Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Make way for the Moppets!!

East Coast Girls who Strummed with Style!


(The Moppets in '66)

Back in 1965, four girls came together at Mount Holyoake College, MA to form a band; organised by lead member, Beverly Rodgers. These girls became The Moppets, a name coined originally as a joke by Beverly's father and went on to some limited success, touring colleges extensively on the east coast, releasing a single and featuring in a number of publications before separating at some point in the late 60's. The original line up consisted of band members Phyllis Hess (organ), Beverley Rodgers (lead guitar), Alisa Damon (bass guitar) and Kathie Ross (drums); most of the girls provided the essential vocals!The girls were in constant demand, especially at men's college's!, and toured in a 1957 Cadillac hearse!, which went under the pet name of 'Giraffe,' because, according to Ailsa "it has such a long neck." As you can see from the pictures they really loved the guy! Sometimes the girls would drive hundreds of miles from one gig to the next, and were also renowned for their choice of attire! Here's a quote from the New York Times, which wrote a feature on them:

"At first the girls performed in black turtleneck shirts and stocking and brief, hip-riding gold skirts. "Somehow, I feel they look like Providence townies than Holyoke honeys," a Brown man is alleged to have said while a chaperone on the premise gaped and gasped, "I don't believe it...I don't believe it." But for whatever the reason they have since switched to "more feminine attire," soft, black crepe dressed with sheer blacks stockings and high heels. At Cornell, the boys thought they were great. "They're groovy; everybody's having a groovy time," said John S. McLaughlin, social chairman for Psi Upsilon, who had dropped by with his date."

They earnt around $150 for each performance, playing in colleges such as Cornell, Brown, Wesleyan and Amherst, and performed numbers such as the Boston Monkey and the Philly to great appreciation from audiences! Often stunned that a band of girls could play so good!

(The Moppets with the beloved 'Giraffe')



At some point the band went through a change of lineup, with Phyllis leaving the group and two new members joining the band! These two were Pamela Brandt and another girl called Gretchen Pfeifer.

Sometime in 1967 the band went their separate ways, however the desire to perform had not left some of the members. They, including Pamela and Gretchen, formed the outfit Ariel alongside two women (Anne Bowen and Helen Hooke) and again received press attention and were a popular touring group on the east coast. By 1970, though, the band came to a conclusion and again separated. However Anne reformed and reunited with her former bandmates, Pamela and Helen, to play at a women's festival, this time under the name of The Deadly Nightshade. Due to changing attitude to females in rock, the band managed to secure one of the first deals as an all girl band to a major label, RCA, and went on to release two albums to mixed reviews,... and also managed to fit in an appearance on Sesame Street! The band finally broke up in 1977 after 5 years. Pamela has subsequently become an acclaimed feminist writer.

(Deadly Nightshade in 1974)



In 1997, The Moppets reunited, together with another New England band called The Wombats, for a one off gig at their former university, Mt Holyoke.

(Moppets at Columbia University)

And after all that! Here is the sole Moppets release I know of and own, on Spirit Records...! The A side is a cover of The Supremes "Come See About Me", while the reverse is a cover of The Beau Brummels, "Cry Just a Little". Both are groovy with a great garage edge! Also included are all the pictures below and the article from the New York Times! Hope you enjoy both this and the whack of pictures of the lovely and pinoneering ladies!






The Moppets!










25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Loved seeing this!
I went to Mt Holyoke myself, (early 80s) and heard vague tales once or twice about these girls.

nancykayshapiro.com

cinnamonK said...

Hey! Thanks for the comment, great to hear the girls have had a lasting legacy of some sorts!

pamiami said...

Hi, cinnamonk--
I'm Pamela from The Moppets. I just found this because I was Googling to try to figure out if the band would have any legal trouble doing an MP3 of the 45 ourselves. We want to do it as a tribute to Gretchen, whose last name you didn't know; she just died.
Fyi: Gretchen's last name when she was keyboard player for The Moppets-- and for Ariel, which she and I formed when we went back to Mt. Holyoke-- was Pfeifer. In her later career, as an artist, she used her married last name, Lucchesi. Thanks for the posting!

cinnamonK said...

