Ari-Up-Punk’s Princess Remembered

“I’m not here to be loved, I’m here to be heard!”


One of the most important female punk singers of all time passed on in late 2010. Ari-Up, the legendary singer of the infamous female punk band The Slits left her mark on the world as she wanted among the counterculture music scene, as she exploded on the planet with a fury, and an originality that knew no compare.

Music editor Bruce Edwin of Subnormal Magazine states, “When I first picked up this Peel Sessions record by this crazy named British band called The Slits, I was just blown away. Ari-Up on vocals was addictive to any one that heard and got it. There never was and probably never will be another singer quite like her. You could tell she put every ounce of her being in to each song, from each word, to each scream to each breath. She defined the power of women in rock like few ever since.”

Ari-Up, born in Germany as Arianna Daniele Forester, who also went by the name Madussa for some of her dub musical work while living in Jamaica, passed on at the age of 48 after a long battle with illness, reported The Slits website. Her immediate family has asked for privacy at this time. She is survived by three sons, her mother Nora, and stepfather Johnny Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols.

Proud of her mother, who promoted and managed bands including Taste and Wishbone Ash when Ari was growing up, her mum’s friends would regularly pass through, including rock legends Jimi Hendrix, Yes, and more. Seeing a Sex Pistols gig as a young girl, Ari was hooked on punk, and at the age of a mere 14, formed The Slits with drummer Palmolive after their meeting at a Patti Smith gig in 1976.

Their first song was a Ramones cover, and The Slits would take The U.K. by storm, opening for The Clash and The Sex Pistols on their White Riot Tour, and played with many more punk legends, later becoming one in their own right, and headlining their own gigs across Europe and beyond.

Six years later, The Slits disbanded in 1982, but reformed in 2005, with a new album out in 2006, and touring in that year, 2007, and 2008 around the planet to fans from America to China and beyond. They released the new album ‘Trapped Animal’ in 2009.

Nora Forster and John Lydon released the following statement, “Nora has asked us to let everyone know that Nora’s daughter Arianna (aka Ari-Up) died today (Wednesday, October 20th, 2010) after a serious illness. She will be sadly missed. The band’s final work, the video for the song “Lazy Slam” from the 2009 album ‘Trapped Animal,’ was released posthumously, as Ari-Up had wished.”

Influenced heavily by dub, reggae, Caribbean, and multi-cultural scenes, Ari-Up infused global music forms and dance styles not generally found in western pop or rock music through her work.

Furthermore, inspired by some tribal female dancers in Africa who went topless, and painted themselves ritually with mud, Ari-Up and The Slits did the same for their album cover ‘Cut,’ and continued her provocative sexuality with her body, voice, and lyrics, long before it was common in pop or rock, paving the way for many female musicians who invariably were influenced not only by the bravado of punk rock, whether they realized it or not, but by the feminism of Ari-Up and The Slits.

Ari-Up loved the spotlight, but refused to live her life on anything but her own terms. You can read that fact from her herself in her own words here below, and check out a video by one of the best punk bands ever. Ari, you succeeded, and you are missed.

Ari-Up: When you make up your mind to be disconnected in a way from society, from how you should be and say and how you should conduct yourself, you strip all that away, and then instinctively you make up your mind- automatically when I’m on the road, you don’t give a s-, that’s the end result, you don’t care, if people have a negative reaction or a positive, you just don’t really care.

You make an observation of it, note it, and say, Oh yeah, but it’s not gonna’ change anything, it’s not going to change me, it’s all about hopefully the music that we do, that that can be on the table and heard.

That the art that I am gifted with can be out there, and then people can take it or leave it. I’m not here to be loved, I’m here to be heard.

When you’ve become like this, and you’ve stripped society away from you, you’re walking as really you, so people take that energy from you. So it can be really, really offensive, or really, really, really inspiring, so that’s what I’m getting, and that’s fine by me. That’s good, that’s a good thing!