Ari Up, Riotgrrrl Pioneer, 1962–2010
Sad news of the day: Ari Up, lead singer of seminal UK punk band the Slits, passed away yesterday at age 48.
Ari (real name: Arianna Forster) founded the Slits in 1976 with Paloma Romer, aka Palmolive, Viv Albertine, and Tessa Pollitt. She was 14. The band was brash and raunchy and aggressive—a bunch of hellions just as raucous as the all-male punk bands of the late 70s. (In fact, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols is her stepfather.)
Their debut album, Cut, with its WTF punk ethics and reggae grooves, inspired both the future of punk rock and the riotgrrrl movement of the 80s and 90s. The cover image alone is iconic: Ari and two band members appear in nothing but loincloths and mud.
The first single, “Typical Girls,” took aim at culturally imposed gender roles, wherein girls “don’t create, don’t rebel, have intuition, don’t drive well.” On top of the scathing lyrics, though, the song is a helluva lot of fun—playful, giddy, weird. The Slits brought their fuck-you party attitude to their live shows and videos too, as seen below.
The Slits’ record label, Narnack Records, posted the band’s latest video today, respecting Ari’s wishes for a posthumous release.