The Slits were a British punk rock band
. The quartet was formed in 1976 by members of the bands The Flowers of Romance
and The Castrators. The members were Ari Up
(Ariane Forster), who died of cancer in October 2010, and Palmolive
(Paloma Romero, who later left to join The Raincoats
), with Viv Albertine
and Tessa Pollitt
replacing founding members, Kate Korus and Suzy Gutsy.
Palmolive was replaced by the drummer Budgie
(also known as Peter Clarke), formerly of The Spitfire Boys
and later of Siouxsie and the Banshees
Although not all line-ups were exclusively female, the three main female members appeared on most record covers and publicity photos, and the group was generally presented as a female band.
The group supported fellow punk band The Clash on their 1977 White Riot tour along with the Buzzcocks and the Subway Sect. Club performances of The Slits during this period are included in The Punk Rock Movie (1978). In November 1978, The Slits toured with the Clash again on the "Sort it Out Tour" and were joined by The Innocents who opened the shows.
Number One for me at the moment are the Subway Sect. They've got some good ideas. The Slits are good, too. Palmolive on drums! She's the female Jerry Nolan
. But like everyone, they need to do thirty gigs in thirty days and they would be a different group. Then they'd be great. The same with us.
Captured on a Peel Session, the Slits' originally raw and raucous live sound was cleaned up and polished by the time of their debut album. A mixture of reggae rhythms, scratchy guitars, anger and mischief, the Dennis Bovell produced debut album Cut was released in September 1979 on Island Records with Neneh Cherry joining as additional vocalist. The album's sleeve art depicted the band naked, except for mud and loincloths. (Palmolive left before the recording sessions for Cut, partly because she disliked the others' concept for the sleeve).
The Slits' sound and attitude became increasingly experimental and avant-garde during the early 1980s, when they formed an alliance with Bristol post-punk band The Pop Group, sharing a drummer (Bruce Smith) and releasing a joint single, "In The Beginning There was Rhythm" / "Where There's A Will" (Y Records), followed by a bizarre, uncommercial, untitled album of mostly homemade demo recordings, and a few more singles. The band toured widely and released another album, Return of the Giant Slits before breaking up in early 1982. Ari Up went on to be part of the New Age Steppers.
Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt reformed the band with new members in 2005, and in 2006 released the EP Revenge of the Killer Slits. The EP featured former Sex Pistols member Paul Cook and Marco Pirroni (formerly of Adam and the Ants, and Siouxsie and the Banshees) as both musicians and co-producers. In fact, Cook's daughter Hollie is a member of the current line-up, singing and playingkeyboards. Other members of the reformed band were No (of The Home Office) on guitar, German drummer Anna Schulte, and Adele Wilson on guitar.
The band toured the United States for the first time in twenty-five years during 2006's 'States of Mind' tour. In 2007, they toured Australia as well as returning to the US, where they opened for Sonic Youth at New York's McCarren Park Pool. In their first ever visit to that country, the band undertook a short tour of Japan in October 2007.
In 2008, the band again toured America. Adele Wilson left the band and No was replaced by the American guitarist, Michelle Hill. In November 2008, the band played Ladyfest in Manchester, and visited London Astoria the following month. In January 2009 The Slits' MySpace page listed former guitarist Viv Albertine as one of the groups current members, however Albertine's own MySpaceblog states that she only rejoined to play two shows.
In January 2009, the Los Angeles based Narnack Records announced they had signed the band to a recording contract. A biography - Typical Girls? The Story Of The Slits by Zoe Street Howe was published in the UK by Omnibus Press in July 2009.
A full-length album entitled Trapped Animal was released in 2009, and the band continued to perform live.
Group founder Ari Up died unexpectedly in October 2010. The band's final work, the video for the song "Lazy Slam" from Trapped Animal, was released posthumously according to Ari Up's wishes.
In October 2010 Viv Albertine announced via Twitter
that she and Tessa Pollitt intend to release the "last ever Slits song", titled "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" from 1981 on cassette tape with hand-drawn covers.