Goldie and the Gingerbreads

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Goldie & the Gingerbreads was an all-female American rock band from 1962 to 1967 consisting of 3 musicians and a singer.[1] They were the first all-female rock band signed to a major record label.[2]

Whereas most female bands were ignored by the big record labels and rarely attracted live audiences, the quartet of Ginger Bianco, Margo Lewis, Carol MacDonald and Goldie Zelkowitz (later known as Genya Ravan) were among the first to break into a domain dominated by men. They were signed to Decca in 1963 [3] and to Atlantic in 1964[4]

Early days[edit]

In 1962 Genya Zelkowitz (who would eventually change her last name to Ravan -as she became better known as the lead singer of the band Ten Wheel Drive beginning in 1969) - the then lead-singer of Richard Perry's band The Escorts[5]- met Ginger Panabianco in a New York club.[6] Ginger was on stage, performing as the drummer for one of Perry's friends. The discovery of a female drummer inspired in Genya Ravan the idea of an all-female rock band.[6] The name of the would-be band was decided upon rapidly: Goldie was the name by which Ravan's mother chose to call her after their arrival in the United States from post-war Poland, while gingerbread was a play on Ginger's name.[6]

Richard Perry and the other members of The Escorts were college students.[7] When the summer concert season ended, Genya and Ginger began to look for a pianist and soon recruited Carol O’ Grady.[8] Finding a female guitarist turned out to be much harder. Various ad-hoc recruits filled in as and when required, but when they accompanied Chubby Checker on his 1962 concert tour of West Germany and Switzerland, they performed without a guitarist.[9] Organist Margo Lewis, who turned out to be the group's third permanent member, replaced Carol O'Grady and performed with the group on the Chubby Checker tour. The following year, Goldie and the Gingerbreads found guitarist and vocalist Carol MacDonald, who at the time was signed to Atlantic/Atco Records, and she joined Genya, Ginger and Margo and became the fourth permanent band member.[10]

The group's first release on the Spokane Records label was titled "Skinny Vinnie". Although credited to Zelkowitz and Stan Green, the song was in fact the Bill Haley composition "Skinny Minnie" with slight lyric changes.

The Mods and Rockers’ Ball 1964[edit]

In 1964 fashion photographer and director Jerry Schatzberg threw a party for the Warhol Superstar Baby Jane Holzer that was later referred to by writer Tom Wolfe as "the Mods and Rockers ball, the party of the year." [11] Goldie and the Gingerbreads were booked to provide the musical entertainment and impressed the assembled attendees with both their music and their inimitable presence.[12] Among the guests at this fashionable and well-attended event were The Rolling Stones and Ahmet Ertegün, the chairman of Atlantic Records, who promptly signed them to the label.[4]

The Gingerbreads in Europe[edit]

Later in 1964, the band met Eric Burdon and The Animals, whose manager contracted the Gingerbreads for a tour in England.[10] These standard group tours were arranged by record companies to showcase their roster of talent and the Gingerbreads were one of up to six bands on the tour, performing on the same bill night after night in small towns. In Britain, they toured with The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Beatles, The Yardbirds, The Hollies and The Kinks, among others.[13]

Troubles with British working visa requirements led to the band performing dates in West Germany (where many UK and US troops were then stationed as part of the NATO defences) at venues including the Star-Club in Hamburg while they waited for their British work permits to come through.[14]

A subsequent appearance in Paris at the Olympia earned Goldie & The Gingerbreads a favourable introduction to the French music scene, despite technical difficulties that arose during the performance.[15]

The politics of popular music[edit]

Throughout the early 1960s, when Goldie and the Gingerbreads were touring extensively throughout North America, club and venue promoters were not so much interested in their music as in the excitement that an all-female musical group caused.[10] Goldie and the Gingerbreads did have one single, "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", that reached No. 25 on the UK Singles Chart in 1965.[4] Although the single was also released in the United States, a recording of the same song by the heavily promoted Herman's Hermits was released with great fanfare just two weeks prior to the Gingerbreads' release, thus fatally undermining the Gingerbreads' chances for their first hit single in the U.S.[16]

The end[edit]

Over the course of 1967 and 1968, Goldie and the Gingerbreads gradually broke up.[4] They returned to the United States in an attempt to garner success, but failed. Genya Ravan's strong personality and forceful leadership of the band has been cited as a major factor in the band's split.[5] Frustration due to making little profit from their record releases may also have been an issue.[16]

Future careers[edit]

