Overshadowed power trio

Rock Goddess are a British metal act who often got left in the lurch by the media because of Girlschool.

Here is a biography taken from the sleeve notes of their rare first album…

What were you doing when you were nine years old? Conquering the world as Superman/woman or maybe you were just going to be the next president of the United States. Or, then again, the fortune-chasing leading leader of a rock ‘n’ roll band. For most, it’s true, such fantasies consist of nothing but thin air. But the Turner sisters of Wandsworth, South London weren’t content merely to dream. Thus, 1977 saw Jody and Julie plus Jody’s schoolmate Tracey Lamb (all aged a mere 13, nine and 13 respectively) getting to grips with the intricacies of electric guitar along with the physical demands of the drum kit to begin the seeds of what, even in those punk-minded days, could only be considered a powerhouse of modern metal music.

Certainly, the girls had an advantage over their peers. Jody and Julie’s father (now the band’s manager) John Turner ran a music shop so no-one was short on equipment, while his ample number of rehearsal rooms left the threesome plenty of space in which to thrash out their teething troubles.

Even so, it took several years – and experiments with a second guitarist – before the original trio of Jody (lead guitar and singing/yelling), Julie (drums) and Tracey (bass) evolved into a solid no-nonsense band. Aptly, they christened it Rock Goddess.

That the girls chose to concentrate on the metal area of rock comes as little surprise considering Jody Turner’s proclaimed admiration for rock’s old school giants as Led Zeppelin. But the fresh approach of Rock Goddess is indicative of a younger strain of imagination for, as the band developed, Britain was waking up to the new brigade of H-M, the Def Leppards and Iron Maidens whose enthusiasm complemented perfectly Jody’s prolific songwriting (she has a ‘back-catalogue’ of more than eighty songs). And then, of course, there was Girlschool.

In fact, it was through the recommendation of ‘School’ drummer Denise Dufort that I first laid eyes on Rock Goddess. They were playing one of their earliest gigs at Clapham’s 101 Club before an obviously impressed audience and my first reaction was tremendous! I mean, this was only the band’s first gig but already the sheer power behind such songs as ‘Satisfied then Crucified’ and ‘Midnight Murderer’ was uplifting to behold. There seemed no way that this mob could fail.

Unfortunately though, there were a few problems. The ageism of the music business took an about turn and Rock Goddess spent an annoying summer waiting for Julie’s fourteenth birthday – and the essential green light. But they didn’t waste the time – instead recording a classy demo and attracting plenty of interest from the press (often through the tireless determination of John Turner).

In the autumn of `81, Girlfriend Records came to the rescue. A small but enterprising unit of women who’d licensed a label through Rough Trade, Girlfriend had the clever idea of recording a compilation of women’s bands, a sampler of the rock consciousness of the fairer sex. And Rock Goddess were invited to contribute. The girls’ track, ‘Make my Night’, quickly became one of the more popular songs when the LP ‘Making Waves’ was released; so much so that they were invited on a short promotional tour of the U.K. where, alongside the punky Gymslips and the off-the-wall Androids of Mu, they braved the fearful blizzards and meagre conditions to cop most of the attention.

I saw Rock Goddess a couple of times on this tourette: both at Dingwalls and in Oxford, their hasty development surprised and delighted me, their music having grown in stature, their visual image far more confident and aggressive. Here, surely, was a band on the verge of signing a deal.

Well, er, not quite. Not until the middle of 1982 did Rock Goddess put pen to contract with A&M Records – and that was after much to-ing and froming- with other companies. So why the long wait?

Quite frankly, prejudice or an awful lot of A&M men afraid to put their money where their mouths were.

They could scarcely condemn but the mere idea of signing a band of dare-I-say ‘novelty’ value. A band comprised of women. Horrors!

A&M, thankfully, were more interested in the music of Rock Goddess; the deal seemed a good marriage of intentions. After all while the company wasn’t known for its exploits in the H-M field, the girls faced no immediate competition for attention within the label. They were one of a kind.

“Heavy Metal Rock ‘n’ Roll” sealed the bond. Along with the excellent slot at Reading Festival where the band blew the balls off higher-billed yet far more dull combos, the single confirmed A&M’s faith and Rock Goddess moved into Jackson’s Studios in Rickmansworth to record their debut LP under the somewhat controversial control of old Girlschool producer Vic Maile.

Fears of a Girlschool copy were unjustified however. Instead, the result was “ROCK GODDESS” – to which I hope you are listening right now! – and a more varied and spontaneous album would be hard to find. For a while Rock Goddess have entered the metal arena at a remarkably early age, they assuredly have the courage, the style and the skill to compete at the fiercest level.

