When you’re on vacation you suddenly have a LOT of time on your hands. I ended up spending hours on YouTube last night watching videos by some of the female bands/artists that inspired me as I was growing up.
I’ve always collected albums by female rockers, whether it was all-girl bands or female fronted male bands or even the very few women who got a gig playing in a male band (not just singing).
The very first heroine was of course Lita Ford. When I was just a kid with very little knowledge of the music world, I remember stopping in the record store being totally in awe of the cool girls on the cover of this Runaways album:
Lita was of course the one who caught the eye of a curious 8-year old cause she wore that silver-thing on her arm. Then when she released her first solo-album in 1983, I really started collecting Lita-stuff. She was definitely the number one role-model.
[Cheesy early Lita-video, title track of her debut solo-album “Out For Blood“]
Joan Jett never appealed to me as much. It was only last year at Sweden Rock Festival when I attended her press-conference and saw her live, that I truly got why she’s stayed on the top in this business all these years. She is genuine and breathes rock’n’roll! She ruled the crowd, they loved her!
In the early 80’s, there were very few females playing metal. One of my favorite bands was Rock Goddess. The youngest member, drummer Julie Turner, was so young at the time that they even had trouble getting her into some of their own gigs!
They came to Sweden opening for Def Leppard in 1984 I think, but I wasn’t allowed to go. My parents were still not happy about the fact that their daughter was into heavy metal, it was something they had heard “bad things” about. Needless to say, they had to change their minds along the way… ;-P
[Rock Goddess with the asskicking Jodie Turner on vocals and guitar!]
I picked up whatever I could – Girlschool, She, Lita, Joan, Headpins, and then of course Lee Aaron. The Metal Queen. When I first heard her, it was on the radio (must have been some local station, they didn’t normally play heavy metal on the national Swedish radio back in those days) – I thought it was a guy…! Man, the lady had quite a set of pipes! And she was beautiful too, not to mention a bundle of energy on stage. Well, that’s how I imagined her, because I never saw her live and there was no YouTube so I had to rely on the reviews I read in the metal magazines I could get my hands on in 1984. I was happy to finally see her live at Sweden Rock Festival last year and she blew me away! She is still stunning and hasn’t lost her vocal range one bit!
[Quite cheesy video but these were still the early years of music videos…]
As the years went by, the world of metal started to expand and more women fought their way in. Cause it sure as hell wasn’t easy being a woman in metal in the 70’s or 80’s! There were very few, and the ones who DID manage to secure their place in the business, constantly had to deal with stupid juvenile sexism. It was automatically assumed that heavy metal was a man’s world and as a woman you simply couldn’t play.
At its best, you would hear comments along the lines of “well… pretty good – for a chick“. It was still pretty bad when I joined my first band. When we played, I would constantly hear some drunk asshole (and his equally drunk idiot pals) yell: “Show your tits!”. Well, show your d***k if you can find it, son of a b…. It was a pain in the butt, but you couldn’t let it stop you.
Late 80’s presented the classy ladies of Vixen for instance. Eventhough I wouldn’t call them metal, I loved everything about them. I was young, thought of them as inspirational not only as great musicians but also as fashion-statements for women in rock. :-) I had the pleasure of talking to them a few times during their fairly short, but successful career and loved their personalities.
Other ladies that I listened to during this period was Femme Fatale fronted by a lady with an attitude – Lorraine Lewis. She’s still active, playing the Monsters of Rock Cruise for instance. Would love to see her, cause most of those American bands never made it to Europe for some reason.
Doro had been around since…forever! Starting out with Warlock, I’d say she’s also one of the few true, 200% dedicated and impressive metal queens out there. Doro and Lita won every poll for “best female artist” back in those days. I love Doro, who doesn’t?! She’s a wonderful, humble person with a true love for heavy metal.
Another band that I really liked, but who never made it commercially (they stayed somehow “underground” eventhough MTV aired their videos) was Phantom Blue.
