In the first half of the 20th Century, there were many popular all-female musical acts. In the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s there were vocal groups like The Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters, and The McGuire Sisters. In the early rock/soul era, the so-called “girl groups” such as The Shirelles, The Teen Queens, The Paris Sisters, and The Chantels all achieved both artistic and popular success. However, none of these groups were proper bands, per se. There were some all-female bands — that is, groups comprised of female musicians — but sadly most were viewed by many as little more than curiosities. You can read about them here.
Everything apparently changed after The Beatles arrived. In the history of rock music, no other band seems likely to have inspired so many teenagers to form bands. Those bands were primarily comprised of boys but more than a few girls picked up guitars or drums and in some cases formed all-girl rock bands. Unfortunately, none of these rock pioneers even approached the level of popular success enjoyed by their male counterparts. Goldie & the Gingerbreads were probably the most successful and they’re hardly household names. Today The Shaggs are probably the best-known — and they’re not exactly a household name.
Perhaps few of the all-female rock bands of the 1960s made much of a lasting impression — I would argue because few were allowed to. They could entertain with covers, possible whilst showing a bit of skin, and in most cases, cut a single or two — but few existed long enough to develop more substantially. That’s not to say that they didn’t produce any music of merit, however, because there are some real gems.
Although few of these musicians probably had it on their minds at the time, they jointly opened the doors for the all-female bands that followed that were allowed to exist and succeed more or less on their own terms — all-female bands like The Runaways, The Slits, Bush Tetras, Delta 5, The Go-Gos, Dolly Mixture, The Bangles, Malaria!, Marine Girls, Mo-Dettes, Y Pants, Emily’s Sassy Lime, Longstocking, Team Dresch, Tracy + the Plastics, Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and the many, many others.
GOLDIE & THE GINGERBREADS
Goldie & the Gingerbreads were formed in 1962 by Ginger Bianco, Margo Lewis, and Goldie Zelkowitz. After a 1962 tour with Chubby Checker, they added guitarist/singer Carol MacDonald. They were the first all-female band to sign to a major label, first to Decca in 1963 and then Atlantic in 1964. Their single, “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” reached #25 in the UK. The recorded seven other singles through 1967 before breaking up.
The Cimmats formed in Lahti, Finland in 1963. In 1964 they performed on that country’s Me Nuoret. The band was comprised of Ulla Laakkonen (guitar), Aila Toikkanen (guitar), Onerva “One” Niemelainen (bass), Arja Salminen (drums) and several singers including Leena Huovila, Ulla Juutilainen, and finally Pipsa Poykko. They disbanded in 1967.
THE CONTINENTAL CO-ETS
The Continental Co-ets formed in Fulda, Minnesota in 1963 and were comprised of Nancy Hofmann (bass), Mary Jo Hofmann, Vicki Steinman (drums), Carol Goins (guitar), and Carolyn Behr (guitar). They released only one single on IGL in 1965, “I Don’t Love You No More,” b/w “Melody of Junk”; (the A-side was written by Goins and the B-side was a group effort) followed by “Let’s Live for the Present” (Goins again) b/w “Ebb Tide” which was released by Get Hip Recordings in 1994! They gained a bit of a following in Canada and the Upper Midwest before disbanding in 1967.
The Liverbirds were a beat combo formed in 1963 in Liverpool, UK by Valerie Gell (vocals/guitar), Mary McGlory (vocals/bass), Sylvia Saunders (drums), Irene Green (vocals), and Sheila McGlory (guitar). The latter two soon left and were replaced by just one member, Pamela Birch (vocals/guitar). As with many of their beat peers, they achieved some success in Hamburg, Germany — their cover of Bo Diddley’s “Diddley Daddy” reached #5 on the German charts. They released two albums, Star-Club Show 4 (1965) and More Of The Liverbirds (1966), both on Star-Club Records. They broke up in 1968 after a tour to Japan and all but Saunders settled in Germany permanently.
SUGAR & THE SPICES
Sugar and the Spices were a duo of Corky Casey (Al Casey‘s ex-wife) and Carol Eddy (Duane Eddy‘s ex-wife). They released “Bye Bye Baby” b/w “Do The Dog” on Stacy in October 1963. A message was written on the 45, “SPECIAL NOTE: all-girl group – no recording gimmicks” — produced by Al Casey and Lee Hazelwood.” In 1964 they released “Boys Can Be Mean” b/w “Tollie” on Vee Jay. In 1965 they released a split single, “Have Faith in Me” b/w “Tomorrow (aka Tears)” — a Brilliant Korners cover — on Kent.
THE TREMELONS/THE LUV’D ONES
Singer/guitarist Char Vinnedge formed The Tremelons in Niles, Michigan in 1963 with her sister Chris on bass, Mary Gallagher on rhythm guitar, and Faith Orem on drums. In 1966 they changed their name to The Luv’d Ones. They recorded four songs for Dunwich Records, “Whole Lotta Shakin’,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Theme for a DJ,” and “Please Let Me Know,” before disbanding in 1968.
The Beat-Chics were a short-lived attempt to cash in on the success of The Beatles. They released one single for Decca in November 1964, a cover of Bill Haley & His Comets‘ “Skinny Minnie” b/w “Now I Know,” the B-side apparently a composition of lead singer Maire “Moy” Page.
Les Beatlettes were formed in 1964 in Montreal and comprised of Denise Payette (singer), Claudette Faubert (lead guitar), Claire Fugere (guitar), Helene Duguay (bass guitar) and Mimi Jourdan (drums). They released a cover of Les Classels‘ “Ton amour a changé ma vie.” They broke up after Faubert and Jourdain died in a car accident.
Cheetas formed in Copenhagen in 1964 — a trio of Kiri Henning (drums), Marianne Wrona (guitar), Marianne Hall Frederiksen (later Christensen) (guitar) 1965. They later added Anette Kjeldsen on bass. In 1965 the performed with The Kinks and Peter Belli & Les Rivals. Cheetas disbanded in 1966. Wrona went on to perform in the all-female bands Girls Group and The Crazy Women and passed away in 1979. Hall went on to play with Queens, The Ladybirds, Girls Group, Søsterrock, Amazonerne, Band Yt, Kræm og Krümmel, and Mariannes Partyband.
