The Deadly Nightshade

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The Deadly Nightshade
Also known as Ariel
Origin Northampton, Massachusetts
Genres Country rock, folk rock
Years active 1967-1970, 1972-1977, 2008-Present
Labels Phantom, RCA
Associated acts The Moppets, Ariel
Members Anne Bowen
Helen Hooke
Past members Gretchen 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. They were 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, 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 their version of the Carter Family hit, "Keep on the Sunny Side", as well as several of their 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 the music. The band was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.[3]

The band reunited in 2008, and performed again in 2009.

Rock critic Robert Christgau wrote that despite their being avowed feminists, which he sympathized with, he hated their music as "Squeaky-clean folk rock".[4]

Bassist Pamela Brandt died of a heart attack on July 31, 2015 in Miami, Florida.[5] As a result, the surviving members face the prospect of folding the band for good and retiring from the musical scene.



Album Year
The Deadly Nightshade 1975
Funky & Western 1976



  • "At the Top of the Charts...but Are They Playing Our Song?", essay, Pamela Brandt, Ms. Magazine, 1979
  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ "Feminist, rock musician and food writer Pamela Brandt dies at 68". The Miami Herald. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 

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