They were the first and only female band to be signed to Mike Varney’s Shapnel Records (only 3 months after forming!). Just as a bit of trivia, guitarists Michelle and Nicole were both students of Paul Gilbert and Bruce Boulliet of Racer X. Great guitarists and to top it all off – the amazing Gigi Hangach on vocals.
They couldn’t compete with the likes of Vixen or Lita in terms of airtime or albums sold, but they made a mark in music history for sure. Michelle married John Norum (ex-Europe) and moved to Sweden where she formed the band Meldrum. I remember being in touch with her back and forth about a gig at my club Hard Break in the mid-, late nineties, but due to a double-booking it fell through. Michelle was anything but happy about it, to make a long story very short… :-( It sucks that things had to go so wrong. She passed away in 2008. Read more about the band here. The actual promo video for this great song used to be on YouTube but I’m sure some idiot had it removed for whatever reason… The only thing left is this incredibly inspiring “look at this photo”-video, but at least you can still HEAR the music.
As far as VOICES…there was only ONE that could blew off the competition. Not that there ever was any competition. This woman was on her throne and nobody ever came even CLOSE to her vocal power! Ann Wilson of Heart. That voice amazes me to this day, she was and is one of a kind.
Then, of course, there was the CHEESE.
Some stand out as worse than anything. I bought records by these “ladies” but they’ve only been played once and then took their place in the collection just as “fill-outs”, never to be played again.
Lisa Dominique, she was in Kerrang! all the time, but the only reason she was, was because she was selling her “sexy image” more than her music – she couldn’t sing if her life depended on it! Take a listen to this (warning for possible injuries on sensitive eardrums….)
Then there was the super-cheesy Betsy Bitch from the band….Bitch. I’m lost for words, this is just about the cheesiest crap I’ve ever seen or heard in most aspects, especially lyric-wise! :)
Granted, she was one of the very first female metal vocalists, starting out in 1980, but that doesn’t help, at all. This song especially is horrible. Check it out:
Another uh..lady, that must be placed in the cheese-department is The Great Kat. It’s not that she didn’t know what she was doing; she was a classically trained violinist, graduated from Juilliard and had been touring playing classical music before she became…that.
Once again, she ends up in the cheese-department simply because…well, you’ll understand when you watch the video below. She could play, has even been listed as one of the top shredders of all time by Guitar One magazine. Maybe she would have passed unnoticed if she hadn’t created this insane persona, where she often claimed she was Beethoven reincarnated. ;)
Jesus, I think I’ll have go and take a break after that. :-)) Hope you’ve enjoyed the rundown!
Honorable mentions that didn’t fit into the article above but that you should take a listen to:
Canadian rocker Joanna Dean, loved her album “Misbehavin”
One HELL of a voice – Chrissy Steele (who was recruited to take over vocal duties after Darby Mills in Headpins. This is from her solo album “Magnet to Steele“)
So Lita Ford is about to release a new album soon, and it was, as usual, on Blabbermouth yesterday.
Another thing that’s “as usual” are all those strange individuals on Blabbermouth who are filling the newspages with the weirdest comments…
The article was 100% about Lita’s music, yet the very first comment on there was: “Gonna do some MILF porn Lita?”
Another brainiac continued with another ever so intelligent comment that included, among other things “she s***ed Chris Holmes nasty alcoholic c**k for a few years in the 80’s“
It’s an interesting phenomenon, because I’m pretty sure that the pimplefaced teenage boys (I hope to god that these stupidass comments were NOT written by any ADULT….) got a heartattack just SEEING a picture of a WOMAN on their macho metal pages. All those sexually frustrated, morons turned into Beavis & Butthead in about two seconds by the mere sight of a woman among their male heroes.
Oh horror – I mean, really?! How DARE she exist in their little narrow macho-metal world?! Only LEMMY is allowed to rule that world of theirs, definitely no chick. They forget that this particular chick has even recorded a song she wrote with said legend….
