David Bowie once said that “One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. And that is Fanny… Revivify Fanny and I will feel that my work is done.” So Bowie would have been gratified to see the release of Fanny Walked the Earth, a reunion album that recaptures the fire and fury of Fanny’s early Seventies heyday. It’s a delight to hear three women approaching their 70th birthdays rock this hard.
“Fanny had a sound that was big, raunchy and well defined,” guitarist June Millington notes. With her abundant white mane and contagious zeal, Millington is both a rock legend and a pioneering feminist icon. At the dawn of the Seventies, her band blazed a trail for women in rock with a series of hard-hitting albums and stadium-razing live shows.
Fanny wowed crowds opening for high-profile headliners Jethro Tull, Slade and Humble Pie, and they had no problem garnering the respect of fellow rock musicians. But the record industry of the time wasn’t always on board, and Fanny fizzled amid a string of personnel changes.
“You couldn’t even say we were in a male-dominated world,” she recalls of those days. “It was beyond that. We were invisible!” Frustrated, Millington left the group in 1973, but has presided over several reunions and regroupings in the years since, usually in conjunction with her sister, bassist and leather-lunged vocalist Jean Millington. In 1986, June founded the Institute for Musical Arts, which conducts an annual Rock and Roll Girl’s Camp in Northampton, Massachusetts.
The current Fanny reunion grew out of a tribute to Millington at Northampton. Soon after, they were in the studio recording Fanny Walked the Earth. On one track, “When We Need Her,” they are joined by former Runaways singer Cherie Currie, Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s and Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson of the Bangles.
Sadly, Jean Millington suffered a stroke shortly after the album was completed. But June says her sister will survive and is determined to hit the road with Fanny as soon as she is able.
“Our band mantra,” says June, “was always We Will Not Fail!”