The Deadly Nightshade

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The Deadly Nightshade
Also known asAriel
OriginNorthampton, Massachusetts
GenresCountry rock, folk rock
Years active1967-1970, 1972-1977, 2008-Present
MembersAnne Bowen
Helen Hooke
Past membersGretchen Pfeifer
Beverly Rodgers
Florence Ballard (one show, 1975)
Pamela Brandt (deceased)

The Deadly Nightshade is a New England–based rock and country trio consisting of members Anne Bowen, Pamela Brandt, and Helen Hooke, who originally began performing under the name Ariel in 1967, along with Gretchen Pfeifer and Beverly Rodgers. It was one of the earliest all-women rock bands signed to a major label, and an early women's music group. Some early members of the group originally performed as the Moppets.

In 1970, Ariel separated. Bowen then reunited with former bandmates Brandt and Hooke in 1972, to play at a women's festival, now as the Deadly Nightshade. In 1974, the band secured one of the first record contracts as an all-female band to a major label, Phantom/RCA, and went on to release two albums to mixed reviews. They performed at Ms. Magazine's second annual party in 1974.[1] During the height of their success in the mid-seventies, The Deadly Nightshade appeared on Sesame Street, singing its version of the Carter Family hit "Keep on the Sunny Side", as well as several of the band's own songs.

The band broke up in 1977, when Bowen decided to leave the band to pursue other interests. Brandt went on to work as a feminist writer, co-author of The Girls Next Door: Into the Heart of Lesbian America with Lindsy Van Gelder (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Her work included commentary on the band and its relation to the women's movement and the music business.[2] In 1978 the Smithsonian Institution reissued both albums as examples of creative women in music. Archival material relating to the band can be found at the Country Music Hall of Fame.[3]

The band reunited in 2008, and performed again in 2009.[4]

Rock critic Robert Christgau wrote that despite their being avowed feminists, which he sympathized with, he hated their music as "Squeaky-clean folk rock".[5]

Pamela Brandt, bassist, singer and songwriter (born February 6, 1947) died of a heart attack on July 31, 2015, in Miami, Florida, at age 68.[6]



Album Year
The Deadly Nightshade 1975
Funky & Western 1976
Never Never Gonna Stop 2012



  • "At the Top of the Charts...but Are They Playing Our Song?", essay, Pamela Brandt, Ms. Magazine, 1979
  1. ^ Rockwell, John (1974-09-13). "The Pop Life Deadly Nightshade Trio Speaks Well of Women". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  2. ^ Rodnitzky, Jerome L. (1999). Feminist Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of a Feminist Counterculture. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780275965754.
  3. ^ "The Deadly Nightshade Reunion Concert". North Fork Women for Women Fund. 2008. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  4. ^ Parnass, Larry (31 July 2013). "Deadly Nightshade performs again Sunday in Northampton". Daily Hampshire Gazette.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Deadly Nightshade". Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  6. ^ Cohen, Howard (4 August 2015). "Feminist, rock musician and food writer Pamela Brandt dies at 68". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 19 September 2015.

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