[Lemmy and Lita = Can’t Catch Me]
But it’s always, always the same shit when a woman enters the world of metal. It’s all that sexist bullshit she has to listen to from a bunch of insecure dweebs who are convinced that they are exerting an imaginary power by acting as if sexuality is something that they are entitled to by nature, whereas women should be grateful if they “GET” some. You know, kind of what they were thinking back in the 50’s.
Especially in this case, when we’re talking about Lita Ford – THAT kind of behavior becomes nothing but BRAINDEAD and embarrassing. Why? Because she is not the kind of chick who gets offended by rough talk. First of all, she’s more vulgar than most of those little teenage nerds. If you think that the usual sexist talk is intimitading to someone like her – think again.
Back in the late 80’s, early 90’s, she was interviewed by RIP or Metal Edge, I forget which one it was – and stated that if she hadn’t made it as a musician, she would have pursued a “career” as a callgirl. Because she liked the idea of unbridled, unconditional sex.
That was a pretty “shocking” statement back in those days. She was very “SO FUCKIN’ WHAT??”
Her songs have always been about sex in all forms, I guess her last one, Wicked Wonderland, was no exception. And her stories and pics from her and her ex-husband Jim’s “sex-room” and their endorsement of a site that sells sex-toys and what have you….
The whole thing with the nervous teenage boy who’s trying to be cool in the safety and security of his anonymity, just becomes even more stupid. He chose the wrong chick to try his amateur, clumsy version of classic master suppression techniques on.
That crap is just such old news, and I don’t know how it still manages to survive among some retarded groups out there, in 2012.
It’s always the same. I saw some pretty nasty shit being said about Elize Ryd of Amaranthe for instance.
What is a guy thinking when he writes a comment to a music video, saying “She can sit on my face!”? And then there will be OTHER Beavis and Buttheads out there cheering it along.
I heard all that stuff back when I was singing in a band too. I’m not easily offended either. I mean, I joined my first band when I was a teenager, and trust me – I heard more intimate stories than I bargained for. The guys forgot I was a chick when they acted like boys do – so, yeah, every exaggerated sexual conquest was reviewed in the rehearsal studio.After a lifetime of that, you get jaded, to a degree. But sometimes, in some situations, I still can’t help thinking “when is this shit gonna be OLD NEWS, it’s just getting so… old“.
Every time I got up on stage, there was some dude, whose pals he was trying to impress, that yelled: “Show your tits!!”
In the end, I got so sick of hearing it, that I decided to address it with a sense of humor instead of bitching about it.
So, one evening I put on a whole bunch of t-shirts, tried my best to make it look like it was only one, and then did a bit of a “striptease” – taking off one t-shirt after the other, layer after layer.
I thought they would get the irony of it, but when I got to the last top, there was still some idiot who yelled, with a beer in his hand, “show your tits!”. I gave up. Some just don’t have a sense of humor or the IQ to understand irony and when they are being mocked.
I just hoped and wished that things would be different in 2012. I’ve been a rocker since I was 13 years old. When I started, there were very few female role models, and Lita was my first real source of inspiration – just because she did things her own way.
“Better sexy than ugly” is what she used to say with a laugh. She made being feminine something cool, something fun – not something political or aggressive. It was just the way she was. I admired her for it.
And after all the work she’s done her whole life, there are still caveman-people out there making the same stupid remarks now that they did back in 1983.
It’s not all just negative, that’s not where I’m going with this. Things HAVE changed a lot. We see more and more women at festivals – both in the crowd and on stage.
Last year, at Sweden Rock Festival, people worshipped Joan Jett and they got up early, dispite their hangovers, to see Lee Aaron.
Doro has always had extremely loyal fans who absolutely adore her and Girlschool have most certainly earned their legend-status just as much as their male colleagues.
It’s definitely better than it was in 1983, but I just wish that some of these “developmentally disabled”, to put it nicely, would become a thing of the past, altogether.