Genya Ravan went on to form Ten Wheel Drive, the group had major musicians like Dave Liebman Tom Malone, Bill Takas. Top players in NYC at the time. she now hosts two radio shows in Little Stevens Underground Garage Siriux/XM Goldies Garage and Chicks and Broads. Carol MacDonald and Ginger Bianco, later formed the nucleus of Jazz-Fusion band Isis.[17] Margo Lewis joined her ex-bandmates in 1974. Ravan's memoirs, entitled Lollipop Lounge: Memoirs of a Rock and Roll Refugee, were published in 2004 by Billboard Books.[18] Along with being an accomplished musician, Margo Lewis is owner and President of Talent Consultants International, Ltd., a talent booking agency in NY, and is partner in Talent Source, Ltd, which manages the Estate of Bo Diddley. Lewis toured with Diddley not only as his personal manager, but also as his keyboard player for the last 10 years of Diddley's life. 2011 Goldie and The Gingerbreads were recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame museum in Cleveland OH.

1997 reunion[edit]

On November 13, 1997, the Gingerbreads performed once more to mark their 30th anniversary and to commemorate the release of The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock.[4] Accompanying Genya, Ginger and Margo was Debby Hastings on bass and Diane Scanlon on guitar.

Touchstone Award[edit]

On February 3, 1998, Goldie and The Gingerbreads were presented with a Touchstone Award from NY based Women in Music.[19] This distinction is given to women who "have the courage and inspiration to make a difference in the music industry and whose work has set new standards.".[20] At the awards ceremony, the statuettes were presented to each member of the group by music legend Ahmet Ertegun.

Line-up[edit]

Although several other musicians played with Goldie & the Gingerbreads over the years, permanent members were:

  • Genya Ravan - vocals percussion[10]
  • Ginger Bianco - drums percussion[10]
  • Margo Lewis - organ keyes [10]
  • Carol MacDonald (joined 1963) - guitar and background-vocals[10] - MacDonald died on March 12, 2007.

Discography[edit]

  • Skinny Vinnie / Chew Chew Fee Fi Fum - 1964 SPOKANE 45-4005[21]
  • That's Why I Love You / What Kind of Man Are You - 1965 ATCO 45-6354[21]
  • Can't You Hear My Heartbeat / Little Boy - 1965 DECCA 12070[21]
  • That's Why I Love You / The Skip - 1965 DECCA 12126[21]
  • Sailor Boy / Please Please - 1966 DECCA 12199[21]
  • Look For Me Baby - 1966 DECCA
  • Think About The Good Times / Please Please - 1966 ATCO 45-6427[21]
  • Walking in Different Circles / Song of the Moon - 1967 ATCO 45-6475[21]
  • Think About the Good Times - FONTANA 693[21]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Deborah Frost. "Garageland." The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock. Ed. Barbara O'Dair. 415 - 425. New York: Random House, Inc., 1997. 415.
  2. ^ Lucy O'Brien. She Bop II: The Definitive History of Women in Rock, Pop and Soul. London: Continuum, 2002. 95.
  3. ^ O'Brien. She Bop II. 129.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mitch Patrick. Girls with Guitars. Liner Notes. 4. Ace Records, 2004. CDCHD989.
  5. ^ a b Frost. "Garageland." 416.
  6. ^ a b c Genya Ravan. Lollipop Lounge: Memoirs of a Rock and Roll Refugee. London: Billboard Books, 2004. 49.
  7. ^ Ravan. Lollipop Lounge. 42.
  8. ^ Ravan. Lollipop Lounge. 52.
  9. ^ Ravan Lollipop Lounge. 63.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Gillian G. Gaar. She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll. Seattle: Seal Press, 1992. 64.
  11. ^ Lisa Rhodes. Electric Ladyland: Women and Rock Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. 135
  12. ^ Ravan. Lollipop Lounge. 90.
  13. ^ Gaar. She's a Rebel. 65
  14. ^ Ravan. Lollipop Lounge. 99.
  15. ^ Ravan. Lollipop Lounge. 109.
  16. ^ a b Gaar. She's a Rebel. 66.
  17. ^ Glenn O'Brien. "Isis: Eight-Piece, All-Woman Band in Musical No-Man's Land." Rolling Stone. 8 November 1973.
  18. ^ Watson-Guptill Publications
  19. ^ Untitled Document
  20. ^ Women In Music
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Genya Ravan: DISCOGRAPHY

External links[edit]

Genya Ravan is DJ Hostess for 'Little Stevens Underground Garage' she has two shows with Sirius/Xm Goldies Garage and Chicks and Broads 2011 Goldie And The Gingerbreads were inducted to the Hall Of Fame Museum in Cleveland OH.