THE CLINGER SISTERS
The Clinger Sisters (later The Clingers) were Debra Clinger, Jeanette Clinger, Leesa Clinger, Melody Clinger, Patsy Clinger, and Peggy Clinger. They first performed together when the sisters were in grade school and performed on Andy Williams‘s television show before becoming regular guests on Danny Kaye‘s show, the Smothers Brothers Show, the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, and many other television programs.
In 1969 they teamed up with Kim Fowley and Michael Lloyd and released a version of The Easybeats‘ “Gonna Have a Good Time.” Peggy Clinger eventually became a songwriter, Debra became an actress, Leesa pursued a solo career. In the 1990s, those three Clingers reunited and they perform songs with Mormon themes. In 2013 they were the subjects of a documentary titled The Clinger Sisters: The First Girls of Rock & Roll.
THE DANDY GIRLS
The Dandy Girls formed in Hønefoss, Norway in 1964. The founding members were Inger Thragerthon (vocals/lead guitar/clarinet/saxophone), Marit Hurum (rhythm guitar/vocals/saxophone), Anne Skotland (vocals/bass/flute), and Torill Bakken (drums/vocals). Tragethon departed in 1967 and was replaced by Rosemarie Eggli and Gaby Tauber (vocals/tambourine/trombone/keyboards). They released two singles in 1966, “To You” b/w “Anne Scott” and “Heitan Og Hatan” b/w “Rim-Timme-Tim” and the same year appeared in a film, Broder Gabrielsen. After touring in countries such as Germany, Iran, Italy, and Switzerland (as well as Norway), the Dandy Girls called it a day in 1969.
Dara Puspita formed in Surabaya, Indonesia in 1964. The band consisted of Titiek Adji Rachman (lead guitar), Susy Nander (drums), Lies Adji Rachman (rhythm guitar), and Titiek Hamzah (bass). The band faced hostility from the oppressive Sukarno regime, which viewed rock music as an unwanted Western influence on Indonesia, and they responded by relocating to Thailand. After the collapse of the Sukarno regime, Dara Puspita released Jang Pertama in 1966. Three more LPs followed before they disbanded in 1972.
The Debutantes were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1964 by then 14-year-old singer Jan McClellan who recruited Lynn Hawkins (rhythm guitar) and Diane Abray (drums) to join her. Although they went through numerous line-up changes, they remained all-female throughout their existence. They recorded McClellan’s composition, “A New Love Today” on Lucky Eleven in 1966. They appeared several times on CKLW-TV’s Swingin’ Time and toured extensively before breaking up in 1969 after a grueling four-month tour of Asia.
DOROTHY & THE VAMPIRES
Dorothy & the Vampires were a five-piece rock band from Singapore whose members included Connie Fong (guitar), Rebecca Fong (guitar), Gladys Ang, Cynthia Fong (drums), and Dorothy Sin (vocals). They formed in 1964 under the leadership of mentor/songwriter Harry Martinez. Their first single was the moody “Han Yu Qu.” Their second single was an instrumental, performed without their vocalist, and thus credited simply to The Vampires. They stopped playing together around 1969.
THE FEMALE BEATLES
The Female Beatles seem to have formed in Long Island, New York around 1964 and were managed by the Jolly Joyce Agency. Their drummer had earlier been in a band with a pre-stardom Lou Reed. One of the members was apparently named Rosann del Prete.
Les Filles formed in Odense, Denmark in 1964. The members were Jette Andersen (drums), Lisbeth Nielsen (bass), Margit Nelleman Andersen (guitar), and Kirsten Pedersen (guitar). After their disbandment, Margit Nelleman Andersen went on to perform in the Danish band, The Ladybirds.
The Fondettes were another attempted all-female Beatles cash-ins, albeit in this particular case, a trio of American high school girls who recorded one song, “The Beatles are in Town,” on a split single which they shared with Johnny Hartsman, which was rather curiously released by Arhoolie Records in 1964.
HAPPY COATS/TOKYO HAPPY COATS
Tokyo Happy Coats were comprised of sisters Eiko, Keiko, Shoko, Tomiko and Ruriko Hakomori, who between them played more than 26 instruments. They existed at least as early as 1964 when they may still’ve simply been known as The Happy Coats. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966. They released two LPs on King Records in the early 1970s.
THE ID/THE HAIREM/SHE
Sacramento sisters Nancy and Sally Ross (later Sally Ross-Moore) formed The Id in 1964, with Nancy handling guitar and songwriting and younger sister Sall on organ and bass. In 1965 they added Karen Cochie on rhythm guitar, Piper Minas on guitar, and Kathy Pennison on drums. After a name change to The Hairem, the band recorded a set of what were apparently demos. In 1967, the Ross sisters were joined by a new line-up comprised of Kathy Rice on guitar, Ginny Revis on drums, and Karen Luther on keyboards and the new line-up was christened She. Revis was soon replaced by Gayle Lee and Rice by Janis Volkoff. Lee was replaced in 1969 by Reesha Scarborough. In 1970, She released their only single, “Boy Little Boy” b/w “Outta Reach” on Culver City‘s Kent Records. Luther left the band in 1970 and the Ross sisters, Volkoff, and Scarborough called it a day in 1971.
Although they only released one single during their career, in 1999 a nineteen-track compilation of songs by She and The Hairem was released by Big Beat Records, titled She Wants a Piece of You. Other compilations and appearances on compilations have followed.
The Ladybugs were assembled for the television series Petticoat Junction and were comprised of actresses Jeannine Riley, Pat Woodell, Linda Kaye Henning, and Sheila James. Two days before they performed their gender-tweaked version of The Beatles’ “I Saw Him Standing There” and “I’ll Be Your Ladybug If You’ll Be My Beatle” on that television series, they performed the former on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. I’m not sure whether or not they actually played their instruments or were a completely fictional performing act.