Hi Pamela! Sorry just discovered you post, but thanks so much for doing so! Really great to hear from one of the band members, of one of my favourite groups in the history of existence! I hope the information posted is somewhat accurate and will edit to correct Gretchen's name. Really sorry to hear of her passing - hope it was peaceful. Herself and your band members were definitely pioneers of the music industry, and the fact you toured in hearse make me smile so much! Great to hear that your still in touch and want to post a tribute to Gretchen - please do let me know of any developments! Did you make any other recordings during the band's history? I've not managed to hear any of Ariel's output yet, but will make it a priority to do so. Thanks so much for your post!

pamiami said...

Hey, good to hear from you-- especially today. I'm on deadline, and totally need to fuck off instead of writing what I'm supposed to.

You're right. The Giraffe was one amazing vehicle. Got a solid 6 miles per gallon! Something was always going dramatically wrong with it, due to the strain of transporting a full five-piece band (the people plus all our equipment-- and we'd sometimes pick up hitchikers)... I remember cruising down the highway on the way to one gig in upper New York state with Alisa lying across the open hood, pouring cans of transmission fluid down the spout on top as it leaked right out the bottom. But it always got us there somehow.

The Moppets only made that one real recording, because we didn't get a record contract until our very last job, which was a few weeks at a club called Otto's Grotto in Cleveland. While we were there, this one-hit wonder band, The Woolies (whose hit was "Who Do You Love?"), came to see us, got enthusiastic, and brought down someone from their record company, ABC Dunhill.

We ended up not signing the ABC Dunhill contract, because our lawyer said it was appalling, but had already started recording in their Chicago studio. So Bob Baldori from The Woolies decided he'd start his own label, Spirit, and release our record on that. Spirit's still operating, actually. But since our bass player Alisa had already left before we made the one record, we never did another.

Ariel never made a record. Back then you didn't do it yourself; you went for a major-label deal, because there weren't even indie labels much less DIY ones. And after Ariel played the Fillmore East, a few majors were interested, but none worked out. A producer from Columbia was interested, for instance, but they ended up telling us that they already had an all-girl band. (Didn't seem to prevent them from signing a zillion all-boy bands... Odd...)

Then we were in the office of an A&R person for Apple America, and a more well-known A&R person stuck his head in the door and said, "Don't sign an all-girl band, Eddie. You'll just have to pay for their abortions."

Then we spent a week recording at MGM in NYC, and were supposed to come back Monday and finish up. But when we got there, the whole studio was deserted, and the offices, too. No people, including our producer. The whole operation had moved to California. We did steal our master tape, but it kinda sucked. Ariel was very pretentious.

Last year, Beverly made some sort of CD from live tapes of Ariel's last job. But I've never listened to it. Too embarrassed. I'd send you a copy, but I don't know how to copy CDs... especially without listening to them.

As for The Deadly Nightshade, we really are going to do some gigs this summer. Haven't heard anything back from the Michigan Women's Music Festival, but we got one gig on Long Island, and are working on another up in western Massachusetts, which is where we were from. Since we played a couple of gigs together just 20 years ago, we're not going to make a big deal out of preparing, but we might get together a few days in advance and practice a couple of times... just not so much that we destroy the delightful spontaneity, you know?

-- Cheers, Pam

pamiami said...

Hey, good to hear from you-- especially today. I'm on deadline, and totally need to fuck off instead of writing what I'm supposed to.

You're right. The Giraffe was one amazing vehicle. Got a solid 6 miles per gallon! Something was always going dramatically wrong with it, due to the strain of transporting a full five-piece band (the people plus all our equipment-- and we'd sometimes pick up hitchikers)... I remember cruising down the highway on the way to one gig in upper New York state with Alisa lying across the open hood, pouring cans of transmission fluid down the spout on top as it leaked right out the bottom. But it always got us there somehow.

