announced Ari Up’s death on his website, saying it came after a “serious illness.” Lydon is married to Up’s mother, publishing heiress Nora Forster.

In an interview with Spin that was conducted during a Slits tour in 2009, but not published until today, Ari Up (Arianna Forster) discussed the legacy of her groundbreaking band.     

 “We were completely written out of history. We should be known as the one of the top punk bands, not as just “the girls” or “the girl band.” There was the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Slits. That [sic] how it was in 1976-1977. The Damned even came in fourth. It was the Pistols, the Clash, the Slits, and the Damned. Then something switched. Reggae and females were written out of history.”

“Can you imagine that, as girls, we were on the forefront of a revolution that changed the world’s culture, philosophy, clothes, art, and intellect? We were also on the forefront of women’s issue [sic]. We didn’t politically say, “We’re feminists,” but we were the ultimate feminists without even wanting to be. We were just being us; just being ourselves as girls at the time of a revolution. We had to compete with guys. Other girls were holding their guitars at their crotches saying, “Hey, we can do it like guys!” Or you didn’t have women playing instruments at all. Or a girl band was put together by a guy, who had an image made for the pleasure of the chauvinistic world that we were in.”

[Gosh, I’m not sure cause I haven’t seen the film they made about ’em, but I think she’s talking about the Runaways]

The Slits had broken up in 1982, but reformed in 2005. When asked why, Ari Up said  it was “because we are the Slits and we never stopped being the Slits. We have to continue. It’s an unfinished mission.”

                          Ari Up – 1962-2010

copyright Ian Dickson

Punk singer Ari Up dies aged 48
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11596497

Slits Tribute: Previously Unpublished Q&A with Ari Up
http://www.spin.com/articles/slits-tribute-previously-unpublished-qa-ari

The Slits’ myspace page http://www.myspace.com/theslits

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One Comment on “Forget the labels, but don’t forget Ari Up”

  1. Will Gilgan Says:

    R.I.P. Ari Up.


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