MAK LES SOEURS
MAK Les Soeurs were a trio comprised of Agneta Wigforss, Margareta Hamrefors, and Karin Hamrefors – all three of whom played guitar and sang. The trio had first met in Mölndal, Sweden before heading to Gothenburg for school and often played at a club called Rondos. They signed with Cupol Records and released their first single, “Mitt Liv” b/w “Forlat Mig,” in 1966. They ultimately released ten singles over the next three years and disbanded in the early 1970s.
Las Mosquitas were an Argentine band active between 1964 and 1968. The members were Pupe, Nita, Nene and Dina. They released songs titled “Siempre Bailo Con La Mas Fea,” “Do Re Mi,” and “Tembleque.”
THE PANDORAS/THE NEW PANDORAS
The Pandoras were formed by Diane “Pinky” Keehner and Kathy Kinsella (guitar) at Simmons College in Boston in 1964. They were later joined by Sally Levy on drums. Levy was replaced by Nancy DiMuro. Later, Keehner left to start a family and Michelle Marquis (lead guitar) and Elysee Thierry (bass) joined. Somewhere in the midst of the line-up shuffles, they became “The New Pandoras.” In 1967 they released two singles, “(I could write a book) about my baby” b/w “New day” and “Games” b/w “Don’t bother” — both on Liberty in 1967 and representing the songwriting of producer Bob Stone and manager Peter Bonfils. They broke up in early 1968.
The Parrots were formed in Aarhus, Denmark by Lise Brændstrup (guitar), Lilly Pedersen (bass), Winnie Brandt (guitar), and Annie Brandt (drums) in 1964. In 1966, Pedersen was replaced by Hanne Drammelsbæk who was in turn quickly replaced by Jette Askøe. In 1968 Kirsten Glahn (organ) replaced Askøe. The band broke-up when Winne Brandt became pregnant.
THE PLEASURE SEEKERS
The Pleasure Seekers were founded in 1964 by sisters Patti and Suzi Quatro, sisters Nancy (drums) and Mary Lou Ball (guitar), and Diane Baker on piano in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Baker was soon replaced by Arlene Quatro. They released their first single in 1964, “Never Thought You’d Leave Me” b/w “What a Way to Die,” on Hideout. “Nan” Ball left in 1965 and was replaced by Darline Arnone. In 1968 they signed to Mercury and released a second single, “Light of Love” b/w “Good Kind of Hurt.” In 1969 they changed their name to Cradle and pursued a heavier direction. Arlene became the band’s manager and Nancy Quatro joined as the new drummer. Suzi Quatro left in 1971 and went on to have a successful solo career. Cradle ultimately disbanded in 1973.
SALLY & THE ALLEY CATS
The UK’s Sally & the Alley Cats was comprised of Sally Sykes (vocals), Ann Chalice (guitar), Sally Cursons (guitar), Pam Brett (keyboards), Robey Buckley (bass) and Andrea Beal (drums). They recorded “Is it Something that I Said?” b/w “You Forgot to Remember” for Parlophone in 1964.
Die Sweetles were formed in Berlin, Germany by Peggy Peters (nee Christina Zakewski), Charlotte Marian, Tina Rainford, and Monika Grimm. They released “Ich WÃ¼nsch’ Mir Zum Geburtstag Einen Beatle” b/w “Die Schule Ist Aus” and “Fruher Oder Spater” b/w “Goodbye, My Summer-Love” on Polydor in 1964.
In late 1964, while still students at McClatchy High School, Pinay sisters Jean Millington (guitar) and June Millington (rhythm guitar), formed The Svelts in Sacramento with Kathie Terry on drums and Cathy Carter on guitar. The Millington sisters later went on to play in Fanny.
The Tomboys recorded “I’d Rather Fight Than Switch” b/w “Mary Had a Little Kiss” for Swan Records in 1964.
Goteborg, Sweden’s The Angeliques was formed in 1965 by Linda Nowitt on guitar and vocals, Irene Svensson on bass, and Titti Thysell and keyboard and vocals. They released two singles in 1968, “Jag Ska Mala Hela VÃ¤rlden Lilla Mamma” b/w “Tre Sma Flickor” and “Sunshine Boy” b/w “You’re Easy To Love.” They disbanded in 1971. Nowitt and Thysell both moved to Malta, and then to Spain, and then Geneve. Nowitt later moved to the US.
THE BITTERSWEETS/THE BITTER SWEETS
The Bittersweets hailed from Cleveland, Ohio and were comprised of Judi Rodgers (vocals/guitar), Louie Dula (drums), Marilyn Rodgers Green (keyboards), Penny Cash (bass), and Rosi Hollo (guitar). Their debut, “The Hurtin’ Kind” b/w “Summertime,” was released on Tema in 1965. The same year they released “What a Lonely Way to Start the Summertime” b/w “Mark My Words” (as The Bitter Sweets) on Cameo.
THE BLACK CATS/THE WOOPS
In 1965, Laila Larsson (vocals/bass), Lisbeth Regner (guitar), Mary-Ann Micha (guitar), and Agneta Engstrom (drums) formed The Black Cats in Malmo, Sweden. After re-naming themselves The Woops, they cut “Why” which was included on a various artists EP. After disbanding, Engstrom continued to make music.
The Butterflies were formed in 1965 in Roskilde, Denmark. The founding members were Kate Sievert on vocals and rhythm guitar, Gitte Christensen on lead guitar, Anne Thorboe on bass, and Karin Borre on drums. The drummer left and was replaced by Mette Jensen in 1966. In 1968 they released “Vores Skore Sommerhus” b/w “Kom-Kom.” They toured in Sweden, Norway, and the Faeroe Islands.