The Moppets only made that one real recording, because we didn't get a record contract until our very last job, which was a few weeks at a club called Otto's Grotto in Cleveland. While we were there, this one-hit wonder band, The Woolies (whose hit was "Who Do You Love?"), came to see us, got enthusiastic, and brought down someone from their record company, ABC Dunhill.

We ended up not signing the ABC Dunhill contract, because our lawyer said it was appalling, but had already started recording in their Chicago studio. So Bob Baldori from The Woolies decided he'd start his own label, Spirit, and release our record on that. Spirit's still operating, actually. But since our bass player Alisa had already left before we made the one record, we never did another.

Ariel never made a record. Back then you didn't do it yourself; you went for a major-label deal, because there weren't even indie labels much less DIY ones. And after Ariel played the Fillmore East, a few majors were interested, but none worked out. A producer from Columbia was interested, for instance, but they ended up telling us that they already had an all-girl band. (Didn't seem to prevent them from signing a zillion all-boy bands... Odd...)

Then we were in the office of an A&R person for Apple America, and a more well-known A&R person stuck his head in the door and said, "Don't sign an all-girl band, Eddie. You'll just have to pay for their abortions."

Then we spent a week recording at MGM in NYC, and were supposed to come back Monday and finish up. But when we got there, the whole studio was deserted, and the offices, too. No people, including our producer. The whole operation had moved to California. We did steal our master tape, but it kinda sucked. Ariel was very pretentious.

Last year, Beverly made some sort of CD from live tapes of Ariel's last job. But I've never listened to it. Too embarrassed. I'd send you a copy, but I don't know how to copy CDs... especially without listening to them.

As for The Deadly Nightshade, we really are going to do some gigs this summer. Haven't heard anything back from the Michigan Women's Music Festival, but we got one gig on Long Island, and are working on another up in western Massachusetts, which is where we were from. Since we played a couple of gigs together just 20 years ago, we're not going to make a big deal out of preparing, but we might get together a few days in advance and practice a couple of times... just not so much that we destroy the delightful spontaneity, you know?

-- Cheers, Pam

Anonymous said...

Hey, good to hear from you-- especially today. I'm on deadline, and totally need to fuck off instead of writing what I'm supposed to.

You're right. The Giraffe was one amazing vehicle. Got a solid 6 miles per gallon! Something was always going dramatically wrong with it, due to the strain of transporting a full five-piece band (the people plus all our equipment-- and we'd sometimes pick up hitchikers)... I remember cruising down the highway on the way to one gig in upper New York state with Alisa lying across the open hood, pouring cans of transmission fluid down the spout on top as it leaked right out the bottom. But it always got us there somehow.

The Moppets only made that one real recording, because we didn't get a record contract until our very last job, which was a few weeks at a club called Otto's Grotto in Cleveland. While we were there, this one-hit wonder band, The Woolies (whose hit was "Who Do You Love?"), came to see us, got enthusiastic, and brought down someone from their record company, ABC Dunhill.

We ended up not signing the ABC Dunhill contract, because our lawyer said it was appalling, but had already started recording in their Chicago studio. So Bob Baldori from The Woolies decided he'd start his own label, Spirit, and release our record on that. Spirit's still operating, actually. But since our bass player Alisa had already left before we made the one record, we never did another.

Ariel never made a record. Back then you didn't do it yourself; you went for a major-label deal, because there weren't even indie labels much less DIY ones. And after Ariel played the Fillmore East, a few majors were interested, but none worked out. A producer from Columbia was interested, for instance, but they ended up telling us that they already had an all-girl band. (Didn't seem to prevent them from signing a zillion all-boy bands... Odd...)

Then we were in the office of an A&R person for Apple America, and a more well-known A&R person stuck his head in the door and said, "Don't sign an all-girl band, Eddie. You'll just have to pay for their abortions."

Then we spent a week recording at MGM in NYC, and were supposed to come back Monday and finish up. But when we got there, the whole studio was deserted, and the offices, too. No people, including our producer. The whole operation had moved to California. We did steal our master tape, but it kinda sucked. Ariel was very pretentious.

