– The Band You’ll Wish You Always Knew
Meet the band you’ll wish you always knew: Girlschool.
In honour of the late Kelly Johnson’s would-be birthday today, we’d like to dedicate this post to her work over three decades.
Kelly was the reigning guitar slayer of Britain’s finest, all-female Heavy Metal band which had formed in 1978. The only one really, and there is no doubt that they shed influence on changing the face of music… heavy music. Still going today with a different lineup, they now hold the heavyweight title for longest running all female band. They enjoyed mainstream success for some time; yet after all these years and time passed, they still enjoy a devoted cult following across the globe. Though described as: ‘the leading pioneers in the battle against sexism’; compared to the Runaways and cited as influence for bands like The Donnas- they remain sadly elusive and unsung. As much as Motörhead has become painfully diluted and overly popular.You’ve all heard of Motörhead… which begs the question: why haven’t we heard Girlschool before?
In 1978, Girlschool grew from all-girl cover band called Painted Lady, which was formed in Wandsworth by school friends Dinah and Kim. The reason for choosing girls, it’s reported, is because ‘we couldn’t find any blokes who wanted to play with us!’ It wasn’t long before they released their first single in December that year, ‘Take it All Away’, which caught the attention of Lemmy Kilmister. Fans of Punk, Girlschool fused the fiery energy of British Punk bands with the heaviness and technique of Hard Rock- which made for a sound that stood out between either genre.
Lemmy offered the band a slot supporting Motörhead, and the two bands were interlinked and collaborative throughout the decades that followed. You should all check out their cover of ‘Please Don’t Touch’ if you wanna get a tase of the Motörhead X Girlschool goodness. In the 80’s, the band looked to change things up a bit, and appeal to a broader, American market. With all things glam, spandex and hairspray taking the world by storm and new found friends in Slade- Girlschool revamped their look in the shadow of Motley Crüe and Whitesnake. They performed covers such as ’20th Century Boy’- which still holds up- but this transition from Heavy to Hair Metal alienated many of their British fans back home.
Though they lost their momentum, and committed a number of cardinal sins in the pursuit of American audiences, they remain a band that deserves to be remembered, remembered well. Not just for their service to women in music, but for their service music in Britain. 🤘