The Pandoras

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The Pandoras
Origin Chino, California, USA
Genres Post-punk, rock, alternative rock, garage punk, Paisley underground
Years active 1983–1990
Labels Bomp!, Rhino, Elektra, Restless
Associated acts Action Now, Mad Monster Party, The Muffs, Hardly Dangerous, The Leaving Trains, The Rebel Pebbles, The Screamin' Sirens, Wednesday Week, Pillbox, Stimulator, Sirens of Soho, The 21st Century Pandoras
Past members

Paula Pierce (1/83-8/91)
Deborah Mendoza (1/83-12/83)
Gwynne Kelly (1/83-6/84)
Casey Gomez (1/83-6/84)
Bambi Conway (12/83-6/84)
Lisa Rae Black (Gwynnedoras only)
Melanie Vammen (6/84-7/90)
Julie Patchouli (6/84-5/85)
Karen Blankfeld (6/84-8/87)
Gayle Morency (5/85-7/85)
Kim Shattuck (7/85-9/90)
Kelly Dillard (8/87-11/87)
Sheri Kaplan (11/87-10/90)
Susan Hyatt (12/87-1/88)
Rita D'Albert (2/88-2/89)
Billy Jo Hash (6/89-9/89)
Lissa Beltri (11/89-8/91)

Note: Shown in order of joining with dates.

The Pandoras were an all-female rock and roll band from Los Angeles, California from 1983 to 1990. The band initially found a following in the nostalgia-fueled Hollywood Garage rock scene, and later adopted a contemporary look and hard rock sound. Leader Paula Pierce's career ended when, on August 10, 1991, she suffered an aneurysm and died at the age of 31.[1]

Formation[edit]

The Pandoras It's About Time

The Pandoras began in 1983 as part of the 1960s revival garage rock scene led by The Unclaimed, which was led by Pierce's boyfriend, Shelley Ganz. They were also associated with the Paisley Underground era in Hollywood's alternative rock scene, along with bands such as The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, The Dream Syndicate, and The Rain Parade. These bands shared an aesthetic heavily influenced by 1960s garage rock and psychedelia, and most members hailed from the west side and beach cities area of Los Angeles County and Orange County. Pierce, a resident of Chino, California, was a notable exception. Pierce had been a member of the Hollywood music scene and playing in bands since 1976.

The Pandoras were formed when singer/guitarist Pierce, a member of the mod/garage/pop Action Now at the time, met singer/guitarist/bass player Deborah Mendoza (aka Mende/Menday), at Southern California's Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga in 1982. Mendoza, an art major, answered an ad that Pierce, a graphic arts major, had posted on the bulletin board in the cafeteria. The ad read, "Wanted, another female musician to jam with! Influenced by sixties garage punk." They got together and clicked, and started bringing their guitars to school and jamming between classes.

Pierce brought in a long-time friend, musician Gwynne Kelly (real name Gwynne Kahn) as a keyboardist, second guitarist and backing vocalist. Mendoza brought in drummer Casey Gomez. After a band meeting in January 1983, Kelly christened the band The Pandoras, though names such as The Keyholes, Hole, The wHolesome, and The Goodwylls were considered.

Early Career and Controversy[edit]

After recording their first EP in 1983, I'm Here I'm Gone on Moxie Records, Mendoza left the group. She was replaced by on bass by Bambi Conway. Conway appeared on The Pandoras' debut album, It's About Time, on Greg Shaw's Bomp! Records.[2]

In 1984, The Pandoras split into two factions just as the It's About Time LP was released. Conway, unhappy with Pierce's behavior and band decisions, quit The Pandoras. That was followed by Pierce firing Kelly, and shortly thereafter, Gomez split with Pierce. Pierce decided to continue as The Pandoras and recruit three new members. Before Pierce could form a band, Conway and Kelly played a show as The Pandoras, with other temporary fill-in musicians (notably Michael Quercio of The Three O'Clock on lead vocals/guitar). Gomez joined Conway and Kelly to form an alternative Pandoras to the band Pierce was assembling.