THE DAUGHTERS OF EVE
The Daughters of Eve formed in Chicago in 1965, assembled and managed by Carl Bonafede who was also managing The Buckinghams. Judy Johnson (lead guitar, vocals), Marsha Tomal (organ, guitar, vocals), Andy Levin (bass) and a girl named Connie (drums) who was quickly replaced by Debi Pomeroy. Their first single was “Hey Lover” b/w “Stand By Me” in 1996 on U.S.A. Records. In 1967 they released “Symphony of My Soul” b/w “Help Me Boy” and “Don’t Waste My Time” b/w “He Cried,” the latter on Spectra Sound. Their final single, “Social Tragedy” b/w “A Thousand Stars” was released on Cadet in 1968.
THE FAIR SECT
The Fair Sect were likely New Zealand‘s first all-female rock group, forming as they did in Auckland in 1965. The band members were Linda Williams (guitar/organ/vocals), Faye Reid (guitar/vocals), Val Tapene (bass/vocals), and Norma Stacey (drums/lead vocals). The released their debut single, “Kimberley” b/w “Never Again,” in 1966.
When Stacey moved to the front of the band, male member Ian MacIntosh was briefly brought on board and during his short stint with the band they were renamed The Fair Sect Plus One, who so-billed released “I Love How You Love Me” b/w “Mohair Sam.” In 1968 both Stacey and McIntosh left the band and were replaced by Gaylene Aro and Pat Rewai, respectively.
Rewai was replaced by Jenny Parkinson, who sang on 1968’s “High Flying Bird” b/w “Big Spender.” Parkinson was replaced by Mary Bradfield and in 1969 they released “Rattler” b/w “Bye, Bye Baby,” which had been recorded with Rewai on lead vocals a year earlier. They relocated to Australia in 1970. Williams left and was replaced by June Littin and Bradfield left and was replaced by Kaye Wolfgramm. This line-up, with Faye Reid as the only original member, lasted until 1972.
Wolfgramm next appeared singing in the band Cruise Lane. Gray resurfaced in Noazark. Littin co-authored Maria Dallas’s “Pinocchio,” a Kiwi chart-topper in 1970.
THE FEMININE TOUCH
The Feminine Touch were formed around 1965 in Winnipeg, Canada. Vocals were handled by Dalannah Gail. Shortly after forming they opened for The Monkees and on many more occasions, for a great Canadian band, The Guess Who. After disbanding, Gail went on to sing with The Colored Rain. Now known as Dalannah Gail Bowen, the singer continues to perform.
THE FREUDIAN SLIPS
The Freudian Slips formed in Palo Alto, California in 1965. The members — Wendy Haas, Gayle Hayden, Mimi Bluford, Lynda Walnum, and Teda Bracci (drums) — were all then students at Woodside High School. The played locally, especially at The Ark in Sausalito.
After disbanding in 1967, Bracci went on to join the Los Angeles cast of Hair. In 2007 she released an album, Teda Bracci. Haas went on to perform and record with Santana and Azteca, among others. Hayden joined the New York cast of Hair and more recently performed in Portland‘s Big Mama Gayle and Her Sugar Daddies.
Montreal’s Les Guerrières formed in 1965 when Fugere, formerly of Les Beatlettes, joined Murielle Bougie, Diane Gouin (bass), Solange Dessailly (keyboards) and Monique Geoffrion (drums). They disbanded in 1966.
Les Intrigrantes hailed from Quebec and were comprised of Diane Gallichand (guitar), Carole Boutin (guitar), Claire Gallichand (bass), and Ginette Douville (drums). They released songs including “Le Seuil du Soleil,” “Sans Toi,” and “Goodbye Baby.” They were active from 1965 until 1968.
MANDY AND THE GIRLFRIENDS
Mandy and the Girlfriends were from Hull, where they formed in 1965. Mandy was Mandy Smith, who’d previously played in Mandy and the Moonrakers with her brother. Mandy’s girlfriends were Hilary Morgan (drums), Lesley Saxil-Neilson (bass), Karen Baker (guitar), Lynda Harrison (vocals), and Margaret Wedgner (guitar). Baker quit the group and was replaced by Merle Pryor. After playing locally and in London (where they shared a bill with The Animals) they relocated to West Germany in 1967. There they entertained troops and released an eponymous album on that country’s Kerston Records. After Morgan left the group in 1968, the remaining members went their separate ways. Harrison pursued a solo career and Wedgner and Pryor formed a duo called The Honeys and later, Sugar and Spice.
The Moppets were formed in 1965 by Phyllis Hess (organ), Beverley Rodgers (lead guitar), Alisa Damon (bass guitar) and Kathie Ross (drums) at Mount Holyoake College in Massachusetts. The recorded just one single for Spirit, a cover of The Beau Brummels‘ “Cry just a little” backed with Holland – Dozier – Holland’s “Come see about me.”
The Plommons‘ first release was a 1966 cover of The Searchers’ “Hungry for Love” and “Last Train to Liverpool,” written by member Maddan Lindqvist. Two more singles followed and the played abroad in Denmark, Germany, and Finland before disbanding in 1967.
THE POOR GIRLS
Akron, Ohio’s The Poor Girls were formed in 1965 by Susan Schmidt (daughter of Marjorie H. Schmidt of The Co-eds), Deborah Smith, Pam Johnson, and Esta Kerr when all were students at Litchfield Junior High School. They continued playing together whilst enrolled at Firestone High School and opened for bands including Cream and Steppenwolf. In the mid-1970s, Schmidt and Smith played with Cinderella’s Revenge and Friction and later co-founded Chi-Pig.
QUINS (aka QUEENS)
Quins (sometimes billed as Queens although, confusingly, there was another Danish, all-female band with that name) formed in Holstebro in 1965. The members were Jette Selmer Noes (drums), Ingelise Mogensen (guitar), Jeannette Mouritzen (vocals), Birthe Mogensen (bass), and Lucia Padersen (guitar). Soon after forming, Padersen was replaced by Margit Holmgård and the band continued until 1970.
The other Danish band called Queens also formed in 1965. Their members were Vivi Ryding (drums), Lis Nørrevig (bass), Linda Hansen (guitar), and Ulla Hansen (guitar).
