Sad news. Ari Up, the lead vocalist for The Slits, passed away yesterday (Wednesday 20 October). According to her family (which includes stepfather John Lydon), she died following a serious illness.
The Slits will forever be remembered for their in-your-face performances, and the way they shook up the punk scene. Formed in 1976, (when Ari Up was just 14), they were notorious for their antics both on stage and off, but for me they are memorable for the way they injected reggae and dub vibes into punk music. They weren’t balls-out punk, they were more akin to the new wave sound of PiL than trashier bands like the Clash or Sex Pistols.
Then there is the cover of their album Cut, which will forever be brought up in discussions on ‘women and music’ because it features the women topless, wearing loincloths and daubed in mud.
Ari Up was no shrinking violet, and with her long dreads and somewhat unnerving stare she cut a defiant figure in photographs and onstage.
Thanks to women like Ari and her comrades in The Slits, a new chapter was opened for women in rock music, and for that we will always be thankful.