The original lineup of the The Slits consisted of Ari Up ( Arianna Forster) on lead vocals, Kate Korus on guitar, Suzy Gutsy on bass and Paloma Romero on drums. Korus and Gutsy were replaced early on by Tessa Pollitt on bass and Viv Albertine on guitar. Paloma Romere would also leave the band an be replaced by a series of male drummers including Bruce Smith, and Peter Edward Clarke known as Budgie. The core three of Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt and Viv Albertine would stay together throughout the bands early history between the years 1976 and 1982.
Labeling The Slits as a punk band is actually a mistake. The band was utilizing elements of reggae and world music in their sound. It was within their utilization of these different styles of music mixed wih a punk attitude is what made The Slits a pioneering band.
The band’s early shows were bathed in chaos. The band was loud, obnoxious, sloppy, and rather intimidating to male audiences. There were not many females bands during this time period that lit up the stage like The Slits. Lead singer Ari Up’s dark reggae locks of hair and karate kicking twisted rock and roll dance moves were in stark contrast to The Runaways lead singer Cherie Currie and her white lace outfits and straight blond hair. They both kicked ass, but in very different ways.
The band’s first recordings occurred with the iconic John Peels of BBC radio. John Peels was known for recording unknown bands in order to help them find a national audience on radio. On September 19th 1977, the band recorded four songs for John Peels. The tracks titled “Love and Romance,” “Vindictive,” “New Town,” and “Shoplifting,” would later be released on various CD issues of the John Peels sessions. The band would record two more sessions with John Peels in April of 1978 and October of 1981.
The band eventually signed with Island Records and released heir debut album Cut in September of 1979. The album cover featured the band bathed in mud and bare breasted. The album proved to be very successful in the U.K. as it reached No. 30 on the U.K. album charts. The band would releases a follow up album in 1981 on CBS Records entitled Return of the Giant Slits. Soon after the release of their second album the band broke up.
Ari Up would go on to record as a solo artis oiver the years and had also joined the band the New Age Steppers with former Slits drummer Bruce Smith. In 2005 Ari Up reformed The Slits with Viv Albertine . They released a new EP record entitled Revenge of the Killer Slits. The band would continue to tour over the next few years and released a full length LP in 2009 entitled Trapped Animal. A year later in 2010, Ari Up passed away.
The band The Slits have left a legacy of recorded music for fans to enjoy. Their mix of various styles of music intertwined with that punk attitude defined them as one of the most unique bands in classic rock history.