Rose McDowall

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Rose McDowall
Rose McDowall Nocturnal Culture Night 10 2015 03.jpg
Background information
Birth nameRose Porter
Born (1959-10-21) 21 October 1959 (age 60)
Glasgow, Scotland
GenresPop, new wave, neofolk
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, keyboards, drums
Years active1978–present
Associated actsStrawberry Switchblade
Death in June
Current 93

Rose McDowall (née Porter;[1] born 21 October 1959) is a Scottish musician. Along with Jill Bryson, in 1981 she formed the new wave band Strawberry Switchblade.[2]


McDowall was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1959. Her first venture into music was in the Poems, an art-punk trio formed in 1978 with her then-husband Drew McDowall. She then formed Strawberry Switchblade in 1981 with Jill Bryson. After signing with Warner Bros. Records they enjoyed chart success with their single "Since Yesterday" in 1984; however, later singles and an album did not sell as well as expected. This and internal problems led to an acrimonious split in 1986.[1]

For the next six years, McDowall was primarily a guest vocalist or "floating member" of several different alternative bands, particularly in the neofolk genre. She contributed backing or lead vocals for Coil, Current 93, Death in June,[3] Felt, Alex Fergusson, Into a Circle, Megas, Nature and Organisation, Nurse with Wound, Ornamental, Psychic TV[4] and Boyd Rice on recordings as well as singing or playing guitar for live appearances. In 1993, she collaborated with Boyd Rice under the band name Spell, producing two singles and an album of 1960s-style pop, country and psychedelia covers for Mute Records. [1]

At the same time, she formed a folk rock band called Sorrow with then-husband Robert Lee.[5] Between 1993 and 2001, they released two albums and one EP through World Serpent Distribution and performed in Europe and the US. During this time, McDowall continued to record and perform with Current 93 and Coil, including the short-lived group Rosa Mundi. Robert Lee left the band in 2002. McDowall and her remaining bandmates continued to perform as Rosa Mundi until 2005 when she began performing under her own name.[1]

McDowall is best known as a vocalist but also plays guitar, keyboards, melodica and drums. Her signature instruments are a Washburn 12-string acoustic guitar, a Fender Coronado electric 6-string guitar and an electric harmonium.

She has two daughters and a son: Keri McDowall from her marriage to Drew McDowall and Bobi and Velocity Lee from her marriage to Robert Lee.


Rose McDowall[edit]

Year Title Format, Special Notes
1988 Don't Fear the Reaper 7" and 12" on Rio Digital – unapproved release
1994 Johnny Remember Me Pic. 7" on Sympathy for the Record Industry – unapproved release
2004 Cut With the Cake Knife CD on Bad Fairy
2005 Alone CD EP on Durtro – with John Contreras and Nurse With Wound

Strawberry Switchblade[edit]


Year Title Format, Special Notes
1993 "Big Red Balloon" Single on Mute Records
1993 Seasons in the Sun CD on Mute Records


Year Title Format, Special Notes
1993 Under the Yew Possessed CD on Piski Disc
1999 Sleep Now Forever CD on Piski Disc
1999 The Final Solstice (I/II) CD on Piski Disc
2001 Let There Be Thorns Maxi CD on Piski Disc
2001 Let There Be Thorns Pic. 7" on Piski Disc

Track appears on:

Current 93[edit]

See: Current 93

Nature and Organisation[edit]

Year Title Format, Special Notes
1994 A Dozen Summers Against the World CD on Durtro
1994 Beauty Reaps the Blood of Solitude CD on Durtro


Year Title Format, Special Notes
1999 Anthems from the Pleasure Park CD on Harbinger House
2001 The Fourth Wall CD on Harbinger House – live recording


  1. ^ a b c d Graham, Ben (15 September 2015). "All Her Yesterdays: Rose McDowall Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  2. ^ Sutton, Michael. "Biography: Rose McDowall". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
  3. ^ Lester, Paul (14 April 2015). "Cult heroes: Strawberry Switchblade – the clue was in the name". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  4. ^ Mandois, Sarah (7 October 2015). "Rose McDowall va continuer à vous mettre le coeur en miettes" [Rose McDowall will continue to put your heart in pieces]. Vice (in French). Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  5. ^ McHugh, Stuart (11 September 2018). "Rose McDowall switches Strawberry for Sorrow". News Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2019.

External links[edit]