Last year, Beverly made some sort of CD from live tapes of Ariel's last job. But I've never listened to it. Too embarrassed. I'd send you a copy, but I don't know how to copy CDs... especially without listening to them.

As for The Deadly Nightshade, we really are going to do some gigs this summer. Haven't heard anything back from the Michigan Women's Music Festival, but we got one gig on Long Island, and are working on another up in western Massachusetts, which is where we were from. Since we played a couple of gigs together just 20 years ago, we're not going to make a big deal out of preparing, but we might get together a few days in advance and practice a couple of times... just not so much that we destroy the delightful spontaneity, you know?

-- Cheers, Pam

Anonymous said...

Hey, good to hear from you-- especially today. I'm on deadline, and totally need to fuck off instead of writing what I'm supposed to.

You're right. The Giraffe was one amazing vehicle. Got a solid 6 miles per gallon! Something was always going dramatically wrong with it, due to the strain of transporting a full five-piece band (the people plus all our equipment-- and we'd sometimes pick up hitchikers)... I remember cruising down the highway on the way to one gig in upper New York state with Alisa lying across the open hood, pouring cans of transmission fluid down the spout on top as it leaked right out the bottom. But it always got us there somehow.

The Moppets only made that one real recording, because we didn't get a record contract until our very last job, which was a few weeks at a club called Otto's Grotto in Cleveland. While we were there, this one-hit wonder band, The Woolies (whose hit was "Who Do You Love?"), came to see us, got enthusiastic, and brought down someone from their record company, ABC Dunhill.

We ended up not signing the ABC Dunhill contract, because our lawyer said it was appalling, but had already started recording in their Chicago studio. So Bob Baldori from The Woolies decided he'd start his own label, Spirit, and release our record on that. Spirit's still operating, actually. But since our bass player Alisa had already left before we made the one record, we never did another.

Ariel never made a record. Back then you didn't do it yourself; you went for a major-label deal, because there weren't even indie labels much less DIY ones. And after Ariel played the Fillmore East, a few majors were interested, but none worked out. A producer from Columbia was interested, for instance, but they ended up telling us that they already had an all-girl band. (Didn't seem to prevent them from signing a zillion all-boy bands... Odd...)

Then we were in the office of an A&R person for Apple America, and a more well-known A&R person stuck his head in the door and said, "Don't sign an all-girl band, Eddie. You'll just have to pay for their abortions."

Then we spent a week recording at MGM in NYC, and were supposed to come back Monday and finish up. But when we got there, the whole studio was deserted, and the offices, too. No people, including our producer. The whole operation had moved to California. We did steal our master tape, but it kinda sucked. Ariel was very pretentious.

Last year, Beverly made some sort of CD from live tapes of Ariel's last job. But I've never listened to it. Too embarrassed. I'd send you a copy, but I don't know how to copy CDs... especially without listening to them.

As for The Deadly Nightshade, we really are going to do some gigs this summer. Haven't heard anything back from the Michigan Women's Music Festival, but we got one gig on Long Island, and are working on another up in western Massachusetts, which is where we were from. Since we played a couple of gigs together just 20 years ago, we're not going to make a big deal out of preparing, but we might get together a few days in advance and practice a couple of times... just not so much that we destroy the delightful spontaneity, you know?

-- Cheers, Pam

cinnamonK said...

Wow, thanks for taking the time (off your deadline!) to relate those tales of the your endeavours! Had no idea that it was one of the Woolies who set up the Spirit label - and for the sole purpose to release your record! Shame you never got the opportunity to record more, "Cry Just a Little" just rips the original apart - and to have been able to seen the band perform live, that would have been something else! The attitude of the music industry to female bands you relay is really telling - I hope times have changed since then!

A Deadly Nightshade reunion sounds fantastic news - unfortunately once more I have no heard the recordings, -- even though there was an actual release this time! -- Man, I really need to jump ship and move to the US, just the opportunity to see the band would make it unmissable! Good luck when the time comes around - but by the sounds of it you won't need it! Anyhow thanks once more for the posts and please do let me know of further news!

pamiami said...