THE SANDOVAL SISTERS/THE MOONMAIDS THE FOUR QUEENS
The Sandoval Sisters (aka The Girls aka The Moonmaids aka The Four Queens) were formed in East Los Angeles by sisters Diane (guitar and vocals), Margaret (lead vocals and drums), Rosemary (vocals and lead guitar), and Sylvia (bass) – who raged at the time from 12 to 17 years old. Their first recording was a live version of “Last Chance” for Valentine Sound. They changed their name to The Girls in 1965 and released a cover of Mann/Weil’s “Chico’s Girl” on Capitol Records. Margaret penned “My Baby,” which b/w “My Love” was their second and last single. Thye performed for troops in Asia, toured North America and appeared on Hullabaloo and Hollywood A-Go-Go.
Serbia‘s Sanjalice played their first show on 29 December 1964 in Belgrade’s Pionirski Grad. The original members were Ljiljana Mandi (vocals, guitar), Slobodanka Misevi (guitar, vocals), Ljiljana Jevti (bass), Vojislav Veljkovi (drums), and Radomir Vukovi (keyboards). In 1966 Veljkovi? joined the army and was replaced by his then-girlfriend, Snezana Veselinovi. The only remaining male member, Vukovi, left soon after and thus, in 1965, they became Yugoslavia’s first all-female rock band.
In 1967 they won first place in a battle of the bands, performed in Romania, and released their first two EPs, Idem u svet and Marioneta. In 1968 they released their third EP, Marijana. In 1969 they retired the band to focus on studies.
THE SHE FIVE
The She Five formed in Fox Valley, Wisconsin. They included members Patsy Yingling, Dar Ryba (guitar/vocals), Audrey Reffke, Pam Hurst, and Cheryl Young. The formed in 1965, played for troops in Vietnam and disbanded in 1970.
THE SHE TRINITY
The She Trinity, a Canadian band, were formed by Robyn Yorke, Shelley Gillespie and Sue Kirby around 1965 when they moved to the UK. On Columbia, in 1966, they released “He Fought The Law” b/w “The Union Station Blues,” “Have I Sinned b/w “Wild Flower,” “Wild Flower” b/w “The Man Who Took The Valise Off The Floor Of Grand Central Station At Noon,” and “Yellow Submarine” b/w “Promise Me You’ll Never Cry.” They released “Across The Street” b/w “Over And Over Again” on CBS in 1967. Their final single, “Hair” b/w “Climb That Tree” was a split single with The Onyx released on President in 1969. Over the course of their existence there were several membership changes and their final line-up was Eileen Woodman, Robyn Yorke, Pauline Moran, and Inger Jonnsson.
The She’s featured Marilyn Reed, Maureen O’Connor, Cammy Davis, and Pam Thompson. O’Connor, who co-wrote the band’s January, 1966 International Artists single “Ah Gee!! Maurie” b/w “The Fool,” later resurfaced with New Math and is still active in music today.
The Termites released “Tell Me” in 1965.
Act IV were a Long Island band comprised of Missy Wolcott (keyboards/bass, Peg Porter (guitar/bass), Sandy Klee-Phillips (drums), and Fran DiCicco (keyboards/bass) where were inspired to form a band in 1966 after witnessing a concert by Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs. They later (after a line-up shuffle) became the second version of a pre-existing all-female band, The Enchanted Forest.
Beethoven’s 5th formed in 1966 in South Florida. The members of the band were Gloria, Marla, Polly, Rocky, and Lesley Kluchin (second from left), who supplied me with this image.
The Belles were from Miami, Florida. The members included May Perez (guitar), Debbie Teaver (rhythm guitar), Marina Perez (bass), and Pam Kent (drums). In 1966 they recorded cover versions of “Sleep Walk” and “La Bamba.” Their second single, “Melvin,” was a gender-swap cover of Them‘s Gloria.
The Bombshells formed in Houston, Texas. In 1966 they released “Treat Him Right,” which I think was a gender-shifting version of Roy Head‘s “Treat Her Right.”
The Downpipers were from Kongens Lyngby, Denmark and formed in 1966. The members were Sys Ammentorp (guitar), Charlotte Bentsen (bass), Inge Eriksen (guitar), and Birgit Rasmussen (drums). Ammentorp and Bentsen later went on to play in Girls Group.
THE ENCHANTED FOREST
The Enchanted Forest formed around 1966 in New York. The group was comprised of Judy Hunter (keyboards), Carol Hunter (guitar/bass/vocals), Laurie Stanton (tambourine/vocals), Sanna Groseth (bass/vocals), and Sally Halbert (drums). They scored a contract with Amy and released “You’re Never Gonna Get My Lovin’” b/w a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” on in January, 1968. A review of one of their performances at Le Hibou in Ottawa mentions that their repertoire also drew from the Beatles and the Stones. Several of their songs were products of the partnership of Mort Schuman and Kenny Lynch, who replaced all of the original members for another version of the band after their stint in Canada. After disbanding Hunter went on to join Neil Diamond’s band.
The second line-up of Enchanted Forest consist of Missy Wolcott (keyboards/bass), Peg Porter (lead guitar/bass), Sandy Klee-Phillips (drums), and Fran DiCicco (keyboards/bass) – who’d previously played together in Act IV, another all-female New York (Long Island this time) band that had formed in 1966. Porter soon left the band and was replaced by Marilyn Pollack. In 1969 they released two singles on Variations – both with “The Word Is Love” as the A-side (The B-sides were “Cold Winds” and “I’m Not That Kind of Girl”). In 1970 they backed Tiny Tim for a tour that included a performance of The Ed Sullivan Show. They broke up the same year and Wolcott continued with another all-female band, The Maiden Voyage.
Feebeez apparently cut one single, “Walk Away” b/w “Season Come,” on Albuquerque‘s Stange Records — owned by Edward Stange Jr., apparently his daughter was the band’s drummer.
