A Band Called Fanny

Godmothers of Chick Rock

After Nickey joined the band and the album release was imminent, the question of a new name was raised – by the four themselves, by Richard Perry, by their label and by their management, the Blue peacock Company. Everyone felt that what was needed was a woman’s name, something short, memorable and at once feminine and bold. After considering a series of suggestions the band settled on the name FANNY, and the rest was history. June would later explain, “We really didn’t think of [the name Fanny] as a butt, a sexual term. We felt it was like a woman’s spirit watching over us.”

Leading up to and following the band’s first (self-titled) LP release, Reprise Records wasted no time in exploiting the name through promotional photos and advertisements showing the women of FANNY from the back, and distributing bumper stickers urging record buyers to GET BEHIND FANNY, and a later advertising campaign proclaiming FANNY: THE END OF AN ERA. “Both slogans were my doing,” Nickey has said. “I suggested them as a joke, but [manager Roy] Silver and the label took them seriously and ran with them. They certainly got people’s attention… I was also playing on the different slang meanings of the term fanny in America and the UK.”

The band had already attracted serious notice in LA even prior to the release of their first album. As one of the favorite local bands at the Whisky-a-Go-Go, they were booked there so often that it was effectively a residency for them. Fellow musicians and scene-makers including George Harrison, David Bowie, Deep Purple, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Rodney Bingenheimer and Kim Fowley admired Fanny and helped promote the band by word of mouth at the top levels of the music industry, but the public would be slower to “get behind” the band.

While the band’s first album release, FANNY, was groundbreaking in that every note on the album was sung and played by women, the rock press was generally less than impressed. Fanny was mistakenly seen as more of a novelty act than as serious musicians with something to say. One reviewer wrote that the band was “trying too hard.” Fanny was blazing a trail, but most reviewers had no reference point, no basis of comparison for judging a group of women playing rock music.

Fanny would have to become that reference point.

In England, where the word “fanny” is a slang term for a woman’s vagina, the band were hailed as outrageous feminists. But the members of FANNY did not necessarily consider themselves to be feminists, at least not in the early days; they were musicians first and women second, dressing more like the guys, fighting to gain credibility in a man’s medium. Nickey Barclay later talked about the band’s physical image: “We did feel the pressure of having to prove ourselves. When we first started performing, we just went on stage wearing whatever we were wearing. It amounted to us apologizing for being women, shying away from any kind of glamour or attractiveness on stage.” The band’s look became more feminine and stylish once they had proved themselves through the hard grind of international touring.

<<<Previous Page – – – – – – Next Page>>>