All-girl bands: San Diego’s history of chick-rock groups

A selection of groundbreaking girls from the Local Music Database

The Rosalyns
  • The Rosalyns

Among the 3,700-plus band pages in the Reader’s Local Music Database, there are a surprising number of local-centric all-girl groups. Occasional Rugburn Gregory Page is actually the son of a member of one of the UK’s first all-girl ensembles from the early '60s, the Beat-Chics, which featured his Irish mom Moy Page and opened a couple of shows for the Beatles!

“I was a small chap sitting on Paul McCartney’s knee,” says Page. “Mum knew all along I was going to grow up and become a musician.”

The Cockpits

The Cockpits

The Cockpits were a new wave/punk band, featuring Shawn Kerri (later known as a cartoonist) and guitarist Joyce Rooks, a local black girl. “I joined the Cockpits in 1978 by answering a Reader ad,” recalled Rooks in 2010. “I had a guitar and amp and a cello, which I kept hidden as it didn’t seem punk rock enough at the time. The Cockpits played their first gig at Porter’s Pub at UCSD, opening for the Alley Cats, one of the coolest L.A. punk bands.”

Later becoming co-ed, they recruited drummer Dan McClain, aka Country Dick Montana (Beat Farmers). They played punk-friendly venues like the North Park Lions Club, opening for headliners like the Penetrators and DFX2, though the band ultimately only lasted around three years. The Cockpits essentially changed members and morphed into a new group called the Dinettes, also originally an all-girl lineup.

The Dinettes

The Dinettes

Formed in Spring 1979, the Dinettes were fronted by singer/songwriter Doriot Negrette. Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley booked the group for his Battle of the Girl Bands at the Coo Coo’s Nest in Costa Mesa in late 1979, expressing interest in signing them to some unspecified label or rep firm. However, the band’s constant lineup shifts, and an aggressive fast-talking manager named Gene King led Fowley to instead pine for local Girl Talk singer Lauralei Combs (though they never signed a deal).

The band also played at the first Western Front punk festival in San Francisco, organized by Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. In late 1979, the band released a single recorded at Accusound, “Poison” b/w “T.V.” They also recorded demos at Straighta Head Sound, and a live tape was later circulated from a November 1979 gig at the Deaf Club in San Francisco (which is indeed for deaf people). Rooks split in 1980, and the Dinettes later allowed men to integrate the group, though they ultimately split for good around 1981, just before opening for Joan Jett in Atlanta.

Several Dinettes were interviewed on camera in 2010 for a documentary film on vintage local garage bands called Garageland, spearheaded by journalist and local music historian Eric Rife. That film will have its world premiere at the Casbah on January 26.

Founded in 1980, Everybody Violet played all-original music, attracting plenty of local press attention and catching the eye of L.A. record producer Greg Shaw, who considered signing the band to his own boutique label. However, before they could convene in the studio with Shaw, the group split. Several members reconnected in winter 2008, while Kristi Maddocks (Eris Sisters, Blues Gangsters, Burlap & Pearl, Café Du Nord) was celebrating her recovery from a massive brain injury.

Over twenty years after the band last worked together, Everybody Violet reunited for a local performance in 2009 with three one-time members: drummer Joey Miller (Noise 292, the Injections), guitarist/vocalist Carina Burns-Randolph, and lyricist and lead singer Kristi Maddocks. They were augmented by David Flemminger (the Answers, the Mirrors, Lemons are Yellow, the Blues Gangsters) on guitar and keyboards, Kristin Martin (Noise 292, Lemons Are Yellow) on bass and vocals, and classically trained Heather Vorwreck on cello and violin (the Comeuppance).

Formed in 2005, Runhoney was formed by drummer Emily O'Bannon and singer Sarah Harmel, who originally planned to be a duo in the White Stripes mold. They were later joined by singer-guitarist Maria Naccari-Beahan and bassist Megan Jane, who won an L.A. Music Award as Best Bassist. Drummer Emily O'Bannon appeared in the November 24, 2009 episode of the TV show Glee, playing the drummer for a rival band competing with the Glee crew, the Jane Adams School for Delinquent Girls Band.

The Groove Kitties

The Groove Kitties

The Groove Kitties is an all-star group featuring Cathryn Beeks (Ghandi Method), Marcia Claire (Coyote Problem), Becky Fleming (the Ordeal), Garrison Bailey, and Nancy Bee “I used to play in a female trio with Nancy about ten years ago,” says Beeks. “We randomly reconnected and started hashing out plans for this group.”

The quintet debuted in November 2010, performing for over 10,000 people at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. “We’re funky, folky, rocky, and bluesy,” says busy bassist and frequent San Diego Music Award nominee Marcia Claire. “It all depends on what mood we’re in on any given day. I prefer the funk, but that’s just me.”

“Our music runs the gamut of styles and genres,” says Beeks. “However, the common ground is the groove. As an added component of our live shows, we feature a different female songwriter at random events, backing them on a few of their songs and having them rock out with ours.”

The Rosalyns sport their own all-star lineup, with a roster that has included Anja Stax/Diabolik (the Loons), Lety Mora (Schitzophonics), Diana Death (Chinese Rocks, El Vez), Birdy Bardot (New Kinetics), and Amy Gore (Gore Gore Girls). The group first convened in late May 2013 at the Casbah, to play at the 30th anniversary party for local underground rock 'zine Ugly Things.

San Diego has also been home to female acoustic duos like the Lovebirds, the jazzy lady sax symbols of the Saxations, and the formerly-local girl grads of the Dum Dum Girls, among over two dozen other all-girl ensembles.

So, do you know or have a band that you’d like to see included in the Local Music Database? To add or edit a page, begin at Band Page Edits.

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