Ari Up

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Ari Up
The Slits-24.jpg
Ari Up playing with the Slits at the Beat the Blues Festival, Alexandra Palace, 15 June 1980.
Background information
Birth nameAriane Daniele Forster
Also known asBaby Ari, Madussa
Born(1962-01-17)17 January 1962
Munich, Germany
Died20 October 2010(2010-10-20) (aged 48)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresPost-punk, reggae, dub, techno, dancehall
Years active1976–2010
Associated actsThe Slits, Nina Hagen, New Age Steppers

Ariane Daniela Forster (17 January 1962 – 20 October 2010), known by her stage name Ari Up, was a German vocalist best known as a member of the English post-punk band The Slits.


Ari was born in Munich, Germany.[1][2] Both her parents were involved in the music industry: Her father, Frank Forster, was a German schlager singer who had some success in the 50s and 60s while her mother Nora was a friend of Jimi Hendrix and dated Chris Spedding for three years.[3] Ari's maternal grandfather was the wealthy German newspaper proprietor Franz Karl Maier, owner of Der Tagesspiegel. Her godfathers were Austrian singer/composer Udo Jürgens[4] and Jon Anderson, the singer of the group Yes.[5]

Nora later married the Sex Pistols' lead singer, John Lydon, in 1979. Their home was known to be something of a punk domain, where Nora would take in poor musicians. The constant presence of punk music led to Ari experimenting with it herself, learning to play the guitar from The Clash's Joe Strummer.[6]

In 1976, at the age of 14, Ari formed The Slits with drummer Palmolive.[7] Within a short time, guitarist Viv Albertine joined the group and found herself deeply impressed by the young singer. "English was her second language," Albertine noted in an interview. "It was not easy for her and she had to fight to be taken seriously."[8] She succeeded: "Ari was the most dynamic woman I have ever known," said Albertine. "The way she carried herself was a revolution."[8]

By the late 1970s, The Slits were touring as the opening act for The Clash.[5] Ari Up's love of reggae led The Slits into a "jungly" dub style. She was the most flamboyant member of the group, becoming known for her wild hair and odd stage outfits. She can be seen briefly in The Clash film Rude Boy, associating with the band backstage. Her 1977 performances with The Slits are featured in The Punk Rock Movie, a documentary release of various punk group club performances, principally at The Roxy.

After The Slits disbanded in 1981, Ari moved with her husband and twin sons to jungle regions of Indonesia and Belize and lived among indigenous people in those areas. Later, they moved to Jamaica, eventually settling in Kingston.[9] She continued to make music, first with the New Age Steppers, then as a solo artist, using the stage names Baby Ari, Madussa, and Ari Up.[10] In 2000, Lydon and Nora became legal guardians of Ari's twin boys; as Lydon explained "[Ari] let them run free. They couldn’t read, write or form proper sentences. One day Ari said she couldn’t cope with them any more. I suggested they came to us because I wasn’t having them abandoned. They gave us hell, but I loved having kids around."[11] Ari's first full-length solo album, Dread More Dan Dead, was released in 2005.

Ari Up in 2008.

Ari Up appeared on Lee "Scratch" Perry's Repentance (2008),[12] and performed a duet on a cover version of Mike Hugg's song "Mister, You're a Better Man Than I" on Mark Stewart's, Edit (2008).

In 2008, Ari was diagnosed with breast cancer. However she refused the physician-recommended chemotherapy.[13] Lydon later commented, "who refuses chemo because they don’t want their Rasta locks cut off? Ariane was just…not sensible. She thought she could cure herself with witch doctors. We spent hundreds of thousands trying to save her, but it was too late."[13] Despite the diagnosis, she performed in July, 2009, with Perry and Austrian dub band Dubblestandart in Brooklyn, New York, just prior to the Central Park SummerStage festival.[14] One of Ari's last recordings took place in May 2010, in New York with Lee Scratch Perry. The sessions were recorded by the Subatomic Sound System and released in August 2010 on 7" vinyl, titled "Hello, Hell is Very Low" b/w "Bed Athletes." The Slits' final work, the video for the song "Lazy Slam" from Trapped Animal, was released posthumously in accordance with Ari's wishes.[15]