Well, if I ever get the right equipment to transfer the two Deadly Nightshade albums to CD, I'll send them to you.

But frankly, neither of The Deadlies' albums sound much like us. During the times we recorded them (1975-76), it was standard record company policy to use studio musicians instead of having bands play on their own recordings. The bands would usually do the singing, but even then, sometimes they just used the lead singer. (And that wasn't only something that happened to female bands, btw. One fancy-schmancy producer we worked with told us about a recording session where he'd locked the bass player of some really famous band, maybe Arrowsmith, out of the session. He said the guy was trying to kick in the studio door so he could play on his own band's album.)

We did play on our albums, but it was a fight. On one cut on the second album-- a last minute addition of a cover song that the record company decided we needed to put on, so I didn't really know the arrangement; we didn't play it at gigs-- they had Bob Babbitt, a GREAT bass player who was part of Motown's studio band, sitting there in the control room, in case I couldn't cut it. I did, but talk about pressure! Actually, Anne did give up and sit out playing that song. It was just Helen, me, and a bunch of fancy studio cats.

And on both albums, even though we all did play our own instruments, there were a zillion supplemental studio musicians. The Deadly Nightshade was just a three-piece band, see. And even though we were a dance band live, supported ourselves playing four-set-per-night bar gigs where you'd get killed if the audience couldn't dance to you, we did not have a drummer. (I had humongous taps on my boots, stood on a very loud piece of plywood, and stamped really hard on the backbeat or downbeat, whichever got people moving. It was primitive, but it worked.)

RCA/Phantom, our record company, insisted that we record with a drummer, though, to sound normal. Those big old mega-record companies sure did like their bands to sound like every other band. So we recorded with Steve Gadd, Rick Marotta, and a couple of other drummers that everyone was using then.

And for that reason, they also got in lots of other fancy studio players. The Brecker Brothers played horns on some cuts; Eric Weissberg played banjo; Leslie West played guitar on a couple of cuts (even though Helen and Anne played, too); Felix Cavalieri, who produced the first album, played keyboards... The string section of the New York Philharmonic played on one cut!

Those are some great musicians. But needless to say, the resulting recording did not sound like our band, which was basically just very danceable and pretty kamikaze rough-edged... and extremely loud. (One time during a sound check, an engineer measured my bass alone at 123 decibels, which is, I think, a couple of dBs more than a jackhammer. Or at least that's what he told me. He could have been lying, to get me to turn down. As if.)

They prettied up our singing, too. We did good three-part harmony already, but they had us double and triple ourselves in the studio. That smooths out the sound... homogenized, pasteurized singing.

There IS one Deadlies video on You Tube, of us doing an old Carter Family country song (which we did as bluegrass), Keep On the Sunnyside. We did it for Sesame Street, and I have no idea who got ahold of the video or how, but someone did and posted it. Anyway, we just recorded it live in Sesame Street's studio, and the recording quality is pretty dinky, but at least it's just the three of us without the cast of thousands or vocal sweetening.

cinnamonK said...

Hi Pam - apologies once more for such a belated response! But again the recollections you provided are jnust wonderful to read. Never realised the quagmire the recording process could be - makes me want to check out the records even more now! Actually have you seen this item on eBay http://tinyurl.com/2dx8mx ? It appears to be a radio show promo LP of the group - so was wondering if that might contain live recordings and/or interviews of you guys? Looks amazing none the less! So too was that clip on YouTube - Thanks again for sharing your memories!

Paul said...

Not sure if Pam meant to imply that Spirit Records was originally created just to release a single by THE MOPPETS. That may be true, but if so, the release must have been delayed a bit, as it didn't come out until after the Spirit release of YOU HAVEN'T SEEN MY LOVE by DANNY HERNANDEZ AND THE ONES.

