Rock n Roll, Fanny & Role Models
June Millington, director Bobbi Jo Hart and Face2Face host David Peck talk about their fun, engaging, long overdue new film Fanny: The Right to Rock. They touch on sexism in the industry, liberation, your inner compass, poetry, safe spaces and role models, racism and why it’s so important to play it forward.
“Revivify Fanny. And my work will be done.” David Bowie
To learn more about the band and their work head here.
For more information about IMA go to www.ima.org
Fanny: The Right to Rock opens with the words of David Bowie, bemoaning the band’s fate: “One of the most important bands in American rock has been buried without a trace.” The film then takes us deep into the woods of Goshen, Massachusetts, where we discover the Institute for the Musical Arts. It’s an underground music camp and recording studio for girls and women only, where Fanny lead guitarist June Millington, 69, has been teaching young girls to rock out long before rock camps became “a thing.”
There, she and fellow Filipina-American bandmates, including her bass-playing sister Jean and drummer Brie Darling, celebrate their 50-year reunion with a new rock record deal -- cheekily titled Fanny Walked the Earth. If the stars align, it’s a chance to right the wrongs of music history.
Fanny: The Right to Rock juxtaposes an intimate, cinema verité journey of Fanny’s uphill battle to complete and release their new album, with the fascinating herstory of the band’s improbable journey during their 70s heyday. Their controversial, self-penned lyrics dared embrace the newfound freedom of birth control as well as the trauma of the Vietnam War.
Discovered early on by the secretary of legendary producer Richard Perry and signed as teenagers to the epic Warner/Reprise label,
Fanny honed their signature sound in edgy L.A. clubs like The Troubadour. Fanny Hill, hosted regular jam sessions with visitors/crashers including Joe Cocker, Little Feat, and Bob Dylan’s The Band. There, serious rock & roll comingled with sex, drugs and skinny dipping.
Fanny toured extensively across North America and Europe with major groups including Slade, Chicago and Ike & Tina Turner. They toured while writing, recording and releasing a new album every year from 1970 -75. They performed live and gave interviews on major network TV shows with Dick Cavett, Sonny & Cher, Helen Reddy and The Tonight Show, as well as the famed BBC show “The Old Grey Whistle Test”.
The movie includes testimonials from Kate Pierson of the B-52s, Bonnie Raitt, Cherie Currie of The Runaways, Kathy Valentine of the Go-Gos, and Bowie bassist Gail Ann Dorsey. Male music icons also sing their praises including Todd Rundgren, Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers, The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott (who unveils a Fanny flexi-disc he has saved for 50 years, since he discovered the band at age 12).
About June Millington and Bobbi Jo Hart:
Bobbi Jo Hart is an award winning American/Canadian documentary filmmaker with Adobe Productions International, based in Montreal, Canada. With a career that has spanned 25 years, Hart has filmed in countries as diverse as Pakistan, Russia, Guatemala, Australia, Scotland and Zimbabwe — with subjects ranging from women’s professional soccer and tennis to classical music, comedy, dance and manic depression. Her documentary films have the most common thread of revealing untold stories of marginalized girls and women, weaving universal threads of dreams, family, love, loss, happiness, sadness, success, failure and determination. Her intimate, cinema verité style results in thought-provoking films that ultimately celebrate our shared humanity.
Her most recent feature documentary I Am Not A Rock Star premiered at dozens of worldwide film festivals and was broadcast on networks in many countries, including BBCFour, SVT Sweden, ABC Australia, Documentary Channel. Music in the film included Jack Johnson & Patrick Watson. This film won many festival awards as well. Hart’s previous award-winning films include SHE GOT GAME: Behind-the-Scenes of the Women's Tennis Tour (LIFE Network, Starz), which had exclusive access during over a year on tour. Hart is currently starting the festival tour for her exclusive theatrical documentary celebrating Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (Documentary Channel, ARTV).
June Millington “one of the hottest female guitarists in the industry” wrote, Guitar Player Magazine has been making music since she was a child playing ukulele in her native Philippines. Having moved from Manila to California in the early sixties, she and her sister bassist Jean turned in their folk guitars for electric and formed a succession of all-girl bands. By ‘69 they were in Hollywood with their band Fanny, which was one of the first all-women’s rock band to be signed to a major label (Reprise). Through five successful albums and extensive touring of Europe and North America, Fanny served notice that women could do more than simply sing, they could write and play passionate rock ‘n roll. As David Bowie said of the group in an interview with Rolling Stone (RS January 2000): “They were extraordinary: They wrote everything...they are as important as anyone else who’s ever been, ever....”
Fanny played with major artists like Chicago, BB King, Dr John, the Kinks, the Staples Singers, Ike and Tina Turner, & Chuck Berry - and recorded an album at Apple Studios with Geoff Emerick, the Beatles engineer. June left the band in 1973 and continued to record and perform with her sister and on a number of solo albums. She played in the genre of women’s music for many years, and produced records by artists Cris Williamson, Holly Near, Mary Watkins, Melanie DeMore, and Bitch and Animal, among others. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the non-profit Institute for the Musical Arts [IMA], an internationally known teaching, performing and recording facility supporting women and girls in music and music-related business. Founded by June, along with partner Ann Hackler, activist/writer Angela Davis, and engineer/producer Roma Baran, IMA expanded into a 25- acre campus in Goshen, MA which runs five residential summer programs for girls and young women from 9-24 and hosts shows and workshops with established artists the rest of the year.
Millington has received numerous awards for her achievements including the Audio Engineering Society’s Lifetime Achievement award, the Bay Area Career Women’s LAVA award for being a “leg- end of women’s music,” the Outmusic Heritage Award and in 2007 she, along with the other members of FANNY, received the Rockrgrl Women of Valor Award at Berklee College of Music. In 2013 she received New England Public Radio’s (NEPR) Arts and Humanities Outstanding Individual of the Year Award, the Veteran Feminists of America Award and, along with her partner Ann Hackler the Outstanding Activist Award from the Living Kindness Foundation. In 2015 she was given an award for her contributions by the National Women’s Music Festival.
June released her autobiography Land of a Thousand Bridges: Island Girl in a Rock ‘n Roll World in June of 2015 and has received a great deal of press, including articles in MS Magazine, Pitchfork and Newsweek as well as on NPR. Millington continues to perform, write and record and teaches at IMA as well as colleges and universities around North America.
Image Copyright and Credit: Adobe Productions International and Bobbi Jo Hart.
For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.
With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.
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