The resulting dispute over the Pandoras name was discussed on a KROQ-FM radio show hosted by Rodney Bingenheimer and in the local music zines such as BAM, Music Connection, and the LA Weekly (and its "L.A.DeeDa" gossip column). The Kelly-lead Pandoras—nicknamed The Gwynnedoras—consisted of Kelly, Gomez, Conway, plus Lisa Rae Black.

Pierce's new version of The Pandoras included Melanie Vammen on keyboards, Julie Patchouli on bass, and Karen Blankfeld on drums. They went on to enjoy modest success with the release of the Hot Generation single on Bomp! Records in late 1984—the first of the two "Pandoras" bands to release a record. The Pierce-lead band toured the east coast with the Fuzztones to promote the single.

The Kelly-lead Pandoras released "Worm Boy" on an Enigma Records compilation, Enigma Variations, in 1985. When readying for an EP on Enigma Records, the label insisted that the Kelly-lead Pandoras change their name. This ended the controversy and the Pierce-lead Pandoras prevailed. The Kelly-lead band's EP, to be titled Psycho Circus, was never released, and a band named never settled upon.

Patchouli quit The Pandoras in Spring 1985, citing the band's change in direction away from garage music. Answering an ad in The Recycler newspaper, Gayle Morency joined The Pandoras and played bass for two shows before retiring from music due to pregnancy. Morency was replaced by bassist Kim Shattuck in July 1985.

Rhino Era[edit]

The Pandoras were signed to Rhino Records and began recording the basic tracks for the Stop Pretending album during the winter of 1985 with producer Bill Inglot. In 1986, Stop Pretending was released.[3]

Los Angeles became a hotbed of major label signings of bands that had grown out of the so-called "Paisley Underground". The Pandoras was labeled "one of the bands that matter" by the LA Weekly. The band continued to play live and record new songs for their major label debut and were a top live club draw outside of Los Angeles, touring with Nina Hagen, and performing on bills with the such acts as Iggy Pop, The Fuzztones, The Beat Farmers, Johnny Thunders, and The Cramps. The Pandoras played the inaugural LA Weekly Music Awards and showcased a slightly harder sound and were interviewed on the roof of the Variety Arts Center for a top French TV Show.

Elektra Era[edit]

Elektra A&R man (and boyfriend of Pierce) Steve Pross signed the band to Elektra Records. The band made numerous attempts to record the album, to be titled Come Inside. During this period, Blankfeld was forced from the band due to disagreements about band management, and was replaced with Kelly Dillard. Blankfeld went on to play bass with former Enigma recording artists Wednesday Week, before forming the Billboard-charting all-female band The Rebel Pebbles.

Dillard was in The Pandoras for only two months, and during that time did photoshoots intended for the cover of Come Inside and recorded "Run Down Love Battery" for the album. She was replaced on drums by Sheri Kaplan, and Susan Hyatt was added on guitar in December 1987. Kaplan and Hyatt had previously played together in the Los Angeles all-female band, Feline. After a month, Hyatt left The Pandoras due to a change in the band's musical direction and clothing style.

Before the release of the LP, which had reached the test-pressing stage, Pross was fired by Elektra. As a result, the label dropped both bands he had signed — Jetboy and The Pandoras — with their respective records being withdrawn from release. Many of the demo recordings The Pandoras made during the Elektra era eventually surfaced on the Psychedelic Sluts bootleg CD.

Restless Era[edit]

The band continued to play live while looking for another record deal. Rita D'Albert joined as a guitarist. The Pandoras recorded new songs and released the Rock Hard mini-LP on Restless Records. A video for "Run Down Love Battery" received airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball, expanding their audience to include metal fans, while alienating some of the fans of the earlier garage and pop musical style.

D'Albert left The Pandoras in February 1989, just before a tour in support of Rock Hard, to join Human Drama, which had signed to RCA records. Rather than cancel the tour, the band went out as a four-piece. A show in Dallas, Texas at Z Rock was recorded for a "Coast to Coast Concert Series" broadcast. They also made an appearance on the first episode of The Arsenio Hall Show where they performed "Run Down Love Battery".

