Image Credit: David Corio/Retna LtdPunk lost one of its most important figures when Ari Up passed away yesterday at the far too young age of 48. Scratch that — the loss is all of music’s, regardless of genre. As lead singer of the Slits from the age of 14, Up helped push punk past its primal beginnings toward avant-garde reggae grooves and beyond. The fearless music on Slits albums like 1979’s Cut has continued inspiring artists for decades now.
Ari Up was influential in other ways, too. The punk scene in 1970s London was still largely dominated by men when the Slits began making noise. They changed that dynamic forever, proving that a young, all-female band could have even more attitude and ambition than their macho peers. Up remains a feminist heroine to many today.
For an idea of how highly Ari Up is still regarded by her fellow artists, check out what ex-Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein had to say in a blog post this morning. “The Slits were a life-changing band that made life-changing music,” Brownstein wrote. “What does life-changing mean? It means someone puts a song on a mix tape or throws a record on and you stop dead in your tracks because now, whatever path you were on no longer exists… Not once did a Slits song cease to amaze me, not after repeat listens, literally hundreds of listens.”
We here at the Music Mix are most definitely among the Slits’ many fans. Last summer, EW’s Leah Greenblatt paid tribute to their enduring significance in this space. Check out the Slits’ “Love Und Romance” and their awesome cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” after the jump, and please share your favorite Slits memories in the comments.
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