Maybe another…20 years from now…? Who knows.
Alright, so the madness really began in June. It kicked off with Sweden Rock Festival, which is my second home. I’ve been to every single festival since 1994, with the exception of 1996 when I lived in the States. Working for the magazine (Sweden Rock Magazine) has made it a natural place to be every summer, doing reviews and interviews.
This year there was ONE main assignment, and it was altogether in my own name, for this blog and for YouTube.
After a few months of contact, I asked Gus G for an interview. I didn’t think he would be able to do it when he was out with Ozzy. I know that time is rarely the musician’s own when he’s a part of a huge machinery like Ozzy’s. However, he assured me that he’d be happy to do the interview and after a few messages back and forth with his manager, it was settled.
THE GUS G EXCLUSIVE SWEDEN ROCK INTERVIEW
That day was crazy. Cellphones never work on the Sweden Rock premises, so when the manager texted me to ask where the cameraman and I were, I couldn’t get my message through to him.He wanted us to get to the backstage area – and I know what that means. That means breaking into FORT-fuckin’-KNOX…! Are you kidding me?!? All the way back to Ozzy’s own backstage area, without the very exclusive pass that allows you through all the guarded gates to “the holy grail”? Yeah, that would be interesting.
But I was not about to let that stop me. After a few stressful minutes, I finally got hold of someone who had the right credentials to escort us all the way back there, so even with the extremely tight time-schedule it could be done.
We set up the cameras and lights while they went to get Gus. The timing was perfect. JUST as I had said the last finishing phrases to wrap up the interview – Thin Lizzy hit the Rock Stage. Some things are just meant to happen. I was very pleased with the interview (eventhough some internet trolls who don’t like Gus (Zakk-fans?), have done their best to “dislike” the video – f**k them, lol!)
WHITESNAKE WITH SPECIAL GUESTS BERNIE MARSDEN & ADRIAN VANDENBERG
The festival was definitely memorable for many reasons. The exclusive Gus G-interview was one of the highlights. Another one was the historic, fantastic performance by Whitesnake (that for some reason did not impress the colleague who reviewed their show, as much as it impressed me).It was an extremely emotional experience for me. When Bernie Marsden walked up on stage joining David, I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing, could barely believe it was happening. And as if that wasn’t enough – there comes Adrian Vandenberg as well! FOUR Whitesnake-guitarists on stage together at the same time…! How many times will I ever get to see THAT again?!
I uploaded a shaky video of it on YouTube that night before I passed out on the couch, and it’s one of the most viewed videos on my channel with its almost 18.000 views. Here’s another, shorter clip of are guys taking a bow:
JUDAS PRIEST – THE PRESS CONFERENCE
My main purpose with attending the Judas Priest press conference this time, was to get a feel of the chemistry between the “older priests” and the “new kid on the block” – Richie Faulkner. I was in the press-tent long before anyone else got there, securing my front row chair. That’s where the Russian girl from Classic Rock Magazine, Vera, found me. She remembered me from a few years before when she had seen me in the exact same place – also waiting for Priest. :-) This year we became friends and she visited me in Malmö a few months later.
As for the press conference, I got a very positive impression of Richie and it helped me to shake that frustration of K.K being out of the band. And although I, quite honestly, wasn’t that impressed by Judas Priest’s show at Sweden Rock, Richie did a great job. I hadn’t expected that – but he turned out to be a valuable addition to Priest with his youthful energy.
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL 2011
JOAN JETT: The press conference was one of the best not only this year, but the past few years. I always imagined Joan being this moody badass “whattafuck”-kind of chick. But she was very warm and intelligent, and most of all the had a refreshing self-distance and sense of humor.
Once she got onstage, she showed why she has been on the top since the 70’s. She’s genuine and 100% rock’n’roll, there’s no question about it. The lady is impressive in every single way, all I can say is…RESPECT!
