If you are ever in the Avondale area of Birmingham check out a place called Bottletree. It is a great place to grab a meal but it is also well know for bringing many different musical acts to the Magic City. Back in 2006, as the club/ restaurant was just getting started, they brought a legendary punk/ reggae band to the city. The group was called The Slits.
The Slits were formed in 1976 and were a support group for bands like The Clash and the Buzzcocks. The founder of the band was Arianna Forster who went by the name Ari Up. She had been performing with the band off and on through the years and was there, dreadlocks and all, at the Bottletree on that cold winter night back in 2006.
Ari Up has died at the age of 48.
I had been a fan of the Slits for years. Being known as one of the first all female British punk bands was in itself something to be proud of. Most people will remember the cover of their LP called Cut. On this debut album, the artwork features Ari and her band mates topless in loincloths yet smeared with mud from head to toe. The front cover became a well known punk image. I remember seeing the album in local record stores like Camelot or Turtles with the price tags in areas to block your view of certain female anatomy.
Arianna Forster was born in Munich Germany in 1962. Her mother, Nora, was well known in the music industry and was a close friend of Jimi Hendrix. Her mother would marry the Sex Pistols’ lead singer, John Lydon ( aka Johnny Rotton) who would be her stepfather. Her godfather was Jon Anderson, the singer from the group Yes.
Forster experimented with music and would learn guitar skills from The Clash’s Joe Strummer. With these skills she formed the band The Slits at the age of 14. The Slits became known for tracks such as “Typical Girls,” “Shoplifting” and their cover of “Heard It Through The Grapevine.”
Ari can be see in The Clash’s movie “Rude Boy” and in “The Punk Rock Movie.”