On 20 October 2010, Ari died in Los Angeles, aged 48.[1] Her death was initially announced on Lydon's homepage.[16][17] At this time, Lydon and Nora also became guardians of Ari's third child, Wilton.[13]

A tribute Punky Reggae Birthday Party was held in at the Music Hall of Williamsburg by Dunia Best, Aram Sinnreich and Vivien Goldman on Brooklyn on 16 January 2011. Neneh Cherry, Tessa Pollitt, Hollie Cook and other former members of The Slits performed, along with members of the True Warriors, New Age Steppers, and other friends and associates.[18]


  • The Slits – Cut (1979, Island)
  • V/A – We Do 'Em Our Way (1980, MFP)
  • New Age SteppersThe New Age Steppers (1980, On-U Sound)
  • The Slits – Return of the Giant Slits (1981, CBS)
  • The Slits – The Peel Sessions (1987, Strange Fruit)
  • V/A – Lipstick Traces (1993, Rough Trade)
  • V/A – Rough Trade Shop, Post Punk 01 (2xCD, Comp) (2003, Mute)
  • Ari Up – True Warrior / I'm Allergic 7" (2004, For Us)
  • The Slits – Live at the Gibus Club (2005, Earmark)
  • Ari Up – Baby Mother 12" (2005, Collision: Cause Of Chapter 3)
  • Ari Up – Dread More Dan Dead (2005, Collision: Cause Of Chapter 3)
  • V/A – Girl Monster (3xCD, Comp) (2006, Chicks On Speed Records)
  • The Slits – Revenge Of The Killer Slits 7" (2006, S.A.F. Records)
  • Dubblestandart vs. Ken Boothe vs. Ari Up – When I Fall In Love / Island Girl 12" (2007, Collision: Cause Of Chapter 3)
  • The Slits – Trapped Animal (2009, Narnack Records)
  • Subatomic Sound System Meets Ari Up & Lee "Scratch" Perry – Hello, Hello, Hell Is Very Low / Bed Athletes (7") (2010, Subatomic Sound)
  • Ari Up & Vic RuggieroRare Singles and More... (2011, Ska in The World)
  • New Age Steppers – Love Forever (2012, On-U Sound)


  1. ^ a b Salewicz, Chris (22 October 2010). "Ari Up: Rebellious and confrontational singer with punk-reggae band the Slits". The Independent. Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  2. ^ Ari Up bio –
  3. ^ Schröter, Lorenz (26 June 2016). "This is not a love song" (PDF).
  4. ^ Oehmke, Philipp (16 May 2015). "Pop: Kannst du vergessen". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b Moynihan, Colin (22 October 2010). "Ari Up, a Founder of the Slits Punk Band, Dies at 48". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  6. ^ Paoletta, Michael (13 July 2002). "Beat Box". Billboard. p. 36. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Viv Albertine | Carpool". YouTube. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  8. ^ a b Albertine, Viv (December 2010). "R.I.P. Ari Up". Maximum Rocknroll. Maximumrocknroll (331): 35.
  9. ^ Carpenter, Lorraine (30 June 2005). "Living dread – The return of punky reggae queen Ari Up". Montreal Mirror. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  10. ^ Robb, John (21 October 2010). "Ari Up obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  11. ^ Wintle, Angela (31 October 2014). "John Lydon: My family values". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  12. ^ Jolley, John (7 December 2007). "Lee "Scratch" Perry and Andrew WK: Together At Last!". Tiny Mix Tapes. Archived from the original on 8 December 2007. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
  13. ^ a b c "Rotten's soft side". The Week. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Lee Scratch Perry with Dubblestandart and Ari Up". NME. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Ari Up R.I.P. (1962–2010)". 21 October 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  16. ^ Martins, Chris (20 October 2010). "R.I.P. Ari Up of the Slits, Dead at 48". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  17. ^ "Arianna RIP". John Lydon. 20 October 2010. Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  18. ^ "" White Lies – Tickets – Terminal 5 – New York, NY – May 19th, 2011". 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2013.

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