FEMININE COMPLEX/THE PIVOTS
In 1966, at Maplewood High School in Nashville, Tennessee, Mindy Dalton (guitar, vocals), Judi Griffith (tambourine, vocals), Lana Napier (drums), and Jean Williams (bass) formed The Pivots – the nickname for the high school basketball team for which all of them played. In 1967 they added Pame Stephens (keyboards) and changed their name to The Feminine Complex. In 1968 they signed to Athena Records and recorded their debut, Livin’ Love. They broke up in 1969.
Girls Group were formed in Copenhagen in 1966 by Marianne Wrona (guitar), Hanne Mattson (guitar), and Pia Wrona (drums). In 1967 the Wrona sisters quit the group (Marianne next appeared in The Crazy Women) and were replaced by Sys Ammentorp and Charlotte Bentsen – both formerly of The Downpipers. They split up in 1968.
THE HEARTBEATS/THE HEART BEATS
The Heartbeats (sometimes “The Heart Beats“) were an all-female band, formed in Lubbock, Texas in 1966. They were led by Linda Sanders (drummer/vocals) who was joined by younger sister Debbie Sanders (guitar), Debbie McMillan (bass), and Jeannie Foster (guitar/keyboards), who initially met one another in a music class when all were pre-teens. They were managed by the Sanders family’s matriarch, Jeanne Sanders. They gained attention in 1968 when they appeared on Happening Now and won a battle of the bands with their version of The Outsiders‘ “Time Won’t Let Me.” Their mother subsequently turned down an offer to sign with ABC Records because she wanted them to stay in school. They recorded a cover of Mouse & the Traps‘ “Crying Inside” at Robin Hood Brian’s Studio in Tyler, Texas which became their biggest hit. They played regionally until the 1980s.
THE HONEY BEATS/THE HONEYBEATS
The Honeybeats formed after Italian-born Marta Cion met a female folk trio in Munich and convinced them to form a four-piece with her. They found their lead singer, Daisy Winters, busking in Birmingham and released the German-language “Frag’ Nicht Soviel” b/w “Vergiss Es Nie” on Metronome in 1966. Winters was replaced with a Scottish singer, Norma Green, and released the Italian-language “Di Piu’, Di Piu’, Di Piu'” b/w “Fa Un Po Quello Che Vuoi” on Ricordi International in 1968.
THE NURSERY RHYMES
Swedish band The Nursery Rhymes was comprised of Birgitta Nordgren (drums ), Elisabeth Alexandersson (bass), Gunilla Karlow (bass/vocals), Inger Jonsson (guitar/vocals), Marie Selander (vocals), Noni Tellbrandt (guitar, vocals), and Wiveca Sawen (bass). They released three singles: “Peaches And Cream” b/w “Nowhere To Run” and “Heat Wave” b/w “Dancing In The Street” (both on Odeon in 1966) and “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves In The Morning” b/w “Jiving Teen” the following year. They disbanded in 1967.
Rag Dolls were from Odense, where they formed in 1966. Their membership included Lillian Hansen (guitar), Jonna Madsen (guitar), Lone John (bass) and Yrsa Holst (drums). In 1967, Hansen was replaced by Margit Nelleman (formerly of Les Filles).
THE RUMS & COKE
The Rums & Coke released one single, “Glad All Over” b/w “Apple Blossom Time” on Bram in 1966. The members were listed as Sherry (drums), Mary, Ginger, and Coke (vocals).
THE WHAT FOUR
The What Four were formed in Manhattan and comprised of Elizabeth Burke (drums), Cathy Cochran (guitar), China Girard (rhythm guitar) and Diane Hartford (bass). They signed with Columbia in 1966, where they released “Baby I Dig Love” b/w “It’s Hard to Live On Promises” and “I’m Gonna Destroy that Boy” and “Ain’t No Use in Crying, Susan.”
THE WILD THINGS
The Wild Things were formed by Linda Myers (drums and vocals), Robin Reading (guitar and vocals), Martha Potter (guitar), and Vicki Yaklevich (bass) in Columbus, Ohio around 1966. Myers was the daughter of guitarist Al Myers. Reading moved to California and remains active in music. She was replaced by Daphne Cornelius. They appeared on several local television programs including WCMH’s Dance Party and Splash Party before ceasing to be active around 1969 although they did reunite for a show in 2000.
THE ACE OF CUPS
The Ace of Cups were formed in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Mary Gannon (bass), Marla Hunt (organ, piano), Denise Kaufman (guitar, harmonica), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar), and Diane Vitalich (drums). All had played music for some time and Kaufman had previously-fronted the all-female Denise and Company. After several line-up changes, including the addition of male members, the band broke up in 1972.
THE ALL GIRL TOPLESS GROUP
The All Girl Topless Band formed in 1967 and accompanied comedian Godfrey Cambridge at the Aladdin Hotel. They were said to be talented musicians but with the members’ names not appearing anywhere I can find, the fact that they played top-free was presumably the primary draw.
Ariel was formed in 1967 by Anne Bowen, Pamela Brandt, Helen Hooke, Gretchen Pfeifer and Beverly Rodgers in Northampton, Massachusetts. They disbanded in 1970 and Brandt, Bowen and Hooke went on to re-form in 1974 as The Deadly Nightshade.
Blowfies formed near Holstebro, Denmark in 1967. The members were Jyette Enghol, Lillian, and Lizzy (family names unkown).
LAS CHIC’S/LAS CHICK’S
In 1967 Mexico‘s Las Chic’s they released “La Muneca Dice No” (a Spanish-language cover of Michel Polnareff‘s “La Poupée qui fait non”). Their producer, Carmen Circi, was female too.
THE CRAZY WOMEN (aka THE SUNNY GIRLS aka THE FUNNY GIRLS)
The Crazy Women formed in Viby, Denmark in 1967 as The Sunny Girls, but changed their name to The Crazy Women when they became aware of the pre-existing Danish band with the same name. Guitarist Marianne Wrona had previously played in the all-female Cheetas and Girls Group. The other members were Judith Østergaard Andersen (guitar), Inge Lice “Nice” Glymov (bass), and Susanne Wergeland (drums). Their repertoire included “Carrie Ann,” “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Hey Joe,” “I’m a Believer,” “Little Bit of Soul,” and “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling,” all of which they recorded.