LEE AARON: Couldn’t believe how great she looked and the energy she had after all these years. Maybe I didn’t expect the “poppy” outfit, but she still had her powerhouse-voice and she definitely worked the stage when she entered it around noon, the last day of the festival. The biggest disappointment was that I LOST the video of her press conference!! I asked her a few questions that she really took time to answer, and then something went wrong during the transfer from the SD-card to the computer and it just disappeared. :-(( Gah!
MR BIG: I’ve always loved Mr Big. Call them whimpy or whatever, I don’t care. Paul Gilbert is a genious, Eric Martin is one of the most gifted singers in the business, Pat Torpey is a great but very underestimated drummer and Billy Sheehan – hey… There’s only one Bassplayer DeLuxe, and that’s Billy. Everybody knew their songs, they played like gods, and basically – my face ached afterwards cause I had been smiling way too much and too long!
Queensrÿche sounded terrible. I’ve never in my life heard them sounding so bad. Or maybe I should just say that Geoff Tate didn’t have a good day… Zakk Wylde left a very good impression at his press conference. He was cool, yet respectful and I think he handled the press very well. :-)
ROADTRIP TO OZZY – Germany & Luxembourg
After Sweden Rock Festival, I had a few days to prepare for my next trip – down to Munich in Germany to see Ozzy. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Munich, that I had a chance to drive around in, as I rented a car at the airport because I was going to continue down to Luxembourg as well two days later.
Anett (Jon Oliva’s European tour manager) and her husband Marcus, had invited me to come and stay with them on my way to Luxembourg, so after the Munich-gig I drove down there. It has its advantages to get a rental car, you get to see beautiful sceneries, so the drive to the little village was definitely worth the trip. :-)
After a really nice stay, catching up with Anett and Marcus (and meeting their rock’n’roll Dobermann-dog Slash! :-)) I continued on my way and drove down to Luxembourg. I stood in line outside Rockhal for several hours, cause I had nothing better to do, and when you travel like that to see a show, you don’t want to risk not seeing anything, so…
I stood there pretty much all day – then when the doors opened somebody told me that my “kind” of ticket had to be picked up somewhere else (WTF!!!) so I lost my place in line and was so pissed off, that people just moved out of my way when I walked back into the arena with black smoke coming out of my ears.
I made it all the way to the front row, much with the help of a really nice girl who let me have her spot, because she thought I “should” have it as I had travelled that far. That’s the kind of people you remember with thankfulness when you go on these road trips. :-)
Blogs from the Germany/Luxemburg roadtrips:
GRASPOP METAL MEETING in Belgium
The week after Munich and Luxembourg, I took off to Belgium with my friend Bianca, to my other favorite festival: GRASPOP Metal Meeting.
Bianca wanted to see Ozzy, because she’s never seen him before, and for me it would also mean a double-dose of Gus G because Firewind were also playing. Well… Ozzy got sick and the show was cancelled. As if that wasn’t enough, the rain was pissing down.
But… I got to see Firewind at least, and also discovered a freaking great band from Belgium, Channel Zero, that normally wouldn’t be the kind of band I’d listen to, but their energy was hard to miss…! Especially their front man Franky was impressive, his aggressive confidence fit the music perfectly and the crowd went wild!
THE CHANNEL ZERO BLOG HERE.
[This is what I tried to film during their set – as you can see, it was pretty wild, lol…!]
Dispite the mud and the very drunk rockers that we had to zig-zag to avoid stepping on, it was a great festival.
[Bianca and me being super-sexy in our blue rain ponchos, lol! ;P]
THESSALONIKI (GREECE) – Stop That Sound-festival
I went back to Sweden for a short break, before heading out on my next trip – all the way down to sunny Greece. Stop That Sound-festival in Thessaloniki, with headliners Judas Priest and Whitesnake, and of course home-boys Firewind. THAT story is way too long to even attempt summarizing, so I’ll just direct you straight to the blogs from that visit:
SONISPHERE FESTIVAL – England
Straight after that, I headed from Thessaloniki airport, to London – for the SONISPHERE festival.
