It's very difficult to write about a band where we hardly have any information from. But in the case of WICKED LADY I was willing to make an exception. This band was quite 'famous' - that is, in The Netherlands only - many years ago. So this short story goes back about twenty-five years ago and ends very abruptly in the early eighties. At that time they played numerous gigs at European clubs and they also released three 7" inch singles. But more about that later on Let's start with the formation of these four WICKED LADIES.
Sue Exley forms the band in 1974 in England. In the beginning the band has to cope with some line up changes. That's the way the story goes with starting bands. But finally she gets a more stable line up together, containing herself on guitar and vocals, Jill Warnes on bass and vocals, Sallie Dowle on rhythm guitar and Jan(et) Frazer on drums. Jill switched from guitar to bass to get Sallie in the band. The girls desperately wanted to become a real band and play live on stage. They actually started out as a cabaret group!! Compiling their shows with songs that were high in the charts at that very moment. The band played many gigs on the European continent, in countries such as Germany, Belgium, Spain and The Netherlands. They also played a lot at military bases around these areas. The music of these four ladies cannot be categorised as strictly heavy metal or something, although the band plays hard and looks heavy. They sounded more like a combination of hard rock and new wave, which worked out fine in those days. All of them started to play music when they were still very young of age. Jill started to play classical guitar when she was twelve. Later on, she switched to the electric guitar. Jan started at age eleven and had her first stage experience when she was thirteen. Sallie and Sue started as folk musicians. Another reason why these ladies came to Holland in the first place was because in England they only judged them on their looks. And not on their musical capacities. Only some curious fans checked out their gigs. And people tend to judge all the female bands by only seeing one single band. This is not wise of course. But most of the reactions were positive, Sallie recalls. In Holland however, they had no competition or whatsoever, which was different than in England. But Sue recalls that it was extremely difficult to hold together an all-female line up. Which she did manage for a long time. Financial problems or damaged instruments were never a reason to quit with the band. An attitude which you'll hardly find back nowadays. What else can we say about these four wicked girls? From the cover of one of their first singles we can say that they were dressed in black leather suits in their early days. And that they marked their faces with the sign of femininity (This is the circle with a cross turned upside down) or with a coloured flash sign. Just have a close look at one of the pictures printed in this article. Later on, they still dress themselves in leather, but they got rid of the skin marks. Well, let's get back to their music and their live gigs, because that's in fact what this whole story is all about.
We recently found out that WICKED LADY has released three singles. The first single is called "Underneath The Neon Tonight" b/w "Manolito" and it came out on Negram Records in 1978. The second single "Girls Love Girls" c/w "Daddy Little Rich Girl" came out in 1979 on the Papagayo label. "Girls Love Girls" is a new wave song, which contains some heavy guitar work. It's a very catchy track and might have been suitable for radio airplay back in those days. The flip side is a short, ordinary up tempo rock / new wave tune. Their third single is called "Plastic Queen". This is the most well-known single from the band. It was released in 1981 on the Pure Gold label. The song is fast, but sounds more new wave than hard rock. The song even contains a saxophone solo (!!!). The B-side is called "Play The Game" and this song could be categorised as hard rock. Together, these four songs are good for about twelve minutes of music. Most of the songs sound like new wave to me.
Was it a wise dicision to cover WICKED LADY in this 'Back To The Past' section, you might ask yourself? Yes it sure is. At least to my opinion. This is mainly based upon the fact, that the band had a very good live reputation. The songs mentioned so far in this article sounded much heavier on stage than they did on vinyl. I also had the opportunity of seeing them once. They played as support act of NORMAAL in Valkenburg in the Southern part of Holland. The audience reacted very enthusiasticly. And the other thing I remembered from this gig was that they ended their live set with the JIMI HENDRIX cover "Hey Joe", where Sue even played the guitar with her teeth. Obviously, I went to this gig to see NORMAAL. How could I possibly have known that eighteen years later I would be writing about their support act? A few months later, the band played at one of the evening organised by the University Of Maastricht. It was an evening on which people discussed about 'Pop music and commerce'. Discussion panel was formed by Rik Zaal, Konrad Boehmer, Charly Prick and Bram Vermeulen (who played together with Dutch comedian Freek De Jonge in NEERLANDS HOOP IN BANGE DAGEN in those days). The evening was closed with a live show of WICKED LADY. They organised two other evenings, which were closed by NASMA(A)K and THE FRANK BOEYEN GROEP. WICKED LADY also played with GIRLSCHOOL at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. And looking at the old pictures we've got here, I must say that WICKED LADY looked a lot like these English metal ladies, in those days. The band also toured with THE GOLDEN EARRING somewhere in 1980. Jan recalls that they'd even been in touch with George Kooymans (lead guitar player of THE GOLDEN EARRING), to ask him if he could produce their third single "Plastic Queen". George liked their sound but he didn't have enough time to cooperate with the girls. Sue always said that he might have been afraid of them!! "Plastic Queen" was an important single for WICKED LADY. If this song would become a hit single, they knew that the time was right to release a full length LP. The album never came out, because the single didn't even make it to the charts here. Even though the band had its own fanclub and a management that also promoted bands like THE LIBERATORS, HANGOVER and VANDALE, they were not able to make a definite break-through. Although we did a lot of research everywhere, the trail stops somewhere in 1981, when they were in the middle of recording their never released LP "Flying To America". This would have included the two singles that I wrote about plus tracks like "Flying To America", "Stop Running", "Crazy Goodtime Woman" and "I'm So Confused". Maybe if they would have made this step to fly to America, they could have made a fortune there. But somehow things went different and their career ended in a long huge silence. Nevertheless, we thought they deserved a place in our magazine (or website).....
After eighteen years, people are able to read about these four wild women, who attacked the Dutch stages with their rock music. If one of the ladies will happen to pop up in the music scene one day, I guess you will know where to read about it first. Simply because we like to support these hard rocking WICKED LADIES!!
written by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens 1999)
Discography WICKED LADY:
UNDERNEATH THE NEON TONIGHT/MANOLITO (1978 Negram Records)