Upon discovering that Wrona was suffering from real mental health issues, the crew again changed their name, this time to The Funny Girls. Wrona was soon replaced by Lissi Dam Ottosen and then, in 1969, Gitte Svensson. As a trio of Ostergaard, Glymov, Werge, the Funny Girls continued until 1970, after with Glymov and Ostergaard toured with Michael Julin‘s Maniacs.
The Hearby included Jill DeMarco and Kathy Penland. DeMarco later joined The Oxfords. In 1967 they released DeMarco’s “The Harm I Do (By Being Me)” b/w Penland’s “Make You Dream” on Union Jac.
The Fatimas were a California band who released “Sandstorm” b/w “The Hoochy Coo” on Original Sound in 1967.
THE MOD 4
The Mod 4, from Aledo, Illinois, released two singles at Davenport, Iowa‘s Fredlo Custom Pressing — “Funny Little Clown” b/w “Midnight Hour” and “Open Up Your Mind” b/w “A Puppet” (both produced by Tab Talkin) in 1967 and ’68, respectively. Vocals were handled by Nellie Hastings and Kathy Talkin. The other two members are “Barb” and “Alice Appleton.”
The Playmates were a foursome from Trondheim, Norway comprised of Rigmor Ostmo (vocals), Inger Lise Rasmussen (guitar), Berit Lange (bass), and Irene Lund (drums). The Playmates released “Gi Ikke Opp” b/w “Bare Ga” on Continental records in 1967 before disbanding the following year. The Playmates reconvened in 1975 and recorded and released Meet the Playmates before breaking up permanently.
The Same were from Arlington Heights, Illinois and were made up of Judy Selman (lead guitar), Debbie Reiss (rhythm guitar), Vicki Selman (bass), Donna Smelak (drums), and Vicki Hubly (vocals). The played mostly in the Chicago area although they recorded “If You Love Me, Really Love Me” (an English cover of Edith Piaf‘s “Hymne a l’amour”) b/w “Sunshine, Flowers and Rain” at Herb Alpert‘s Studio in Los Angeles and released on Barrington Records in 1967. After their dissolution, Smelak continued in the all-female band, The Chips. Selman plays in Straight Ethyl with Charlotte O’Neill and Donna Smolak, both formerly of the all-female band, The Chips.
THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER
The Significant Other were from Maine and were comprised of Shirley Dillon (vocals and guitar), Bonnie Holmes (vocals and keyboards), Diane Withee (bass), and Pam Withee (drums). Holmes and Withee were from Swan’s Island. They released one single, “What is the Reason?” b/w “Ode to Carabassett Fats” in 1967 on Critique Records, a tiny label owned by their manager Carl Strube. They performed shows in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, opening for the likes of 1910 Fruitgum Company, Ohio Express, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Vanilla Fudge.
SUZIE & THE SUNNYGIRLS/THE SUNNYGIRLS
Suzie & the Sunnygirls formed in 1967 and were comprised of Suzie Watson (vocals), Helena Thunholm (guitar), Annika Degermann (drums), Maud Lindqvist (bass), and Carina Fredriksson (keyboards). Watson (nee Maria Pereboom in the Netherlands) soon left to pursue a solo career and they continued simply as The Sunnygirls. Thunholm was replaced by Carina Leijd who also handled lead vocals and two saxophonists – Ann-Christine Carlsson and Ninnie Andersson – joined. They performed in Mexico and the USA and more line-up changes followed. At some point in the 1970s, Leijd and Fredriksson formed a new group, Mixed Six. Watson, the band’s original vocalist, released 31 singles, including “Walkin’ Back To Happiness,” before retiring.
The Chips were a Chicago band whose different line-ups included Darn Pasterik, Sheri Hartman, Aleat Maciejewski, Klayre Hartmann, Charlotte O’Neill, and Donna Smolak. Their first single, “Break It Gently” b/w “Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl,” was released on Philips in 1968. Their follow-up, “When You Hold Me Baby” b/w “Dream With Your Eyes Wide Open,” was recorded for ABC Records and written by Sheri Hartman. O’Neill and Smolak still perform in a band called Straight Ethyl (with Judy Selman of the all-female band, The Same)
Montreal‘s Les Gamines were comprised of Jo-Ann Barette-Lecouteur (drums), Danny Landriault (guitar), Lison Talbot (guitar), and Mychele Montreuil (vocals). They released one single, “Je reviendrai” b/w “Vis ta vie mon gars” on Sonore in 1968.
When the American band called The Ladybirds (below) went on tour, San Francisco promoter Davey Rosenberg started another all-female topless band, The Hummingbirds, to fill the vacancy left by the band at Tipsy’s in North Beach. Both bands appeared, members uncredited by name, in The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield. Their membership included Angel Cecilia Walker, better known as Satan’s Angel, a famous dancer who played bass on covers of Beatles and Stones songs.
THE LADYBIRDS (US)
The Ladybirds supposedly formed in New Jersey. Although Jim Morrison often performed top-free with The Doors, The Ladybirds were hassled for doing the same. They found more receptive audiences out west in Las Vegas, at Tipsy’s in San Francisco, the Blue Bunny Club in Hollywood. They were managed at various points by Voss Boreta (husband of topless dancer Yvonne D’Angers and manager of topless dancer, Carol Doda) and professional golfer Raymond Floyd. According to Dick Boyd’s book, Broadway North Beach, The Golden Years – A Saloon Keeper’s Tales, they originally simply pretended to play instruments but ultimately learned to play them and even toured as far away as Quebec (at Chez Paree).
THE LADYBIRDS (DENMARK)
Although the American band The Ladybirds were often billed as “the world’s first and only all-girl topless band” (which begs the question, were there mixed-gender topless bands before?) there was, in fact, another band called The Ladybirds which also often played topless around the same time. The Danish band formed around 1968 (there was also a vocal trio called The Ladybirds who sang on the Benny Hill Show) and included Margit Nellemann Andersen, who’d earlier played in the all-female Les Filles. The other members were Puk Birgit Petersen, Lonni Andersen, and Michelle Beauvais. They were managed by Pierre Beauvais, formerly of The Strangers.
