October 22, 2010
I haven’t written in this blog for over a year, but am compelled to do so now, partly because I don’t have anywhere else to post this. Ari Up just died and it makes me extremely sad. She was the lead singer of the Slits, a band she started when she was only 14 years old. She’s one of my heroes.
I got to meet Ari Up once, at a punk festival in a small seaside resort town in England. The Slits played early in the afternoon on the first day so I had to make special arrangements to make sure I got to see them. There wasn’t much of an audience there yet, but the few of us that saw them were pressed up to the stage dancing around. She was so vibrant, jumping around the stage, her hugely long dreadlocks bouncing atop her head. I came up to her after the show. I told her how much her music, and her personality was an inspiration for me. We also talked about sandwiches.
I think that you might have to be a girl to really appreciate Ari Up. She wasn’t a Typical Girl. She showed us how you could be a rock star without adopting a macho, male-oriented attitude; how to screech and squeal, jump and scream, run and play. She adopted dub reggae and punk into a style totally different than what was played at the time and kept it up throughout her life. She was totally genuine. She was regal…with a cascade of gnarly dreadlocks crowning her. And the Slits could play reggae like the Clash only dreamed of. Seriously.
It’s hard to stay sad when listening to the music; it’s so full of youth, mischief, playfulness.
Put the cheddar in me pocket / put the rest under the jacket / talk so the cashier won’t suspect / and if he does… and if he does… / DO A RUNNER! / DO A RUNNER! / Ten quid for the lot / We paid fuck all / Babylon in the end won’t lose much / and we’ll have dinner tonight…
She’s one of those people that you never doubted that she stayed true to herself always. She will be seriously missed.