All girl heavy metal band Girlschool, was founded in 1978 and very soon were pigeonholed as part of the “new wave of British heavy metal”; alongside male groups as Saxon, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. Unfortunately, they we’re too heavy to be new wave and too punk to be heavy metal. After 40 years they’re still rockin’ like nobody’s business! The group’s outstanding instrumentalist was lead guitarist Kelly Johnson; who succumbed to cancer of the spine at the young age of 49 back in 2007.
The nucleus of the group was formed in South London back in 1975 with the name Painted Lady by bassist Enid Williams and singer/ guitarist Kim McAuliffe . With the addition of Johnson they changed their band’s name to Girlschool – and class was officially in session! They would cover ZZ Top to Slade to Chuck Berry which finally earned them a record deal with Bronze records where they became close chums with Lemmy of Motorhead… Their best-known single, “Race With the Devil” was from their debut album, “Demoliton” released in 1979.With Johnson’s trenchant guitar playing, the eminent rock guitarist.. Jeff Beck was quoted as saying, “I can’t believe it was a band of fookin’ girls “! Girlschool fans worshiped Johnson for her cool Aladdin Sane-style mullet and her bag of magnesium-flare guitar hooks. The late Lemmy was quoted as saying, “ On a good day she is as good as Jeff Beck in his rock & roll days; a fucking brilliant guitar player”! Girlschool denied to interviewers that they were feminists – though they admitted to reading Spare Rib, a famous “2nd’ wave” British feminist magazine- but they couldn’t escape the sexual politics that swirled around pop music in the late 70’s.
They never seemed to connect with a mass American audience, although Girlschool still has many die-hard fans. Anyone who saw them in concert walked away impressed – for no matter what else you might say about Girlschool, they could most certainly deliver loud, glorious rock and roll with utter passion and virtuosity. They were simply ahead of their time.
Kelly Johnson, Lemmy, Lzzy Hale, Lita Ford
Los Angeles’ favorite daughter, Lita Ford is one of the leading ladies of glam rock that took the music world by storm and surprise when she began melting faces with her awesome shredding licks at age 16 (a child)!She began her career as the lead guitarist of The Runaways with fellow rocker Joan Jett. Her screaming powerful solos became synonymous with the sound of this ground breaking band. Lita is the First Lady of Shredding; there’s no doubt about it! Throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, Ford performed and recorded with many great artists like Nikki Sixx, Tony Iommi and Ozzy; while having a pretty god damned successful solo career as well. After over a 10-year hiatus from music, Ford returned to the stage and studio in 2008 and has been active ever since.
Today in the realm of rock and roll we’re completely tearing up the idea and assumption that women can’t kick ass and shred with the rest of them! Making a name for yourself in any male-dominate area is difficult, but guitarist, Veronica (Witkin)Volume from L.A. band, Glam Skanks is up for the challenge. With her father, producer..Bruce Witkin she has become a stellar guitarist who is fearless and technically proficient at shredding..It’s best not to get too close to the stage so you don’t get your face melted off. She deserves attention, respect, and admiration. She is one badass and dangerous chick! The band has had some major personnel changes… and trust me its all for the better… Go see them Veronica play and be forewarned.. she’a “fookin” brilliant.