All hail Goldie/Genya, punk survivor


The Runaways biopic has opened. Parade Magazine’s Personality Parade reports that contrary to popular perception, this was not the first all-girl band (as opposed to singing group.).

That distinction belongs, it says, to Goldie and the Gingerbreads, founded in 1963, toured with the Stones.

Goldie? asks I, sipping black coffee, and then I begin a perilous internet descent.

Goldie Zelkowitz aka Genya Ravan was not just a rock pioneer, she was a rock pioneer twice — she produced seminal punk acts in the 70s (and was a pioneer then just by being a woman producer. So a pioneer three times. At least.)

And yes, she was Jewish. Not just Jewish, but a Holocaust survivor.

From her  autobiography Lollipop Lounge, Ravan recounts her experience producing  70s punk band the Dead Boys:

Then, as we were getting the equipment into Electric Ladyland, I saw the boys had put swastikas all over their cases. I got really mad and read them the riot act. "Guys, you take those swastikas of your cases, or this stops right here. Do you realize your manager [Hilly] is Jewish, your producer — me — is Jewish, and the owner of this studio, who’s doing us all a favor by letting us record at these prices is Jewish?"

One of the Dead Boys says, "I don’t even know what the swastika thing stands for."

I told him. I also told him that the owner of Electric Ladyland had numbers tattooed on his arm in Auschwitz — I had to explain to them what Auschwitz was — and that I’d lost both my brothers and my relatives in Poland to those Nazi fuckers. "So get those fucking things off your equipment."

When they arrived the next week the swastikas had gone.

I’ll bet. Has it ever been better put?

So tip a hat tonight to Genya/Goldie. Here she is singing, "Can’t You Hear My Heart Beat," the Gingerbreads’ single top 40 entry produced by the Animals’ Alan Price. It charted only in the U.K. — it had the misfortune of issuing the same month that Herman’s Hermits, of all bands, also debuted the song.

Recommended from JTA