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Sun City Girls

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Sun City Girls
OriginPhoenix, Arizona
Years active1979–2007
LabelsPlacebo, Majora, Nauscopy, Eclipse, Amarillo, Abduction
Past membersAlan Bishop
Richard Bishop
Charles Gocher

Sun City Girls were an American experimental rock band, formed in 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona. From 1981, the group consisted of Alan Bishop (bass guitar, vocals), his brother Richard Bishop (guitar, piano, vocals), and Charles Gocher (drums, vocals). Their name was inspired by Sun City, Arizona, an Arizona retirement community. In 2007, Gocher died following a long battle with cancer, bringing an end to the group.[1] In a 26-year career, they produced 50 albums, 23 cassettes, 6 feature-length videos, and many other recordings.[2]

Operating in indie rock and underground music circles, Sun City Girls recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums, released in small editions by labels like Placebo, Majora, Eclipse Records, Amarillo Records, and their own Abduction Records, and has garnered a devoted cult following. Their music was hugely eclectic and varied, spreading across genres such as spoken word, free improvisation, jazz and rock, along with a recurring interest in world music. Their records typically incorporated lyrics that rely heavily on their interests in mysticism, paranormal topics (especially UFOs), religious cults and other esoterica, often also manifested in their song titles, lyrics and album art. Performances by the group were often wildly unpredictable, sometimes verging on performance art, with elaborate costumes, kabuki-inspired makeup, and the creation of a festive, ritualistic atmosphere with audience participation.

Critic Steve Leggett writes, "Throughout its history SCG has remained a challenging, unpredictable, and eclectic musical unit, operating outside the commercially driven aspirations of the mainstream recording industry, and the group has become somewhat of a beacon to independent musicians and artists everywhere."[3] Writing in the Village Voice, Ted Hendrickson argues, "They've never made any sense, conventionally speaking, and that's what makes them them."[4]



As children in Michigan, Richard and Alan Bishop took childhood musical inspiration from their grandfather, who was a Lebanese oud player. According to Richard,

His house also doubled as a meeting place for his fellow lodge members who were well versed in the Knights Templar doctrine and the Egyptian Rites of Memphis and Mithrais. They didn't buy into the "Christianization of Freemasonry" which took place at the "official" temples around town, so they met on their own on a regular basis. They still believed in the ways of the old country. There was a weird "Arabian Nights" type of magic in that house, both light and dark. My most vivid childhood dreams and experiences took place there and they were dark indeed. By the age of 10, I had an entire pantheon of different spirits catalogued in my head. But nothing about it was disturbing, it was just the way it was. It's very hard to relate what the atmosphere was all about unless one has experienced similar surroundings, but suffice it to say, I couldn't have asked for a better environment.[5]

The band originated in the Arizona punk rock scene which included Meat Puppets, JFA and The Feederz, Sun City Girls quickly began to incorporate lengthy improvisations, beat poetry, surf music, jazz, tape music, and elements of South Asian, South American, Middle Eastern and African music.

Until the late 1980s, most of the band's releases were issued on audio cassettes,[6] which gained legendary status among cassette culture enthusiasts. But a shift to the LP format had already begun with seminal records such as Sun City Girls (1984), Grotto of Miracles (1986), Torch of the Mystics (1990), Dawn of the Devi (1991), Bright Surroundings Dark Beginnings (1993), and Kaliflower (1994). Dante's Disneyland Inferno and 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond the Rig Veda, both double-CDs released in 1996, were perhaps the pinnacle of the band's aesthetic. Frequent SCG collaborators included violinist Eyvind Kang and sound engineer Scott Colburn.

As of 2008, the band's remaining members reside in Seattle, Washington. Alan Bishop heads the label Sublime Frequencies[7] and performs and releases records under the names Alvarius B and Uncle Jim. In the early 1980s, he was in the short-lived band Paris 1942, with Maureen Tucker from the Velvet Underground.[6] In 2005, he edited a compilation titled Crime and Dissonance of Ennio Morricone's late 1960s and early 1970s soundtrack work. Rick Bishop performs as a solo guitarist under the name Sir Richard Bishop. Charles Gocher released a solo CD called Pint Sized Spartacus in 1997, and performed with a number of groups, including the Master Musicians of Bukkake, Tripod, and the New Session People.

After Gocher's death, Alan and Rick Bishop announced that they would no longer perform, nor record music using the Sun City Girls name. However, they do plan to release existing archival Sun City Girls recordings as time permits.



Note: The cassettes released by Cloaven c. 1987–1990 are listed in the order they were released. The dates of the recordings appear after the album titles.


  1. ^ "Sun City Girls' Charles Gocher, R.I.P." Article on Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  2. ^ Masters, Marc (September 11, 2012). "Underscore: Sun City Girls". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  3. ^ Steve Leggett, "Biography for Sun City Girls", allmusic.com.
  4. ^ village voice > music > Sun City Girls at Knitting Factory; Funk Brothers at the Apollo Theater; Tulip Sweet and Her Trail of Tears at Pedro's Bar and Restaurant
  5. ^ "Sun City Girls – Rick Bishop interview". www.furious.com. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1999). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Heavy Rock (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 435. ISBN 0-7535-0257-7.
  7. ^ Kurt B. Reighley, "Alan Bishop", Seattle Metropolitan, December 2008, p. 63.