Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kelly Johnson, 1958-2007, R.I.P.

I was saddened to hear that Girlschool singer and guitarist Kelly Johnson recently lost her 6 year battle with spinal cancer. Oddly enough it made me think of Elizabeth Murray. I've lost count of all the times I've had conversations with female artists who--no matter what they thought of Murray's art--spoke of her as an essential influence in their development as an artist. The mere fact that they were teaching Murray in the academy was some kind of quiet encouragement, going against everything they had been taught before in regards to the invisibility of women in art.

Similarly, every woman I know in music usually refers to two bands that let them know that it was possible to be a woman and to rock the hell out--The Runaways and Girlschool. One of my favorite tributes to the power and importance of Girlschool comes from Lemmy of Motorhead. In the excellent documentary, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Lemmy is talking about touring with Girlschool back in the day and about all the shit they would get from the other bands. You know, the typiclal "Well. They play pretty good . . . for girls." Lemmy would look the meatheads in the eye and say, "They play good for a girls? They can play circles around you, mate." 'Nuf said. It was Girlschool, it was in session, and Kelly Johnson was the teacher. Rest in peace.

You can read Lemmy's tribute to his friend here in the Latest News section.


Anonymous said...

Brent, Elizabeth Murray was extremely important to me. Every time I heard her give a talk about her art--it made me feel good and hopeful about painting as a life-long pursuit. She was smart and unpretentious. When she visited my grad. program, the faculty knew how important she was to me, so they invited me to the dinner after her talk, where she sat next to her grade school teacher, who was 85 at the time and she credited her with making her an artist. That was pretty amazing.

Heart As Arena said...

Wow, Peeds. What a touching story. I have to say that this is the only kind of story I've ever heard about her. Supportive and generous. Her heart is missed, even by those, like me, who didn't even know her.