Also, though I don't believe SUPERBALL charted nationally, it should be noted that THE WOOLIES had a solid regional hit with this incredible, raunchy-for-its-time, garage rocker inspired by the child's lullaby "Hush, Little Baby" (or Inez and Charlie Fox's "Mockingbird", if you prefer).

Anonymous said...

A Memory for Gretchen.

I remember seeing Ariel playing at several clubs in Vermont - and then at the Fillmore. Gretchen used to sing "Go Now" and "Monday, Monday" - she was a really nice person. So very sad to hear she has died.

pamiami said...

Hi, all--
Thanks for the comments. It's surprising, but terrific, to hear that there were still some Moppet tales going around Mt. Holyoke in the 1980s... I suppose the reason is that the gouges we made in the athletic field, driving the fully-loaded Giraffe (our equipment hearse) over it during mud season 15 years before, were still there? I always wondered about the lasting damage we did. The campus cops had to tow us out frequently.
It's especially good to hear that someone from Vermont remembers Gretchen's voice. She was indeed a memorable singer-- with a very unusually mature (for her age then, 20-22) husky voice-- and a real solid keyboard player, too. That was real important to her-- to all of us-- because back then, the role of women in bands was supposed to be just to sing, not play those loud, rude electric instruments.
And Paul, yes you're right about Spirit. Bob Baldori already had the label and, though it was new, had recorded The Ones a short time before the Moppets. I'd forgotten that because to me, the striking thing was that he recorded us before he recorded himself on his own label (because of the Woolies' legal obligation to their big fat major label). Indie labels weren't the way to go in those times for bands that, like the Woolies, had it together enough to interest a major establishment label; indies were seen as akin to vanity publishing houses. Few talented musicians had the vision back then to realize that indie labels, rather than being for losers, were the key to creative control and the wave of the future... Nor did most have the practical smarts to do something about that. Bob Baldori was a good decade ahead of his time with Spirit.
As for my referring to The Woolies as a "one hit wonder" band: I think it's terrific that there are people out there who are into esoterica like records that charted regionally half a century ago. Heck, if there weren't people out there who are into much more obscure esoterica than that, no one at all would remember the Moppets. But The Woolies did only have the one national hit. They show up on One Hit Wonder compilation recordings; they're played whenever some radio station DJ has a theme One Hit Wonder radio show; and that's how most people know the band. So I was just being realistic. Believe me-- as someone who's had numerous No Hit Wonder bands-- it's not an insult.

Anonymous said...

oh can you please repost this? i would love to hear it! i also went to MHC and am a rocker myself. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey, this is Pam from the Moppets/Ariel/Deadly Nightshade again. I just got a notice about the note from the other rock player who went to Mount Holyoke. (It looks like you may have posted it before, earlier this year, but I didn't get a notice about it, honest. Sorry. My server is wonky-- sometimes transmits mail to me, sometimes sends it... I don't know where.)

Anyway, I'm really curious. Who are you? When did you go to MHC? What do you play? Wanna be in a band?

The Deadly Nightshade did get it together to play a couple of gigs earlier this summer, one of them in back in the Pioneer Valley, at the Institute for the Musical Arts. It sounds dauntingly dignified, but is actually mostly a grrrls' rock camp, run by June Millington (from Fanny, one of the few other female bands in the 1970s to have a major label deal) and her partner. Both gigs could not have gone better! In fact, we decided to revive the band again, are writing new songs, booking new jobs, getting together a website, etc.

But the thing is: Originally, what we wanted to do up in western MA is put together a joint concert with some other kick-ass female band, one that currently plays up there. And we asked around to try to find one. But we were told repeatedly that there aren't any female rockers playing there now. One person told us that all the younger women are into poetry slams.

So I'd really like to know what's your story!

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Sophie1985 said...

Can you please send it to swinging60ies@aol.com?? Thanks a million!

Anonymous said...

I was a friend of Alice Kinzie's when she lived in central Vermont. I Was listening to some of her recordings for children just today, and realized how much I miss her. What a voice! Barbara

ronnie said...

I am sorry to report that Alisa Damon passed away Friday August 5 2011. She was a wonderful person and enjoyed life so much.

