Fanny :: An Unlikely Candidate For Rock ‘n Roll Obscurity

Fanny is an unlikely candidate for rock 'n roll obscurity. Formed by the Sacramento-via-Manila sister duo of June and Jean Millington along with drummer Alice de Buhr and guitarist Addie Clement, the group, barely out of high school, made a name for itself gigging around the West Coast as The Svelts and Wild Honey in a converted school bus in the late '60s. They spent this time learning from Northern California bands like Cold Blood, and by watching the likes of Janis Joplin, the Dead, and a host of other psychedelic bands springing up around the Bay Area. Their tight live performances of Motown and R&B staples even snagged them a slot alongside Sly Stone. But the girls set their sights on Los Angeles with the classic ultimatum: get signed or go home. At an open mic night at The Troubadour, rumored to be the band’s last stop before calling it quits, Wild Honey caught the ear of producer Richard Perry’s secretary. Perry, who by that time had already produced Captain Beefheart's Safe As Milk and God Bless Tiny Tim, saw the breakout potential in a hard rocking all-female band -- especially one already formed and road-ready -- and quickly convinced Reprise Records to sign the group.

During the preparation of its self-titled debut, the band – now a trio with the departure of Clement – met keyboardist Nickey Barclay (briefly a touring member of Joe Cocker’s band), who rounded out their sound, and changed its name to Fanny, leading to a cheeky marketing campaign from Reprise. 1970's Fanny hinged on the raw live energy of the four-piece and debuted mostly self-penned material. But it also tackled an up-tempo cover of Cream's "Badge" -- fearlessly inviting head to head comparisons with Clapton, Bruce, and Baker -- and did so with a spritely drive. Fanny marked the first major label rock LP exclusively played and sung by an all-female band, and the statement was clear: Fanny wasn't here for the novelty, they were here to be a rock band’s rock band.

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