Later line-ups included Pia Thurland, Hanne Mattson, and Marianne Hall Frederiksen (formerly of the all-female Cheetas). In 1968 they naturally opened for The New Yardbirds at Roskilde. They performed as far away as Bristol, England in 1973.
Les Planettes were formed in Quebec by former Beatlette Helene Duguay with Margie Duplessis (guitar), Rosy Lang (organ) and Linda Duncan (drums). They released at least one single, “Quatre Mois” b/w “Si Tu Partais.”
The Shaggs were formed in Fremont, New Hampshire in 1968 by sisters Dorothy “Dot” Wiggin (vocals/lead guitar), Betty Wiggin (vocals/rhythm guitar), and Helen Wiggin (drums) at the encouragement and insistence of their parents.
In 1969 they recorded and released their debut full-length, Philosophy of the World on Third World Records. They were joined by their sister Rachel Wiggin on bass for the song, “That Little Sports Car.” It defied the expectations of their parents, who were said the imagine the girls to be inevitably bound for stardom, and disappeared without at trace.
In 1975, the sisters again entered the studio although the death of their father/manager, Austin Wiggin, resulted in their not being published for years as well as the group’s dissolution. Years after their break-up their debut was rediscovered and championed as an example of art brut/outsider music.
Pinay sisters June Millington and Jean Millington moved to Sacramento, California from Manila in 1961. In high school they formed, with Addie Lee (guitar) and Brie Brandt (drums) the all-female cover band The Svelts. Brandt was replaced by Alice de Buhr and they played one gig in Los Angeles in 1969 as Wild Honey before changing their name to Fanny. In 1970 they were joined by Nickey Barclay (vocals, keyboards) and the first line-up released the eponymous Fanny (1970), followed by Charity Ball (1971), and Fanny Hill (1972). In 1973, June Millington and Alice de Buhr were replaced by Patti Quatro (guitar, ex-The Pleasure Seekers) and Brie Brandt, who returned to the fold to play drums. After the release of Mother’s Pride (1973) and Rock and Roll Survivors (1974), Fanny disbanded in 1975 — by which time Cam Davis had taken over drums. Rhino compiled Fanny’s first four albums with live recordings, outtakes, and promotional material in the box set First Time in a Long Time.
After they disbanded, the Millington’s formed a new line-up of Fanny which quickly morphed into the LA All-Stars. June Millington moved into music production and later co-founded the Institute for the Musical Arts in Bodega, California. Jean later worked as an herbalist although she and June revived Fanny to release Play Like a Girl in 2011. Patti Quatro went on to work as a session musician, Brie Brandt (now Brie Howard-Darling) has worked as a session musician with many performers and in the 1980s formed American Girls.
THE INTRICATE BLEND
The Intricate Blend recorded one single, “Door Knob” b/w “Insane (The Jungle),” in 1969 at Norman Petty Studios but it was never released.
A trio known as The Mam’selles released one album of covers, It’s A “Bubble Gum World,” on Bison Records in 1969. I’m not sure who were the members and whether or not they were a full-fledged group or just a vocal group with backing. I would guess the former, if only because the playing on the LP is far too rudimentary to have been the work of session musicians.
All that I’ve been able to surmise about the Philippines‘s The Phililettes is that they look to me like they took this picture around 1966 and that they were apparently billed as the “Philippines Top All Girl Show Band.”
THE PRETTY KITTENS
The Pretty Kittens were led by drummer Dianne Cameron — a resident of Gardena. They played shows in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Vietnam, promoted by Jack Galardi — one day strip club baron implicated in Operation G-Sting. Their performances in Vietnam took place in 1967 but I’m not sure what year they formed.
THE SIMPLE NOIZE
The Simple Noize were a four-piece from Islip, New York whose members were Dale Ketcham, Janice Stocks, Celeste Rehm, and Susan Muchka and who formed when all four were attending the same high school, sometime around 1967 from the look of those knit ponchos.
The Vamps were a Sydney-based trio comprised of English expatriate Linda Cable (ex-Grown Up Wrong and The Pussycats), Margaret Britt, and Terri Scott. The Vamps toured New Caledonia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Tahiti, Thailand, the USA, and Vietnam. They broke up around the early 1970s. Britt had a career as part of the trio Peaches, who had a hit with “Substitute” and continues to perform as one half of the duo Skyz the Limit.
WHITE SPIRIT/THE ANGELETTES
Manchester‘s White Spirit were Sue Hampson, Pat Fitzgerald, Jan Heywood, and Julie Abbott – Abbott was the daughter of Alf Abbot, saxophonist the trad jazz band, The Derek Atkins Dixielanders. The trio (minus Fitzgerald) originally performed in church under a variety of names with Heywood singing lead and all members playing acoustic guitar. They settled on White Spirit before their first paying gigs at Abbey Hey Working Men’s Club and the Three Crowns pub in the late 1960s. With a line-up of two guitars, bass, percussion (and four harmonies), the cut a demo at Eroica Studios in Altrincham. In 1972 they were taken under the wing of Jonathan King and went on, as The Angelettes, to release four singles and to perform background vocals on Bryan Ferry‘s These Foolish Things.
More information, photos, music, and corrections are all welcome. I’m also looking for any information about Advert, Las Akelas (a Portuguese Ye-Ye band who released “Ratones de Belen” b/w “Campanas a ritmo”), The Angles, The Berkeley Sisters, Charisma, The Chicks, The Doll-fins, The Moving Girls, The Psychedelic Sounds, The Satin Dolls, New York’s The Southern Comforts, The UFO’s, Vendelly’s (who released “Please Don’t Tell Me Now”), or Vicky & the Rest. Click here to read about all-female bands of the 1970s!
2 thoughts on “All-Female Bands of the 1960s – Happy Women’s History Month!”
a very precious help Thanks