Here is a dossier of sorts which I took from the inner sleeve of the vinyl…

Full name:  Jody Turner
Date of birth: 4.8.63
Place of birth: Chelsea, London.
Height: 5 foot, 6 inches.
Weight: 9 stone.
Colour of eyes: Brown
Instrument played: Guitar and throat.
Type/make of equipment: Live I use 6 4×12 Marshall cabs, 3 Marshall M/V Amp Tops. An LPBQ Overdrive Pedal (electro harmonix) and a Schaller wah-wah pedal. One Gibson Les Paul and one Gibson S.G.

First gig played: 101 Club, Clapham.
Favourite R.G. gig: 2 Marquee dates 11th + 12th Dec `82. Reading `82.
Favourite bands: Rush, Kiss, Y&T, Iron Maiden, Tytan, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Queen, Led Zeppelin and The Who.

Influences: I haven’t really got any major influences but I do listen and learn from all the great bands and guitar players around. I’ve especially learnt a lot from great players like Angus Young, Ted Nugent and Robin Trower.

Best live performance seen: The Who at the Rock Palast (on TV), Y&T at the Marquee, Slade at Hammersmith Odeon and Whitesnake at the H.O.

Most admired male: Pete Townsend, Gene Simmons and my dad.
Most admired female: My mum.
Favourite book: I haven’t got one.
Favourite film: E.T., Tommy and Superman.

Favourite food and drink: Cheese, eggs, chips and crisps. Chocolate milk, vodka & orange, wine, any beer or lager and Pina Coladas.

Favourite place (U.K. or abroad): England.
Birthsign/Superstitions: Leo. I’m not superstitious.
Best experience: Signing our deal with A&M Records.
Worst experience: When my cat hat be put down.
Most admired guitarist: Townsend, Alex Lifeson, David Meniketti, Angus, Chuck Berry, Sammy Hagar, Schenker, Nugent and Trower.

Most admired rock producer: Vic Maile.
Most innovative rock band (in the cause of H-M): Led Zeppelin + AC/DC.

All-time favourite song and why:  Rescue Me by Y&T has a fantastic hook and I especially like the lyrics. I Want You by Kiss because of its powerful chorus. Jacob’s Ladder by Rush because it has a lot of atmosphere and great guitar work by Lifeson.

Favourite R.G. song (and why?): I haven’t really got one particularly favourite. I like playing numbers like ‘To be Betrayed’ and ‘Take your Love Away’, basically because of the tempo and the feel of them.

Ambition: To always be happy, to be successful in all I do and never to be greedy for money.

Full name: Julie Turner
Date of birth: 30.8.67.
Place of birth: Balham.
Height: 5 foot, 2 inches.
Weight: 8 stone, 10.
Colour of eyes: Brown.
Instrument played: Drums.
Type/make of equipment: Tama drums and paiste cymbals.

First gig played: 101 Club, Clapham.
Favourite R.G. gig: Marquee.
Bands/influences: Y&T, Queen.
Best live performance seen: Y&T at Reading.
Most admired male: Roger Taylor, Leonard Haze.
Most admire female: Pat Benatar.
Favourite book: Godfather, The Rats.
Favourite films: Poltergeist, E.T., Jaws 1 & 2, The Girl Can’t Help It, Jesus Christ Superstar and West Side Story.

Favourite food and drink: Anything!
Favourite place (U.K. or abroad): England.
Birthsign/superstitions: Virgo. No superstitions.
Best experience: Signing to A&M Records.
Worst experience: Having my cat put down.
Most admired drummer: Roger Taylor, Leonard Haze.
Most admired rock producer: Vic Maile.
Most innovative rock band in the cause of H-M: Black Sabbath.
Ambition: To be very successful and to have money!

Full name: Tracey Lamb
Date of birth: 17.6.63
Place of birth: Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham.
Height: 5ft, 4 inches.
Weight: 7 stone, 10 lbs.
Colour of eyes: Blue.
Instrument played: Bass guitar.
Type/make of equipment: 2 Ampeg SUT Cabs, 1 Ampeg SUT Cab, 1 Peavey Amp (Series 400 BH), 2 Fender Jass Bass’.

First gig played: 101 Club, Clapham.
Favourite R.G. gig: Marquee 22.1.83, Reading Festival `82.
Favourite bands: Black Sabbath, Free, Bad Company, Whitesnake, AC/DC and Y&T.
Best live performance seen: AC/DC and Y&T at the Hammersmith Odeon.
Most admired male: Steve Harris, Harrison Ford.
Most admired female: Suzi Quatro, Jane Fonda.
Favourite book: Jaws, Death Tour.

