Maggie Nicols and Contradictions filmed oral history conducted as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Music & Liberation project. Interviewed by Deborah Withers and filmed by Emma Thatcher.
For a discussion with Maggie and other women musicians from the LMC click on London Musicians Collective news, 1992, ‘Women Talking’
‘The older I get, the more passionately I believe in the revolutionary power of creativity.’ ~ Maggie Nicols, December 2010
‘My background includes that of dancer, guitarist, songwriter, and lead singer with Ballet Rambert’s production “Cruel garden” performed throughout the UK and Europe.
In the ‘80’s I produced five albums of original songs, performing them worldwide. In the ‘90’s I wrote and performed in the dance drama “About Time”, and the musical play “Mrs Columbus Speaks Out”, touring them widely throughout the UK and Ireland. I was Musical Director for Banner Theatre and Telling Tales Theatre Co, and composed the music for Conundrum Dance Company’s “Women Unbound”. I was tutor at Lumb Bank and ran workshops at several British universities.
In 2000-2007 I gave concerts of my work at Morley College and other theatre venues; I composed the music for an oral history exhibition for Hounslow Community Services and was commissioned by The London Borough of Enfield to compose music based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth to be used throughout schools in Enfield. I composed and recorded the music for the Creative Partnerships’ project ‘Joseph’s Story’ and for 9 creative dance/drama projects under the umbrella of “Dancing Stories” used in Primary Schools in North London and Hertfordshire.
I cannot multi-task. Whatever I am doing – it’s 100%. I have lived for 77 years so far and have done so many things there are too many to mention. However – theatre has been my early paradise: dancing, singing, playing guitar, acting. But paradise changes as you grow older, so now, paradise is many things – making music in my loft room, being in my garden, spending time with my good friends and my beloved family.’
Maria gained London’s 2009 Senior Learner of the Year Award for her achievements using music production software. ‘Learning new technology makes me feel I am still an active member of this fast world.’
Martha and Eve
We hope to post information about Martha Lewis and Eve Polycarpou, (previously known as Donna & Kebab and Donna & kbb in their incarnation asaward-winning British Born Greek-Cypriot music/comedy duo) here soon!
The Mint Juleps 1984 ~
Acapella group from East London: sisters Sandra, Debbie, Lizzie, and Marcia Charles, together with school-friends Julie Isaac and Debbie Longworth
The Mistakes 1978 ~ 1982
Ali West, keyboards, vocals; George Clarke, bass, vocals; Judy Parsons, drums, vocals (1978-80); Linda Gardner, drums, vocals (1980-1981); Mavis Bayton, vocals, guitar; Penny Wood, vocals, guitar, keyboards; Jill Posener, 6th/ non-playing Mistake.
The Mistakes were a feminist pop-rock 5-piece band from Oxford. They were formed after George put an advert in the local newspaper, The Backstreet Bugle, for women to form a band after everyone expressed that they were fed up with dancing to sexist male music at the monthly lesbian disco. 6 weeks after meeting they played their first gig. They performed a few covers, such as My Girl, In The Midnight Hour and Green Onions, and original material created collectively from their different musical influences including Crystal Clear, Rose Tinted Specs and I Don’t Know What To Do About It.
The Mistakes were influenced by a wide range of music including 50s/ 60s music and Boogie Woogie (Penny), political folk (Mavis) and Classical and Pop/ Rpck (Ali), Punk, Reggae, African and 60s music (George) and Judy had a wide range of musical tastes and technical know-how. She ran a rock PA hire company with her husband Jim who acted as sound engineer at the larger mixed gigs and festivals.
‘Romance’ by the Mistakes
Mistakes bassist George Clarke talks about recording with band.
Early practices were held in a print room of an alternative press called the Pauper’s Press Co-operative Ltd. in Bullingdon Rd, Oxford. Songs were written in a variety of ways. Any member felt free to bring any rough ideas or semi-completed songs that the whole band then worked on. Mavis, Penny and Ali wrote most of the lyrics, but all members contributed equally to the whole sound and direction of the band. Judy commented, ‘I remember the horror when someone (I guess Penny) said, “well, who’s written any songs?” We were all meant to write songs! Ugh – I had no idea how to go about writing a song. So I plugged away at it and eventually came up with something. After that I got the hang of writing songs, and I still write them – they just appear in my head from time to time, uninvited.’