Cheryl said...

Just wanted to let you all know that a dear friend, Alice Damon passed away a few weeks ago. I didn't know her long but we became fast friends through our dogs. She was an amazing person! It was a pleasure hearing some of her wild tales.
Cheryl

Pokey said...

Hey, Pam, saw your group's song on video, sorry about Gretchen..one of many all girl bands that didn't get the big success they needed..read all about the Giraffe..

Steve.

Pokey said...

And sorry about Alisa who I just read about on this page..:(

Pamela Robin Brandt said...

Thanks to all of you who have left remembrances of Alisa Damon and Gretchen Pfeifer, as they were known back in the Moppets' day.

Gretchen became better known as Gretchen Lucchesi (the name of her ex-husband Peter, to whom she was married only to early 30s, when she divorced and relocated to Maine to teach at Unity College, but she'd already gained a reputation as a fine artist under that name by then). Although she gave up playing after Ariel, the band succeeding The Moppets, Ariel did have an informal reunion a year or two before Gretchen died, at which we did a set of old songs. It was great playing with her again, and she sounded like that riding-a-bicycle saying-- once you learn, you never forget).

Alisa Damon (known for quite a long time with the last name Kinzie, her first husband Billy's name) went back to her own last name after the divorce in the late 1990s. The name Alisa was actually only something she used in her college and Moppet years, and for awhile after while living in Vermont... One of those parental rebellion things and/or early-adult self-definition things where you make up your own name that sounds cooler, you know? (I tried it, too, but cooler nicknames never stuck to me, drat it.) Anyway, by and by she got over it, and went back to Alice, which was her mom's name. Alice never stopped playing and has a body of recorded work. Still, I've always regretted that waaaaay more people didn't get to hear her play and sing. She was an extraordinary bass player, and had possibly the most gorgeous voice-- no affectation, just pure beauty-- I've ever heard.

I'm writing about all this name change stuff just because I want these two wonderful musicians remembered under whatever their names were at various points in their lives, and in a digital age... well, you know. Links between names, blahblahblah.

At Mount Holyoke, students/grads have long been known as "Uncommon Women"; it's the college's most popular bumper sticker, and was even back when the Moppets were in school there. I always loved that, because then the ideal for women was to be normal, not unusual. Gretchen and Alice were Uncommon Women back then, and remained so all their lives. Please do share more memories, and help keep them alive by introducing others to the work they left behind.

-- Pamela Robin Brandt (lead guitar, The Moppets; bass, Ariel and The Deadly Nightshade)

Unknown said...

Hi CinnamonK and others:
Beverly Rodgers, here, founder of the Moppets and member of Ariel (rickenbacker 12-string, some keys) ...I write with the sad news of Pam Brandt's passing in late July of this year 2015, of a sudden and completely untimely heart attack. She was a witty, funny, celebratory person with a lovely voice and great charisma - The remaining members of the Moppets: myself, and Kathie Campbell(drummer) and of Ariel: Helen Hooke and Anne Bowen(drummer) are still reeling from the shock of her loss.
I remember in the early Moppet days, we 5 with probably 60 or so collective years of classical piano lessons, had to decide who would play what rock instrument...and Pam being the youngest got stuck with playing lead guitar, at my insistence!! - and she took it on assiduously. After the Mops had played many colleges and clubs on the east coast, we were sent by our agent, William Morris to Cleveland Ohio to play 6 weeks at the Statler Hilton's "Ottos Grotto", a basement dive where we ran into many great bands: the Lovin Spoonful, Pacific Gas and Electric, Tom Rush and even James Brown, many of which were there to play the "upbeat" TV show, as did we. So there is a big hole in our hearts for the loss of all 3: Gretchen, Alice and now Pam - but I do believe none of us would regret the times and love we shared during those golden years. As for Ariel, I do take issue with Pam;s comments about us being a "pretentious" band...after all who else would insert an instrumental interlude of "March of the Siamese Children" into the Sagittarius hit of 1970:"My World Fell Down"....I ask you?