Favourite film: Omen, Rocky, Jaws, Close Encounters, E.T., Raiders and Superman.
Favourite food & drink: Roast chicken, hot dogs, pizza, vodka & lemonade.
Favourite place (U.K. or abroad): Haven’t been to enough places to judge yet.
Birthdate/superstition: Gemini (no superstitions).
Best experience: Playing live and signing to A&M Records.
Worst experience: When our van broke down on our last tour and we had to carry heavy suitcases and bags around with us for the rest of the tour on trains and coaches.

Most admired bassist: Steve Harris, Neil Murray, John Entwistle and Suzi Quatro.
Most admired rock producer: Vic Maile, Martin Birch.
All-time favourite rock song (and why?): Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper is one of my favourites because it has a great atmosphere to it, the guitar solo is excellent and the arrangement of the song is very impressive. Another one of my favourites is Don’t Wanna Lose and Rescue Me by Y&T because I especially like David Meniketti’s voice on these and they both are performed really well by the band.

Most innovative rock band (in the cause of H-M): Led Zeppelin.
Favourite R.G. song (and why): Heartache is one of my favourites because I especially like the way it starts and then goes into the chorus. I also think the song has a lot of light and shade, which is important. I always enjoy playing this song. One Way Love & Back to You are my two favourites for stage. They are full of energy and I always love playing them.

Ambition: To be very successful in all I do.

What Jody said about the songs for the first album’s inner sleeve (which came with a poster that is this article’s seventh image):

Heartache: “The song’s quite a recent one with a fairly simple storyline about trying to forget someone but being unable to. All of my songs are love songs actually; I don’t know why but they almost always seem to be about love. I mean, a lot of bands write about politics or whatever…but I don’t.”

Back to You: “You see, if you read through the titles of the songs on the first side of the album, it runs like a story. Very strange, I never noticed before! This is about a couple who keep breaking up, over and over again but always ending up back together again. Is it personal? Well, a lot is about an old relationship but this song, like most of them, is only partly personal. I write songs better if I’m inspired by something – something that happened maybe – but, as I write, I add my own imagination.”

The Love Lingers Still: “Again, this is a bit like Heartache, about losing someone you love but being unable to forget…commercial but I think the commercial side of our songs is important. Rock Goddess is a heavy metal band but we want to appeal to people outside of it so good songs are essential.”

To be Betrayed: “We wanted this song to have a sort of biblical atmosphere. It’s about being betrayed by a bloke but there’s a kind of comparison with the way that Jesus was betrayed, hence the big harmony thing in the middle. One of the funny things about working with Vic (Maile) is that he records when you’re not expecting it, when you’re experimenting. But we got some good ideas out of it. All of the band agree this is one of our favourite tracks.”

Take your Love Away: “The title says it all really. Telling a bloke that you onced loved him and needed him you’ve come out of the other end of the relationship, it’s the ‘dawning of a new life’.”

My Angel: “This is about young love, 13 or 15 or maybe a bit older. On stage, it’s turned out to be our anthem. Aside from the actual lyrics, we tend to call all the people in the audience our ‘angels’. It’s literally a pet name.’

Satisfied then Crucified (Tracy – “I love playing this song. I think we’ve always started the set with it, it’s so full of energy.”): “It’s about a guy who’s two-faced, a bit schizo; one moment he loves you, the next he hurts you. Hey, all this makes it sound like I really have it bad! These are not biographies!”

Start Running: “I like this one because I can make my voice really heavy and aggressive, there’s a real personality in it. You know, sort of ‘get on your bike and run for your life, you pig!’.”

One Way Love: “Another love song. God, sometimes I wish I had written about cars!”

Make my Night: “It’s just saying ‘come on and make my night for me’; take me to a restaurant and…you know! I mean, lyrics like that are so much better than I love you and birds fly in the sky, all that sort of thing.”

Heavy Metal Rock ‘n’ Roll: “A cliché? No! It’s all the ‘I love you’ songs that are clichés. With lyrics like ‘it’s better than love, it’s better than sex’ that’s my way of saying that I put music before everything else – we all do. I like other types of bands such as Squeeze, The Who, Rush (who I listen to a lot)…but what it all boils down to is how much all of the band love heavy metal.”

Their 2017 reunion album (It’s More than Rock and Roll) came out too late. They should really have done it near the end of the last decade because that’s when metal experienced a mainstream renaissance.


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