The Mistakes decided at the beginning to have an open policy for gigs, making themselves open to many benefits to the different political campaigns the group supported. These included feminist gigs, CND (including a large gig at Greenham Common), Undercurrents, Anti-Nazi gigs, Rock Against Racism. They also played local pubs and mainstream clubs in London like the 101, Rock Garden, the ICA and Dingwalls.
The Mistakes played a large number of women-only gigs including Spare Rib parties, Bisexual conferences and the Women in Manual Trade conference in Nottingham (which was disrupted by taking place in the same venue as a massive punch-up between England and Scotland supporters!) Alongside Newcastle band Friggin’ Little Bits, they appeared on a TV documentary about young lesbians called Veronica 4 Rose (1983), made by Melanie Chait. Here they performed the songs My Girl and That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles filmed live at the Spare Rib Tenth Anniversary Party. During their career The Mistakes played with acts such as Delta 5, Poison Girls, Alix Dobkin, Girlschool, Aswad and Jam Today.
The Mistakes were signed in 1979 by Oval Records that was run by Charlie Gillett. Oval released the Mistakes from their contract because they despaired of the longer time taken to work collectively (Oval then decided to fund the Thompson Twins instead). In 1980 after Jill Posener joined the band as the 6th, non-playing Mistake (or manager), they got signed to Deviant Records who then via Twist and Shout Records released the 7” Radiation b/w 16 Pins recorded at Blackwing Studios, Lambeth during the weekend of the Iranian Embassy siege.
During a summer break Judy Parsons describes how she got offered a temporary drumming job with ‘The Bodysnatchers because they were just about to start a tour with the Specials, Madness, the Selector, UB40 etc but they had just sacked their drummer. So I stood in for the tour. Then they asked me to join them and I said yes, and then the band split up and I helped Penny Leyton (also from Oxford) to form the Belle Stars.’
During this time of upheaval Penny decided to go solo with a band called The Dots. The Mistakes then advertised for a replacement drummer, holding auditions in London and were joined by Linda Gardner from Hackney. The Mistakes performed for just over a year as a four piece. At this time they played a mini tour in Italy where they were rejoined by Penny who, at a memorable gig, crowd surfed into the Italian feminists and wasn’t seen until the next day where a panic ensued at the airport as she didn’t have her passport.
Later George decided to leave to follow her Dub Reggae urges and the band decided to call it a day, recording a live LP at the Caribbean Sunshine Club, Oxford, September 26th, 1981, as a farewell gig. Later Mavis became so concerned about why so few women were playing in bands that she started doing research whilst still in the band and later wrote the book Frock Rock (OUP, 1998), a detailed study about women in the music industry. After The Mistakes Ali left Oxford and got into choral music. She now writes her own choral music as well as directing a choir.
Moonlighters 1984 ~ 1985
Carole Nelson, keyboards and synth programming; Jan Ponsford, vocals; plus
Their album ‘Don’t You Know You’re Part Of The Show?’ was distributed by Ladyslipper, US feminist record distributors.
Tracks from the Moonlighters’ album:
Stop and Listen
Wild Words Damage
Mother Superior August 1974 ~ December 1977
Audrey Swinburne, guitar/lead vocals; Jackie Badger, bass/vocals; Jackie Crew, drums/vocals; Lesley Sly, keyboards/lead vocals.
The group released their album ‘Lady Madonna’ in 1975. From August 1976 they were joined by Kate Buddeke, lead vocals, and Janis Sharp, guitar, and continued with mixed lineups until December 1977.
Watch Mother Superior live on the Mother Superior website’s youtube links
My Mama Told Me So
Benni Lees, Caroline Gilfillan, Laka Daisical, Linda Malone, Ruthie Smith
My Sweetheart’s Tattoo 1989
Ann Day, drums; Deirdre Cartwright, guitar; Jude Winter, keyboards; Sarah P., vocals; Vick Ryder, bass