Let’s again go back to the 80s – Singer/Lead Guitarist Kelly Johnson of Girlschool
Today, we take women in Metal for granted. But in the 80s, when Metal started making a comeback with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Girlschool was a prominent force in that genre. Kelly Johnson was the lead guitarist and lead singer of Girlschool.
Girlschool never did get big. They did a lot of touring with bands like Motörhead, but never did score that high selling album. After four albums in the early 80s with Girlschool, Kelly Johnson left.
Their music by today’s standards sounds dated, and we’re not going to lie and say it stands the test of time. However, we will say that Girlschool deserves a lot of credit. Like we said earlier, today, we take women in Metal for granted. But it wasn’t always that way. Only Lita Ford and Warlock sold well in the 80s. The rest of the Metal bands with female members didn’t fare that well unfortunately.
Would the music sound dated if it was produced better? It’s hard to tell. Their music never did seem to have top notch production qualities.
They never did sell well in the States. They never cracked the Billboard charts. Their 1981 album Hit and Run made Gold in Canada, and it hit number five in the UK, where they’re from.
Kelly Johnson left the band in 1984, after their lighter album Play Dirty which was more hard rock than Metal. They got lighter in an attempt to sell records, but it backfired and they lost their fan base by doing that.
So, she got frustrated and left in early 1984.
She rejoined the band almost ten years later in 1993 and she remained active with them until 1999, which unfortunately, she got diagnosed with cancer.
Kelly Johnson died in 2007 of cancer. Although Girlschool never did get big, we all owe a big thanks to people like Kelly Johnson who paved the way.
Let’s go back to the 1980s. We all know Lita Ford, vocalist and guitarist. Long blonde hair. BC Rich guitars. Lita Ford rocked!
We can go back all the way to the 1970s with The Runaways. Lita Ford joined the band at the age of 16 and co-wrote some rocking tunes. Unfortunately, a conflict of direction emerged between Joan Jett, who wanted the band to be more punk, and Lita Ford and Sandy West, who wanted the band to be more hard rock. So they split up in 1979.
Lita Ford’s solo career
Which is a good thing, because Lita Ford had a pretty good solo career that got a lot of chicks in the 80s into Metal. She released an album in 1983 and one in 1984, but the one that really stands out is the one that had “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever” on it. That was released in 1988 and simply called Lita. And that album rocked.
Lita, the 1988 album, went on to reach Platinum status. As some of our staff are geezers, they remember the hits from that album and how big they were. Everyone knew Lita Ford. Everyone. If anyone asked “who is the #1 chick in Metal?,” everyone would say Lita Ford.
Lita Ford was the precursor of something we see commonly today – a woman who can both belt out vocals and play a mean guitar at the same time. She played lead guitars pretty well. We all remember seeing her with her familiar BC Rich guitars.
So we all owe her gratitude. Thank you for paving the way. We all owe you.
For the younger folks who haven’t heard her music, we’ll leave a video. This one is a duet with Ozzy Osbourne from the 1988 album Lita. As mentioned above, this album went Platinum. Any teenager who was cool back then loved this song.
Photo credit – Zoran Veselinovic. Licensed CC 2.0