“They were just colossal and wonderful, and nobody’s ever mentioned them. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time.” – David Bowie in Rolling Stone
My cousin told me about a ground breaking influential all female rock and roll band with Asian Americans that was largely forgotten. I had never heard of Fanny before, and when I heard them perform Ain’t that Peculiar, a cover of Marvin Gaye’s hit, I was stunned at what excellent musicians they were. So were some musicians analyzing this recording more than 50 years after it was made. Key members of Fanny were sisters Jean and June Millington, who moved from the Philippines in 1961. The documentary Fanny: The Right to Rock (trailer above) tells their and other members of Fanny’s story, and it will be aired and streamed on PBS on May 22 and at CAAMFest 2023 on May 19. Best of all, Fanny will play for free the next day at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco on May 20, 2023, from 1:00-3:00 PM after some local artists open for them.
You might ask why you should bother watching the documentary and in particular, how Fanny was influential. we should recognize them as pioneers and their sacrifices. There is a saying that “pioneers take the arrows,settlers take the land.” In the trailer, Bowie guitarist Earl Slick puts that in a succinct and NSFW way (around 1:58). They were the first female rock band to release an album on a major label and paved the way for other female groups like The Runaways and The Bangles, who have cited them as key influences. Other groups today like the Linda Lindas have benefited from the path they created, and the Linda Lindas even introduced Fanny at Outfest 2021. Fanny managed to put out five albums while struggling against racism and homophobia and a sexist music industry who wouldn’t take them seriously as musicians. Finally, they put out some great music! I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary.
Fanny’s official website is here at fannyrocks.com.