Metallica headlined it, and I bet I must have been the only one who didn’t give a shit about Metallica. I never have, I never will. Never understood their greatness. However, I wanted to see Firewind and MEGADETH, most of all. I wasn’t disappointed by any of those bands. Megadeth always delivers. So did Anthrax by the way. :-)
JUDAS PRIEST in Manchester, UK and OZZY in Gdansk, Poland & Smukfest, Denmark
The weekend after Sonisphere, I took off back to England again. This time to Manchester to see Judas Priest. I loved the city, so much that I decided to choose Manchester in favor of London for concerts in the future. The show at Manchester Apollo was the best I’ve seen Priest do in a long time. Also met up with Ronnie, an internet friend that has been reading my diaries and blogs online since the very early days of Internet. Always nice to meet people in person too.
Next stop was Ozzy in Gdansk, Poland. I was really sick and should have been in bed, but there was no way I was going to cancel the trip. I slept everywhere I could. Spent the first day in bed at the super-cool designer hotel La-La-La, and most of the day of the show. It was raining anyway and of course I had forgotten to bring a rain-poncho, which I normally ALWAYS bring with me.
No matter how sick I was, it was worth it. Ozzy rules. And the Polish fans were definitely hardcore. I’m glad I went, eventhougI got lost and all that, but it goes with the territory. :-)
[OZZY played Ergo Arena in Sopot/Gdansk, Poland]
I only had one day to recover before I drove to Smukfest in Denmark to see the last Ozzy-show of the European tour. It was PISSING down all day, I had mud up to my knees! Crazy! The stage and the festival itself was kind of…different, and I suppose I expected something extraordinary because it was the last gig of the tour. But when Ozzy walks offstage – he’s done. So, no encores, no fireworks, no nothing. Yet, that was worth it too, I had fun!
[Ozzy finished his European tour on the left stage at Smukfest, Skanderborg, Denmark]
FIREWIND, FIREWIND AND MORE FIREWIND
Most of September was commited for Firewind. I spent most of that month on trains, buses, in taxis and on planes. Three gigs in England (and Scotland) – Manchester, Glasgow, Reading. Reading was Gus G’s birthday and he was celebrated with a cake onstage. Video was, of course, posted. This was also the tour where they had a “stand in”-singer, Mats Levén (who’s also fronted Yngwie’s band, almong others)
Then I took a break for a short while, before continuing down to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with yet another rental car (that I got at the airport – that roadtrip was described in the Firewind-blog, too much to tell for a short summary – check it out HERE).
You would have thought I would get sick of seeing the same band, travelling to some godforsaken places and sleeping in a car to save money, but no – I loved it! They are brilliant, I would do it all over again!
MEETING UP WITH CROATIAN TALENT – Vili Kovac in Split
The day after I came home from the Benelux/Germany-Firewind-tour, I only had time to re-pack my suitcase and head down to see my dad in Croatia for a REAL vacation. It was a vacation so much that I got restless, I’m not used to doing nothing.
But the vacation was saved by a meeting with a great, talented young Croatian singer, who I had first discovered the year before when I was on vacation, as he was competing in the Croatian version of American Idol. I thought he was great, one of those that stands out – not only with his voice but also with his personality.
He came to Split just for one day, so I got to meet the guy. Really nice dude, he played some of his own unreleased stuff for me and also some Croatian and Bosnian bands that I hadn’t heard before that were actually worth checking out.
Most of all I was a bit frustrated to learn that he might not be able to record something in English and reach a wider audience outside of Croatia – which I think he should. But – the modern world is shrinking so you never know. Maybe one day. Even on vacation I managed to squeeze in something music-related, thank god! :-)
[Ripper Owens and Vili Kovac]
And then when I came back to Sweden – there was reuniting with old friend SEBASTIAN BACH (video) and some other stuff… In part three which is coming up!