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The Lost Women of Rock Music

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In the late 1970s and early 1980s a new phenomenon emerged in UK popular music – female guitarists, bass-players, keyboard-players and drummers began 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 by the enabling ethic of punk rock (“anybody can do it!”) and by the impact of the Sex Discrimination Act. With the demise of the punk scene, interest in these musicians evaporated and other priorities became important to music audiences. This book investigates the social and commercial reasons why these women became lost from the rock music record, and rewrites this period of popular music history.

In addition to a wealth of original interview material with key protagonists, including the late John Peel, Geoff Travis, The Raincoats and Poison Girls, this new edition has been updated to include interviews with members of Birmingham-based band The Au Pairs, Leeds-based band Delta 5 and Viv Albertine of The Slits. Lucy Whitman (aka Lucy Toothpaste), who started the fanzine Jolt and later wrote for Spare Rib, also provides enlightening words on the relationship between female punk band members and feminism. The author also draws on her own experience as bass-player in a punk band.

Published: Apr 1, 2012


Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgments Helen Reddington
General Editor’s Preface Derek Scott
Introduction Helen Reddington
A Ladder Through the Glass Ceiling? Helen Reddington
Media Gatekeepers and Cultural Intermediaries Helen Reddington
The Brighton Scene Helen Reddington
Noise, Violence and Femininity Helen Reddington
The Aftermath Helen Reddington
The Social Context: Academic Writing on Subcultures, the Rock Press and “Women in Music” Helen Reddington
Conclusion Helen Reddington
Notes Helen Reddington
Appendix: List of Interviewees Helen Reddington
Bibliography Helen Reddington
Index Helen Reddington

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'This is a major work of sociocultural importance and tells a story that has been ignored for too long. Bands like The Raincoats and The Slits are too often relegated to footnotes in the better known stories of the Sex Pistolsand The Clash, and as both bands, and many of their other female contemporaries stayed far more true to their idealism and cultural mores than did many of their male counterparts, this is just not fair. Well done Helen for such an important work.'
Jon Downes, Gonzo Daily blogspot

* * * *
'Important study of punk in its socio-political and commercial contexts.’
August 2012

‘A fascinating social and cultural history… ’
Popular Music

'Reddington’s text is an important contribution to the scholarship on the role of women in music, and the inclusion of a woman’s voice in popular social theory. Some of the best moments of this text are Reddington’s confrontation with big-time social theorists such as Dick Hebdige, Simon Frith, Theodor Adorno, and John Savage who excluded and discounted women’s contribution to music and social history.'