Billie Jo Hash joined the band on guitar for the second leg of the Rock Hard tour, although she only lasted through the summer of 1989. Lissa Beltri joined The Pandoras in late 1989.

Rather than record a new studio album with the new line-up, Pierce opted to let Restless Records release the Z-Rock concert as a live mini-album. Live Nymphomania was released and, even though Pierce was not happy with the recording, the band toured in support of it.

Disbandment and Pierce's Death[edit]

Outside of Los Angeles, the Pandoras' fan base continued to grow in the hard rock world, though attendance was down at individual shows. New promo photos were taken, and pre-planning was starting for a new album on Restless.

In July 1990, keyboardist Vammen was removed from the band by Pierce, over Shattuck's and Kaplan's objections. Pierce's reason for Vammen's departure was that the new direction of the band did not require keyboards. Vammen was the longest-running Pandora, other than Pierce.

An Australian tour was canceled and, when a European tour was cancelled, Shattuck left the band in late 1990. There was a single show with a fill-in male bassist, and then Kaplan quit the band to join Hardly Dangerous, ending The Pandoras. This left Pierce in limbo at the end of 1990, with no band and without a label. Vammen and Shattuck later formed The Muffs.

In 1991, Pierce slowly worked on new material with Beltri. They hired a new drummer and were auditioning bass players. On August 9, a bass player auditioned who both Pierce and Beltri liked. She was to be brought back in for a rehearsal on August 11. However, on August 10, after dinner and an exercise session, Pierce suffered a fatal aneurysm in the shower. She had complained of painful headaches for two weeks before her death, but did not seek medical care.

The Pandoras' tour manager, Dave Eddy, helped organize a tribute show with the help of band members and friends, at the Coconut Teaser. The night helped to raise almost $3,000 to help offset funeral expenses. The show saw performances by Cherie Currie of The Runaways and her twin sister Marie in their first public performance together in 20 years, with the final line up of the Pandoras backing them, Precious Metal, who had broken up but who reunited for the show; Redd Kross and Abby Travis, Dramarama with Clem Burke of Blondie and Sylvain Sylvain from the New York Dolls, The Muffs (Shattuck's and Vammen's band), African Violet (D'Albert band), Hardly Dangerous (Kaplan's band) and White Flag.

Reunions[edit]

Five Pandoras--Hyatt (lead vocals, guitar), Black (lead guitar), Vammen (keyboards), Blankfeld (bass), and Kaplan (drums)--united to play three Pierce-penned Pandoras songs ("You Don't Satisfy", "In and Out of my Life In A Day" and "You're All Talk") at a private party in Redondo Beach, CA in October 2013.

In 2014, The 21st Century Pandoras—Hyatt (lead vocals, guitar), Black (lead guitar), Kelly (bass, aka Nipper Seaturtle), Conway (keyboards) and Gomez (drums)—was formed. Two digital singles of new material—"Joyride" and "Flashback Forever"—have been released under The 21st Century Pandoras name.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Mini-albums[edit]

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • I'm Here I'm Gone (1984 - EP - Moxie Records)
  • Hot Generation/You Don't Satisfy (1984 - Single - Voxx Records)
  • In And Out of My Life (In a Day)/The Hump (1986 - Single - Rhino Records)
  • I Didn't Cry/Thunder Alley (1999 - Dionysus)

The 21st Century Pandoras Singles[edit]

  • "Joyride" (2014 - Oh Long Johnson Records)
  • "Flashback Forever" (2014 - Oh Long Johnson Records)

Compilation appearances[edit]

Videos/DVD[edit]

  • Slipping Through the Cracks (An Uprising of Young Pacifics) (video); IceWorld Video

Unreleased Album[edit]

Bootlegs[edit]

  • Psychedelic Sluts (1994 - Erekta)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "* Paula Pierce; Lead Singer of The Pandoras - Los Angeles Times". articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 449
  3. ^ "Pandoras, The - Stop Pretending (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25.