Following the news that The Slits’ Ari Up has died aged 48, fan Kate Nash gives her personal tibute
I cannot believe Ari is gone. I felt really shocked when I heard the news, it was totally unexpected and she was so young, it’s so very sad.
I first got into The Slits when I was 17, it’s when I first started looking into alternative music, and when I discovered punk bands like Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols and riot grrrl; the nude mud-splattered album cover of The Slits’ ‘Cut’.
Ari Up of The Slits
Because of that album, I developed my musical tastes, bought records and learnt about feminism and politics and how important the link between music and those issues are. I also felt confidence as a teenage girl, I felt liberated and empowered and that I could be smart, musical and creative and that maybe somehow I could make a difference in the world too.
I was lucky enough to see The Slits play live twice. Once at SXSW, I found out they were playing, sneaked off on my own, had a few tequilas and was blown away and completely engrossed by the shambolic and wild performance from the band. People from the crowd jumped on stage and danced furiously. Ari changed her mind in the middle of songs about tempo and even which song they were playing. It was fun, exciting and cool.
The next time I saw The Slits was when they played with The Cribs in Doncaster. The crowd gave them hell, the boys were upset about it, and it was a weird experience. But they never backed down once. They fought back with their performance and it gave them strength if anything, a reason to be there, something to fight for.
I had a similar experience in Germany recently and I thought about Ari and The Slits. I was playing to a bunch of kids who were waiting to see the Dead Trousers, they gave me hell, bottles were thrown, crowds of teenage boys swore at me, shouted, gave me the finger, wanted me to leave the stage, booed, called me a bitch and a slut.
And I gave them hell back. I sang louder than ever, I thought, ‘I’ll play every note and I’ll piss you off as much as I can just by being here for as long as possible’. I did it for the three people in the crowd who were smiling at me, and I felt the strength of those punk women who went through that a 100 times over and never gave up. If anything, it fueled us.
Women in music should continue to carry the torch that Ari carried for her 48 years of life. She was a whirlwind, a mad woman, a musical legend and a hero for us girls. R.I.P. You will always be remembered, Ari.
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