Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)

Music

The story of Goldie and the Gingerbreads: The first all-female rock band

@TomTaylorFO

In 1963, most female rock bands were viewed as a gimmick. Labels ignored them and fans failed to linger after the initial novelty wore off. This sad sexist reality was stifling creativity and making it harder for genuine female talent to usurp the male-dominated status quo and make their voice heard. That all changed in 1963 when Goldie and the Gingerbreads were signed to Decca and rock ‘n’ roll took a giant progressive leap forward.

In 1962, a singer by the name Genya Zelkowitz (later known as Genya Ravan) descended into the bowels of a New York rock club. The sight she was greeted with was a rarity. Richard Perry’s band The Escorts were playing and behind the sticks that night was a female called Ginger Bianco. Her riotous performance and unabashed ability to mix it with the boys immediately struck Genya with an epiphany—she would form an all-female band and they would rock as hard as any.

Over the course of the subsequent months, a few members came and went, and recruitment proved difficult. The barriers were obvious—at the time female representation was largely limited in music let alone rock ‘n’ roll. However, by 1964 they had solid outfit together and merely awaited the chance for their tunes to meet with open ears. Thankfully, in New York City, Andy Warhol was open to push art in any progressive area. The socialite became aware of the band and when his friend the fashion photographer and director Jerry Schatzberg threw a party for Baby Jane Holzer, he booked the band.

Tom Wolfe was present and he dubbed it the party of the year and there were enough approving noises from The Rolling Stones members in attendance for the band to find themselves signed to the prestigious Atlantic Records. Thereafter, the group quickly found themselves performing with the likes of The Beatles, The Animals, The Yardbirds and The Kinks. 

During their touring expeditions, they inspire a legion of new females within the crowds to follow in their footsteps. Simply seeing that it was possible to be a successful female rock band proved to be a hugely illuminating notion and slowly the culture of rock ‘n’ roll was changing. Despite this, they were still often promoted as a novelty in the US and as such commercial success evaded them. 

Far Out Meets: Roger Wilson – How we fix the racist music industry

Read More

Nevertheless, it can certainly be said that they walked so that others could run. After all, as Roger Wilson recent told us when discussing Black representation in music, simply seeing someone who could be a potential role model for an underrepresented demographic is enough to get the ball rolling when it comes to inclusion. 

The band may have eventually split in 1968, but Ravan and co had their foot in the door within the industry and many of the members would enjoy careers in the industry. What’s more, they would keep that door open for others and bands like Fanny who soon followed were benefactors of their bold approach to tackling rock ‘n’ roll with femineity at the forefront.