Viv Albertine

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Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine on tour in 2012
Viv Albertine on tour in 2012
Background information
Birth nameViviane Katrina Louise Albertine
Born (1954-12-01) 1 December 1954 (age 67)
Sydney, Australia
OriginLondon, England
GenresPunk rock, post-punk, new wave
Occupation(s)Musician, television director, author
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1976–present
Formerly ofThe Slits
The Flowers of Romance
New Age Steppers
49 Americans
Flying Lizards
WebsiteViv Albertine official website

Viviane Katrina Louise Albertine (born 1 December 1954)[1] is an Australian-born British musician, singer, songwriter and writer. She is best known as the guitarist for the punk band the Slits from 1977 until 1982, with whom she recorded two studio albums. Prior to joining the Slits, Albertine was a member of the Flowers of Romance.

Following the Slits' break-up in 1982, Albertine studied filmmaking and subsequently worked as a freelance director for the BBC and British Film Institute. After a lengthy break from performing and recording music, Albertine released her sole solo studio album, The Vermilion Border, in 2012.

Albertine's first autobiography, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, was released in 2014 to widespread critical acclaim. A follow-up focusing on her family, To Throw Away Unopened, was released in 2018.

Early life[edit]

Albertine was born in Sydney to an English mother of partial Swiss ancestry and a Corsican father.[1] She was brought up in north London, attended comprehensive school in Muswell Hill, and at the age of 17 enrolled in Hornsey School of Art.[2] After completing a foundation course at Hornsey, she went to Chelsea School of Art to study fashion and textile design. In 1976, while still studying at Chelsea, she helped form the early punk band the Flowers of Romance. In 1976, her Swiss maternal grandmother gave her money to purchase an electric guitar.[3]

Music career[edit]

Albertine was a key figure in the 1970s punk scene, and was the on/off girlfriend of Mick Jones of the Clash. In 1976, she formed the Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious. She joined the Slits as the band's guitarist after founding member Kate Korus left. Hesitant to join an all female band she changed her mind after her friend Chrissie Hynde told her to "Shut up and get on with it."

The Clash's 1979 song "Train in Vain" has been interpreted by some as a response to "Typical Girls" by the Slits, which mentions girls standing by their men. Albertine split up with songwriter Mick Jones shortly before he wrote the song.[4]

While continuing as a key member of the Slits, Albertine contributed guitar and vocal work to the 49 Americans' 1980 album E Pluribus Unum.[5]

She became part of Adrian Sherwood's dub-influenced collective New Age Steppers, and played on their self-titled 1981 debut album. She appeared as a guest guitarist on the Flying Lizards' debut album, as well as Singers & Players' 1982 album, Revenge of the Underdog.[5]

In 2009, Albertine began performing as a solo artist. Her debut gig was at the Windmill in Brixton on 20 September 2009.[6] She went on to tour the US, opening for the Raincoats.[7] In March 2010, she released a four-song debut solo EP entitled, Flesh, on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace! label.[8]

Albertine recorded a cover version of David Bowie's "Letter to Hermione" for the Bowie tribute album, We Were So Turned On: A Tribute to David Bowie, which was released on 6 September 2010. Her debut solo album, The Vermilion Border, was released on 5 November 2012 through the Cadiz Music label. The album was a featured project on Pledgemusic.[9] On 17 June 2013, she opened for Siouxsie Sioux at the Royal Festival Hall in London.[10]

Following the death of her mother in 2014, Albertine stepped away from music: "I’m just not interested in playing any more. I came to that decision the night my mum died. I don’t worship musicians. I don’t worship rock’n’roll. I don’t miss it. I see music as a vehicle like writing or film-making, but I don’t think it’s a very relevant medium for me at the moment."[11]

Film and television career[edit]

After the Slits disbanded in 1982, Albertine studied filmmaking in London. She worked as a director, mostly for television and making promos and videos for bands, many of which were used on UK MTV throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s. "Ghosts Of American Astronauts" by the Mekons, for example. Her freelance directing work included stints with the BBC and the British Film Institute.[12]

In 1991, Albertine wrote and directed the short film Coping with Cupid, a film about three aliens as blondes that come to earth to research romantic love. In 2010, she worked with Joanna Hogg on the soundtrack to Hogg's 2010 film Archipelago.[citation needed]

In 2013, Albertine starred in Hogg's 2013 film Exhibition, alongside Tom Hiddleston and Liam Gillick. The film premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in August 2013, and was released on DVD in 2014.[13]


Albertine's memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, was published in 2014 in the UK by Faber and Faber and in the US by Thomas Dunne Books.[14] It was a Sunday Times, Mojo, Rough Trade and NME Book of the Year in 2014, as well as being shortlisted for the National Book Awards. In 2019, The New York Times named the memoir in its The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years article.[15]

Her second memoir To Throw Away Unopened was published by Faber and Faber in May 2018.[16][17] The book describes the extraordinarily complex relationship between Albertine and her mother.[17] The title is taken from a note pinned to a bag left behind by her mother after her death.[17] Albertine admits she viewed this as "a provocation", and felt that her mother expected her to look inside: The contents turned out to be intensely personal diaries, which Albertine read in full, and ultimately incorporated into her own memoir.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Albertine married in 1995,[18] and gave birth to a daughter, Vida, in 1999.[19] After seventeen years of marriage, the pair divorced.[20] Albertine currently lives in Hackney, London.[citation needed]

Albertine is on the autism spectrum.[21]


As a solo artist
  • The Vermillion Border (2012)
with The Slits


  • Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys (2014)
  • To Throw Away Unopened (2018)


  1. ^ a b "Viv Albertine". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  2. ^ Savage, Jon (2010). The England's Dreaming Tapes. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-8166-7292-9.
  3. ^ "Keynote Talk with Viv Albertine". YouTube. 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  4. ^ Gray, Marcus (26 October 2007). "Marcus Gray on the ongoing pop influence of 'Stand By Me' - Guardian Unlimited Arts". Arts. Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Viv Albertine Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Not a typical girl: Viv Albertine interview". Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  7. ^ Profile,; retrieved 4 October 2013.
  8. ^ Parkhouse, Will (25 February 2010). "I Do Not Believe In Love: Viv Albertine On Life Post The Slits". The Quietus. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Viv Albertine's Debut Solo Album". PledgeMusic. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  10. ^ Albertine at Royal Festival Hall,; accessed 1 December 2015.
  11. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (1 April 2018). "Viv Albertine: 'I just want to blow a hole in it all'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  12. ^ Phoenix, Val (5 August 2009). "re:generation #1: viv albertine". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  13. ^ Millar, Iain (6 September 2013). "Public spaces, private lives". The Arts Newspaper. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  14. ^ Suzanne Moore (28 May 2014). "Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  15. ^ "The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years". The New York Times. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  16. ^ "To Throw Away Unopened". Public Store View. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d Gross, Terry (18 July 2018). "Punk Legend And Memoirist Viv Albertine On A Lifetime Of Fighting The Patriarchy". Fresh Air. NPR.
  18. ^ "Punk Icon And Memoirist Viv Albertine On A Lifetime Of Fighting The Patriarchy". Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Viv Albertine: 'I just want to blow a hole in it all'". The Guardian. 1 April 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Punk Icon And Memoirist Viv Albertine On A Lifetime Of Fighting The Patriarchy". Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Viv Albertine on a life of nonconformity: 'I'm not a legend, but I do feel like a survivor'". Retrieved 22 July 2021.

External links[edit]