Women in Pop Music 1950’s- Early 1980 Marsh Hunt comparing options available to women in the music industry: “You’ve got to slip in through the side-door, once in do your damage, but you’re kidding yourselves if you think you will get in on your own terms.” (Steward 28) By: Stacy Bartholomee Women in Music Now and Then I researched various women in the music industry from 1950 through the early 1980’s. I will begin with a description of the women and the music industry during these times. I will conclude with the many women that were successful enough to last until present day. However, some of the musicians discussed could not handle the pressure society placed on them, and they are no longer with us. In other scenarios some women refused to conform to the stereotypes and they were forgotten and lost to the music industry… and us. Restrictions to Women 1950’s • Were not allowed to join the Musicians Union • Were not excepted in ballrooms • Restricted to “tea parties” • With all these restrictions some women still tried to be successful in the music industry. • Some of these women included Shirley Bassey and Eartha Kitt (Steward 11, 20) Shirley Bassey • Most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century • Banana Boat song hit the British Top Ten in early 1957, followed by her number one hit As I Love You in 1959 (Bush) • “Her full length dress were sometimes so tight she had to be lifted onto the stage” (Steward 20) 1950’s Music Attire 1950’s was the era of “fan-tailed carapaces encrusted with sequins” and glamorous dresses Women wanted to fit the sophisticated and sexy look that was post war, and they yearned for a “big spender.” (Steward 20) Women musicians felt the need to fit the stereotypes set for them in order to become successful Early 1960’s • Typically all women music groups were a trio or quartet • The name of the groups were essential, they were “clues to the type of music performed.” • The names of the groups usually ended in -elle or –ette (Steward 17, 19) The definition of these suffixes, according to Webster dictionary, is “imitation, substitute or smallness.” In my opinion women music groups were based around the image that the general public set for them. They were also regarded as substitutes or imitations of male groups. The other description still has not changed too much today, female musicians that are pretty and successful are usually smaller then most men. 1960’s Girl Groups The Ronettes Nedra Talley, Ronnie Spector, Estelle Bennett (Wendruck) The The image on the left is Shirelles with their manager, as you can see they “idolize” him. This is the image that men want to see then and now. The Shirelles with Luther Dixon (Wendruck) The Marvelettes Sandra Tilley, Annette McMillan & Carolyn Gill The Velvelettes (Wendruck) Katherine Anderson, Wanda Young, Ann Bogan • These suffixes also described female back-up groups such as: Ike and Tina’s Ikettes and Bette Midler’s Hartlettes (Steward 20) • To the left is a “vintage 34-year-old photo shows the hardest working Lady in Show business,” Tina Turner touring together with Ex-husband Ike and the legendary Ikettes • Tina was not trying to conform to stereotypes her dancing style had been good enough to cause legal problems in the more conservative regions • Her husband was then known as the This was a picture from “creative mastermind” behind Tina the late 1960’s when the Turner (Web62.com) style of clothing was changing to have more sex appeal. (Web62.com) Tina Turner Tina’s husband began to try to control her off stage as well as on. She remained an Ikette for many years. She even admitted to being scared to leave him and their group, and he continued to abuse her. She attempted suicide in 1968, which brought around no real change in their relationship. Her life continued to be in turmoil but Ike and the Ikettes were still turning out hit songs including, “Proud Mary”in 1969. In 1976 Tina finally left Ike and two years later their divorce was final. This was the start of Tina’s solo career. (RollingStone.com) Mid 1960’s • The late 1960’s began the start of Rock’n’Roll. The male groups and musicians began to discard their tie appearance and go for more of a street look. The female groups were still “dressed for a ball.” (Steward 20) This double standard has lasted throughout our society. While women have to be lifted onto stage, in an attempt to please the audience, men can wear whatever they want and still have a receptive crowd. Late 1960’s • The style of clothing worn by female artists begins to change, still in the hope to please the audience, it begins to have more sex appeal • The girl group era waned • Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, another girl group, tried to set themselves apart by “shrugging off the 1960 image.” This included burning their wigs and going for a “natural” look. (Steward 25, 26) Early 1970’s • The sexier image began to become popular, this was made clear to musician, Elkie Brooks • Women were starting out individually to start their musical career • Melody Maker’s conference • Many women throughout this time challenged the traditional stereotypes including Janis Joplin and Patti Smith • Musicians such as Janis Joplin, Mama Cass and Karen Carpenter show the strain of being under the public eye in the 1970’s Elkie Brooks • Sang with group Vinegar Joe • Although she had been singing for a long time she did not become well known until her appearance changed. “Until I started putting myself across sexually, nobody wanted to know.” (Steward 27) (Joynson) Melody Maker’s • The diversity of images between the late 1960’s and early 1970’s lead to the conference, Melody Maker’s. This conference was held in 1972 and was welcome to women performers. The conference asked the women to debate many issues including: the new awareness to looks and women’s sexuality. Marion Fudger, bass-player wrote about conference in the new feminist magazine Spare Rib. (Steward 27) She paid special attention to the images of the 1960’s which were “rock whore and folksong virgin.” Marion Fudger • Feminist View: “Such stereotype vulnerability and passivity could reduce the chances of a woman being taken seriously as an artist” (Steward 27) • I completely agree with this view. If a woman conforms to what is expected of her, her artistic ability is being held back. As an artist or any female the idea of being vulnerable and passive will put you in the typical stereotype placed on women. Other people will not view your opinion as much if you are so influenced by society. Mid 1970’s • Introduction of the “hippie” look (many believe that Janis Joplin started this look) during the 1970’s, was a look of a woman “that did enjoy her sexuality.” (Steward 29) • Hippie look also associated with the unisex look. Many female musicians took to this look including musician, Patti Smith. (Steward 30) • In my opinion female musicians were trying extremely hard to step away from the traditional stereotypes and make a name for themselves. Janis Joplin • One of the most “significant women in rock music at that time.” • Reveled in an image that was not typical to women, heavy drinking, drugs and sex • Janis could not cope with the pressure and died early (Steward 28, 29) Patti Smith • Challenged traditional stereotypes • Encouraged awareness to the connection between how we look and how we view ourselves. • She chose the unisex look and was usually seen wearing baggy men's coats (Steward 29) Mama Cass & Karen Carpenter These two women of the 1970’s epitomized the hardships female musicians had. Both women died of a heart attack at the young age of 32. Mama Cass was due to her being over weight. “Her enormous size had been a public admission to her inability to cope with fame.” Karen Carpenter died from the Mama Cass (Lang) opposite disease, anorexia. Karen Carpenter Both attacks were due to the (Verona) strain they felt from society to conform. Late 1970’s/ Early 1980’s • The punk look began to arise • The rise of Video and MTV • The hippie look waned and there was an emphasis on fashion accessories again • Women were expected to look perfect again (Steward 33) 1980’s Impact of MTV • Music videos do not incite listeners to violence, it does “increase the level of acceptance of violence against women” • MTV generation has “embraced” the women-bashing phenomenon • Music videos and lyrics can give the wrong impression to some people, and they may not be misinterpreting. (Hamerlinck 23) 2000 Successful Women Who Made It! Then Remember Shirley Bassey from the 1950’s? She no longer wears dresses that are too Now tight, and she is known as a Diva in today's music industry. (Bush) Elkie Brooks • Remember her from the 1960’s? She played in Vinegar Joe and commented that when she dressed seductively the crowd began to notice her. From her appearance she may still be conforming to stereotypes, but she is also a successful business woman. Her group split up and she went on to be very successful solo. (Joynson) Now Tina Turner Now • Record for largest paying audience attending a solo performance in 1988 • She was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 Tina remains a star today. • To date sold over 50 After her divorce she began million albums her solo career and it has been worldwide a very fortunate one. (RollingStone.com) Conclusion These 3 women are not the only ones who made it. Many other women succeeded in the music industry, and because of these first musicians, women today do not have as many challenges facing them. There are still issues of stereotypes and trying to conform to what the audience wants. However, I hope that today the audience wants what makes the artist happy, in that way the artist will be performing at their best. If society expects the best performance it should be based on talent not image. In Memory of... • Janis Joplin • Mama Cass • Karen Carpenter • And all those other women that were pressured by society, friends, peers and family, and could no longer handle the stress…the music industry could have been a lot different if these women were still here.